Allow me to introduce myself. I'm 30 years old, I'm a teacher, I'm single, I have no dependants, and I'm not a home-owner.
I'm currently sat comfortably in a coffee house drinking a latte with hazelnut shot. I'm not sure if I'm sat too comfortably though, because outside the steamed up window of the coffee shop there's financial meltdown, contagion and talk of a 'lost generation'.
Should I be preparing financially during times of austerity, and if so, how?
I suppose the other question is what place does economics have in a lifestyle section of a magazine?
In times of recession and with the 'fall of Capitalism' nigh there will be some seismic shifts in life as we know it.
It affects our health and well-being, our choice of leisure and lifestyle and our willingness and ability to purchase organic or super-foods instead of cheap, processed crap...or in my case, coffee.
Should I prepare for change in my lifestyle by reading JK Galbraith's The Great Crash, 1929 as a precautionary tale from history, or Bear Grylls' Born Survivor?
I'm serious, because the media sources are questionable and I'm being bombarded left, right and centre by different political and economic messages.
Before 2006, when I had just graduated, everybody was extolling the virtues of using property as an investment tool with 100% mortgages whilst behind closed doors racking up debt on various credit and store cards.
Their legacy - an economy built on sandy foundations which is now in imminent danger of collapsing. It's not their fault though. People simply regurgitated what the mainstream media informed them, trusted what financial experts advised them and followed what political party mantras told them to do.
Why? Because we're meant to. That is the role of these institutions in society. They are in a position of trust. So this takes me back to the questionable role of the media, financial institutions and governments whom we are supposed to rely on.
In the halcyon days it seemed high street debt was available everywhere and encouraged by the government to prop up the economy. Buy now pay later.
Sarah Beeney et al were on to something, telling us all of the secretly kept tricks of the property trade. Things could only get better.
However, a few months ago on BBC Breakfast News the whole nation nearly choked on their cornflakes as 'financial expert' Alessio Rastani candidly told us, with savour, that the markets and economy were doomed and that our pensions and savings would be wiped out.
Two contrasting messages over time, but what remained the same was the supposed financial expertise and credentials of their sources used. It took the Daily Mail, of all papers, to be the bastion of truth and investigative journalism by revealing Rastani as a charlatan who lived in his girlfriend's semi-detached in Bexley Heath. Hardly the stuff of Wall Street.
So can we rely on these sources of information to survive the recession any more? Should I really be using my suggested alternative reading instead?
The media are apocalyptic on the economic outlook but the financial institutions are bullish.
The government are putting together rescue packages and telling me everything's under control but impartial ratings agencies are downgrading sovereign debt.
I'm being cajoled by adverts to keep on spending but these same companies advertising are announcing store closures and mass redundancies. Has the house band been instructed to carry on playing or is it like the grade two hurricane which was predicted for New York being categorised down to a tropical storm? Can't we just consolidate all this conflicting information into one simple message?
So back to my original question. What should I be doing to prepare and reduce the effects of the recession?
When I go to the coffee shop should I downgrade from a vente to a grande? Should I abandon the coffee shop altogether as an excessive pleasure and drink granulated coffee at home?
Heaven forbid, should I be resorting to that powdery substitute - chicory? Because any hardship or contagion beyond chicory I just can't contemplate or comprehend.
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