Adapt, adjust and accommodate to survive global economic meltdown
If the base of an inverted pyramid was held together by a small group of stones, and the spaces in between were filled with pebbles and sand, and if we removed a single stone from that foundation, the pyramid would, over a period of time, collapse.
That is precisely what happened to the world economy. Bit by bit, panic buying and selling of stocks worldwide, bailouts and foreclosures wrecked havoc on the economic landscape. The effect of the downturn has dealt a devastating blow to the US and Europe.
In the West, the damage and its ramifications will remain far-reaching – and continue beyond 12 months. In Asia, the next year will decide the fate of the next 12 years. This insidious turn of events, largely due to the meltdown of the financial system in the US, is already having a direct fiscal effect in the Third World countries.
Let’s get down to the basics. How does the collapse of multinational companies headquartered halfway across the globe affect the ordinary man in the Third World country? The answer is not easy to comprehend. It will permeate the Third World economies through a complex and unwieldy global village syndrome.
The only consolation in that tangled mess is that the realities of the First World countries are not necessarily the realities of the Third World countries.
Asia, in particular, has learned to be more resilient having endured at least two protracted periods of recession in the last decade. The Internet bubble bust followed the 1997 Asian economic crisis closely. There was another upheaval when the SARS epidemic saw the Asian economy take an unexpected dive.
Asia reached rock bottom and the indicators were flashing red. Somehow, through a collective spirit of resilience, we survived the turmoil. The winning combination to our endurance? Our ability to adapt, adjust and accommodate.
The first stage of adaptation requires inherent changes in our attitude and expectations. Consciously ignoring the worldwide economic recession by retreating into a cocoon of denial is unconscionable.
In a fashion, it is like those who failed to recognise that the cost of living was on an upward spiral when fuel prices started escalating – and continued spending lavishly.
Inevitably, we must accept that the economic crisis affects all of us. We need to adapt by realistically reviewing what we need to spend on and how. A single source income may not be financially viable anymore. We need to look at additional sources of income, even if it means spending more hours at work. People are going to require the same quantity of staples – but perhaps alternatives at more affordable prices.
During the Japanese occupation in World War II, we adapted by learning how to be resourceful. Rice was substituted with yam or barley. Sugar was rationed. We grew vegetables in our backyards. The fact of the matter is that all of us have an innate ability to source goods and provide services from the homestead. Now is the time to explore those options.
Next stage: to adjust. We need to exercise a measure of frugality. This requires realigning the household budget practically. The fundamental thing to recognise is that the best things in life are free. A homemade picnic in the park for the family can be as enjoyable as a day spent in a shopping mall.
We need to urgently reassess these new realities. We can create jobs if we cannot find one. It boils down to our sense of confidence and self-esteem. There are more traders now selling homemade food, trinkets, old books, clothes, and toys at open marts because they have learned to adjust.