Seeing past the gloom

It has become something of a media tradition that the New Year is a time for journalists, pundits and 'experts' make predictions about the year to come.

While venerable, this tradition is of dubious value, since any predictions made are usually long forgotten even if they come true – a fact for which those whose predictions prove somewhat less than accurate are generally very grateful.

This annual offering of hostages to fortune has this year taken on a particular and fairly universal tone. For obvious reasons, the safe bet as far as most pundits are concerned is to predict economic doom. Indeed, if one were to take every headline regarding the economic outlook for 2012 at face value, one would be hard-pressed to find a good reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Nobody, of course, is suggesting that everything in the garden is rosy. Clearly, there are serious problems facing the global and national economies that cannot be ignored or downplayed. By the same token, however, not everything is quite as bleak as the media coverage might cause one to think.

There is nothing inherently wrong with people looking ahead and trying to prepare themselves for all eventualities. However, the problem arises when negative prophecies become self-fulfilling. For instance, there is nothing more likely to damage business confidence than yet another announcement that business confidence is low, but the reports, surveys and market research keep coming.

Ultimately, the only sensible answer is to take every announcement – positive or negative – with a large pinch of salt, a measure of stoicism and a determination to make the best of things.

Paul Fanning

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