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Turn, turn, turn
The hindsight that age provides throws a different light on the cycles of life. A longer perspective allows one to see the ebb and flow more clearly: the seasons of the year, the height of hems and heels, the ups and downs of global economics, the push and pull of business conditions. Few are the aspects of life that do not subscribe to this cyclical pattern, apart from perhaps the constant expansion of the universe and your editor’s waistline.
As we see the old year out, it is as usual tempting to look back over the last 12 months. What have we learned? Are we any wiser about the business than we were at the end of 2010? It is to be hoped that we have garnered some understanding out of the commercial tribulations of what is a constantly shifting global economy. Those who have lived and worked through earlier recessions may well be inured to the Cassandras who saw the sky falling around them but younger readers may be surprised at how much and how rapidly market conditions can shift.
The continuing rise of China as the powerhouse of the world economy seems odd to those of a certain age for whom the country had long been off the economic map, hidden behind the Great Wall that separated communism from consumerism for much of the 20th century. But take a longer look at the history books and it is clear that this is just part of another cycle of development.
For your editor, for instance, Japan was the motor of trade for decades – not least in the motor trade; just as South Korea was coming up to overtake on the blind side, the late-1990s Asian bust pulled the carpet out from under both and the past decade has seen them pale against the emergence of China. Who would have thought?
The US hegemony that has persisted since World War II is also being challenged, primarily by China but also the other BRICs and CIVETs that are changing the background to the world economy. We are going to have to get used a whole new world order before too long – and given the speed at which China changed the game, we may not have to wait all that long.
For some of us, this might be the last turn of the macroeconomic cycle we witness during our working lives. Retirement – for those who can afford it - may come as something of a relief from the uncertainty, or may be a frustration as it distances us from the cut and thrust of forging a new economic template. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to come back in 100 years’ time and see how it all played out? Anyone joining the business at the moment will, however, have all this to deal with.
So, afore ye go, spare a thought for those coming after. They will need support, and they will need access to all that knowledge and experience locked up in your grey heads. Regular readers will know that this is something of a bugbear in this column, not least because we keep on coming across instances of dangerous inexperience and a worrying lack of knowledge. The business of moving dangerous goods safely is not straightforward and it takes a long time to come up to speed.
Bearing this in mind, the Bulletin has embarked on its own succession plan. Indeed, this month marked an important event: we have taken on a new editor – only the fourth in our 33-year history. Holly Birkett joins us from Port Technology International, where she was managing editor.
You will be seeing her – and the rest of the team – out and about at events next year. Adding editorial capacity means we will be able to bring you more news and analysis, more regularly, both in the pages of the magazine and online at www.hazardouscargo.com, and get the HCB word out at more conferences and exhibitions than ever before. It’s going to be a busy year – so we will take the opportunity of the seasonal break to put our feet up and gird our loins in readiness.
Wishing all our readers, advertisers and supporters a peaceful holiday and a profitable new year – see you in 2012!