Economic recovery or stall?
Return to normal life or Covid episode 4 or 5? Will Europe and the rest of the world experience the same “back to school”? What role for the companies and intermediaries that we represent?
We all tried to make the month of August as restful as possible, as disconnected from Covid as we could, despite the fires, sudden travel restrictions or limitations on our behaviour. Between the return of the still non-European masks and the time needed to take into account a second dose of vaccine that is barely a little more European, we tried to go to restaurants or visit tourist sites, often closer to us than usual, sometimes anyway, having to abandon in the car or in the street, one of us, whose health pass was not yet valid.
We therefore left it in this car that is not yet electric, but which will soon be, while wondering if it is really true that with heavy batteries, made of rare and distant materials, which will no longer allow us to cross Member States in a single journey, the ecological revival of our continent will be well assured.
We are not yet quite ashamed of having devices that run on petroleum, nor yet quite ashamed of eating meat or fruits that travel, just because we love them.
Yet we feel that it will come, just like daring to try to have a vehicle in the city, since it will be reserved for the countryside - or having an old house, with its wooden windows, which will surely be a scandal, something that is already the case when burning the dead leaves of your own trees in your garden, something so natural less than 10 years ago.
We clearly perceive that the world is changing, that the resulting economy will change as it has never done so quickly in the past. For now, let's stay positive, we are doing better, tourism is picking up a bit, activities are available again, the economy is picking up in so many countries and the stock market is doing well.
Well, of course, this month, one in two office workers will not really return to the office and the Covid variants are threatening to cause new waves everywhere, but it will necessarily be elsewhere.
Well, the IMF tells us that everything is perfect, with growth expected at 6% for this year and above 4.5% for 2022…unless the variants disrupt the restart.
But the fact that in 2 years the G20 countries will have gone from 111% to 134% debt compared to their GDP, cannot be very positive. We should also realise that among the least developed countries, those to whom we have lent the most to get through the crisis, are those who are oil producers, so that if someone wants to see their debt reimbursed, they will have to think twice before banning fossil fuels everywhere.
But the European Union will be the virtuous continent. To do this, it is stepping up its consultations with a view to reforming what was reformed just before the crisis. It does not matter whether companies have trouble keeping up, or even are closed for every other month, or have closed altogether, let's consult and prepare a world afterwards, in which everyone will be different ... or not!
Because it does not seem that in the projections of international bodies, the Union is expected to be a big winner, but as a player driven by its internal consumption, linked to abundant cyclical savings, which will just allow it to grow averagely; globally, lower than that of all other major blocs. However, they have not announced a policy that breaks the past, massively disrupts their businesses and makes them paragons of virtue. They just said they would be greener and more sustainable, just that.
So, what will actually happen? Who will evolve and how? Who is right at the time of these major international strategic choices? What will this World of tomorrow look like and what should we say of the “immediate future”? How should our citizens, our investors organise themselves; where to invest their money, what property to buy, rent or lend to each other, since the very notion of property is changing according to some?
The Advisory professions that we represent have always claimed to be rather strategic consulting professions, over time. However, they are also made up of men, women, and machines now, who keep up to date with the news, are responsive, manage the human relationship so important in these troubled times - or provide access to tools for rapid action, to those of their clients who want it, nevertheless remaining on standby and available.
So, when, after 10 years as Vice-President then President and finally at the head of the FECIF Advisory Committee, I cease all steering function of our European organisation, I would like to repeat that our professions are an example of what Europe must offer its citizens if it does not want to weaken them. Our firms being overwhelmingly VSEs and SMEs, they are the future of this Continent and of this Union and as such, they must be supported and not weakened by bureaucracy and continuous questioning of models.
Let our citizens and our businesses adapt by themselves and you will see that they will do great things.
Failing that, pray that from the destruction that will be caused will be reborn champions, which is not certain, especially when the reforms come from people who have never run small and medium-sized enterprises or even worked in such enterprises.
The challenges ahead for both our members and their clients are considerable. Of course, all the leaders and representatives of member organizations of FECIF and all the teams of the executive office, will continue to be the voice of our advisors and intermediaries.
Welcome back to work everyone.