Mittwoch, 12. Oktober 2011

Bold words are useless without credibility

The tricky thing about communications is, that words should always be consistent with actions. Take the Euro crises. The British Prime Minister David Cameron asks the European leaders to go for a "big bang approach" now. They simply would need a "bazooka" to solve the current crises. Sounds strong, isn't it? 
The problem is, what the hell does this concretely mean. Would an increase of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) from the current 440 Bill. Euro to - say 800 or 1 Trillion - already be a "bazooka"? Or should the increase be even bigger? Not clear. When the EFSF was created the spin doctors of the European leaders called it a "shock-and-awe"-plan. The issue was however that the shock took just a few days to evaporate and awe of the financial markets has never existed. The words were bigger than their meaning. 
This can happen. But it should not happen too often. Because every time the senders of such messages loose a piece of their credibility in the eyes of their recipients. The biggest asset in communications, credibility, disappears quite easily. 
Exactly this is today the problem of Ms Merkel and Mr Sarkozy. Even if they would shoot with the "Bazooka", would anybody believe that this time, after so many others times, this is true? Rebuilding credibility is so much harder than losing it. 
What kind of asset, also in financial terms, real credibility can be, has been brilliantly shown by an institution, that has always been consistent: the SNB, the Swiss National Bank. When it announced some weeks ago to intervene in an "unlimited" way to lower the value of the Swiss Franc, the speculation towards new highs immediately stopped. The markets took the words for granted. It is funny, that despite the bold word "unlimited" the SNB had to spend only little money at the end, because a fight between the Central bank and the markets didn't even start. Consistency is a smart communications strategy. 

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