Ireland Continues Turning the Screws ... on Itself

The big macro can cause big moves in the market. What does today's headline macro news mean for your portfolio?

What's happening: Ireland is planning $17 billion of additional austerity measures over the next four years as the country continues to grapple with a heavy debt load and a slowing economy. The government also ratcheted back its GDP growth forecast for 2012, from 2.5% to 1.6%.

In plain English, please: As far as downtrodden eurozone economies go, Greece has clearly stolen the spotlight recently, but that doesn't mean the situation for early bailout recipient Ireland is hunky-dory. The country still needs to work down its massive debt load, and the fact that its economy is slowing is not going to help matters.

On the other hand, the Irish people have broadly accepted austerity measures without too much hullabaloo. That could change, but it at least gives the government flexibility to make cuts that it sees fit to control its budget and encourage bond buyers. At the same time, the country has been good at attracting international business -- for instance Accenture (NYSE: ACN  ) and Ingersoll-Rand (NYSE: IR  ) -- which is obviously a plus for its economy.

Stocks to watch: Ireland's fate is obviously a big concern for the entire eurozone region, and for that reason, it's a country that the world needs to be keeping an eye on. While Greece is making the most noise now, should the situation in Ireland worsen, that could seriously complicate matters for stronger eurozone members and the region as a whole. As far as individual stocks, investors may want to watch Ireland-based companies that do most of their business in Ireland and the surrounding area, including Bank of Ireland (NYSE: IRE  ) , Ryanair (Nasdaq: RYAAY  ) , and Trinity Biotech (Nasdaq: TRIB  ) .

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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool or Facebook. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.


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