We're not there yet, but there's a lot to be thankful for in 2011
As the sun readies itself to set over the yardarm of yet another traumatic year, it is surely right to note that, despite a raft of unresolved economic woes now about to be shifted into 2011 and having come a very long way over the last year, there really is a lot to be thankful for.
For a start there is the fact that the UK economy is still actually recovering albeit producing very low levels of percentage quarterly 'growth'.
Nevertheless, the global economy marches on regardless led by China, India and others in the Far and Mid East, by the mighty German economy in Europe and by recovery however faltering or less than genuine it may look in the US.
Sure, the negative of this is that by moving on a pace they are pushing up inflation that we unfortunately have little choice but to import. In general, though, it is certainly reasonable to conclude that at the end of 2010 the UK corporate sector is in a pretty lean and fit condition.
Sterling looks to be in pretty sound condition too albeit it as it rises increasingly less beneficial to our exporters.
Even so, as we at last face up to our problem of oversized deficit and large scale national debt it is right to say that the corporate sector is better prepared than ever before to face up to the rigours and impact of likely rising costs, rising taxes and public sector cuts that will become very apparent next year.
True, also, that corporate sector profits have recovered much lost momentum and that for the most part UK clearing banks are also now in a very much healthier state than they had been just a year or two ago.
What is also true is that we enter 2011 facing up to a good many unresolved economic and political issues that will need to be addressed now than pushed into 2012.
We must also in my view of necessity now be very concerned with regard to ongoing, vicious and very unnecessary almost day by day political attacks being made on UK banks by spurious ill informed politicians and others.
I will come back to this issue later in this particular commentary piece but for now thank Lord Heseltine and Mayor Boris Johnson for having the guts to support the battered ship City of London.
For now though let me emphasise a view that says we should be thankful that 2010 finally marked the end of the Gordon Brown years of overspend and that the new Coalition government has introduced a almost acceptable strategy aimed at ensuring in future that the government and hopefully the rest of us too can live within our means.
No longer will the UK economy be forced to live behind the drudgery of debt and no longer - well, in the years to come - will the holed ship 'Jam Tomorrow' be forced to go round in ever decreasing circles weighed down with the burden of national debt!
To that end, the strong measures announced by Chancellor Osborne in October aimed at beginning a long process of attempting to balance the government books shaving ÃÂ£81 billion of public spending was, on reflection, generally and very justifiably in my view well received by economists and observers alike.
Clearly not everyone is pleased, though, and those that the measures are most likely to directly impact will no doubt make the voices of discontent heard sometimes one fears in a more demonstrable manner during 2011 than we might otherwise wish.
Such thoughts will ensure that the year ahead will hardly be one of plain sailing for the Coalition government let alone the rest of us.
In a democratic society such as this those people that wish to object are perfectly entitled to so do but we may at least hope that unlike the latter stages of 2010 they do whatever it is that they feel necessary within the rule of the law.
Back at the ranch, if government has to reign in spending then so too must taxpayers and those that are - or should I say, soon will be - possibly out of work.
These thoughts along with raised VAT, sharp rises in business rates and national insurance costs will have a negative impact on all business and trade and particularly on retailing.
However, I do not have any great fear on inflation despite the fact that at three or above it has been significantly above the Bank of England target almost since I was a young man.
UK Inflation as I made plain in my view last week is being imported on oil, raw materials and other commodities that we as a nation cannot do without. There is very little that we can do about imported inflation and attempting to strangle it off by raising rates too far will wreck what little growth incentive remains in the economy.
Sticking my neck out yet again, I would say that we should spare no particular tears for large retailers hit by more sluggish sales and rising costs in 2011. Why? Because it is high time that they began to put their own houses in order - meaning that they have plenty left to reign in with regard to costs, particularly should they cut the ridiculous and abundant amount of over-capacity within the UK retail system?
For the small guy though, for farmers, suppliers and particularly those that run small and medium sized manufacturing, distribution, supply and service businesses, the year ahead could and no doubt will in most cases be very tough. All too often they receive little if any support from their respective banks, let alone from government
The months and indeed, the next three years will be tough for all of us and to make it all even worse we will no doubt see house prices and other assets slip off a touch before running perhaps in a near perfect straight line fro several years.
Britain may though consider itself lucky compared to some of its neighbours in Europe particularly those members of the Euro that will need to take the punch of the sovereign debt crisis right on the nose.
Make no mistake, these are tough times. Equities may move on a touch seen as safe haven assets to an extent mainly because bonds and currencies may well be out of favour. But the bottom line is surely that not only is the worst of the sovereign debt crisis yet to play its ugly hand, but also that ideas of real and lasting economic recovery being achieved any time soon here in the UK are little better than unfortunate dreams.
Charged with 'Growth' it is pleasing to see Lord Heseltine stick his neck out defending the financial services sector and particularly the banks.
"The 'City of London' is a vital part of the national economy, a world class industry bringing huge amounts of wealth to the nation" he said. He is right - a strong and vibrant banking sector will be crucial in the road to economic recovery.
Knocking banks for purely political ends and ignoring that in this very competitive age it might take very little more to break the camel's back, meaning more big time departures calls for an end to the game of attacking banks.
Of course banks must be responsible in terms of paying bonuses but they do not need the additional threat of government and regulator looking over the shoulder watching each and every move over how a bank conducts its business.
The future recovery will in equal proportions be about the contribution from the City of London including the banks, manufacturers and exporters plus those engaged in the service industries such as retailing. Why cut off the nose to spite the face?