Looking forward on the coming year - part 1
WELL that was quite a year. From initial worries about the economy struggling a little, to banks and financial institutions around the world stumbling and pulling up the drawbridge, the coming year should be a bit of a doddle.
But what does lie ahead? Here are the thoughts of some of the people I've featured on This French Life as they look to the future for their own projects as well as France as a whole.
I have split the replies, part two is here, and of course if you have your own thoughts on 2009 please feel free to leave a comment below.
Graeme Swan, of Les Cygnes Gites
2009 will be a testing, but I think a good year, for those gite owners that have a good offering and market it well.
Despite the drop in value of the pound France still offers great value, especially in self-catering accommodation, a good lunch out for less than €15, diesel still nearly 20% cheaper and of course France is the culture that most Brits find comfortable and is closest to home.
In general the recession will hit France less than the UK and I think that the US will lead a fight back in Spring of 2009 after Obama has time to settle in. Brown will finally get tough with the banks, despite this he will lose the next election.
Colin Randall, of Salut!
France and 2009: I hope that in some way, the two come together.
It has been a great experience, one I would not have missed, launching a newspaper in the Middle East late in my career and - Craig may agree - late in the career of newspapers.
But I miss France enormously. What I need to do is find a way of turning - or find the time to turn - all these Salut! websites of mine into a viable cottage industry.
On the other hand, spending the last fortnight in Europe, and especially in the UK where I still have a home, has felt like being with a dearly loved relative who is gravely ill. Perhaps I should stay in the desert until recovery is in sight.
Phil Voice, of Landscape Juice
For me 2008 has been an extraordinary year personally and for the development of Landscape Juice and I would like to build on that success into 2009.
Despite the financial and business challenges that are apparent through current market conditions, I consider the opportunities to be increased because of weaknesses in older and less manoeuvrable businesses that cater for the garden and landscaping market.
The focus for me is to increase traffic and build on relationships with current advertisers and publishing partners to improve and increase revenues.
I have already established that Landscape Juice is considered to be a respected source of information, opinion and insight and this strength will be leveraged.
I do not however expect 2009 to be a particularly fast moving year and I shall be content in monitoring what others so or don't and respond accordingly.
As far as France is concerned, 2009 is going to be tough for sure but I feel the Barack Obama effect will help stimulate the world economies midway through the year (although I suspect that the stimulus will take a further six months to ripple through, the feel good factor will start to return.
I believe that at some stage in 2009, French house prices will start a long cycle of growth with good investment opportunities in properties between €150,000 - €600,000.
The Euro will now give back gains after touching parity and the pound will strengthen to £1 = €1.25 by June. I would not rule out severe problems in the Euro-zone leading to a crash in the Euro by late 2009/10.
New legislation due to come in for small 'pay as you go' enterprises will lead to a greater number of business registrations and less black market activity. Depending on the depth of the recession, I believe that France will enjoy a much easier small business climate.
I suspect that good gites will enjoy good bookings but price rises will be ill-advised. Those that have always sold holidays in sterling should keep it that way IMO and absorb the exchange loss. We will b e looking for value additions like welcome packs, linen and meals included in the cost.
I also think that the summer of 2009 will be hot (heatwave?).
Gregor Hakkenberg, of Zorro Immo
An old Chinese curse says: “May you live in interesting times.”
So I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone in France, Holland, the United Kingdom and the rest of the world a most boring 2009.