Paralysis by analysis – what to do?

Are we getting too much information about the state of the world economy and what it means for us in regional Australia?  What do we do about it?  Are we in a paralysis by analysis trap?

Leading up to and since the Brexit vote and election of Donald Trump, I have read countless analyses of why they happened and what might happen now.  I’ve been reading more today!

Some articles have been insightful, some just idle day dreaming to fill column inches or satisfy a contractual obligation, I imagine.  The sheer volume of media and independent analysis has caused me to not put finger to keyboard for quite some time (well that’s as good an excuse as any).  However while it’s impossible to escape the media deluge, some of the root causes  – for example middle-class voter dissatisfaction with governments and business as jobs are lost and prospects for a comfortable future dwindle – demand that as broad a range of voices as possible stay active.  The alternative, as we are seeing both at home and abroad, is a wave of ‘populist’ and reactionary grab-bags of simple answers to complex questions.

Only a few days ago we saw articles like this that, similar to the US and Turkey and the Philippines even moreso, if acted on at the ballot box open up a major risk of authoritarian rule with all that implies in terms of personal freedoms

The challenge – for me at least – is to try to say something fresh and original.  That’s difficult, if not next to impossible.  What’s needed, from my perspective, is a new centrist party (whether mildly “left” or “right” hardly matters provided no extreme positions are in the policy statement).  What does matter is an evening up of where the spoils of capitalism and globalisation fall.

If the middle class – for want of a better term – saw more certainty and equality in incomes across the board, those campaigns focusing on refugees and “dole bludgers” as inimical to their financial well-being may have less effect.

In Australia, and in the major cities certainly, the effects of large-scale immigration are not positive, particularly on the housing market.  That is of course an entirely different argument to any about the number of refugees Australia should or could accept, it’s about gross immigration numbers as well as policies that allow cashed-up immigrants to buy a place in town.

On other pieces on LinkedIn I’ve put forward a case that, economically, more focus needs to be placed on the demand side and somewhere I read that the view that we should focus on consumers, who drive growth.  However if you’re a casual or temp, then you are excluded from home ownership and your discretionary spending is likely to be very low indeed.

NB: a gap of quite a few days ensued here while I read even more articles on these general themes and, of course, reactions to the first Executive Orders signed by President Trump.)  What should I do?

However as I say above, more voices are needed to help inform a rational conversation about how to navigate our way forward.  Already in what I have written above, I’ve started to get lost in issues of what changes our system of representative democracy needs, rather than the narrower issues of economic and regional growth in such uncertain times.

Only those with extreme positions – whether from the broad left and right perspectives – on “free” trade wish to curtail and roll back the market opening of recent decades.  That said, simply continuing on the same path will not change anything and just reinforce the widespread unhappiness with the distribution of the “spoils”.  Just to “sell the benefits” to the populus, as has been the routine response for decades, isn’t going to cut it without substantial backlash from now on.  The winners will be those with the simple answers to the complex questions.

For all the gnashing of teeth and supposed enlightenment reportedly on show in Davos the other week, I have yet to see any public commitment to change from those, both in government and the private sector, that the spoils need to be distributed more fairly.  Self-interest is still winning that particular race.

I’m tired just thinking about it.  I have succumbed to paralysis by analysis.  What do you think?

« Back to home « Back to blog list

Other Posts