10 Reasons to be cheerful

After a fairly depressing week, here are ten reasons why the current turmoil isn't all bad news...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

As the ill winds of the financial crisis sweep across the Atlantic and around the world, they will surely blow some good. A few of us might even benefit from the chaos. October's MT brings you the upside of the downturn.

- AN END TO TEDIOUS DINNER-PARTY CONVERSATIONS ABOUT BOOMING HOUSE PRICES. The property crash must surely also mean no more formulaic housing makeover TV shows fronted by Kirstie and Phil, Sarah Beeny et al. For too long, these have been an easy fill for lazy-minded telly chiefs who would cross the street to avoid a new idea if they ever saw one. Never again will you have to endure a pair of deadbeats from Leicester wittering on about the 'wow factor'.

- REDUCED CARBON FOOTPRINT. Recession equals reduced consumption, fewer hydrocarbons burned and less CO2 emitted. QED. The roads are already less congested and petrol sales have fallen for the first time in 10 years. Airlines are canning less-popular flights and routes and parking surplus aircraft in the Arizona desert. Bus and train travel is booming, and the high cost of electricity and gas is encouraging householders to don another jumper rather than turn up the thermostat. It may not be fun but it's good news for the planet.

- INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES. With asset prices falling like stones, and banks in meltdown, there will be plenty of bargains to be had by cash buyers. Nathan Rothschild, founder of the banking dynasty, once said: 'Buy when the blood runs in the streets.' He had the right idea, but he is probably best not taken too literally nowadays. Rather, let Warren Buffett be your role model. He has made $64bn through long-term investments in carefully chosen undervalued stocks.

- DUNKIRK SPIRIT. There's nothing like a shared sense of adversity to make people forget their differences. We've all got a share in the current adversity. At work, squabbling colleagues and team-mates bury the hatchet in the shadow of the downturn. At home, fractious families reunite, because when the chips are down relatives are worth more than iPods. Productivity and social cohesion rise as a result. Well, it could happen...

- THE VIRTUES OF THRIFT - AT WORK AND AT HOME. No need to return to the austerity years of rationing, powdered eggs and mock pork (made of potatoes, apparently). But take a look at TK Maxx, second-hand bookshops and the local charity store rather than Bond Street boutiques. Or get online - eBay has all manner of bargains (but watch out for the crooks). On www.freecycle.org, you can swap your old telly for, say, a dining table. At work, sensible economies made promptly will safeguard jobs rather than threaten them.

- GET ONE OVER ON THE COMPETITION. While your rivals are distracted by belt-tightening and anxious navel-gazing, attack them guerrilla-style and grab market share while their backs are turned. It's the oldest trick in the book and puts you in a great position when the recovery kicks in. In these days of cheap DIY web 2.0 campaigns, it needn't even cost you much. When the good times return, you'll already have done most of the hard work and should be able to sit back and watch your business grow.

- FEEL THE SUPPLIER LOVE. As new business gets harder to find, we can all expect those who supply us with goods and services to fall over each other to keep us sweet. Special treats, inducements, loyalty bonuses - all should come flowing in our direction. Yes, Transport for London, BAA and the other monopolies are all going to change their ways and remember that the customer is king. Fat chance. But for the majority who operate in a competitive market, those who don't love will lose.

- NO MORE PROSPERITY FATIGUE. Sometimes living in a rich, successful, ever-growing capitalist economy can be exhausting - kissing up and kicking down as you clinch those ever-increasing annual bonuses on the way to the top of the greasy corporate pole. And then you spend it all on pointless consumer durables that you don't need. Maybe it's time to step back and take a dispassionate look at your priorities. See what really matters. Now that everyone is in the same boat, keeping up with the Joneses, the Singhs and the Gorskis will be a lot less expensive.

- THE JOYS OF NEGOTIATION. It's a buyer's market and haggling is back. Two perks of the downturn are the death of the sticker price and the rebirth of the ancient art of negotiation. As a purchaser, it's your duty to see how low you can go. But watch out before you wade in like a carpet trader in a Marrakesh souk. First, understand what they want or need. Face, status, position and money - that's what drives most people. Figure how much of each keeps them happy and you're halfway to the handshake.

- SCHADENFREUDE. 'Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall', as the King James Bible has it. Sure enough, economic destruction is now being wrought upon many an haughty-spirited banker, hedge-fund manager and estate agent - all in a most satisfactorily biblical way. Admittedly, taking base pleasure in the suffering of others is neither virtuous nor productive, and won't improve the situation one jot. But who among us can say they've never indulged? It helps pass the time while waiting for the upswing.

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