Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Don’t make a bad time even worse

A week on from Meltdown Monday, much of the financial world remains in turmoil, and Northern Ireland cannot expect to escape the fall-out.

Already there are worries about jobs in Belfast as a result of the takeover of HBoS by Lloyds TSB, and at another level, most people are concerned about the impact of the upheaval on their pensions.

There was more bleak news last week when the unemployment rate rose by 0.5% in a month to 4.4%.

The credit crunch is claiming victims around the world, but Northern Ireland may yet prove to be more resilient than other regions of the UK.

Not for the first time, University of Ulster economist Michael Smyth ran against the tide by suggesting that the province might avoid the worst of the economic downturn.

Mr Smyth argued that the strength of the public sector was helping to ringfence the Northern Ireland economy, while cross-border shopping was bolstering the retail sector.

Economic growth in Northern Ireland is expected to be 1% this year and next year — which means we will avoid falling into a recession.

But with the property sector still heading south, and the construction industry in the doldrums, times are tough.

Yet there are rays of hope and the announcement of a £16m investment in Larne which will create 235 jobs was one such. The key, as Mr Smyth says, is for us not to talk ourselves into a recession.

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