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Published 21 December 2012 05:36, Updated 04 January 2013 14:14
A performer wears traditional Mayan dress. Something like 10 per cent of the population believes in prophecies related to end of the Mayan calendar on 21 December. Photo: Reuters
The Prime Minister might consider it fodder for a joke but there are those among us who believe the Mayan Prophecy to be true and that our days are numbered.
Ipsos conducted a recent global poll which found that one in seven (14 per cent) global citizens agree ‘the world will come to an end during my lifetime”, one in 10 (10 per cent) believe “the Mayan calendar, which some say ‘ends’ in 2012, marks the end of the world” and another 8 per cent admit they “have been experiencing anxiety or fear because the world is going to end in 2012”.
Compared with citizens in other countries, however, Australians are more optimistic about the world surviving into 2013. The Chinese are the most worried, with 20 per cent believing the end of the world is nigh. While we are less concerned than the Americans, Japanese, French and the Spanish, we are more concerned than the Germans, the English and the Italians. About 9 per cent of us are anxious about the end of days.
I share these funny poll results with you as I contemplate what’s on the minds of the 91 per cent of Australians who believe they will see it through to 2013.
As I mentioned in my blog a few weeks ago, I predicted a slowish Christmas despite the recent interest-rate cut. Job security is a greater concern for consumers than it was last year and the other factors keeping them cautious – the global economy, political leadership, the cost of living, etc – are still at work.
What will 2013 be like? I expect a slight improvement, but let’s not get carried away. Recent polls have shown the so-called momentum of the Gillard government stall, the unpopularity of the alternative prime minister (well, at least the one in the Leader of the Opposition’s chair) continue and concern about government spending cuts emerge. Australia still seems to be a high-cost place to live and, with the high Australian dollar, a high-cost place to do business. Questions about the direction of the economy and what industries will provide jobs for the future remain.
A few more interest-rate cuts might help but only a little. (I’ve written before about how interest rates are less influential on consumer confidence than some economists would have you believe). If we see great confidence in the global economic situation, that will help. Hope for a shift in our political culture, especially at the federal level, might be asking Santa for too much. We will continue to spend on education, entertainment and electronics and whinge about groceries, utilities and transport.
Tentative predictions? A return to spending on the home and property in general, with the market stabilising. The value of property and our love of cocooning have persevered throughout the GFC.
Greater criticism of corporate Australia – particularly its commitment to social responsibility – could emerge, given people are sick of complaining about the government and will need a new whipping boy. Global warming and environmental issues – which have slid into the background somewhat in the past few years – may also find their way back onto the agenda.
While 2013 will see consumers spend more online and use digital tools more on their path to purchase, we may also see some organisations thrive with a back to basics approach to business, an emphasis on training staff, service and the in-store experience.
We might also start to see the shine come off Apple.
If the Mayans are right, I won’t have to stand by any of this in a year’s time.