James Max - James Max is a broadcaster, columnist and business expert

Now is not the time for dithering

Sometimes a bad decision is better than no decision at all. If there’s something that people and business doesn’t like at all, then it’s uncertainty. As the Eurozone finance ministers lurch from one heap of indecision to another.

It is clear that the markets are spooked. How can business plan if there is uncertainty? How can bond markets provide what’s needed if there is poor leadership? It’s simple. They can’t. More importantly, they won’t. Regardless of whether you want the Euro to stay, be reformed or collapse it’s the persistent indecision that’s creating so much unease in the markets.

The best example of a bad decision that could have been made but wasn’t lies at the feet of our former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Shortly after becoming Labour leader and Prime Minister in 2007 he set the wheels in motion for a general election. For the whole of September he did nothing to quell the speculation. On the 6th October 2006 the dithering came to an end as he bottled it. The damage had been done. The electorate saw him as a ditherer. Whenever questions were asked, no matter how trivial like his favourite food, biscuit or band… he dithered. And on more important matters such as what to do with Northern Rock, the release of al-Megrahi, the signing of the Lisbon Treaty, the attending of the Beijing Olympics and meeting the Dalai Lama… he dithered. When it finally came to holding a general election the most damaging attack on his personality was that he was a ditherer. As he pontificated, speculation grew on whatever issue was in the public domain. No one expects people to be right all of the time. What they do expect is leaders to lead.

Dithering is rife amongst European leaders and finance ministers at the moment. The damage being caused is incalculable. It’s also extremely damaging. What we need now are clear decisions. It almost doesn’t matter what they are. Decisions provide certainty. Certainty helps confidence. Confidence allows decisions. Decisions precipitate growth.

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