There's no denying that we are facing an international economic crisis. It began at some point in the year 2009, when banks in the USA came into trouble, and then the problems spread out rapidly. 

We all know the results: unemployment rising, governmental expenditure cuts, the housing and construction market weakened, and the euro in heavy weather. Everyone over 50 losing their jobs has a hard time finding new employment. For newly graduates it's difficult to find their first job too. In the Netherlands, we used to have several arrangements for early retirement so that more work became available for unemployed people. But not anymore; we now even have to work until the age of 67 instead of 65. Most of the industry is facing problems as well. Especially competition from low-wage countries and lower consumer spending are what industrial companies are struggling with.


The strange thing however is this word "crisis". We have been in this situation four years already, and still it continues. You would expect a crisis to be a short but intense period of difficulty, with a clear beginning and end, after which all turns out well. Our former Prime Minister Mr Balkenende would describe this somewhat childishly as "First the sour, then the sweet".
So, can we still call this a crisis? Or is it a - rather long - period of bad economic climate? Maybe we should simply call it today's reality, even though several aspects are not really what we would wish them to be. Possibly there won't be any clear ending at all. For all we know, we could be in an intermediate phase, a transition to... Well, who knows? Anyway, one thing is certain: We won't turn back to the initial situation of 2008, because meanwhile the world has changed. The current reality is what we have to deal with for the time being, but at the same time it's our starting point for the future. And today we already create this future by choosing now, in 2013, what we do and what we don't. Anyone who wants a better future will have to make their choices of accordingly.


That is why I'm pleased to see that many companies still continue to invest in tomorrow and beyond. Of course in some industries the economic tide is more adverse than in others, and not all companies are equally resilient in difficult circumstances. Fortunately, however, investments for innovations and improvements are still being made. That requires vision, flexibility and perseverance, but in return you are more in control of your own future.
Easier said than done, that's true. But whether you call it a crisis or not, those who just sit down and sigh are throwing away their influence on a better future.

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