Impact of Carillion dwarfs the Brexit and Trump effects
The first year of the Donald Trump presidency have seen ongoing concerns about his suspect judgement, planning, problem solving abilities and impulse control, culminating in a group of 70 mental health professionals sending a public letter to White House physicians urging them to evaluate his mental faculties. Happily, with the successful completion of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), the free world can rest easy knowing that the leader of the United States is in peak mental condition. He was easily able to draw a clock, name a rhinoceros, recognise a lion, copy a line sketch of a cube, recall five words and repeat shorts lists of numbers forwards and backwards. The perfect score of 30 out of 30 may not support Trump’s claim that he is a stable genius, but it supposedly does assure us that he is not declining into dementia.
So what of that first year? You could of course fall back on the traditional tools to evaluate a presidency, but the Trump era has been so utterly abnormal that it almost defies evaluation using those tools. But perhaps what we can say is that it hasn’t been as bad as many of us expected. The world still turns as it always has, nothing has gone horribly wrong, and business communities have rolled up its sleeves and carried on working.
You could say much the same of Brexit. Despite the ongoing uncertainty over the end result, which is never good for business, by and large we’ve simply got on with things. The politicians carry on making their ridiculous claims and counter claims, the posturing continues on both sides, and we continue to fail to move closer to any sort of exit deal. On paper it’s the worst possible position for business, and yet we simply stay calm and carry on. There is a resilience to industry that keeps us going despite the rhetoric that tells us it’s all going to come crashing down around us unless somebody does this or agrees to that. Perhaps the collapse of Carillion has put it all into perspective, looking as though it will have a far greater impact on the lives of individuals than Brexit and Trump combined.
Some have argued that Carillion is part of the Brexit fallout, and that without the distraction of Brexit ministers would have been keeping a much closer eye on the decline of one of the UK’s biggest businesses. More likely it is simply indicative of the lack of talent throughout British politics or, at best, a lack of ability to multi-task and keep an eye on two different things at once. Still, Brexit has been described as a parasite sucking the life juices out of government.
There is still much talking to be done before a Brexit deal is agreed, and then probably a couple of years at least of transition. Across the pond, Trump has four years left on his term in office, and it would be a brave commentator who put money against him securing a second term. in the coming years, you can almost guarantee that Carillion won’t be the only big business disaster. But somehow, demonstrating the resilience of industry, we’ll all just carry on.
Mark Simms Editor