There is a lot of talk in the newspapers and on the news at the moment about the UK struggling not to fall into a state of recession, but what exactly does this mean? What is a recession?
In simple terms, a recession is a period of temporary economic decline during which industrial production, employment, and trade reduces significantly. When economic commentators talk about recessions, they use the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) as their reference point or technical downturn indicator.
A recession begins after an economy that has peaked begins to fall too quickly. It comes to an end as the economy reaches a low point before picking up again. Between this dip and its peak, the economy enjoys a period of expansion, with low unemployment, steady wage rates and good trade links and sales. A recession kicks in when economy experiences two successive periods of “negative growth.”
There are different levels of recession, with some less damaging than others, and being easier and faster to recover from. There have been six major post-war recessions, in 1974, 1975, 1980, 1981, 1991 and 2010. All of these economic dips took years to recover from. In the case of 2010, the UK took four years to begin to rise out of trouble, and with economic uncertainty hanging over the country due to Brexit, economists believe that the chances of us dipping back into recession again are high – if we haven’t done so already. One of the biggest problems about declaring a recession is that we can only be sure if one has happened once it is over and the economy heads back towards a period of growth.
Some recessions are certainly more serious than others, and don’t affect just one country at a time. Between 2007 and 2009 there was a global recession which drew attention to the risky investment strategies used by large financial institutions across the world. As a result of this wide-spread global recession, the economies of virtually all the world’s developed countries were damaged.
During a period of recession people have less money to spend; it’s harder for shops and businesses to make money, and to pay other peoples wages. As a consequence, unemployment levels rise.
Recessions, however awful, are a normal part of a country’s economic cycle. Every area of business experiences periods of growth and decline. It is only when several things go wrong with the economy at one, that a recession is declared. So it could be said that at least there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s just hope our next tunnel, if we have to go through one, doesn’t turn out to be that long.
Blue-Sky means having the pleasant appearance of a blue sky. A completely blue sky has no opaque objects, in other words no clouds. Similarly, Blue-Sky Thinking was considered to be empty thinking (i.e. a blue sky without clouds) and in this case without the tarnish of any ideas at all. More specifically, Blue-Sky Thinking means fanciful thinking, hypothetical, not practicable or profitable in the current state of knowledge or technical development. The use of Blue-Sky goes back to 1906, when it was used in the context of Blue-Sky securities, which are worthless securities. Those people trading in worthless securities, something that would later be referred to as junk bonds, were said to be selling “Blue-Sky and hot air” and so were called “Blue-Sky merchants.” In 1948, Blue-Sky securities indicated a bad investment or a fraud.
Blue-Sky was used in a different way in the 1920’s, in a work called Raymond Robins’ Own Story, by W.Hard, which refers to Lenin and Trotsky never giving any Blue-Sky talk. In other words, they never promised anything without the power and the will to deliver. Later, in 1956, the phrase Blue-Sky book came into being in the U.S. This type of book is a literary work which lacks any expert knowledge or specific technique. Similarly, there is a quote in the Times in 1977 regarding Blue-Sky technologies, which are those where there are no real world applications immediately apparent. So Blue-Sky carries a theme where there is nothing useful, nothing concrete or practicable. Ref: English Oxford Dictionary.
Blue-Sky Thinking is currently considered to be thinking that is not based or connected with the realities in the present moment. It allows for creative ideas where there is no restriction or limitation placed on them from current thinking or beliefs.
There is a similar usage, which is the phrase, “Thinking Outside The Box”, which means thinking creatively, freely, without restriction or conventional constraint. The origin of this is from the U.S. in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s. There is an early example in the Aviation Week & Space Technology Magazine, in July 1975, which says, “We must step back and see if the solutions to our problems lie outside the box.”
The ‘box’ represents rigid and unimaginative thinking, so out of the box is a distinct contrast. Thinking outside the box and Blue-Sky thinking essentially mean the same thing, the latter phrase being the older of the two.
These phrases described above relate to the work of Edward De Bono, a psychologist and inventor, who gave encouragement in the U.K. to find solutions from outside our normal thinking behaviour. He also coined the phrase Lateral Thinking, in 1967, and went on to develop it as a method of structured creativity.
All this given to the world of business and beyond, from a simple, pleasant sight of nature and environment.