The question that I believe most of us worry daily about is: where is the economy going? Is the end of the crisis in sight? If we believe the newspapers, the crisis is far from over. Every time Christine Lagarde opens her mouth, the stock exchanges go down. The economy of Spain is in tatters with record unemployment, France seems to go the same way, and we all – luckily – stopped talking about Greece. Germany, by far the most resistant country, seems to be affected now also with car sales slumping. So no immediate reason for optimism, it would seem.
Me – ever the optimist – believe that the worst is past us. Why?
First of all, simply because the crisis has been around for a long time. Indeed, I would assume that historians will view our economic woes since 2008 as ONE long crisis, caused by irresponsible behaviour of the international banks. People will have taken their losses, delayed investments for as long as possible, are getting used to the scary news thrown daily at us and will start to shrug their shoulders and buy new cars and fridges.
Secondly, all the planes I have been traveling in during the last two months have been completely packed. I asked around, and my colleagues tell me the same about their flights.
Thirdly, and probably most importantly, the EU seems now to be shifting away from austerity and towards supporting the economy by spending. This, of course, is the right thing to do as history has shown us time and again. Roosevelt got the US out of the crisis with his “new deal” and, a less savoury example, Hitler got Germany out of the slop by building autobahns (and buying locally made weapons).
Last, and most important to our company, we have many inquiries for projects throughout Europe that seem serious.
So yes, I do believe the crisis is largely over. Let us all hope together that I am right.
Maarten van Leeuwen
Group Managing Director
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