International Dealer News 175 Oct/Nov 2023 IDN175 Oct/Nov 2023 | Page 4

• COMMENT • COMMENT • COMMENT • COMMENT • COMMENT • COMMENT • What does ' business as usual ' look like now ?

I am a self-confessed ' news junkie '. It is an addiction , just like any other , and with it comes a particular suite of dependency symptoms . One of those symptoms is a voracious appetite for information , in my case especially where politics , economics and business news is concerned , and , like all of us , a dependency on the experience , expertise and opinions of those we are exposed to through our media channels of choice - print , radio , television , online , extra sensory perception , whatever . However , the innate cynic in me ( actually the realism that unfiltered optimists refer to as cynicism ) has always consumed the broadest possible information footprint , from all points on the political and economic compass , in order to try to construct a perspective that is protected from dependency on any one channel . Regrettably , confirmation bias is a defining characteristic of how information is prioritised in the 21st century . In the past 24 months , as the motorcycle industry cycle started to weaken from the peak-Covid bonanza , as shortages and supply chain inflation started to infect our ( and many other ) markets , as the war with Russia in defence of democracy and freedom additionally started to shape our economic landscapes , as the resulting spike , when the energy process started to feed consumer price inflation , I started to develop an uneasy feeling . In the past 12 months specifically , the frequency speed with which the ' Talking Head ' consensus was proven wrong over issues from inflation and interest rates to how best to respond to the war in Ukraine and issues such as energy security , to say nothing of the even broader and more long-term issues surrounding climate change , that uneasy feeling has crystalised into an evidence based fear that those we listen to are as far from being able to grasp and understand the issues and plot a rational forward strategy as the rest of us . Then , the shoe dropped . The event that finally came as a ' Five Sigma ' proof of concept came , for me , in September . Having been exposed to dozens of economists , investment analysts , media types and assorted other ' Talking Heads ' telling us all how the European Central Bank ( ECB ) had reached the peak of its interest rate rise cycle and that it and the other Central Banks were winning the fight against inflation , and that the only conceivable direction of travel from here on would be to see interest rates stabilise and then start to decline , guess what happened ? Yes , that ' s right - into my phone came an advisory that , in fact , the ECB had decided to raise its interest rates , yet again . They did so with all three of its interest rate mechanisms - on main refinancing operations , on the marginal lending facility , and on the deposit facility - increasing them to 4.50 %, 4.75 % and 4.00 % respectively . This equates to an effective base rate , in ' old speak ', of 4.75 %. So much for the economists . So much for the ' Talking Heads '. So much for the credibility of the illustrious Christine Lagard ' s experience and her own prior remarks . As a former French Finance Minister , who was Managing Director of the IMF for a long time - and is now President of the ECB - she is a lady who has built up a first-class reputation for ' telling it how it is ', understanding these things and , mostly , getting it right . She has been viewed as a voice of reason , a reassuring voice of stability and continuity

' horrendous debt burden '

on the economic scene , someone whose views have always been worth paying attention to , someone who knows who to listen to , and who to be deaf to . By any standards , hers is an impressive résumé . She is an impressive operator who has proven to be genuinely very good at her jobs . But if even she and the team around her can get it wrong in the present economic climate , then the rest of us have no chance . What ' s this got to do with us ? Everything and nothing . Ultimately our livelihoods are simply dependent on the number of people who want to ride motorcycles and the number of miles they do . Simple . On the other hand , the economies , and the economics that we are dependent on , are not that simple . If they really are being steered by people who have no better a handle on what to do ( on both sides of the Atlantic , globally , everywhere ) and how to respond to the issues that confront us , than the rest of us ' civilians ', then the past 15 years of fiscal caution and ' New Beginning ' for the Global Financial Order - following the Financial Crisis that metastasised with the ' Lehman Apocalypse ' of September 2008 - have been for nothing . Aside from a brief 20-year interregnum that came crashing to an end on September 12 , 2008 , when bankers were seen fleeing the scene of the crime , a period during which the world basked in the reflected glow of Cold War triumph without the nuclear winter , a brief era in which it appeared that Western democratic values had triumphed over autocracy , that liberal economics had found the Holy Grail of capitalism , that Free Trade had triumphed over protectionism and that a rules based world order had consigned nationalism to the margins of history , all those established and orthodox certainties and no uncertainties again . There is now a new war of ideas to be won . Having finally consigned so-called " quantitative easing " to the trash can , the primary tool used to deal with the 2008 financial crisis and , subsequently , the pandemic , has left the major economies and central banks with a debt mountain of eye-watering proportions , mirrored , in large part , by the horrendous personal debt burden that consumers are carrying . And yet , here we are . Working in an industry that , having prospered in response to a global pandemic , is not seeing ( yet !) a collapse in the popularity , affordability , or relevance of its products . With the exception of certain ' special case ' economies ( such as the UK ), most of the major markets in Europe are seeing record-setting levels of demand for our market ' s products . If , as claimed , EICMA is seeing more returnee exhibitors , and really are now filling most of the eight halls they are using , then yay us !
Robin Bradley Publisher robin @ dealer-world . com