Editorial: A question of confidence

We've got the glums in the UK.

by Matthew Gwyther, MT editor
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

A summer poll by Ipsos MORI suggested that British consumers are among the most pessimistic in the world. Our economy was thought to be in 'a very bad state' by 34% of domestic consumers. Only the Spanish (63%) and the Japanese (41%) were more down-in-the-mouth than this.

By contrast, in India an extraordinary 85% of consumers see their country's economic situation as good. In China that figure is 77%, while in Brazil it is 65%.

Indians are amazing. In a country where 40% of the population, half a billion people, live below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day, nine in 10 of them still think everything's great. It makes you wonder how dire things used to be on the subcontinent.

Traditionally in the UK we've been quite a sceptical nation. Steady and phlegmatic, we're not quite as dour as the Finns, but we don't do wide-eyed, optimistic whooping, thigh-slapping and 'way to GO!' stuff. Neither do they in the US any more, where only 18% see their economic situation as 'good', not much better than the UK's figure of 13% of glass-half-fullers.

Part of our problem is that the Government is going out of its way to make us feel not good but bad. We have to stand in the austerity corner without sweets or the full range of social security benefits until we see the error of our ways.

Cameron and Osborne need to be careful as their government advances into its next phase. Because if, in addition to the righteous process of sucking cash out of the economy, they continue to lay the 'feel bad' mantra on with a trowel, then consumer confidence will decline still further. That won't benefit anyone. Lord Mandelson's successor as business secretary, Vince Cable, may have many virtues, but helping a nation feel good about itself isn't among them.

By contrast, at MT we're here to lift spirits - hence this Growth Issue (see pages 36, 44 and 54) and refreshed Brainfood section. We've been up to Liverpool in search of some positive news - not always the easiest of missions - and we found an enterprising Libyan trying to prise some locals off Jobseekers' Allowance and into working for his Darkstar Laser arena. We also welcome Luke Johnson - one of the UK's top entrepreneurs and a really talented business writer to boot - on board as a columnist. Our latest Masterclass book is published this month (see page 30) and our new website is just about to spring into action at www.managementtoday.com.

We're almost as cheerful as they are down in Delhi.

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