Start with the little things that help

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It’s amazing how a dose of optimism changes things – and, inversely, widespread nervousness can drag things down.

On the economic front, following several years of queasiness, 2013 finished with signs that recovery is in the making. In the United States – which affects the rest of the world and particularly close neighbour and trading partner Canada – the Dow Jones industrial index was reported on Monday to be up 25.7 per cent in 2013, making it the best year since 1996.

Factored into the steady improvement is that the U.S. economy is picking up, along with the American job market.

That trend is great news across Canada, and certainly in Nova Scotia, which obviously counts on consumer strength south of the border for some of its trade.

What it means for the average Nova Scotian in 2014 is too soon to tell, but anything less than a strong showing would have been gloomy news.

As this province’s fledgling Liberal government heads into its first full year, the economy will as always be front and centre. Premier Stephen McNeil and his team will be judged on how things improve here – and possibly judged more hastily than is really fair. The economy in a small province certainly isn’t going to roar overnight.

But what McNeil and the Liberals will have to do is focus on the things within their power that can help, and also figure out the things that could hinder business prospects.

While ideally tax cuts are viewed as a boost both for businesses and consumers, there’s only so much they can do in the short term. They’ve already noted government finances are too fragile at this point to figure on a cut to the HST.

But they can also look carefully at the bureaucratic hindrances and duplications business owners continually complain about. They can be costly, the nail in the coffin for some shops and no enticement for someone to open. They’re also costly for government to run and enforce.

That might indeed be starting small, but it would be a start.

Organizations: Dow Jones

Geographic location: United States, Canada, Nova Scotia

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