Belfast Telegraph

Our economy must stay fit as rest of world gets in a sweat over Greek woes

By David Elliot

Fear tends to be contagious, especially when it comes to investments. Just take a look at the world's stock markets over the last few days and it's easy to see how the woes of Greece have penetrated everywhere from the far corners of Australia to right here in Northern Ireland.

While the political shenanigans on the other side of Europe might seem like an interesting aside to an otherwise steady recovery, there can be no denying that further turmoil for the Eurozone economy will only make life more difficult for us.

We've lamented on these pages over the last few days how the slide in the value of the euro has made life more challenging for our exporters, will erode the buying power of tourists to these shores and generally clog the wheels of commerce.

This at a time when our so-called recovery is already struggling to gain traction on the slippery road which leads back to economic health.

That's not to mention the problems which our greatest export market across the border could face when it tries to refinance government borrowings.

If Greece does drop out of the eurozone, global lenders will look at the Republic, which has been doing very nicely when it comes to getting its economy back on its feet, and wonder if it might just follow suit.

That slight fear is enough to send borrowing rates for Ireland sharply higher and that in itself would drag on the economy across the border and therefore impact us.

And the fear of an Ireland EU dropout might come true if the Republic's voters go against the EU stability treaty on May 31.

That's a worse case scenario but in these times of dwindling confidence and jittery investors even the slight hint of such a move is enough to send traders running for the sell button.

These are all ifs and buts and there's little we can do to protect ourselves against them. In the meantime we need to continue to fine tune our own economy, taking advantage of the likes of cheaper input costs as a result of the euro weakness and drive up margins.

The fitter our economy is the better it will be able to deal with the storm.

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