Today I went to the job center in Penzance. Where they was slight confusion that I was down here in the South West while my Mum is in hospital but actually live in the Midlands (which is more North Middle for US readers). The idea that due to personal circumstances you may be constantly going backwards and forwards is only catered for if a holiday. At least the ball is rolling to diminish the decline in my savings.
The staff were very friendly and supportive. The attitude was that I should be looking for the right job, rather than going for anything at the minimum wage. They had security guards on duty which is a sad reflection of how some people react to their situation. They confirmed that wages down here were thousands of pounds less than equivalent jobs up north yet living costs were much higher down here (water rates being the highest in the country due to pollution and the beaches). With less job opportunities in a county of half a million. Ironically one job opportunity I received was for a Christian charity; I was extremely well qualified except for believing Jesus was God (or a god), which as a charity they are allowed to discriminate on. I wonder how far the legislation allows – could you, for example be refused if you were a Unitarian – not believing in the trinity?
Getting a call back for a job later this afternoon, which happens to be down here. My CV was picked up in their search. Nice to actually have someone chasing me for a job while I wait to see if other applications have got my foot in the door for an interview – I hate the waiting game.
The European Commission is warning that Britain will have two consecutive quarters of negative growth – the technical definition that economists use. The government is far out with it’s projected growth rate of 2.5% for the year; with the Commission predicting 1.1%. That seems borne out by the fact that there was no growth in the economy in the second quarter. That growth rate is less than the EU predicated average of 1.3%.
It may take more then the Cabinet having a day trip to Birmingham (first outside London since 1920s) to guide Britain through this; having photos taken around the Midlands is not really a government in action, but trying to make sure they do not become unemployed by the electorate. Union’s are flexing their muscles as pay deals agreed earlier actually mean pay cuts now with inflation at 5%. The budget is in deficit – not necessarily a bad thing during uncertain times but not helped that this was the case before the current downturn in the world economy. Not that it is time to get the sack cloth and ashes out, but expect more wailing of teeth with the talk that this downturn is set to last for the next two years.
Rising house prices are no longer something for households to bet on increasing asset wealth. The credit crunch means that first time buyers are not fully able to take advantage of the price decrease, as mortgage providers tighten the criteria and conditions for lending. The decision by the US Treasury to bail out Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae will stabilize the housing market there – the effect here was to bolster the London Stock Exchange (once computer problems on Monday were sorted out, stopping trading for several hours) and in the long term will help exports to the US market – thus helping the global economy.
Life however will go on, even if it means buying store brands and making meals from scratch rather than microwave meals and no visits from the Pizza boy. Nothing personal, just weathering the economic storm that is the market exuberance going into free fall due to “animal spirits” as Keynes noted. The government of the day claims success in taming the beast as things seem to be galloping along nicely; when it starts jumping like at a rodeo it is always something else that has spooked the beast, but they are best placed to solve it seeing as they are already in the saddle.
Well, come the next election we will cast our votes on that. It looks more of us will have taken our P45s to the job center by then.