If you speak to any Credit Director or Manager they will normally tell you, “I don’t like surprises.” Well, the past few years have seen no end of them.
In Jan 2020, the IMF prediction for global growth of 3.3% rising to 3.4% in 2021, EUR to USD FX was 1.12, GBP at 1.30, global inflation was 3.2% and inflation in Europe was 1.4%. Interest rates in the U.S. were 1.6%, the ECB was 0% and BoE was at 0.75%. Supply chains were steady as U.S. & China relations were warming, albeit slightly, and we all commuted to work in offices from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.
So, what have we seen since then (unless you’ve been living in a cave) ? Well, there was a change of President in the U.S. culminating in an attack on the U.S. Capitol by MAGA supporters, the first country to leave rather than join the EU in the form of Brexit, a global pandemic which forever changed how and where we live as well as how and where we work. Governments across the globe enforced lockdowns and in an effort to avoid massive unemployment and economic meltdown, borrowed billions to prop up their respective economies.
Gone were the days of arriving at work to “Morning. How was the traffic ?” to “We can’t hear you ! You’re on mute !” We endured several lockdowns, missing holidays abroad, birthdays, weddings, Christmas’s, et al, as well as a seemingly never ending series of Teams or Zoom meetings at all hours of the day as well as fist fights over toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Finally, after starting to emerge out of Covid and we transitioned from pandemic to endemic, the start to 2022 looked somewhat promising; inflation and interest rates were low, supply chains were expected to normalise throughout the year, and the price of oil was around $64 a barrel. Then, Mr Putin, growing bored of a globalised and re-emerging economy, decided to attack Ukraine with his “Special Military Operation”. The result has been war in Europe for the first time in decades, spikes in oil, energy and grain prices, rising inflation and interest rates, a strong U.S. dollar impacting the Euro, GBP and other currencies FX and purchase power, stagnation in major economies and forecasts of global recession; not to mention the very real human cost in Ukraine as we come to the one year anniversary of the invasion.
It’s been a tough few years for everyone. However, Credit Professionals are normally an agile group. The challenges we’ve all faced during recent times meant that we had to turn that agility factor up to 11. Fortunately (or unfortunately), Credit professionals are very adept at weathering storms; just as we did in the 2009 financial crisis. Whatever 2023 brings, we’ll have to continue to be agile, resilient, creative and deliver the results that our respective businesses expect.
As you go throughout your Credit career, there will be times when things are relatively straight forward and times like we’ve had recently and will no doubt continue to experience. Economists, journalists, governments, and various pundits have all been touting various forecasts for the year ahead but one theme has been common amongst them; it won’t be boring. But boring doesn’t make good Credit professionals; challenges and adversity do. Embrace the chaos and realise that these are career defining events.
As the famous American professional baseball player, manager and coach, Yogi Berra, once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”