With a whole month left to go, the top 10 grossing movies of 2012 at Irish cinema box offices have already taken two per cent more than the top 10 of last year. Epic Batman flick The Dark Knight Rises is the top grossing movie of the year, taking €5.32m, compared with 2011's top movie Bridesmaids (on €4.31m). By mid-November, Irish cinema-goers had coughed up €31.56m in ticket sales for the top 10 movies, compared with €30.91m for the whole of 2011. However, a strong box office tends to indicate a weak economy, as cinema (without popcorn or monster-sized drinks) is a much cheaper form of entertainment than going out to a pub or restaurant.
The number of those big containers lumped on and off ships in our ports fell two per cent in the third quarter of the year, according to the Irish Maritime Development Office. The number of containers on ships leaving Ireland for export markets fell three per cent, while the number of imports in containers dropped one per cent. The chemical and pharmaceutical sector has experienced a worrying drop in recent months. On the plus side, the rate of decline in port traffic has slowed .
Sales of Jameson Whiskey rose 15 per cent last year, with 4m cases being shifted for the first time ever. Jameson is one of Ireland's most successful exports. Back in 1988, just 466,000 cases of Jameson were sold – largely in Ireland. The only problem is that the whiskey is owned by big fat French multinational Pernod Ricard... but you can't have everything.
So the fall in Ireland's bond yields might be due in a large part to a well-paid US speculator having a huge bet on Ireland repaying its debts, rather than any financial jiggery pokery on our side. The decline continued this week to 4.48 per cent, making it far cheaper for us to borrow money. The NTMA has indicated that Ireland may seek to raise €10bn on markets next year. Even with the fall in yields, it remains miles cheaper to borrow from the IMF/ EU programme. Could we have another bail out please?
Hot water bottles
Not only is it bloody freezing, but it's getting harder and harder to pay heating bills as the price of electricity and gas continues to rise. Sales of hot water bottles on eBay.ie have doubled in the last two months. This is a sign of austerity biting deep rather than any great splurge from consumers.
In the mid-term fiscal statement, it was noted that the general Government deficit has fallen to €13.5bn this year, a brutal decline of €3.2bn in two years. This has inspired confidence in Ireland's ability to tackle its problems and it moves our finances towards a more sustainable position.
We've just seen the biggest contraction yet in the number of properties available for rent in ireland, with a decline of 25 per cent since August – testament to the anecdotal stories that it's getting harder to find a place to rent. As the availability decreases, there's likely to upward pressures on prices, which could point to the bottoming out of the property market.