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Let's stay optimistic - Companies - Trends-Tendances

Let’s stay optimistic – Companies – Trends-Tendances

Being a business leader has never been a path paved with roses, but rather a way of the cross. You have to have faith in the body and keep an unbridled optimism to get away with it.

I am not talking here about the bosses of very large companies. I’m talking about the boss of the SME next door, or the TPE at the end of the street. In short, of these men and women who make up the economic fabric of our country.

Today, these leaders of SMEs and TPE know that they will pay inflation at least three times. The first time via the increase in their energy cost. The second time via automatic wage indexation. And the third time, because they have no illusions, they will pay new taxes to finance such and such a check that the State will sign for such a desperate sector or category. For companies, if we had to sum up the situation, we would have to parody a well-known series and say, WINTER IS COMING. Winter is coming for businesses, just as it is for households.

With hindsight, and if we ignore what is written or said in the media, are we so doomed to a harsh and endless winter? Several bosses of large banks and economists with whom I have spoken do not share 100% the prevailing pessimism. Yes, the winter will be harsh, but not necessarily insurmountable. First, as these bankers tell me, who rely on the figures of their credit portfolio and not on their feelings, we must remember that the consensus is almost always wrong. Just yesterday, we were told that there would be no inflation. When it appeared, the same experts told us that this inflation was temporary. Today we saw the quality of their forecasts, but we continue to listen to them. Then, the savings of Belgians are abundant thanks to COVID and it allows citizens to cushion the shock of the energy crisis and therefore, to support consumption at all costs. If we look at companies, they are not suffering from demand, they are not suffering from not being able to sell. No, their order book is on the contrary full. They suffer, on the other hand, from not being able to produce, or from not having enough raw materials or from a lack of manpower, which causes them to miss certain contracts. And then, thanks to the looming recession – yes, I mean, thanks to this recession – commodity prices are down, and so inflation will eventually come down. After rising sharply, interest rates will come back down to take account of this drop in inflation. It is also the first time that I have seen economic observers wishing for a recession, because it will calm inflation.

This speech is not a naive speech, it is held by serious people, as serious as those who predict the end of the world for us. But this more positive discourse is inaudible today. Let’s not forget that the economy is above all a matter of confidence, particularly in the ability of households to show sobriety in these difficult times. We must also keep hope in the responsiveness of our business leaders. In this regard, I would like to recall what Churchill said of the bosses of SMEs: “we consider the head of the company as a man to be slaughtered or a cow to be milked. But few see him as the horse that pulls the chariot”.

I am not talking here about the bosses of very large companies. I’m talking about the boss of the SME next door, or the TPE at the end of the street. In short, these men and women who make up the economic fabric of our country. Today, these leaders of SMEs and VSEs know that they will pay inflation at least three times. The first time via the increase in their energy cost. The second time via automatic wage indexation. And the third time, because they have no illusions, they will pay new taxes to finance such and such a check that the State will sign for such a desperate sector or category. For companies, if we had to sum up the situation, we would have to parody a well-known series and say, WINTER IS COMING. Winter is coming for businesses, just as it is for households. With hindsight, and if we ignore what is written or said in the media, are we so doomed to a harsh and endless winter? ? Several bosses of large banks and economists with whom I have spoken do not share 100% the prevailing pessimism. Yes, the winter will be harsh, but not necessarily insurmountable. First, as these bankers tell me, who rely on the figures of their credit portfolio and not on their feelings, we must remember that the consensus is almost always wrong. Just yesterday, we were told that there would be no inflation. When it appeared, the same experts told us that this inflation was temporary. Today we saw the quality of their forecasts, but we continue to listen to them. Then, the savings of Belgians are abundant thanks to COVID and it allows citizens to cushion the shock of the energy crisis and therefore, to support consumption at all costs. If we look at companies, they are not suffering from demand, they are not suffering from not being able to sell. No, their order book is on the contrary full. They suffer, on the other hand, from not being able to produce, or from not having enough raw materials or from a lack of manpower, which causes them to miss certain contracts. And then, thanks to the looming recession – yes, I mean, thanks to this recession – commodity prices are down, and so inflation will eventually come down. After rising sharply, interest rates will come back down to take account of this drop in inflation. It is moreover the first time that I have seen economic observers wishing for a recession, because it will calm inflation. This speech is not a naive speech, it is held by serious people, as serious as those who predict the end of the world. But this more positive discourse is inaudible today. Let’s not forget that the economy is above all a matter of confidence, particularly in the ability of households to show sobriety in these difficult times. We must also keep hope in the responsiveness of our business leaders. In this regard, I would like to recall what Churchill said of the bosses of SMEs: “we consider the head of the company as a man to be slaughtered or a cow to be milked. But few see him as the horse that pulls the chariot”.

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