Andeep Mangal: Looking on the bright side of the credit crunch
As we wake up today with an economic hangover from 2008, the outlook for 2009 is gloomy. With woeful tidings about the state of businesses large and small, from Jaguar-Land Rover to corner shops, times are hard.
You may well think there’s not much to look forward to in the New Year but clouds have silver linings and, as we gird our loins for the battles ahead, let’s find ten reasons to be cheerful this bleary-eyed morning.
House prices have plummeted and may continue to fall this year. That is good news for first-time buyers who, only 12 months ago, were being priced out of the market. At long last, young people can aspire to become home-owners.
For those already paying mortgages, interest rates are lower than ever and the drop in mortgage payments is beginning to be appreciated now. While capital values have fallen, they are still only down to 2004 levels. That means most people still have considerable equity in their properties.
The banks are still in business. This may not seem much of a boon for a small business which has just had its overdraft withdrawn or its charges increased, but consider the alternative. If the government hadn’t intervened with billions to prop up the banks, not only would they have gone to the wall, they could have taken the entire economy with them.
There are bargains in the shops. The rush to the winter sales proves that everybody loves a bargain. Some of the best-loved High Street names may be disappearing but, as in the case of Woolworths for instance, it would have happened anyway because the chain failed to keep up with consumer trends.
Fuel prices continue to fall. Suddenly we can afford to drive a car again and it is even possible that the gas and electricity companies will be forced to cut their extortionate prices.
The crisis in the motor industry is bad news for those relying on the sector but it’s excellent news if you are buying a car.
Most of us are still in work. About 29 million people have jobs at the moment and, though unemployment is rising with employees fearing for their future, there are still about half a million job vacancies up and down the country.
Our region can look forward to some major capital projects including a much-needed revamp to New Street Station, a new central library and the expansion of Birmingham Airport. All of this means investment and work.
Our football teams are doing well. Villa have broken into the top four of the Premiership, while West Brom are making a fight of it at the foot of the table. Wolves head the Championship, with the Blues snapping at their heels. There’s also an Ashes Test series to look forward to.
We will be affected by the recession and the consequences may be traumatic, but it’s wrong to over-state the misery and mayhem of the economy – apart from anything else, the more we talk it down, the worse it gets. We need a bit of positive thinking.
Let’s hope it is a happier New Year.