Challenging Days Ahead?

A growing number of economists and financial analysts are forecasting that we will have to endure another recession sometime in the next two to three years.

Fred-Harrison-Boom-BustFred Harrison, the author of Boom Bust, has said that we will have a recession in 2019. The head of global strategy at the Societe Generale, Albert Edwards, agrees with Fred Harrison that a global recession is on its way, and a wide range of other people who spend their lives reading the tea leaves on the economy are busily warning of hard times to come.

Another serious down turn in our economy (whether as a result of internal forces here in the UK, or because of global problems) will be a catastrophe for millions of young adults, and their families, who are already struggling to find good, well paid jobs and decent places to live at prices they can afford.

I say it will be a catastrophe for their families as well, because there is now abundant and clear evidence that the grave problems young people face in 2016 have a huge impact on their wider family, who, in many cases, have to subsidise their living costs in a range of burdensome ways.

Often those families have to put their own plans on hold – delayed retirement for example, or the postponement of other cherished plans – while they re-arrange their finances to take account of a set of costs they could never have imagined only five or ten years ago.

These interconnected problems are a major social and economic challenge that no one seems to be doing anything about. They are, or seem to be, unrecognised by the government and the political parties, partly, I think, because they are a new set of problems for which we yet don’t have a name.

To begin to make progress we need to start with a planned programme of life skills education in schools.

We simply cannot carry on failing to do all we reasonably can to equip young people with some skills – quite outside of their academic education – which they will all need, to help them to understand how the world they are about to enter actually works, in the four big relationships they will all have:

  • Employment
  • Finance
  • Property
  • The state

A well resourced and financially literate young person will still find it a challenge to accomplish what has been common place for many people since the end of the second world war: getting a solid pensionable job, getting access to mortgage finance, building a career and enjoying a pretty decent life.

But if that young person does not have a clue about what is going on around them and does not understand how to manage their affairs, then heaven help them. If, on top of all that, they and their family have to survive another recession, then we better get them some help soon otherwise they will find themselves in a pitiful position in very hard economic times.