Belfast Telegraph

Soccer madness is sign of health

By David Elliott

The type of telephone number deals which the world's richest football clubs have been signing over the last few days have given a fascinating insight into a world where money seems to be an object, but only just.

That Spanish clubs can afford to pay so much for a few, admittedly talented, players does say something about how the health of the region's top football teams looks to be divorced from the rest of the country's finances.

English clubs weren't far behind, spending a record £630m during the transfer window, according to Deloitte.

That's perhaps more in keeping with the UK's economic health and chimes with the more positive mood emanating from the nattily titled Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The internationally-renowned think tank now expects the UK economy to grow by 1.5% this year, a figure which might not sound like much but is a big jump from the 0.8% it previously expected. That sort of increase is enough to get economists' pulses racing.

It was one of a trio of regions which also included the US and Japan which in the OECD's eyes are starting to show the kind of growth that is worth getting excited about.

On the downside some of the world's emerging nations, including China, are continuing to see a slowdown in growth but, of course, that's all relative.

An annual growth rate of 7.4% for 2013 is the kind of performance finance ministers in Europe dream about, but for China it's a below-par performance.

When it comes to Northern Ireland, there's no doubt that economic indicators are pointing to a more positive outlook, one which has been helped by the performance in the rest of the UK but one which is more reliant on economic health across the border.

Latest news from Dublin also shows a perk up in prospects there with the latest PMI report revealing an expansion of the economy. With the bulk of Northern Ireland's exports heading south, that's good news for us and should bode well for the near future.

But, as with any recovery, caution is advisable.

While economic health may be improving, you don't have to make many phone calls before you can speak to a firm which is struggling to keep afloat or one which is contracting.

The green shoots of recovery are definitely showing through but without careful nuturing and care they could quickly wither.

Belfast Telegraph

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