Defying Private Frazer

Oct 27th, 2008 | By | Category: Ireland

Private Frazer from the British television series Dad’s Army had a standard response to any and every untoward event: rolling his eyes in a sinister way he would declare to everyone around in a broad Hebridean Scots accent, “We’re doomed, I tell ye”.

Were John Laurie, the actor who played Frazer, still alive, his insights would be a valuable contribution to political and economic commentary.  Rather than RTE paying reporters and analysts to repeat constant glum assertions, they might save money by simply having Laurie go the whole hog, “We’re doomed, I tell ye”.

“Mr Laurie, what do you make of the government’s response to the banking crisis?”

“We’re doomed, I tell ye”.

“Mr Laurie, how do you see the collapse of share prices?”

“We’re doomed, I tell ye”.

“Mr Laurie, what would be you reading of the government’s budgetary measures?”

“We’re doomed, I tell ye”.

We are not doomed.

Reports of the economy falling back to where it was five years ago cast gloom and despondency around the place, yet anyone living in any decade previously would have been delighted to be at the levels of 2003.  Irrational thinking has taken over; some companies shares have now been so oversold that the stock market capitalisation of companies has fallen below the value of their tangible assets, i.e. if you added up the value of all their shares put together it would be less than the value of the assets they have in terms of goods and property.

Driving down to Co Wexford on a bright October bank holiday, there was no sense of doom.  Wexford town was buzzing with people.  There is an abundance of art galleries, attracted by the cultural richness brought to the town by its annual festival.  The galleries were open and none was offering anything at sale prices.  The streets were filled with people and the pubs and cafes were crowded.

Were any of those enjoying the holiday sunshine asked how the felt about the economy, they would probably answer in pessimistic terms.  they have been told repeatedly that we’re all doomed and would be afraid to challenge the orthodoxy.

The surest way of achieving a prolonged economic recession is by constantly saying that we are in a prolonged economic recession.  People’s confidence fades and they stop spending money and, the less they spend, the deeper the recession gets, and the deeper the recession gets, the less they spend.

There is a wide waterfront in Wexford with some of the shiniest fishing boats I have ever seen.

27-10-08 Waterfront

To the left of the waterfront, between the promenade and the street, runs the railway line.  Were one travelling on the train from Rosslare, one would be delighted to encounter such a vista.  The problem is that, immediately before reaching the waterfront, the train encounters a blind bend.  The vision ahead is so restricted that the driver is instructed to slow to 5 mph.

27-10-08 Railway

If one knew that the bend brought one to a pleasant place, it would be much easier to be confident about the journey ahead.  What we need from our leadership is the assurance that there are bright visas ahead.  In economics prophecies are often self-fulfilling, and if the prophecy is not true, well at least we have not gone to our doom miserably.

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  1. To combat Frazer’s warnigs of doom, you would require Cpl. Jones’s ‘Don’t panic’ or Private Godfrey’s ‘can I be excused, and Mannering calling Pike and everyone else a stupid boy.

  2. ‘Now listen here Wilson’ Thanks for the pic of Wexford waterfront Ian, good to see it.

  3. I have not been to Wexford for over thirty years. Thanks for the memory.

  4. I’m all up with Cpl Jones – DON’T PANIC.

    The market will dictate the economy, not the press. I am becoming desperately angry at the media and absolute idiot politicians who have no bloody idea making economic commentary and scaring punters. You’re right, this isn’t the great depression despite the world’s talking heads willing it upon us. Remember, markets are falling but someone is buying all those shares – they’re not disappearing into the ether! And as for me! I have no money, my assets aren’t worth a brass razoo and as long as my mortgagee doesn’t recall their loan . . life goes on as usual!

  5. I like ‘bright visas ahead’ – this may be a typo for ‘vistas’ but I like the vision of the inviting shiny credit cards on the horizon!

    I’m hoping that the current financial convulsions will result in a correction of house prices to the point where we might reasonably buy one without being in debt until we die…I realise this is a self-interested perspective.

  6. Dot,

    A Freudian slip – I got a bright new Visa last week, with a limit that is equivalent to five months of my stipend!

    The housing market should return to sensible levels, but given the irrational way in which markets operate, I suspect house prices will dip below their true worth before rising again – an opportunity for buyers. Looking at the Daft property website last night, there were over four thousand properties for sale in Co Wexford, including over six hundred in Enniscorthy, a town of 9,000 people – completely barmy levels of development

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