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An umbrella for the sunshine


February 13, 2009
By John Roper

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How is it for you? A few months ago I wrote in this column that the
U.K., window industry was going to hell in a handcart, well now it
seems we are all following it at a rate of knots. It seems to me though
that we in the U.K., are given a somewhat warped view of the situation.

I see business getting on with the business of doing business.

How is it for you? A few months ago I wrote in this column that the U.K., window industry was going to hell in a handcart, well now it seems we are all following it at a rate of knots. It seems to me though that we in the U.K., are given a somewhat warped view of the situation. The government is spinning doom-and-gloom at every turn – businesses closing, especially in retail, unemployment spiralling out of control, house prices crashing, nobody able to get credit because the banks won’t lend back to us the billions of tax money they have been given by the government to do just that.

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I say this is government spin because, while no one can deny the banks have been in huge difficulty and that is showering down on the rest of us to some degree, our prime minister has discovered that the worse things seem, the higher his personal ratings in the polls. Why this should be is beyond me, given that he exacerbated the problem when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) by funding a boom based on cheap credit, easily available, supported by an overpriced house market and his solution to the problem is borrow more and spend-spend-spend.

But, in the real world it is hard to work out what is going on. Admittedly, people are losing their jobs but before the ‘recession’ was announced we kept hearing about how many job vacancies there were. The majority of businesses that I talk to seem to be doing okay, at least the well managed ones and as for the retail sector, admittedly there are a lot of low prices out there right now, but the shops are crowded. My favourite measure, there are five restaurants within walking distance of where I live and most nights of the week you will not get a table without booking in advance.

So whilst we are being bombarded with news stories about redundancies and business failures – most of which problems pre-date the recession – and in particular about lack of credit, I see business getting on with the business of doing business. And on a personal note, far from finding credit hard, in the week after the Christmas holidays I was offered a pre-approved credit card, had a bank on the phone wanting to quote me for taking over my mortgage and my wife’s business bankers tried to persuade her that her business needed an overdraft despite the fact that the account has run with a cash surplus for 12 years. Perhaps the reality is that banks are getting back to normal, they will lend you an umbrella when the sun shines and take it back again when it rains.


* John Roper is the editor for The Installer, The Fabricator, The Conservatory Installer and Glass Works magazine published in the U.K. His comments reflect his opinions from the U.K. and may not be applicable in Canada.


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