There have been a couple of events in the last few days that, for me anyway, suggest that there are tiny little shoots of sanity in some parts of the world. That is not to say that all the news is necessarily good, popular or even encouraging, but more an indication that some people are beginning to think straight!
Continental Europe is looked at from our lofty "we're alright" Asian perch with some trepidation as the Euro gets bashed around from one crisis to another, putting paid to any lingering thoughts about the desirability of an "Asean" single currency, and where consumer spending is likely to decline meaning less demand for products from Asia. Meanwhile, "across the pond" the positive news we had been getting - oil slicks and wayward military generals aside - seems to have declined in the last couple of weeks leading to suggestions that maybe a double dip recession is still possible. So from me, a customary word of caution, Asia, don't get over-smug over here, or we might just fall off that perch ourselves!
So, anyway, back in "Island Europe" it was with a sense of some foreboding that we awaited the UK emergency budget on Tuesday, which we had been promised would be tough. And it was. But despite the expected cries of anguish from the usual quarters, the threat of union action from the labour movement, and the criticism from members of the Labour party who had got us into this mess in the first place - and who are not really in a position to comment, a budget was delivered that had been thought through in considerable detail and with the long term future in mind.
Of course, if it by some chance achieves what it is expected to achieve, it will still probably make the present Government the most unpopular in recent history, and restore the economy to health just so Labour can wander in and mess it all up once again. But I digress.
This budget, which will have many critics, is full of good intentions. It is a thoughtful budget, produced in a short space of time - and yes, of course you can pick as many holes in this as you can anything else. But it has the saving grace of being tough now! As a result, you can always soften it in future if changes need to be made - which is a much easier than making unpopular changes to a budget that was too weak initially.
The BIG question, is it too tough too soon? In an already fragile British economy, will it be the straw that breaks the camel's back and just tip the country backwards? We will have to wait and see, but I think it sends a clear message that Britain recognises it has financial problems, and that it has the determination to deal with it. In that case, round one to leadership and guts.
And the other event I thought was of note - a "bloodless" coup in Australian politics that has placed a woman Prime Minister in Australia for the first time in its history. Why does this hit the radar for me? Not because they have a woman PM, but the fact that Kevin Rudd realised that his skills as "team captain" were found wanting. His time was over - and so he left. Straight up, no messing about - he had gone from the most popular Australian Prime Minister in recent times to the most unpopular. His leadership was being challenged within his party, he saw the writing on the wall, and he left gracefully (unlike a former Prime Minister on the other side of the globe who chose to outstay his welcome!).
Now, let's be honest. That's not a form of behaviour you see every day, and it gives me hope that others might follow his example in a similar fashion. Leave before being pushed. If the CEO of Prudential, or the CEO of BP who wants his life back so badly, recognise what everyone else seems to know - which is that they are not popular and they left of their own volition, it would be a welcome return to some sort of normality in the world.
In the case of Mr. Rudd, it was not so much that he has no talent - it is just that one of his skills is not running the country. Where he does have a skill though is in his relationship with China, and that is a country with which Australia needs to build a strong and lasting relationship. It seems to me that Ms Gillard could do a lot worse than offer Mr. Rudd a post that has responsibility for Australian relations with China. Not a cabinet post, because that would see him thrown out with the next change of Government, but something a little more permanent where he could put his skills to excellent use. As a fluent Mandarin speaker, with contacts currently at the highest levels and where I am sure he could develop equally strong relations with the future leaders, Mr. Rudd could be a crucial pillar in Australia's future role in Asia in general, but China in particular. Now if that were to become a reality it would be another indication that maybe, just maybe, the obituary to common sense is just a tad premature.