Posted tagged ‘credit crunch’

As banks fall, is it time to panic now?

September 19, 2008

Well, no. Absolutely not. But it is clear that what we are now witnessing is something at any rate much more complex than an economic slowdown. Lehman Brothers, HBOS, AIG – it all seems to be coming closer to us (after all, AIG sponsors Manchester United).

This afternoon I was standing at a supermarket check-out, and two elderly ladies were chatting – first about a planned birthday party, then about grandchildren, and then about the credit crunch and the liquidity of investment banks. And that’s when you know that the problems of the financial world have landed on our doorsteps.

But in a funny kind of way, this isn’t the 1980s, either. I doubt that we are going to have 20 per cent inflation, or even 20 per cent unemployment – all things that we witnessed at some point back then. The foundations of our economy are now different, and unless everything melts down (in which case what I am writing doesn’t matter anyway) we will not go back to those experiences.

In the end, there is little that destabilises society so quickly as panic, and it is important amidst all the financial storms that we remain calm. What we need in particular is a sense of purpose and determination, and a clear focus on the things that will help to get us put of the downturn at the earliest opportunity. In my own setting, I am assuming that public money will be scarce for a while, and this means driving our strategy to develop streams of income from other sources. At times such as this, we need to be particularly good at innovation, and to be ready to be imaginative.

It is not the time to be cautious and defensive. It is time to be entrepreneurial, and not too risk averse. DCU’s new strategy, on which I shall write again in due course, will – I hope – reflect that, and I hope the same will be true for Ireland.