While extreme events such as tornados and earthquakes have an obvious economic impact, the endless drizzle also has an impact on productivity and economic growth, through sluggish traffic, domestic tourism, consumer sentiment and spending patterns. However, it does boost sales of umbrellas and other rainwear, with latest stats from eBay.ie showing an overall increase of 12 per cent in the sale of umbrellas and rainwear over the last year.
Number of cars registered for the first time
Wheeeee! Splat! That was the sound the the new car market falling off a cliff. There was a 16 per cent drop in the number of cars registered for the first time in April in comparison to the same month last year. This is a combination of the failure of banks to lend, a dramatic fall in consumer demand, the excess of secondhand cars on the market and the winding up of the scrappage scheme. Sales of used cars on carsIreland.ie fell 8.2 per cent last week.
Price of chocolate
Inflation fell a wee bit last month, with the annual rate of price increases down to 1.9 per cent from 2.2 per cent a month earlier. This is a blessed relief. However, it's not all good news as food prices rose a hefty enough 0.7 per cent in the month. One of the biggest rises was in chocolate. Prices jumped a nasty 7.1 per cent. This is just downright mean. As if we don't have enough problems without prices being jacked up.
Irish government bonds
Back to squeaky-bum time in Europe as Spain suddenly realises that its banks are made of something stinky and the Greeks have had enough. At least the Germans have Ireland's best interests at heart. Time to put the tin hat on again as things are going to get primitive in coming weeks. Irish government bond yields rose to 6.9 per cent. Rising yields indicate that investors don't fancy us, falling yields suggest that we're a good bet.
Increase in exporting to the BRIC countries
Ireland increased exports to Brazil and Russia by 32 per cent and India by 14 per cent in the last quarter, according to the Exporters Association. The tax credit introduced in the last Budget to incentivise commerce with these countries worked -- to some degree. A weenchy 4 per cent of our exports are sold into these areas in comparison to the EU27 average of over 20 per cent. A step in the right direction rather than a back-slapping moment.
Lending to households
The banks are lending less, according to the Central Bank. In March 2012, lending for house purchase was 2.4 per cent lower and lending for consumption and other purposes fell by 8 per cent in comparison to the same period last year. And you thought that we actually owned the banks and could tell them what to do. We're getting played. This has a serious knock-on effect on the property market and related industries, consumer sentiment, spending power of individuals, retail revenues, employment, the Exchequer and the entire economy as a whole.
Sunday Indo Business