Editor’s blog: The Paris Hilton stimulus plan

‘If you feel down and you put on a tiara or a cute sparkly headband, it like totally brightens up your day,’ noted the heiress. How true. You really are a philosopher, Paris. The new Alain de Botton. Trouble is, I left my headband behind today and tiaras are just soooo 2007.

So on the day when the stats finally acknowledge that we’re in recession, let’s leap from the ridiculous world of Paris to the sublime one of TS Eliot, who wrote: ‘Humankind cannot bear very much reality’. I certainly felt I’d consumed enough reality this week when I read two FT pieces online in quick succession. The first was a thorough rubbishing of Uk plc from investor Jim Rogers. The second was a massive outpouring from the human word-machine Prof Willem Buiter of the LSE, a rising star of the recession and the leading horseman of the Apocalypse. Reading the twin opinions left one with the ineluctable impression that the UK is a totally-crocked Iceland-on-Thames, and we may as well all give up and go home now. At the end of a long day, they were a cruel double blow – a rabbit-punch to the kidney and a haymaker straight into the solar plexus. I felt so humiliated and dissed that I wanted to go out and lamp an investment banker.

Firstly, I really hope they are wrong. Secondly, I think they might be wrong but I really don’t know. But thirdly, things are now getting so bad that we are in serious danger of talking ourselves into the abyss. Maybe careless talk can cost lives – three crash-related suicides, by the last count.

Comment is, of course, free in any democracy. We can yak and yak, and blog and blog to our hearts’ content – as long as we don’t invade the privacy of celebs like Paris and get those charmers from libel lawyers Carter-Ruck with their outrageous contingency fee agreements onto our backs. No, that’s far too serious an area for freedom of expression.

We also wouldn’t want to follow the example of South Korea, where a 30-year-old blogger called Park Dae-sung is facing trial for being ‘too pessimistic’ in his financial forecasts. Mr Dae-sung became a household name for his accurate forecasts of sharp falls in Korea’s won currency, declines in the Seoul stock market and Lehman Brothers going belly-up. He faces up to five years in prison if found guilty of violating ‘communication laws’.

But we do need to watch it. It may be bad, but it ain’t Armaggeddon.

In today’s bulletin:

Recession is official – and it’s worse than we thought
Editor’s blog: The Paris Hilton stimulus plan
Microsoft to log off 5,000 staff
MT’s Week in 60 Seconds
Be an inspiring leader, with YouTube

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    I have to say it is good to read comments such as these, whilst not positive (who can really be) they are not as negative as the vast majority in the press. Whilst the severe global economic downturn is indeed a terrible thing, we are suffering from commentators in the press trying to outdo each other. Don’t forget many of these are the same commentators who raved on about the growth in house prices and assets values of nearly everything.

    Whilst it may be a strange comparison to make, it reminds me of the global warming (now renamed climate change) debate. The only way commentators or those with a vested interest in “proving” that the earth was nearing apocalypse simply produced stats which were more pessimistic than anyone else, safe in the knowledge that the press would pick up on their story.

    Whilst undoubtedly things are bad and going to get worse there is a school of thought that a bit of optimistic and positive thinking reporting may help to reverse the trend. However, the doom and gloom merchants (who lets face it 99% of whom didn’t predict what was going to happen) are having a field day interpreting data and extrapolating it to the nth degree to say that UK plc is finished.

    We will emerge from this a lot stronger as we always do from recession.

    What UK plc really needs is strong, dynamic, forward thinking leadership from the top. At the moment, we do not have this. For all his years as Chancellor Gordon “I have never made a mistake” Brown doesn’t appear to have a clue about how to go forward. I am hoping that President Obama will prove to be the leader of the people he appears to be. If he can pull the US out of this then we should have a leader that can do the same.

    There are many, many businesses in the UK that are solid and know that through the bad times you have to build up your reserves, not borrow without thinking about the consequences. In addition many of these have been through this before and know that you have to batten down the hatches and do your very best at everything.

    Whilst I am not advocating a stick your head in the sand approach we have to have a balance in the reporting. If we are not careful all the doom and gloom will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and we will never manage to get out from the other side of the storm