Are we officially in recession?
Thread poster: Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:15
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Dec 14, 2001

Has your work disappeared? No one e-mails you with jobs anymore? Has it gone terribly quite? Is the taxman knocking on the door requesting money you haven\'t got? It would be interesting to know how the \"slowdown\" (if you are experiencing one) is affecting our community.


[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-12-14 17:07 ]


Roomy Naqvy  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:45
English to Hindi
+ ...
Recession and comments Dec 14, 2001

Well, I hear there is recession. I see it in the markets around me .. different shopkeepers and businesses seem affected. I live in New Delhi, India. But I can only speak for myself and here, I have had so much work since the first week of October that I have had no time to breathe or relax. I have stopped marketing or even bidding so much. And I have my hands full till the beginning of next month. I\'m in a situation where I cannot take on new work....

So, when the going gets tough...somebody gets going.

But you are correct. There\'s recession. It\'s just that I am not feeling the heat. I felt it in July. Not any longer.

Best wishes and let me see if I can think on how to beat the blues. icon_smile.gif


Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO) (X)
Local time: 19:15
German to English
+ ...
It depends... Dec 14, 2001

...on your language combination and your location.

Personally, I keep getting several requests every day, and I have to turn them all down (because I am booked solid until mid-February or thereabouts).

We\'ve had recessions before and survived; we\'ll weather this one too.


Maria Eugenia Farre  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:15
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Seasonal slump or widespread recession? Dec 14, 2001

I don\'t know about other countries, but here in Brazil when the calendar year is coming to a close, things get a bit rough for translators.

There are fewer jobs around and I\'ve been hearing a lot of complaints from my colleagues. However, perhaps you\'re right, and there is a recession, because the groaning began around July this year. Pretty early for the Xmas, New Year\'s and Carnival close-out!

One thing I know for sure is that the September 11 attacks were a hard blow for the interpreters in the S.P. market. September and October are the busiest months of the year and we had tons of cancellations in the aftermath of the attacks. None of the speakers wanted to fly anymore!

If I compare the number of e-mails I received from prospective agencies in 1999 and 2000, I would say that I received fewer in 2001. But then again, I wasn\'t searching very actively because I already have too much work, and my \"steep rates\" (as compared to what is regularly charged in my pair) are probably scaring a lot of potential clients off.

Cheers and let\'s all do the lentil thing or any other New Year\'s traditions so that 2002 brings us more and better paying jobs!


[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-12-14 22:58 ]


Carole Muller
Local time: 00:15
English to French
+ ...
Economic recession or just paralysis Dec 14, 2001


I live in France half of the year and in Denmark the other half. I\'m an economist specialised in macro-economic settings (and strategies, policies etc) so you\'re question was intellectually challenging...

I d\'say -based on factual economic indicators- there is surely a drop in stock markets and in the optimism linked to stock market expansion. When stock markets expand, they often do so based on expectations of a future value increase. When this expected future increase doesn\'t come, or something happens to disrupt the quietness of mind of optimistic investors, everybody sells out to cash in before the fall, nobody buys...and that\'s it, when you speak of the devil...stock markets fall.

This is what followed September 11th. A lot of people (institutional investors) lost a lot of money, mainly because they had geared investments or had invested too large a portion of their assets in \"dangerous\" (volatile stocks) betting too much and leaning too heavily on the assumption of a rewarding future to come.

All these peple are now cutting down consumption, buying less real estate, buying less other luxury goods/property, not investing in stocks and keeping assets in some stable, quiet and less volatile form, the French call it the woollen stocking, in reference to times when peasants did not trust the banks and kept their money home in a woollen stocking.

Now this has affected France quite a lot, here people fear a crisis as they had during the end of the eighties and therefore act as in a crisis. France also still has many industries that have not yet delocalised the workforce, and in other EU countries these industries have either died out or relocated the manufacturing part abroad (typically India) then dealing only with marketing, promotion,design locally. Typical examples are the textile industry and some manufacturing of electric home appliances.

France trades with the US, to an extent and within domains that make it vulnerable to when the US economy slows down. I see you write from Italy, right? I think Italy\'s a bit the same.

In Denmark, things are different and it seems it\'s more quiet. Denmark relocated industy manufacturing processes long time ago, during the eighties. Those were the agonizing years for many industry sectors in Denmark and what has survied is thriving quietly. But all is relative and Denmark was experiencing no growth or little growth already starting from 2 years ago when exports suddenly started to stagnate. Denmark\'s growth is very linked to its\' exports and it\'s exports are very sensitive to meat prices and Russian currency, as Denmark is the world\'s largest exporter (exporter not necessarily producer) of bacon. SO when the Russian currency was devasted by devaluation some years ago, that offset a minor decline in Danish growth. There isn\'t much innovation in Denmark to truly hold such international amrkets as to impact on Danish import earnings and this makes Denmark vulnerable. Other countries in the EU who expand through infrastructual work carried out in large multinational projects (internet, cables, cellular phones etc)have more potential growth to look forward to.

France has had 15 % growth at national product level for the past 5 years. It\'s ENORMOUS. That\'s why, when the 5 % yearly rate declines, instead of viewing it as a normal decline of a quite extraordinary rate, people focus on the fact that unemployment is not dropping anymore (the locomotive is not pulling the train at the same speed, so improvements are slower or unseen).

In translations, I don\'t think this affects the volume of work. I think rather,it affects the rate per word. Agencies will see their costs increase due to a wide range of reasons, slightly more inflation, lots of industries and service providers readjusting prices before and after the price freeze of 4 months due to the shift to the EURO, and will experience-as many other businesses-reduced profits.

To keep profit margins, they will squeeze the free-lance translators, because they cannot squeeze the in-house translators. In-house translators are salaried workers and trade unions see to it that the employer cannot say, hey, crisis out here you\'ll get a 10 % salary cut starting from next client.

But agencies can go onto the market place -helped by proz and call for jobs at a rate predefined such as 0.06 cts/word, which recetly was offered by a UK agency and after checking afterwards what they ask clients, I can tell you, it\'s the translator who is getting the commission.

Apart from translations,in other businesses around me, everybody is complaining: shops are not going well, supermarkets neither and all of my graphic partners in the graphic design industry complain there are no client orders streaming in for the months to come.

And yet the Mediterranean region where I live is full of hi-tech growth and dynamism. Northern Spain, southern France and northern Italy are right now (until some months ago) the growth locomotives of Europe. Hope for you, you live near Milan, in terms of economic growth and prosperity, it\'s the best region of Europe and has been and will be for a long time.

But I think the recession is not truly due to an economic recession such as is being created by less demand. It\'s more of a psychological aftermath in the wake of the stock market collapse after September 11 th.

However, true problems are; (1)certain fast growing and value creating markets -as cellular phones- are getting close to a form of saturated demand, and (2)the pension funds in most European countries have lost enormous sums following September 11 th. One example, in Denmark major pension funds have warned their members, especially those retiring now, that their pension will be decreased up to 10, 15 %. But again, retirees are not typical clients of translations. (3) Re-Insurance companies have lost all of a sudden enormous amounts too, first they need to repay insurance comapnies who are paying huge sums to the victims in Manhattan. Very large amounts of cash are made liquid from stock market assets (here you have a new source of stock market pessimism, as more are selling out to cahs in)to transfer from different European market places to the US, where insurance companies have now many and heavy claims for instance all of a sudden for some of the world\'s best insured and highly paid analysts who died and whose relatives are mow to receive the life insurances. The total amount is very high and comes all of a sudden,reenforcing the need to sell out assets.

The brigt aspect is the major cash inflow from Europe to the US will quick jump the US economy, it\'s hard to imagine there won\'t be an effect in about 6 months to a year, which then will spread to exporters to the US markets

But right now however, by way of what is called a derived effect of national growth impairments, it might be the current selling out, + the increase in insurance premiums to be expected to all of us in all trades and to the big businesses in particular could affect all service providers of given or of all industries.

On the other hand and back to translation, it is possible in the light of a recession that domestic producers are more inclined to export and thus to reallocate their marketing budgets from flashy domestic campaign adds to ....spending more on translations and reusing the same layouts as last year...

Personally, I had quite a nasty surprise to absorb recently, which is my preferred agency, a very decent and nice place who always could find me clients just any time I needed one, had to close. The wonderful guy who had it expanded into other sectors of online consulting, and it killed his business. And since I did nothing to promote myself for years, because I was mainly doing some research of my own the last 3 years and used only 30 % of my time doing client workand used 0% of my time promoting my business to get the 30 % client work I needed(through the one and ony agency which had to close), well I\'m paying the price now... but that\'s more, I think, due to my lack of promoting my own business, rather than to decreased demand. On the other hand I don\'t complain about my mistake, it was a choice and now I have a patent-pending invention.

Hope this helps you get a clearer view as to whether you think we are into a recession or not...



Telesforo Fernandez (X)
Local time: 04:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not recession, but glut of translators Dec 15, 2001

Hello Maria Eugenia,

I do not think it is much of a question of rcession, although there had been quite an effect.

I believe that the real reason is that for the first time agencies all over the world found translators ready to translate for 2 cents or 4 cents per word, all at one site at the click of a button.

Given such a situation which agency in its right sense would feel it sensible to call you by phone and ask you to translate?

It is worth considering this aspect. We now have to think how to save the profession of translation. Do not flock to places where angels fear to walk.


Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:15
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Very slow December Dec 15, 2001

What I can say is that after a couple of very active months (October and November), December has been extremely slow. What\'s next, nobody knows...


Rick Henry  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:15
Italian to English
+ ...
Recession, not a glut of translators Dec 15, 2001

Let me first say, that I don\'t believe Telesforo\'s assessment. Agencies will always contact translators with whom they\'ve had prior dealings before they go to a web site and choose an unknown, unproven, cheaper translator. If, as a freelancer, you\'re trying to drum up business from just one web site, well, that\'s another story, I guess. As a (now fulltime) freelancer, I would also never rely on one single source for all my work.

As for the recession, I do indeed believe we are in a recession, at least here in California and the US. Last week, the state of California (just over 33 million pop.) topped the 1 million mark for unemployed. This number represents many different fields - IT, Retail, Financial, Airlines, and yes, I suppose some translators as well.




On 2001-12-15 06:30, telef wrote:

Hello Maria Eugenia,

I do not think it is much of a question of rcession, although there had been quite an effect.

I believe that the real reason is that for the first time agencies all over the world found translators ready to translate for 2 cents or 4 cents per word, all at one site at the click of a button.

Given such a situation which agency in its right sense would feel it sensible to call you by phone and ask you to translate?

It is worth considering this aspect. We now have to think how to save the profession of translation. Do not flock to places where angels fear to walk.


Telesforo Fernandez (X)
Local time: 04:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
Do you have such a poor view of PROZ? Dec 17, 2001

But it is surely possible to find translators who charge between 2 cents and 4 cents,and that is what by and large, the site has managed to achieve to the benefit of the agencies. The translators got those labels made of very precious virtual metals, lots of Kudoz points to gloat over,and the usual sops like native certifications and now among the latest is POWWWS--( prisoners of war of words- I suppose), while the rates tumbled exponentially on this site.

So much so, that Henry, suggested hourly basis of charging, instead of per word rates.

It was like saying \' if they don\'t have bread, let them eat cakes\'.

I hope kudoz points, powws, etc are not the opium of the masses.!!!!!



Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO) (X)
Local time: 19:15
German to English
+ ...
Hourly rates are strongly advised against Dec 17, 2001

The Austrian Translators Association, for example, has advised its members not to charge hourly rates because, as they put it, clients have no idea of a translator\'s work and hourly rates would, therefore, result in disputes and \"haggling\".


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