The North West is feeling a bit like home from home at the moment. BCSC's conference in Manchester last week was heralded as a great success, and there seemed to be a huge amount of business activity. If that was the preferred measurement of the market I'd be instructing my broker (if I had one of course) to invest in multiple retail and retail property. It is of course not, and the sentiment is in my mind summarised by the comments of one delegate who said that, despite not being dejected, he had hoped 12 months ago that the mood would be far more positive last week than it actually was.
The dark cloud that is the European sovereign debt crisis and the debacle on Capitol Hill earlier this year seem to be key influencers of current sentiment. Can politicians, regulators, businesses and economists sort out the mess that is the global economy? Yesterday in Liverpool Ed Balls gave his view on how they at least might try in the UK, or at least how he thinks they, the Coalition, should. Now from what I understand Balls has one view of life, and it tends to be his (can't think where he must have learned that approach from!?). He seemed to be rather gleeful that the economy has stagnated since last year, and of course this is because the cuts are 'too far and too fast'. Is he right that taking too much money out of the economy without the necessary tax rises to compensate will ultimately lead us stumbling back towards armageddon...?
Osborne will get his chance next week to presumably make reference to the lack of choice they had (credit ratings and all that) but my request to him is not to labour on the past, as Balls did a bit yesterday, but to send a strong message about what will drive our economy in the future. Clearly, as Sir Richard Lambert said at our conference last week, in many towns and cities retail is the only game in town and should therefore be front and centre of politicians' minds when developing their ideas for economic growth.
Ed's turn today. All eyes on him, and one or two on his brother I imagine.