France and Spain, some thoughts.
FRANCE (I'm french)
In France there is a current debate for implementing more legal working hours for a reason: Years ago, they implemented what was called the 35 hours.
35 hours / week paied 39 hours. 4 hours not worked but paied. (Before that law the legal week was 39 hours).
So basically they said, we will work less but been paid the same as before. And they did it.
That idea emerged from the philosophy that a rich country, an advanced society has to tend to more life quality, working less but being more wealthy.
It's been a long time now this law was implemented, and it worked quite well. France did not fall in a crash like a lot where saying, it is actually economically better than England where such a system is unthinkable.
So, reducing the amount of worked hours, AND keeping the salaries high has not affected the economy at all.
Now, logically, they want to come back to the 39 hours. Who said you could work less for more?
First wired point.
Second wired point:
SPAIN (I'm living in Spain)
Here in Spain, all you hear about is crisis. And as it has been said, it is there.
But a deeper observation of the real situation shows that it is not as easy as it looks.
There is still a lot of money here, and the spanish middle class is still very wealthy. At least in the big cities.
What I'm observing with clients, is that they are paying less and ask for more, yes, but not because they can't pay, because they can put the pressure claiming the crisis.
My clients spend more and more money in pleasure and peripherical expenses. What they do not give any more in one sector, they will spend on another one.
This is a very important data.
Ironically, each time there is a long week end, Madrid is absolutly deserted, People travel, spend, and spend in bars, drinks, expensives watches, cars etc...and then they claim the crisis to cut down the price in the craft sectors.
I'm not saying that there is not a slow-down in economy, there is.
But I can tell you that I see that people here are spending like spoiled child. In a real crisis, you just can not do that.
But one important factor pointed by James Russel and Epd:
it is true that most of the photographers and videographers I know are having harsh times. Some of them are good photographers.
But it is also true that I know some few who are doing better and better and enjoy like James.
And I can see a clear correspondance in each case in: attitude, talent, enthousiasm, habilties to manage contacts and social aspects, proper style etc...
The equation is incredibly simple: the one who have a frighten attitude, that do not enjoy their talent, that do not manage contacts, that are not working harder to shoot better and better etc...are having really hard times
The opposite of all these (and I forgot), are having better times.