Long-haul traffic, Industrial production, suits, average earnings, cappuccino and Bond yield.
Gabriel Byrne is popular among women of "a certain age", according to Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar. At least somebody likes him. Varadkar's cringeworthy comments came after Byrne dissed his tourism masterplan 'The Gathering'. The idea is to get all your relatives to come home for their holidays next year. And fleece them for every cent. The trends are improving. Aer Lingus reported a 10.3 per cent rise in long-haul traffic in October, pointing to greater tourism and international trade links. The impact of such also has subsequent knock-on effects including jobs, exports, and strengthened relationships.
Splat! Forget double-dip recessions, this one could be a triple dipper and then some. Last week's industrial production numbers were really, really terrible. Production figures for Ireland's manufacturing industry -- ranging from all the fancy stuff like pharmaceuticals down to earthier things like textiles or booze -- fell a horrendous 13.7 per cent compared to September 2011. Much of this was driven by a huge fall in the pharmaceutical sector as more and more Irish-made drugs come off patent. This is the biggest drop since the end of 2009. Industrial production numbers are usually quite volatile . . . but never this bad. The impact on GDP and any export-led recovery will be grim. Anyone have a Plan B to fix this mess?
Men don't want to look like bankers any more. Recent numbers from Kantar showed that sales of men's suits in the UK have tumbled 20 per cent since 2008 as people can't afford to splash out out on a new Paul Smith. Or they'd prefer not to look like a complete nob. However on the internet, spending remains strong. Suit sales on eBay.ie rose by 18 per cent last month, with sales of formal shoes up 25 per cent in the same period.
While it's a good thing that the pace of decline has slowed, it can't be ignored that average annual earnings fell by 0.6 per cent in comparison to last year. One of Ireland's biggest problems is a lack of confidence and much of this is built upon a fear of continued wage cuts -- this statistic does nothing to remove that. As long as people feel their incomes can be cut, they will hoard savings. But the employment situation is showing pockets of life with latest numbers from findajob.ie indicating that 52 per cent of people believe that there are more job announcements than last year.
Sales of cappuccinos, lattes and other coffees at Bobby Kerr's Insomnia coffee chain fell 3 per cent last week compared to the same week last year, more than likely because of the bank holiday. Sales of teas were down 9 per cent but there was a 15 per cent jump in other hot drinks, leading to an aggregate drop of 2 per cent. Sales of takeaway coffees are a barometer of the strength of discretionary spending.
The Germans tell us that we'll be able to exit the bailout next year. We just have to keep cutting. Our bond yield has resumed its downward slide to where the cost of borrowing money and repaying it in eight years' time is currently at 4.54 per cent. But why would we bother exiting the bailout when we're borrowing money at a fraction of the cost we'd have to pay on open markets?