2023 is proving to be a really weird year. On the back of a pandemic, we have a world where interest rates are rising, business is contracting, tax is going up and confidence is going down. I cannot see anywhere in the world that is stable or normal. We have war in Europe; China has clamped down on dissidents and companies too big to control; America has extremes of right and left wing politics that they struggle to control; Canadian banks are stumbling; South America sees inflationary issues in many areas; many African nations face the same, as well as a terrible drought in many countries … the list goes on.
This results in governments facing massive issues. Interest rates are rising and there are huge concerns over inflation. Janet Yellen is raising the alarm that America might not be able to pay its bills, whilst Argentina’s bank has just raised interest rates to 97%. Hyperinflation is back. Should have invested in bitcoin? Not really, as the crypto winter is here.
Meanwhile, we’ve seen a number of banks failing: Signature Bank, Silicon Valley Bank, First Republic and Credit Suisse. Can we trust banks? According to a Gallup poll, no. Half of US bank customers fear their bank might fail.
And I’ve realised that most of my blogging these days seems to focus on AI and cryptocurrency. It is a reflection of where the future change process lies. On the one hand it is automation versus humans; on the other, it is decentralisation versus centralisation. These are fascinating times.
The net:net is that 2023 is probably the most destabilising year we have seen since 2008, when the American-European financial crisis hit. I hate the fact we called that a global financial crisis, as it was not. If we are honest, 2023 is the global crisis. But 2023 is not a financial crisis. It is more than this. It is a societal crisis or, if you prefer, it is a political, economic and social crisis.
This makes it big news.
I have never seen so many people so nervous in my lifetime, or so many friends losing jobs and, in some cases, hope ... but then you have to look to the positives.
The positive is that we are harnessing the power of technology to make the world better. We are using technology to become multi-planetary. Technology can automate the mundane and enhance the human. Technology is allowing people with less abilities to enhance those abilities.
More than this, some parts of the world are flourishing, such as India and Cambodia. Equally, we have inspirational people achieving the impossible, such as climbing Mount Everest. This is something that has stayed with me ever since hearing from the remarkable Mark Inglis, a double amputee who reached the highest summits regardless of that loss of ability. Since then, I have seen many others achieving the impossible. Just look at people like Ed Jackson or Hari Budha Magar. Admittedly, it is not technology that is allowing them to achieve these things. It is spirit.
This year, the most challenging ever, will test the spirit of people. There will be good days and bad days, difficult times and happy moments. But always remember that things can only get better.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, 1859
But just remember ...
Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...