Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

What a week for the two Georges, with Osborne finally feeling better

The Chancellor has had a week to remember. First the royal baby adopts his christian name and then the economy gives him the type of bearhug used to welcome home a loved one after a long time on the road.

He's been more used to the type of faux hugs doled out at the end of The Apprentice to losing boardroom battlers than such all encompassing warmth.

Second quarter growth of 0.6% certainly provides enough of a reason to break out the bubbly, especially coming after a revised 0.3% lift in the first three months of the year.

There's no getting away from the fact this is good news and much better than a contraction, but put it into context and the bullishness dissipates slightly.

It's about half the growth seen in the pre-crisis second quarter of 2007 and well down on the US's 2.2% of Japan's 2%.

And if you dare, take a look at China's 7.5% one which put into it's own context is disappointing and well down on the 10% it used to notch up.

But George Osborne won't be one bit worried about such dreamy figures in such far off lands, preferring instead to thank his lucky stars that he's not in charge of the European Union's economy, one which is getting better but still shrinking, according to latest purchasing managers' index readings.

And then what of Northern Ireland's own economic situation?

We're still a laggard when it comes to the UK's overall performance but have managed to register a few more positive indicators over the last few months so at best our economy should be flat lining.

That sounds disappointing but compared to the contraction we've become used to over the past few years, it should be welcome.

So as the weekend approaches, both Prince and Chancellor George can relax after a busy week, one which meant a lot to both.