I love Spring. It’s when nature wakens from her slumber and the sun begins to peek through the dark winter clouds.
Last week I got to enjoy the full majesty of spring as I drove through regional South Australia admiring the winter crops. Fields of golden Canola contrasted with those of green wheat to provide a picture postcard setting. It was simply wonderful but also made me think of those places where the agricultural sector isn’t so bright.
There are so many Aussie farmers battling a crippling drought. The pressure on them, their families and the flow-on effects within their communities are enormous.
The agricultural sector is such an important part of our national psyche that we are all impacted by the fortunes of our farmers.
Most of us know that in Dorothea Mackellar’s ‘sunburnt country’ we have droughts and flooding rains which delivers times of plenty and hardship. Our farmers have lived with that since settlement itself but it doesn’t make the tough times any easier.
But tough times are not limited to sections of the agricultural community. Across the country, people from all walks of life seem to be concerned about the future. We have previously discussed the economic storm clouds gathering at home and abroad dimming our national optimism.
That concern is why people are tightening their own belts in anticipation of bleaker times to come. Of course, some people haven’t any spare notches on their belt as they are flat out meeting the basic living needs already.
Others are taking the record low-interest rates for the generational opportunity they are and repaying debt as a cushion for the future. Either way, it isn’t doing much for the economy.
Business is cautious about investment. Workers are worried about their jobs and government is desperate to keep the good times rolling.
So what does that all mean? In a word – uncertainty.
The world is in uncharted economic waters. With trillions of dollars in loss-making bonds already out there (and more to come), economic growth is in short supply. People are more concerned with keeping what they have – or not losing too much of it – than growing their pile.
That suggests the greater fool theory of debt-funded growth fuelling asset sales is coming to an end. It may be that a major transition from government bonds into private assets may fuel one last major financial bubble in the years ahead but I suspect the post-bubble path will be a very rocky one indeed.
So while the seasons may have changed in accordance with our calendar, it’s not all blue sky and sunshine ahead.