Saturday, October 25, 2008

In Sweden we call it a "lågkonjunktur"

The theme of the blog saturday of the incurably entrepreneurial websmurfs is "lågkonjunkturen", or the recession. Myself I will offer a perspective from Estonia and hoping that it can provide some interesting insight into the otherwise so pitch black Baltic economy.

This morning I watched SVT Rapport with Hasse Svens (also here) reporting from an Estonia in crisis. They start with the story of some lunatics who abandoned their little baby (among what looked like rusty rebar in Paldiski), a story which has become a symbol of the recession, and then proceed with riding down an escalator in what looks like Monday afternoon in Gonsiori Selver (my closest proper grocery store). Yes, it's empty, but I'd assume it's because people, unlike financial analysts, have work to do during the days! I consider this so poor reporting I almost have to wear my spin goggles in order not to go completely blind.

Sure enough, I am generally financially agnostic and indeed living in quite a previleged and safe situation - but there is simply no way I can recognize the situation Svens is describing. Yes, estonian food prices have gone up quite significantly, but that's over the last several years, not because of a recession. Also yes, the real-estate market is stone dead, but it has been that for at least six months already (my girlfriend wrote an editorial about "how to make a million kroon - just not buy the apartment a year ago") and I really have little pity for Mr. Lepik who's anticipated a slowdown so poorly that his construction business is slamming itself down into bancruptcy so fast they didn't get to move into their new fancy offices. It's called risk, live with it.

Give me some solid numbers of how people and business are affected instead of spreading FUD, and I may agree that the average guy should start to worry. It's not unlikely Swedbank are losing huge money in the Baltics when previously lucrative risks start to pop, but this is normal and as far as I can see, we are still surviving.

Estonia is still a good as place as ever to be, people are still optimistic and the fishing waters are good. Everywhere I am hearing that a recession is the right time to start a business. May estonians never become as learned helpless as too many swedes are. Unlike swedes in the scene in "Songs from the second floor" (download it here and subtitles here, but I need to delay it -8 seconds), estonians have no trouble getting up from the floor and onto the stool!

"We have sacrificed the bloom of youth, is there possibly anything more we could do now?"

"No, there surely isn't"

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