It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that now is not a good time for jobs. Some commentators estimate that nearly 2m British workers face unemployment in 2009 as a result of the credit crunch. These job losses seem to be across all sectors of the economy and all levels of worker. Event the Management Consultancies Association is forecasting up to 360,000 of its members will lose their jobs by 2010. Britain is currently seeing the worst unemployment figures since 1991; there are claims that there are now ten times more candidates in the talent pool than a year ago; companies are seeing increased numbers of applications for any available vacancies, and, according to the Office for National Statistics, Britain’s unemployment rate is now six per cent, with over 1m people claiming job seekers allowance.


Now, news has reached IT – via the Fudzilla blog – that Microsoft is planning to axe some 15,000 of its 90,000 employees around 15th January, a week before Microsoft announces its earning reports for the second quarter for this fiscal year. The blog is suggesting that most of these staff cuts will come from workers based in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Another website, Mini-Microsoft, has published off-the-record information that also points to massive job cuts in Microsoft.


Comment: History teaches us that serious economic failures are a prelude to political change. The five major revolutions in the past 400 years – the English (1642); American (1776); French (1789); Russian (1917), and Chinese (1946) – were all brought about by economic crises. Economists tend to divide economic cycles into three groups: short-term or accidental; medium term, and long term. The early 20th century economist, Joseph Schumpeter, named these – respectively – ‘Kitchins’, ‘Juglars’ and ‘Kondratievs’ after the economists who first proposed them. Kitchins cycles tend to come around every four years, Juglars every ten years and Kondratievs every 50 years.


A Kitchin is part of the rhythm of economic life and the global economy adjusts to it. A Juglar is more significant and, said Juglar, affects revenues for such things as transport companies and theatres and even influences the number of marriages in society. Although a Kondratiev – which goes far beyond affecting these things – can be delayed temporarily, its appearance shakes every economic structure. Kondratievs cause serious unemployment – and can cause revolutions. The current economic crisis has been called the ‘worst crisis since the 1930s’. In the 1930s, Hitler came to power in Germany; Franco came to power in Spain; Stalin sent his colleagues to the Gulags – and there was a Great Depression in the Western world. We’re all wondering what will happen this time around.