Global_Unemployment_NegotiationAs the current economic uncertainty around the world continues, negotiation skills become even more important. This is one of the messages of my new book about the modern art of negotiation, “The Yes Book”, out on Random House on March 28th.

For five years now the global economy has been struggling against a backdrop of uncontrolled public debt, vulnerable banks, lack of credit for business and recession – all of the ingredients of that cocktail being inextricably linked. Whether it’s Eurozone bail –outs, Bank restructuring, or endless stories of single, double or even triple dips, you cannot avoid the conclusion that times are hard. This creates an imperative to negotiate better and more collaboratively…

We are all much stronger working together than we are on our own. In fact economic growth, which is the single answer to all of these problems can only be achieved if companies, governments and individuals engage in more trade – and deals are the basis of that trade.

In case you needed it, here is a reminder of some of those economic stats:

Firstly in the UK


  • UK growth fell again slightly in the fourth quarter of 2012, leaving Britain on the brink of a triple dip recession according to the National Institute of Economic and Social research forecasts. Only a return to growth in Q1 this year will avoid that almost unprecedented development.
  • The UK still has to overcome its continuing public debt problem (currently standing at 73.8 percent of GDP) and the loss of its cherished AAA rating.
  • Britain is apparently heading for a fifth year of falling living standards, with official figures showing a decline in average earnings growth last year from 1.7% to 1.4%.
  • All of this has had an impact on jobs. In late 2007 UK unemployment stood at 1.6 million. By December 2011 that figure had climbed to 2.7 million. It now stands at 2.49 million- still more than 50% higher than in 2007.
  • The US have experienced similar problems…

  • In the US the unemployment rate was 4.9% in December 2007. By December 2010 that had doubled to 9.8%. It now stands at 7.9% – over 12 million people – with 38% of those having been unemployed for more than a year.
  • The Federal Reserve has indicated that the median net worth of American families fell by 38.8% between 2007 and 2010 – or in dollar terms, from $126,400 to $77,300, according to data from the Survey of Consumer Finances.
  • US_Fiscal Cliff_Negotiation

  • Such has been the decline in well-being that though 65 is considered the official retirement age in the U.S. the reality is rather different. 86% of workers in their 60’s predict they will work past age 65, according to a Transamerica report. One quarter of middle class Americans plan to delay retirement until they are at least 80 years old (even though currently life expectancy in the U.S. is 78), according to a Wells Fargo poll at the end of 2011.
  • Growth stalled in the last quarter of 2012 as Federal spending reduced, and with further spending cuts planned to avoid the “Fiscal Cliff”, the historic natural exuberance of the US economy is being sorely tested.
  • In the Eurozone the economic picture is even bleaker…

  • More Europeans are out of work now – almost 11.8% – than in the entire two-decade history of the common currency.
  • EU_Unemployment_Spain-Greece-Eurozone_Negotiation

  • Eurostat estimates that 25.926 million men and women in the EU27, of whom 18.715 million were in the Euro area, were unemployed in December 2012. This is the almost inevitable result of austerity policies to control levels of government debt.
  • The highest rates were in Greece (26.8% in October 2012) and Spain (26.1%).
  • The problem is worse for the young – unemployment for workers under 25 is now closer to 60% than 50% in Spain and Greece, and youth joblessness is rising in France, Italy, and Portugal.

  • As BBC Economics Correspondent Andrew walker put it;

    “The general (unemployment) trend remains upwards and it makes it even harder for the governments concerned to collect the taxes they need to stabilise their debts.”

    The divide between the weaker Eurozone economies of the South and the more resilient economies of the North is growing (with the exception of France, which is contracting at a worrying rate) prompting the German newspaper Die Welt to say in its headline covering the Eurostat report “The social structure in Europe is breaking apart.”

    There is no sign of sustained growth to change this. Overall the Eurozone countries are not expected to grow this year. Apparently, the last time Spanish growth was so weak was during the Spanish Civil War. Greece’s GDP decline is the worst of any peaceful, non-communist post-World War 2 economy.

    That’s plenty of bad news to be going on with.

    Better negotiating means more deals get done and more business activity takes place. It can make a positive contribution to the prospects for both growth and employment here, in the US and in Europe. And it doesn’t require huge investment or the printing of money. It just requires a shift in mind-set. Now is the time…