Belfast Telegraph

No school of thought to tackle recession threat

By David Elliot

The 'R' word is raising its ugly head again. Latest PMI data for the eurozone shows the region is heading for recession.

A member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee says the UK economy is at risk of recession and the Northern Ireland economy, by all accounts, still hasn't pulled itself out of recession.

Not very good news all round but if a few heads can be knocked together at the summit of eurozone leaders today then here's hoping the region's economy can at least be stopped from contracting any further.

Their meetings have so far failed to come to a definite resolution and even the participants are beginning to wrangle and argue with each other like a bunch of day-tripping school children who've been stuck on a coach for too long.

Head girl Merkel continues to hold court at the back of the bus, demanding that some of the flakier countries of the Eurozone, such as bad-boy of the class Silvio Berlusconi, stop spending money on sweets so they can afford to pay for lunch.

Meanwhile, vice head Sarkozy continues to nod his head and say 'oui' to his superior at every given opportunity in an effort to hide his own errant spending.

Whether this motley bunch of bickering teenagers will manage to come to some sort of agreement on how to solve the eurozone debt crisis remains to be seen but they'll need to do something pretty drastic to impress a market which is baying for blood.

While all this is going on in the eurozone, our bold Finance Minister Sammy Wilson is having words with the retail sector.

In a delayed response to Tesco's assertion to The Belfast Telegraph last week that it would cut its investment here if the large retailer levy is implemented, Mr Wilson rounded on the supermarket behemoth for its "alarmist claims" and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Northern Ireland's small shop owners.

Whatever your thoughts on this, an interesting question was posed to the business desk by a small company owner - in fact a one-woman band - who operates in another sector:

"We all have to compete in order to survive, so why is the focus - and the support - always given to retail?" she said.

We couldn't answer her but await a learned response from those in the know with bated breath.