resilience

A buzzword since the financial crisis has been 'resilience' - how strong is our banking sector? How would it cope with another shock? Have balance sheets been repaired?

It amazes me that more people aren't looking wider than just banking at other sectors of our economy and society that could prove equally brittle in the event of a disruptive shock. 

How would our food system cope if Tesco workers went on strike, or a major UK dairy provider's milk was contaminated? How would our power system manage if we couldn't source natural gas, or if one of the Big Six went bust? Why have we allowed these sectors to be dominated by so few players? Aren't we just storing up trouble? Are our local networks strong enough to step up and fill the gap? 

Rather than persisting with the bigger is better mentality, we should be encouraging diversity, choice and competition in every market, helping to build more resilient systems better able to cope with the inevitable disruptions as they occur. 

We are allowing too much power to be concentrated in the hands of too few companies in too many sectors. The pressure these companies face to deliver consistent growth in returns to shareholders, and the unwillingness of their leaders to adopt a long-term position is likewise causing concentrations within their supply chains, where economies of scale driven by high volumes are required to retain business and survive. 

A good example was the horse-meat scandal a few years ago - unscrupulous behaviour by a few meat producers in the Europe resulted in horse-meat being found in most UK supermarkets and in many school meals. Hardly an advert for a diverse or resilient food system?