As we look at the tumultuous economic ups and downs currently impacting much of the world, there is an awful lot of finger-pointing and line-drawing going on. In the industries we cover here at Flow Control, much of the debate revolves around whether more government intervention is needed to spur economic recovery or whether government should back off and let industry do its thing. It’s a worthwhile discussion to have, for sure, but at the same time it’s frustrating to see those in power positions on both sides of the discourse over-simplifying the issues in an effort to skew the end-result to their advantage.
The most prominent recent example of this over-simplification of what is clearly a complicated global economic situation was the political wrangling here in the United States over whether or not to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. While politicians haggled over government spending and taxes before arriving at a last-minute deal to raise the ceiling, uncertainty over whether the U.S. government would be able to continue to pay its bills placed downward pressure on markets worldwide and ultimately resulted in a U.S. credit downgrade. As a result, signs of economic recovery have been called into question and key economic indicators, such as employment and home sales, continue to suffer.
From my perspective as I look at the industries we cover on a daily basis, the uncertainty we are seeing in the world economy is being precipitated by the static and unmoveable set of principles and beliefs of a few key influencers rather than the state of industry itself. In fact, prior to the U.S. debt-ceiling fiasco,I was seeing and hearing positive signs indicating near-term growth in many industries. The market reports hitting my inbox were modestly optimistic, and the folks I was chatting with about the state of their business seemed genuinely upbeat. Then Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. credit rating, concerns about a debt crisis in Europe flared up again, and stock markets around the world tumbled.
My concern going forward is that our leaders – in government and industry alike – have become too ideological and focused on easily explainable talking points to make the moves necessary to spur a more robust economic recovery. I wonder if we have become too prone to finger-pointing and line-drawing and are too set in our positions to work together in ways to make the nuanced decisions required to effectively navigate the treacherous waters we currently find ourselves in.
One of the lessons learned from this period of the “Great Recession” and its aftermath is that there are most definitely dirty rotten scoundrels lurking in our midst. The problem is, the political discourse of today would have you believe those dirty rotten scoundrels are clearly defined along ideological lines. This is highly unlikely, and we need our key policy influencers in industry and government to be savvy enough to determine who the real dirty rotten scoundrels are and work together only with those on the side of positive progress.
– Matt Migliore, Executive Director of Content