When the cinema box office is awash with cash, it can mean the economy is weak. Cinema is a cheap date . . . unless you're forking out for popcorn. More flush consumers would spend money on going to a concert, theatre, restaurant or even hoovering up pints in a bar.
Less money in the pocket or handbag makes cinema-going more attractive. Cinema box office figures for the last weekend in August show the top 10 movies -- including Ted, The Bourne Legacy and Brave -- grossed €865,000 -- way down on the €1.214m for the same week last year, which was fuelled by the success of The Inbetweeners.
Irish government bonds are predominantly held by the ECB, Irish banks and US fund manager Franklin Templeton which now owns around seven per cent of all long-dated Irish debt. This is one of the biggest single punts on a national economy since George Soros took on the Bank of England. The Franklin Templeton gamble means that at least one supercharged American fund manager really, really believes that Ireland is going the right way. The nine-year yield has continued to fall again -- to 5.91 per cent. Falling bond yields NOW mean that investors view Ireland as a less dodgy proposition.
Traditionally the Department of Finance hasn't been able to get within an ass's roar of the mark when it forecasts income or expenditure. This month was no different -- taxes were 1.7 per cent ahead of forecasts -- simply smashing news for Michael Noonan and the pointy heads in the civil service, but rather unpleasant for the rest of us. Increasing taxes and cutting spending shrinks the deficit, bringing us closer to being able to stand on out own two feet again. But will there be any of us left?
The latest Live Register figures showed a tiny fall in the number of people on the dole. This is good, but it's completely swamped by the huge rise in the number of long-term unemployed on the scratcher. In February 2010 the number of long-term unemployed represented 24.7 per cent of all the people without jobs. That figure has almost doubled to 44.2 per cent. This is disastrous and it shows that all the government strategies and initiatives have been about as useful as a marshmallow axe.
Properties for sale
For the very first time since this index began, the number of properties available for sale has fallen below 50,000 to 49,719. This is a stark comparison with a peak of 59,100 in July 2011. The shrinking number of Irish properties for sale is a clear sign that the backlog in the market is slowly beginning to clear and illustrates that perhaps we are seeing a trend of bumbling along the bottom, rather than continuing falls in house prices.
For the first time in four months, the NCB Services Business Activity Index, jumped. The index is a clunky sounding measurer of stuff actually happening in business -- such as new contracts being won or export orders being filled. A score above 50 means that business is growing. Last month the reading rose from 49.1 up to 51.7. Transport, travel, tourism and leisure all saw big leaps, while business services and technology contracted.
Used car sales
Sales of used cars on carsireland.ie increased by a stonking 14.7 per cent last week. The big movers have been seven-seater cars, low emission diesel motors and vehicles registered between 2007 to 2010.