8 February 2022
Dear Richard and Montserrat,
Entering Gordium, Alexander the Great found the fabled knot binding the Ox Cart to a post outside a Temple to Zeus. Alexander cleaved the dilemma with a stroke of his sword!
Our 1970s knot was of stringent unionised labour, uncompetitive nationalised industries, debt from Labour’s 1976 balance of payments crisis (the IMF’s then-largest loan with Britain temporarily withdrawing from foreign exchange markets with sterling at record lows). Thatcher’s sword freed the City, floated nationalised businesses, and gave Council tenants ownership rights. Not without pain, but an enfranchising entrepreneurial Britain emerged as a moribund Fleet Street and Miners’ Union collapsed; the 1974’s destructive three-day week never to be repeated!
Relatively linear in the ’70s, today’s knot is global with multi-faceted tensioned strands needing both sword strokes and careful unravelling of challenging interwoven issues in order to realise the huge opportunities therein:
Taxation - Covid, NHS, Social Care, and infrastructure & innovation funding commitments are a high tax cost. Digital Tax systems provide greater tax efficiency and reassure bondholders of a robust Treasury, as NIC rise balances GDP. Look to auditing current structures for greater tax-efficiencies with compliant restructuring.
Inflation - 7%+ is probably a medium-term issue with opportunities to reframe production systems and logistics to address transitory bottlenecks.
Demographics - resigning employees and a ‘lie-flat’ culture redirects ambition as a diminishing and ageing workforce negotiates a work-life balance. A further driver to automation and integrated tech.
Tech – destabilising but transitioning farming, both Vertical & Field Robotics, (agri-tech), Life-extension & CRISPr (biotech), adaptive finance (fin-tech), and energy innovation (hydrogen, batteries & micro-nuclear) bring unparalleled opportunities.
Climate – sea levels, permafrost melt and drought are driving transformative carbon neutral and negative systems.
Brexit - The CBI with PwC reports City profits rising at its quickest since December 2015, with UK’s financial services industry growing at its fastest since 2017. Booming deal-making is driven by fast-growing companies floating. The UK’s GDP is outperforming the G7 bringing huge opportunities for innovation.
Migration - Near Gordium, Iraq’s central Mesopotamian Marsh, once the Garden of Eden, is increasingly saline and evaporation is heralding huge climate migration. European depopulation has left some 50 million empty properties. Migrants could re-establish local economies with 5G enabling remote living with up-cycling, droid connectivity (goods and people), robotic production and smart medicine; 3D printing of homes is already cutting costs by 30%.
Interestingly, Alexander’s knot was outside a Temple to the god of destiny and fate! By legend, the knot liberator would rule Asia. In resolving today’s knot, we determine our fates and the ruling of our worlds. The challenge is to audit our knots with objectivity, and be decisive as we balance unpicking with sword strokes to realise the opportunities within today’s problems.
All the Best,