Short view: Max Doyle
Heavy discounting -- that's what the August retail sales suggest. The value of all sales fell by nearly 4 per cent on an annual basis, excluding car sales.
However, a glance at the performance of the 13 categories of goods shows that 11 sectors of business registered significant negative growth -- cars and fuel being the exceptions.
The worst hit were the furniture and bar trades, down about 15 per cent between them. All this comes before December's Budget, where households will be expected to hand over more disposable income to the taxman.
Compare this to France, where retail trade actually rose by 6.1 per cent in July. If growth is the answer for our highly indebted society, these numbers are not supporting that scenario.
In fact, they are screaming for stimulus. The Central Statistics Office also told us last week that 65,000 people had chosen to emigrate in the 12 months to April last. In all likelihood, they came off the dole to do so.
It is no surprise, therefore, that the live register fell. It takes mojo to emigrate -- however, I suspect that this is not what Bill Clinton had in mind when he encouraged us to get ours back. In the past three years, 175,000 people have emigrated -- that's more than in the three years from 1987 to 1989, which many will remember as particularly bleak for our young people.
Bill Clinton said we'd get out of this mess but that it would take longer than we had thought and that the US would support us. We welcome that warmly. Tell the people the truth, he said.
Well, the hard truth is that we have to get out of this mess ourselves. To do this, we need a plan and dogged leadership. Do we have a plan? Please tell us the truth.
Max Doyle is a principal of Prime Focus Management Ltd, specialising in investment and turnaround of Irish companies.