The eerie sound of silence

Yesterday I met people in the West Midlands, to take the temperature of manufacturing.

The sound of very little going on was eerie. My journey to and from by the M40 was all too easy. The inadequate roads were for once more than adequate for the reduced traffic. The Birmingham ringway gave me unusually free passage around the conurbation.There was a worrying quiet about the place.

The mood was of one of people waiting for the news to get worse in the new year. The crisis which hit sixteen months ago in the City of London, once a remote matter affecting people on high salaries in high finance, is now all too real. Orders have contracted, some lay offs and a lot of short time working have already been announced.

There is a worrying expectation that as the world’s factories close for extended Christmas and New Year breaks, to contract output in line with much lower demand, so there will be knock on effects throughout manufacturing. Today maunfacturing is global. Cuts in one country soon transmit to cuts elsewhere.

Even migthy China is now experiencing a savage downturn in parts of her manufacturing heartlands, as the much reduced demand for Chinese goods in the west hits a country which has been such a successful exporter that she has $2 trillion in the bank.

I wanted good news to tell them, something to raise spirits. All I could say was the US authorities, somewhat late, are now doing everything they can think of to try to turn their economy around. Let us hope something works soon. It is like watching someone in front of a huge board of electricity switches in a dark room trying every switch, but so far none turn the lights on. We just keep hoping the board is still connected to some power.


  1. Johnny Norfolk
    December 17, 2008

    Even Swansea car tax centre normally very busy at this time of the year, is at the slowest they have ever seen so my mole tells me.
    Hang on whos that banging on the door.

  2. Adrian Peirson
    December 17, 2008

    This is all engineered, they intend bringing us to our knees so we are forced to accept their New world Order way of doing things.

    Here is what it is all about.

    Well, some of us anyway.

  3. Sava Zxivanovich
    December 17, 2008

    1) Cut military expenses 66%.
    2) Cap benefits – that will save £20-30 billions
    3) Cap salaries in the Government – probably above £10 billions
    4) Limit pensions for Government personal – again probably above £10 billions
    5) Cap salaries in local governments – a lot could be saved
    6) Cap salaries and benefits in Government related services.

    1) Shore brick economy = house prices. Everything started because of bricking of the UK economy, so first we have to stabilise existing economy.
    2) Invest in R&D – renewable energy sector, space research.
    3) Cut company tax – new jobs.

  4. Susan
    December 17, 2008

    I’m very sorry to hear about this but I’m worried that, after Christmas unemployment will rise further; Sterling will sink further; welfare bill will rise further; tax receipts drop… further. This Labour government would be on a hiding to nothing apart from the fact that it has the backing of the EU. Brown came back from the Summit yesterday and said that the EU had graciously granted funds to us… other countries to see us through “these difficult times”.

    As a voter, I’d really like to know whether the Conservatives are in the same EU rowing boat heading for Brussels but via Dieppe rather than Ostende.

  5. mikestallard
    December 17, 2008

    OK, moan moan moan. We’re all doomed!
    Admit it, people, I was among the very first on this site, saving our host’s honour, to predict a global melt down: Icelandic, Turkish, Argentinian, Weimar, Rhodesia…..
    Well, to day I went to the Nationwide Building Society and asked my (free) senior financial advisor (sic) whether he was looking forward to Nationwide’s nationalisation. He said that the Nationwide was not going to be nationalised and he had heard no rumours about that either. Then he looked very serious and said that if his bank was nationaised, he would have to consider leaving.
    I then asked him what he thought about a Turkish style melt-down. He said that he really didn’t think that was likely. He hadn’t heard any rumours either. Nationwide’s stocks and shares and corporate bonds were one the Nikkei, the Dow and here in London.
    When it came down to my own money, you see, I placed my bets on an upturn sometime in the middle of next year, after the election perhaps.
    And all this despite that woman from the MPC on Newsnight last evening who said that the solution to the current problems are —– to print more money!!!!

  6. DBC Reed
    December 17, 2008

    These impressionistic pieces where John Redwood judges the state of the nation or the region whilst moving around in his work are very effective.He has a good eye for significant detail.
    I nearly always disagree with his set-piece arguments,except on foreign policy .

Comments are closed.