Wednesday, November 17, 2010

PORTUGAL TODAY

The debt bailout dilemma: is Portugal next?

Analysts seem agreed that Portugal is at risk from the 'contagious' or 'domino' effects of Ireland's continued refusal to even discuss a bailout agreement with the EU.

An EU rescue plan for Ireland and Portugal would end current market tension and avert contagion, some economists have been saying for more than a week now. But Ireland has dug its heels in.

Suffering from chronically low growth and a high deficit, Portugal is regarded as Europe's third most vulnerable economy after Greece and Ireland.

Coming austerity measures contained in the 2011 budget include a 5% cut in civil servants' wages and a rise in value-added tax from 21% to 23%. But the tough new austerity meaures may push Portugal back into recession next year.

Many economists say that the Government's prediction of 0.2% growth in 2011 is overly optimistic. This leads to another question: if the Government can't get the economy growing, how is it going to tackle its debt, which is currently running at 82% of gross domestic product?

ALGARVE GRAPEVINE

William whooping it up on the west coast

Prince William's engagement to his long-time girlfriend raises the spectre of
a royal stag party in the Algarve next year.

The second-in-line to the British throne last visited these shores in 2005. He quietly slipped in incognito and without his girlfriend to whoop it up prior to the marriage of one of his chums.

The all-male group stayed in a nicely tucked-away B&B in the countryside next to the west coast. They spent much time surfing on a popular beach. Even a night out in the bars of Lagos went almost unnoticed.

Will he choose the same venue for his own stag party? A repeat laid-back visit prior to what is already being heralded as the wedding of the century? No way, unless the Portuguese Government is willing to mount the kind of massive security operation that will be in place when President Obama and the rest of the NATO leaders meet in Lisbon this weekend.


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