Real stormy times ahead for UK’s financial future

Sandra Chapman
Sandra Chapman

In biblical times when storms, plagues, fire and brimstone reigned down periodically it was a sign that God was angry with the people and their sinful ways.

This summer there have been gigantic fire storms in Spain and Portugal, severe flooding in parts of Asia and the UK, earthquakes in Nepal and Italy and apocalyptic hurricanes in the Caribbean.

Ireland, north and south, has just endured the effects of hurricane Ophelia and if these were biblical times I’m pretty certain it would be classed as God’s wrath upon us.

Two thousand years is not much in the scale of time so maybe God’s displeasure – I know some people who really believe that - is still there especially as we in Norn’ Irn appear to have reached a crisis point politically with no sign of anyone backing down, an on-going storm in anyone’s books.

On top of that there’s the crisis in the Health Service, Brexit which half the population appears to want to sabotage, inflation on the rise and, to crown it all, the loss of £490bn off the UK’s wealth. I’ll come back to that last bit later.

In my part of the world we’ve seen worse storms. In fact, with my newly installed double glazing I hardly heard the roaring wind outside. What was much worse was the storm of 2011 which buried us in 12 feet of snow and for which there had been very little warning.

For two days the wind that accompanied it was fearsome, an eerie wailing sound which folk centuries ago would most likely have blamed on banshees. Indeed, as a child growing up in remote south Derry I remember how the older generation was fairly sure that banshees were alive during stormy events and came back at Halloween. So, with Halloween just around the corner maybe the ghostly critters are gearing up for their big event.

We are a generation with an exaggerated sense of entitlement. When we can’t get an appointment with our doctor when we want it we get angry and boorish and slate off the Health Service.

If we get a cut finger as the result of some minor accident we seek compensation. Our ability to cope with disasters, even minor ones, is diminishing. People reach for social drugs to help them cope.

Common sense, as my mother often declared, has gone out the window. This week, those trying to run the country at Stormont, in the absence of the bickering politicians, got pilloried for the delay in telling the public about schooling arrangements during the stormy weather. Do we need to be led by the hand every time the wind blows or flooding hits? As it happens I was out for a short time in the ‘big wind’ trying to drive on a road with debris of all kinds reigning down on my car. I ended up with a ruined tyre and a £60 bill for my stupidity.

The civil servants were telling us not to take risks, a suggestion which didn’t resonate with the masses, including yours truly.

Because of the type of people we’ve become, if nature, responsible for our weather this week, was a person he or she, would by now be over-run with compensation claims. I’m sure it doesn’t do any harm now and then to be rendered helpless. And so I return to the subject I mentioned earlier – the state of the nation’s finances.

The Office of National Statistics, an official body used by the Government, claims that Britain is £490bn poorer than anyone had assumed and ‘no longer has any reserve of net foreign assets’ which isn’t a happy state to be in given our problems with Brexit.

One expert at Bank of America declares that this loss is ‘the equivalent to 25 pc of GDP’. On top of that foreign direct investment is plummeting.

Daily I’m trying to keep up with the financial media to see what all this means. Some experts say that in the grand scheme of things a few hundred billion pounds isn’t all that big an amount yet it could in the longer term affect the value of the pound and that, surely, would not be good for those with savings and pension funds. Now that could mean real stormy times ahead.