When is prudence actually panic?

It’s during these sorts of tumultuos times that I find it difficult to disguise my contempt for economists. If they were really any good at what they did they would have shorted bank stocks and be sitting pretty on their islands. The same is true for commentators and all those who have views but no real responsibility for those views. And by real responsibility I mean jobs that have jobs, careers and at the very minimum bonuses riding on their judgements. The thing about the Lehmens thing (for those of us not directly affected and carrying those little boxes out the door) is that it makes the rest of us think hard. It’s judgement day for everyone who runs a business where they have to balance income and outgoings. You can’t help but sit down in the morning with your coffee and paper and think: “OK, what are my clients and customers thinking now”? I can tell you what they are thinking. They are thinking: “What are my clients and customers thinking now”? And what really does not help as you contemplate the quality of your offer/product/people and those of your competitors and compute the infiinite variations that those elements spin off is the pre-judgement of overhead/head-office types who have never run a business and who now want to look like the clever business people they will never be by saying “let’s cut things and look at our cost base”. I have two clients who are going through this examination by functional pygmies right now.

It’s at times like this that the real business people earn their money. In the next few days decisions to cut, stay the course, go for growth will really be made. And the closer those decisions are made to the actual business the better those decisions will be and the real winners in this process will now be screening out the siren noises of head office types, economists, analysts and absentee shareholders and talking quietly to their most able colleagues, their best clients and customers and consulting their stomach.

Categories Technology

4 thoughts on “When is prudence actually panic?

  1. Then there is the primal force unleashed of creative distruction. Lehmans died and lots of businesses will spring from its ashes. Companies built on cheap equipment, angel investors with a hole in their 100-hour work week and other talent for hire.

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  2. Ged you are right. I was more thinking about all the amateur business people who come out of the woodwork when these things happen and pontificate because there is nothing else they are equipped to do.

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  3. Arguably, the latest debacle is a result of too little oversight and interference by those ‘head office types’ you despise. The front line was allowed to get out of control – but then the collusion of greed happened throughout: from consumer, through the primary and secondary markets and up to ‘corporate’. The home of the ‘free market’ now has the economy it deserves, and it’s sad that many will be harmed and too many will remain unjustifiably unscathed.

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  4. Mel if you are talking about the financial world, then the problem there was the reverse of the one I am complaining about, but the cause was the same. In the financial services world the head office types had absolutely no idea about the business they were supposed to part of. And when the front line went ferile they were about the last to know. For those of us in the real economy, we are burdened with the idiot cousins of the same people who read their newspspers and panic because they realise that they too have no idea what goes on with real customers and in the real P&Ls that pay their way. And they panic. And they send their memos, and they talk cuts (six months after they should have been) and generally get in the way. The only good thing aout eh coming slowdown/recession/calamity is that so many of these creatures will be flushed out. Right now, many of them are aware of that and are trying to look vital and “key” and “strategic” and vitak in some way and actually all that most of them do is underline their impotence.

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