Beyond the headlines

BY: Bernard Otabil
The headlines, at times, are not pretty reading

The headlines, at times, are not pretty reading. Slump in high street sales, rising inflation, soaring interest rates, slower growth in manufacturing, rising cost of living, and many more negative news, dominate the global news headlines. 

Such negative headlines, as eye-catching as they may appear to the ardent reader, do not always paint the right picture.

Why is that the case? Well, this is because they often, in an agenda-setting editorial environment, are meant to strike you, and paint the picture of their “reality”, that of the news outlet, and not what it ought to be.

In fact, what you often find missing are the positives within the story; stories of companies and businesses enjoying windfall profits, even in this era of unprecedented global economic problems. In effect, because we are fighting multiple wars- geopolitical, health, economic and social-editors expect that to be the news concentration at all times, at least, that is where they can set the click-bait agenda for all of us.

To be fair, it is not odd for the newsroom to be concentrating on the unusual stories or topical stories because that, in essence, is what defines news- it must be relevant, topical, unusual and “new”. But let me also add at this point that amidst the gloom are positive stories that could serve as the springboard for the global economy to bounce back nicely.

After all, the present narrative is not different from the economic cycles experienced in the past, except that what is happening today can be described as once-in-a-century situation that not many have experienced before.

In fact, in the past week, as l pored over the various news headlines and stories published by various websites, l came across two striking features, the cleverly combined positive and negative news, with the intent to position the ills of “capitalism”, to an extent, over the perceived common good factor.

Take a good read at this: “Record profits for grain firms amid food crisis prompt calls for windfall tax”.
This headline, carried by a popular UK-based news outlet, was promoting, as it were, how sales at the world’s top four traders have soared, hence, raising concerns of profiteering and speculation.

Further, the story explained that “companies at the centre of the global grain trade have enjoyed a record bonanza amid soaring food prices around the world, raising concerns of profiteering and speculation in global food markets that could put staples beyond the reach of the poorest, and prompting calls for a windfall tax.”

The arguments, in a strong way, make sense because according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, food prices have surged more than 20 per cent this year alone, with the World Food Programme also reporting that about 345 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity.

If you extrapolate further, you will notice that the rising food component of the inflation basket is driving the soaring global inflation. So the food business, which is the biggest globally, cannot be or should not be allowed to fall in the hands of cartels, right? Yes, I agree too.

So my import is very simple. Amid the gloom are positive stories which can be accentuated too.
For me, in a global economy where the headlines have not been the best bedtime material to read, a story about how the food companies have managed to beat the supply chain disruptions to make it in a “slumped” global economy would help to calm nerve and promote some sense of entrepreneurship in others.

Or, it could be a story that traces how some leading businesses are doing well, despite all the talk about stagnation or recession in some regional economic blocs.
How would you feel, for example, if you read about the food businesses, with empirical evidence to show that despite the global economic downturn, the food industry has made some good profit, and therefore it is a good business to consider?

That could be a business worth considering because no matter how advanced technology is, if you are hungry you have to eat yourself or if you want to chew gum it is you- not the machine- that has to do it.

Technology can only facilitate food production, aggregation and distribution and improve the value chain within the ecosystem, but the bottom line is that you have to eat yourself to gain the nutrients.

Do you get it? Great! Just look at the positives in life and by accentuating the positives, you stand a great chance of discovering something great for yourself.

Let me explain further. First off, remember that perfect conditions are rare. Yes- rare- so if you are waiting for conditions to be perfect before you make a move, you will never get started.

For instance, in Coriolanus, William Shakespeare demonstrates why we need to have the strength to deal with situations, regardless. He wrote: “when the sea was calm all boats alike / Show’d mastership in floating.” Clearly, what Shakespeare seeks to point out is that we can all claim some level of fortitude when we have not been put to test.

The sea is not always calm and so we will always have people who will become pessimistic about situations- situations such as how the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated our social and economic life thus far.

Winston Churchill also has a thing or two to say about pessimists. To Churchill, “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Some confusion in life is understandable because we cannot think the same way all the time. Significantly too is the fact that since we have different orientations in life we will always have differences in the way we do things.
You have to be alert, at all times, to be able to spot facts from fiction. It is a fact that the pandemic has crippled many aspects of our life, but it becomes fictional play when we deem the situation as hopeless.
Therefore, you shouldn’t be daunted by the headlines and the challenges of the past three years, because we have faced similar (if not like, for like) situations before.
Do your best and luck will find you! Many of the successful companies that you find today were all built in periods of economic downturn: Microsoft, Apple, Disney, CNN, Fortune magazine, GE, Hewlett Packard and many more.
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