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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Like I said

I've said more than once, including in my latest letter to the Spectator, the notion that the East is going to suffer from the slump as badly as the West needs some qualification. It's what happens after the slump that will be decisive, and the East has the gear and skilled people to lead the way out, as the Telegraph reports:

Arcelor, being three times larger than its nearest rival, Japan's Nippon Steel, and sharing 10 pc of the industry's global sales, wields huge power to determine what happens to prices and production. In the medium to longer term, Mr Mittal expects the industry to bounce back sharply as the pace of industrialisation in China and India picks up again.

In China, billionaire Shagang steel magnate Shen Wenrong has also planned for the coming downturn. In fact he's not even cutting his prices, since (I surmise) his game plan is that his over-leveraged competitors are going to go bust and customers will have to come to him anyway.

This is smart, counter-intuitive strategy for dealing with a recession. Those who try to survive by cutting margins will get skinny and become more vulnerable to delayed delivery by cash-strapped suppliers, bad-debt customers, and shark bigger-business customers that deliberately pay late to force your business under and then buy your goods from the official receiver at a 90% discount.

In a really post-industrial economy, we in the UK and USA will discover the disadvantages of being run by money-grows-on-trees lawyers, box-it-all-up-and-get-it-on-the-train-before-the-war-ends bankers and hang-onto-office-by-your-bitten-fingernails politicians.

My plan? Pay off debts, hoard some emergency cash (and maybe gold), and if I have to invest, put it in something that's secure and inflation-proofed.


hatfield girl said...

Would you mind mentioning something, anything that's secure and inflation-proofed S?

Sackerson said...

Well, here in the UK I'd be thinking about Index-Linked Savings Certificates. I don't know if there's an equivalent in la bella paese.

yoyomo said...

I may be dense but I don't get the "box-it...war-ends bankers" reference; I've never heard it before.

Sackerson said...

Hi, Yoyomo; I was thinking of the way bankers and traders have been filling their boots, e.g. Goldman Sachs paying out $7 bn in bonuses after receiving $6 bn bailout money, and how it reminds me of the way the Nazis were smuggling gold and art at the end of the war when they could see the game was up. Obviously I put it a bit too tangentially.

yoyomo said...

In that case I hope the bankers (the dirty ones) end up like the nazi looters, they will have caused almost as much damage by the time this plays out.