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And you think we've got problems...

By David Elliott

Es un problema grande. For the non-Spanish speaking - and I count myself in this group despite two years of lessons - the above phrase relates to the news that the Spanish economy has continued to shrink at a "significant rate".

That's bad enough news if it emerged from commentators, but coming from Bank of Spain, it's a harsh insight.

The news has knocked the stuffing out of markets around the world on a day when strikes in Greece brought business to a halt and rekindled worries that the likes of Spain could struggle to borrow in the coming days.

That's obviously not good for our exporters to Europe but shining the spotlight on the Iberian peninsula region does at least give us plenty to be thankful for in our own economy.

The most obvious is unemployment, an economic measure which sits around 8% in Northern Ireland whereas in Spain nearly a quarter of the working age population is out of work.

Spain will take a long time to recover, and although Northern Ireland certainly isn't in the best of health, we are at least managing to bear up remarkably well given the trouble other regions are in. We must be thankful for small mercies.

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