Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

We need strong leadership to ride out storm

The turbulence in the world's stock markets is predictable, given the fears abut the future of the eurozone, and the cynical political brinkmanship of the United States Congress which brought the country to within a day of defaulting on its debts.

Until recently it appeared unthinkable that America could be so heavily in debt or that the euro could become such a threatened currency. However a crisis, which has the elements of a financial perfect storm, is creating fear and uncertainty worldwide.

The crises in Greece and Ireland seriously challenged the eurozone, and now Italy is in deep trouble. This has not helped to create confidence in the much-vaunted financial package agreed by Europe only a few weeks ago.

The European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has added to the growing uncertainty by underlining that, despite recent rescue packages, the authorities are failing to prevent the sovereign debt crisis from spreading.

In the United States, President Obama has had a gruelling experience in helping to prevent the US from defaulting on its debt. Much of this was due to the political intransigence of the Republican right and the Tea Party faction.

Following an episode when Congress behaved like our Stormont administration at its tribal worst, the world's confidence in American leadership has been diminished.

Meanwhile, the British Prime Minister, his Deputy, and the Chancellor are all on holiday, and have left the Foreign Secretary William Hague in charge.

It is staggering to think that these three top people have not embraced the simple principle of staggered holidays, which is a primary procedure in running any organisation, from a small business to an entire country.

There is an urgent requirement for strong and concerted leadership at all levels at a time when the world is facing such financial crises. If these world figures cannot get their financial act together, how can they expect ordinary people to do any better?

An absence of leadership only magnifies the problems, and adds to the fears. It is high time for all prime ministers and presidents to show their true mettle.

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