Monday, January 12, 2009

Clarkson's got it sussed

Jeremy Clarkson is a distant cousin of ours - so distant that he's never heard of us and wouldn't be able to see us if he had high-powered binoculars (which I'm sure he does) and indeed I have struggled, in the past, to glimpse any sign of a family resemblance.

But in recent weeks he has been doing us proud, I'm glad to say, both in this video clip and the article section pasted below. Why does it take a journalist specialising in cars to tell us how it is re: the economy, though?

"Ireland is tiny. Its population is smaller than New Zealand’s, so how could the Irish ever have generated the cash for so many trips to the hairdressers, so many lobsters and so many Rollers? And how, now, as they become the first country in Europe to go officially into recession, can they not see the financial meteorite coming? Why are they not all at home, singing mournful songs?

It’s the same story on this side of the Irish Sea, of course. We’re all still plunging hither and thither, guzzling wine and wondering what preposterously expensive electronic toys the children will want to smash on Christmas morning this year. We can’t see the meteorite coming either.

I think mainly this is because the government is not telling us the truth. It’s painting Gordon Brown as a global economic messiah and fiddling about with Vat, pretending that the coming recession will be bad. But that it can deal with it.

I don’t think it can. I have spoken to a couple of pretty senior bankers in the past couple of weeks and their story is rather different. They don’t refer to the looming problems as being like 1992 or even 1929. They talk about a total financial meltdown. They talk about the End of Days.

Already we are seeing household names disappearing from the high street and with them will go the suppliers whose names have only ever been visible behind the grime on motorway vans. The job losses will mount. And mount. And mount. And as they climb, the bad debt will put even more pressure on the banks until every single one of them stutters and fails.

The European banks took one hell of a battering when things went wrong in America. Imagine, then, how life will be when the crisis arrives on this side of the Atlantic. Small wonder one City figure of my acquaintance ordered three safes for his London house just last week.

Of course, you may imagine the government will simply step in and nationalise everything, but to do that, it will have to borrow. And when every government is doing the same thing, there simply won’t be enough cash in the global pot. You can forget Iceland. From what I gather, Spain has had it. Along with Italy, Ireland and very possibly the UK.

It is impossible for someone who scored a U in his economics A-level to grapple with the consequences of all this but I’m told that in simple terms money will cease to function as a meaningful commodity. The binary dots and dashes that fuel the entire system will flicker and die. And without money there will be no business. No means of selling goods. No means of transporting them. No means of making them in the first place even. That’s why another friend of mine has recently sold his London house and bought somewhere in the country . . . with a kitchen garden.

These, as I see them, are the facts. Planet Earth thought it had £10. But it turns out we had only £2. Which means everyone must lose 80% of their wealth. And that’s going to be a problem if you were living on the breadline beforehand.

Eventually, of course, the system will reboot itself, but for a while there will be absolute chaos: riots, lynchings, starvation. It’ll be a world without power or fuel, and with no fuel there’s no way the modern agricultural system can be maintained. Which means there will be no food either. You might like to stop and think about that for a while.

I have, and as a result I can see the day when I will have to shoot some of my neighbours - maybe even David Cameron - as we fight for the last bar of Fry’s Turkish Delight in the smoking ruin that was Chipping Norton’s post office.

I believe the government knows this is a distinct possibility and that it might happen next year, and there is absolutely nothing it can do to stop Cameron getting both barrels from my Beretta. But instead of telling us straight, it calls the crisis the “credit crunch” to make it sound like a breakfast cereal and asks Alistair Darling to smile and big up Gordon when he’s being interviewed.

I can’t say I blame it, really. If an enormous meteorite was heading our way and the authorities knew it couldn’t be stopped or diverted, why bother telling anyone? Best to let us soldier on in the dark until it all goes dark for real." - Times Online


Blogger Riaz said...

The worst thing is having to pay off 'debts' that remain strong in a recession such as mortgages, rent, and council tax. What if there simply isn't enough money in circulation for people to pay these? Would the government ever step in and demand a freeze for these payments? I doubt it.

January 15, 2009 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger Gill said...

I think people might end up squatting in their own homes, if they're repossessed, which makes perfect sense if there's nowhere else to go.

If your income drops below a certain amount, you don't have to pay council tax. So jobless people are exempt.

I don't know what government will do - it will be interesting to see. A bit of a dilemma for them. Could be troops on the streets, but what happens when there's no money to pay them either?

I also want to know what Mr Clarkson's friend is going to lock in his three safes that will be worth anything. Cabbages?

January 15, 2009 at 6:11 PM  
Blogger Riaz said...

People can still be evicted from their houses when they are repossessed or fail to pay the rent for months on end.

Of course the government has money to put them in prison when they set fire to the house just before it is repossessed like they did in the early 90s.

January 15, 2009 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger Gill said...

Yes they do get evicted, but some move straight back in and claim squatter's rights.

January 15, 2009 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger Riaz said...

What are you supposed to do if someone has bought your repossessed house at an auction and comes knocking on the door saying they want to move in?

January 15, 2009 at 10:42 PM  
Blogger Gill said...

The legal position WRT squatting would remain unchanged.

January 16, 2009 at 7:00 AM  

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