The workers are revolting! There was an incredible increase of 229 per cent in the number of days lost to industrial disputes during 2012 in comparison to the year before. This sense of rising discontent is not a good sign for our economy, as it points to lost productivity plus tensions in the workplace which filters into macro-economic problems of unemployment and lower economic growth. And rising sales of dufflecoats.
The Christmas retail mini-boom may now be at least partially explained by the fact that some people were feeling more comfortable with spending. In November, the consumer sentiment index recorded a second consecutive growth in its reading, rising to 63.8 from 60.9 the previous month. This is one of the most important signs of all, as the consumer is so vitally important to the economy. Used car sales at carsireland.ie rose 6.6 per cent last week as well.
British EU exit and trade
David Cameron's desperately cunning or unbelievably dumb move to offer an "in or out" referendum to the Brits on EU membership is of huge importance to us, as Britain is our biggest trading partner. A British exit (or 'Brexit') from Europe may boost foreign direct investment here, as we'd be the only English speaking member of the EU. But it could play havoc with our trade and export sector. This is going gangbusters. The figures for September, October and November were really terrific. In each successive month, our surplus (the amount we sold versus the amount we bought) increased and arrived at €4.2bn by the penultimate month of the year.
Houses for sale
While house prices fell 0.5 per cent in December, reversing the recent upward movement, it wasn't all bad news. The number of 'for sale' advertisements on daft.ie. has fallen by 12 per cent since September. This is a leading good sign, as the glut of oversupply being worked through, means the more potential there is for price movement – something which is needed to kickstart this market and start building confidence again.
Ireland's only stockmarket-listed recruitment firm CPL saw a 31 per cent jump in profits in the six months to December. Crunching through the company's performance reveals that permanent placements have risen by 21 per cent over the last six months of 2012, indicating a measure of increased confidence in the jobs market. The recruitment company also reported that there was a strong demand for 'technology, finance and accountancy' candidates.
Scarves and gloves
Sales of gloves are up 31 per cent on eBay.ie with the number of scarves being sold online also rising by a well rounded 25 per cent. Snow and really bad weather hampers the economy, ranging from loss of productivity through traffic jams and flight cancellations, to falls in retail sales as consumers stay at home by the fire. A nice spell of grey clouds and light drizzle would do just fine.