Was The Global Financial Crisis a Blessing in Disguise?

Global Financial Crisis Is A Demonstrable Wake-Up Call To The World

First Published: August 28, 2009 ADawnJournal.com

It may not be a universally popular opinion, but there are certainly more than a few people who will tell you with a straight face that the global financial crisis had to come when it did, and moreover that it was the best thing that could have happened at the time. Most of these people will generally whisper the suggestion quietly rather than say it loud enough for a recently-unemployed eavesdropper to hear, but is there any chance that they actually have a point? Could we come out of the crisis stronger as a world, as nations and as people?

What cannot be denied is that we who live in countries where the mass media have a tendency towards hyperbole probably took longer to accept that the crisis was a very real fact. As has also recently been evidenced by the swine flu pandemic, there is a tendency after a while for people to become fundamentally skeptical about anything that they have not seen for themselves. Even now in more than one nation, there are people saying that the pandemic was exaggerated because comparatively few people have died as compared to the Black Death or Spanish flu epidemics. That it was largely due to speedy reaction from governments that we didn’t see much worse seems to slip people’s minds.

As with the pandemic, so with the crisis. Except, in this case, the symptoms worldwide came before the panic, but were largely ignored by many. Global economies fell like a house of cards, but it was not until the trickle of bad news turned into a torrent that many people realised just how bad things had got. This wasn’t just a minor bump in trade, but a crisis that would render many unemployed or bankrupt – or worse. The effects have been awful but could it be said that, given the inevitability of something like this happening, it is best that it has happened now rather than getting even further out of control?

One thing that has come out of the global financial crisis is that people have begun to see money in a more enlightened way. Before the crisis, many people saw their credit card as an extension of their financial solvency, rather than something which could very easily ruin it. There was also incredible snobbery towards people who bought things second-hand or cheaply, as conspicuous consumption reached its zenith. Now, it is almost cool to be a thrifty shopper and an assiduous saver.

There have been knock-on benefits in other ways, too. We now seem to have a tendency to recycle more. Consumption and waste are becoming watchwords for us all, which may well be a lesson that bears fruit in years to come. And yet, the fact remains that this crisis has left millions without jobs, without homes and many without hope. It cannot be said with any real measure of truth that this crisis has been a good thing. What it has been – hopefully – is a demonstrable wake-up call to the world that when someone yells “crisis!” it might be worth paying attention.