Reading Polly Toynbee's mind at work is almost heartbreaking. Today, she fairly and accurately describes a queue of debtors being dealt with by the civil courts; the list is pretty evenly divided between B2B debt and failed household credit, the major creditors HMRC, local councils and banks. The witness evidence could have formed the basis for an informed and constructive article, but instead Polly just can't resist the trite and bromidic - it's all the fault of gub'ment austerity.
Many of you will also have caught on TV one of the rival fly-on-the-wall progs about bailiffs and sheriffs; again, a litany of business debt and evictions by private landlords mostly for failure to pay rent. If HMRC, councils and banks are creditors for these cases they stay clear of any mention, or perhaps they don't permit their bailiff actions to be filmed. Where creditors are revealed, they're frequently in no better financial position than their debtors - single-house landlords, other skint small businesses.
And we ain't seen nothing yet. We're still at the top end of the curve. It's said that in 2008 the banks weren't prepared and took the hit - but today they are, and it's their debtors that will feel the real pain this time. The ECB are already preparing for the next crash - measures are even now being enacted to staunch outflows in the event of bank runs and restrict depositor access to protected deposits (€100k).
As far as I can see the victims of debt are not victims of government cuts - and every time a council wrings its hands and closes a library I am reminded that CIPFA valued local authority reserves at £21bn in 2016 - but of globalisation. Half the country haven't done well economically and are the first casualties. The other half - the public sector, universities, global corporates, legal and accounting megafirms, media, digital economy - have done comparatively nicely, but are by no means free of debt. Their turn will come when austerity really does hit. A metropolitan elite economy based on Amazon Prime, Netflics and Lloyds Gym memberships, a leased car and three designer coffees a day is built on sand.
That's the bloody problem. We all know it's coming, but when? Until the storm hits, we're all just marking time and standing ready. And until it does come, growth just won't return.