Rubber johnnies and other "medical products" rose in cost by 0.8 per cent over the last month, according to the latest CSO figures. Inflation is now running at the fastest rate since October 2008. Coupled with falling wages and a moribund economy, this plonks us into the rather nasty condition of "stagflation". It's the economic equivalent of trapped wind. Prices rose by 2.2 per cent over the last year, propelled by increased fuel costs, soaring insurance bills and travel expenses... and rubber johnnies. While inflation helps eat away at debt, it's not much fun if wages and economic growth don't keep pace.
Irish bond yields
There was a minuscule drop in the cost of government borrowing last week, with yields on nine-year Irish bonds falling to 6.84 per cent. The NTMA said that it was limbering up for a return to capital markets with a super-duper weapons-grade bond. It could be a 35-year one, which would give us a lot of time to pay it back... or change our names and addresses. Apart from the bond swap in January, this is the most tangible indication that Ireland is moving closer to being able to borrow independently and is slowly weaning itself off the external financial life support it has been on since November 2010.
Number of new .ie domain registrations
The number of .ie domain registrations in February topped 2,072 -- which was the highest number since May 2011 and by far, outstrips the level of registrations throughout our Celtic Tiger days! This is a good indicator of business activity -- even though some of these websites may be for the non-profit sector or the purposes of wanton nudity.
The amount of revenue raised by the Government last year from environmental taxes increased by 3.9 per cent, primarily due to the introduction of the carbon tax accounting for an extra €223m. While this is positive for government coffers, this money comes directly from the disposable income of those paying it. Bad for the domestic economy in general -- but jolly good news for Peter the Polar Bear. Though we might have to eat him if we get any poorer.
After a very strong 2010 and some bright spots in 2011, the levels of industrial production have been in decline since last November. According to the CSO figures, production for February 2012 decreased by 3.3 per cent when compared with February 2011. This is a negative development for the economy as the lower the amount of goods being processed for sale, the lower the turnover for these companies -- all of which has a knock-on effect on jobs, government revenue and growth.
Business chiefs' pow-wow
The business community is certainly getting more galvanised about kick-starting the economy. Top executives such as EMC's Bob Savage, IBM's Peter O'Neill, Dell's Dermot O'Connell, Aughinish Alumina's Damian Clancy and PayPal's Louise Phelan will be bashing their heads together to help come up with some smart ideas to drag us out of the mud at the ICBE conference in the Aviva on April 18 and 19.