Bond yields: Hell no! We won't go. Let's give Europe the bird and refuse to pay the blasted Anglo promissory note due in March. Tell them to stick the €3.1bn payment where the sun doesn't shine. The fall in Irish bond yields is just an illusion. Unemployment is still at 14.5 per cent, the banks are wrecked and the economy is flatlining. Irish bond yields haven't fallen due to a sudden optimism over the growth of the economy. Nope, it's down to the ECB buying up shedloads of bonds. It's cheaper for Ireland to borrow money on the markets... but why should we do that when the money is cheaper from the troika?
Retail sales rose for the fourth consecutive month. Yipeekayay. It's a desperately fragile recovery and welcome news for struggling retailers. Fortunately nobody would be dumb enough to try to snuff out this one positive trend by making it harder to spend money or destroying consumer confidence. The Budget is going to do exactly that. How in the name of God did these fools get to run a country?
Average weekly earnings
The whole point of this austerity madness is to fix the deficit and make Ireland more competitive so that we'll be able to export lots and attract billions in foreign direct investment. So how can average weekly earnings be rising? They are up 1.1 per cent this year. The gap between public and private sector is getting truly scary. Average weekly public sector earnings bloated to over €925 in the last quarter, compared with almost €618 in the private sector. This is lunatic stuff.
Thud. Sales of vans and commercial vehicles stalled badly in recent months as consumer confidence shrivelled. Given that van sales are an indicator of economic activity, this is a bit grim. Year on year van sales are down over 3 per cent but the drop was even more pronounced last month. Sales of used cars at Carsireland.ie fell 3.1 per cent last week as consumers hid behind the sofa ahead of the budget.
The presence of unfinished estates has a number of environmental, social and economic consequences for its sparse residents and the area at large. The number of such properties has fallen by more than 36 per cent in the past two years. While the level is still very high, the decline is welcome, indicates some movement in the property sector and some form of progression through the supply overhang choking the illiquid market.
There was just a 1 per cent increase in the requests for credit submitted to financial institutions in the six months to September, in comparison to the quarter before. This miserly increase is indicative of the lack of demand on the part of SMEs in the economy – not because they don't need or want lending, but many have been put off by the hoops they have to jump through for basic facilities.
Revenue from tourism
In 2011, Ireland generated an extra 0.7 per cent of revenue from brightly coloured tourists compared to 2010. This is a positive development as it illustrates that people coming from abroad have the money, are willing to spend it and see that our goods and services are value for money. Our cyclical, seasonal, tourism-driven business is labour intensive and hence is an important source of employment and consequential contributor to economic growth.