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EDITORIAL: Recover ability

EDITORIAL: Recover ability

I am no Karl Marx, no Samuel Huntington, no economist, no historian and certainly no Nostradamus. Human, though, I am and, just like the rest of you, I have spent the last few weeks suspended on a thread of horror, thinking about humanity's social, political and economic vulnerability. Fear, they say, is what causes it. Chaos is only the after-effect.

Trite as it may all sound, it is easy to make sweeping philosophical statements in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy, let alone following September 11, which, few would disagree, has brought us to our knees - both psychologically and economically.

But let us be realistic here - 2001 was a bit of a write-off anyway. Yes, in the week after the attack, 53 billion dollars was written off the Australian share market. Yet, recession or not, the Australian economy had been performing quite badly for quite some time before two passenger jets struck the nerve centre of the world's economic system.

This year, our economy has grown by a mere 1.9 per cent, 0.4 of which is simply a statistical adjustment - and that's despite the short-term housing boom. Home-grown corporations keep collapsing with the kind of regularity usually observed only in a domino effect, while consumer and business spending are on ice. One IT executive recently revealed his company has recorded the worst August in the last 12 years. But there was no fear of war in August. Get the picture?

Really, let's stop playing semantic games. There is no use in denying that we're experiencing the first synchronised global recession in 30 years. There is no use hiding behind the fact that our denial is based on a technicality and that our economic situation would not be much brighter even if it wasn't for last month's events. But there is a lot to gain from admitting that being part of the global game in times of economic and political uncertainty is not fun. It could allow us to see through the spin-doctoring of political parties in an election year and understand that if Asia, for example, is in recession (and, for the record, it is), we're going to follow in six to nine months time. Or to welcome home the realisation that being part of the globalised world involves some noble concepts - such as all for one and one for all, for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in recession or in war. No matter how dire the straits, the point is our denial can cost more - monetarily and psychologically - than the recession or the war itself.

I don't want to assume an Anthony Robbins aura here and push you into denial of a different kind, but consider this: we have been facing the problem of consumers' high debt-to-saving ratio for a while now and consumers have had to make some tough choices.

Yet, lifestyle adjustments don't work backwards and IT has made itself a necessity that makes it hard for an individual - let alone a business - to go back to their pre-90s, pre-all-pervasive-IT lifestyles. Existing customer bases and security concerns are likely to keep driving sales of business applications and, in the latter case, hardware as well. Obviously, the recovery is not going to be fast and it may not even start until early or mid-next year.

But, there is no reason to sink into the "apocalypse now" mentality. I mean, life goes on. And so does business. So let's just get on with it.


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