Oxford Street, London’s main shopping thoroughfare, was closed to traffic yesterday because vast throngs of shoppers, spilling off the pavement into the street, were in danger of being run over. The Street will be shut off today, as well. Shopping malls, too, claim to have problems controlling the crowds. Travel agents for exotic foreign destinations report that business is brisk.
So what happened to hard times? Is the recession merely a statistical aberration? Or is it real enough, and people are merely living in a short-lived fool’s paradise, enjoying one last spending blow-out before battening down for the years of forced austerity that the government and the Bank of England, among others, have warned us are coming?
I can only wonder who is doing the spending. Surely not the unemployed, now close to 10 percent of the workforce, and supposedly struggling to survive on benefits? Nor, I imagine, the public sector employees who last week went on 24-hour strike last week because their pensions are being eroded. And if it’s private sector workers, why aren’t they worried about estimates, official and unofficial, that their disposable incomes may shrink by a collective 10 percent next year.
If we are in a recession it’s the strangest one I can remember – and I can recall quite a few. There must be an explanation, I suppose, but clearly I’ve missed it.
I’m left to add my incomprehension on economic matters to all those others from which I seem to suffer these days.
Will someone please explain to me what’s going on?