The pace at which the financial crisis has hit the Netherlands has been swift; so sharp that some continued to ignore the alarming economic signals, clearly indicating the crisis would break before the end of 2008. During December, for instance, despite the recent nationalisation of Fortis, Dutch politicians still remarked that most Dutch citizens should expect an income increase in 2009. Perhaps wishing for a self-fulfilling prophecy to get consumers spending? It didn’t work and by the end of January 2009, Dutch multinationals such as ING, Corus and Philips announced layoffs of 20 000+ employees.
While the crisis has spread at a remarkable rate – with a knock-on effect on everything and everyone around the world – on closer examination, is it all ‘doom and gloom’? Some sectors have been hit harder than others, but are there organisations better prepared to withstand the crisis or even in a position to take advantage of it? In this article, we will examine the impact (threats and opportunities) of the crisis on different Dutch markets.
Our paper is an addendum to Surviving and thriving in the economic crisis: a handbook for corporate leaders, authored byour colleague at PA Consulting Group, Mark Thomas. Published in January 2009, Mark explores the background of the current downturn and the future impact in a UK sector by sector analysis. He also sets out a series of steps which business leaders should take to navigate their organisations through these unprecedented times. According to PA’s research, the recession offers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities: weakened competitors will see their share prices fall to levels which make them attractive acquisition targets; 'crown jewels' will be sold in fire sales to raise cash; and businesses will simply disappear, reducing the over-capacity which presently exists in so many sectors. Those with the capital, and the courage, will be able to achieve a decade’s worth of progress in two years.