Belfast Telegraph

New term, but same old problems in economics

By David Elliot

You only have to look at rush hour traffic to know the schools are gradually starting back. For thousands of children and teachers up and down the country it's the start of a new year with new challenges and new opportunities.

Of course, we all remember the sense of dread the night before the first day of a new term, but once you get through that then it can be good to get back to the daily routine.

After an up and down summer, let's hope that it also means the start of a new, improved term for the Northern Ireland economy, one which sees us move up a grade to a more productive couple of months in the run up to Christmas.

It's not going to be easy, what with the mathematicians in the economics department at the CBI coming out yesterday with grim predictions.

It laughingly said the UK economy would see 'growth' of -0.3% in 2012, a figure which the last time I checked was actually contraction.

And to rub salt into the already open wounds, it said that unemployment will continue to rise and disposable incomes will only start to rise after four years of falling living standards.

Those are harsh lessons the CBI is doling out on the first day of the new term but perhaps they're exactly what we need to hear if we're not to slack in the next few weeks.

In such a difficult environment we're all going to have to work harder and smarter to reach Christmas holidays with A grades. If that's too far out of reach then we at least need to get a top mark when it comes to effort to be true to ourselves, as an old teacher of mine used to say.

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