Sunday 24 September 2017

The price of make-up

The price of stuff has risen 1.8 per cent in the last year -- no great change from last month, according to last week's CSO numbers. The price of booze and fags rose 1.2 per cent in the last month, which might make Euro 2012 a bit pricier. However, the cost of looking and smelling good decreased. Cosmetics and skincare products are 1.7 per cent cheaper with deodorants and shower gels 1.8 per cent cheaper. On the flip side, it's 0.2 per cent dearer to get into a nightclub.

Euro exchange rate

The stockmarkets rallied strongly towards the end of the week while Mario Draghi put it up to the politicians to solve the real European problem, rather than feebly use monetary policy to plaster what is a gaping hole in banks' and governments' balance sheets. The euro was lifted on this wave of nervous optimism -- up to $1.25. Our exporters would have preferred that it stayed in the doldrums.

Mobile phones

By 2017, there will be more mobile phones than people on the planet, according to Ericsson, which predicts that there will be nine billion phones hooked up to networks in five years' time. The surge in phone ownership is stacked up by eBay stats that show a 12 per cent rise in sales over the last year. There are 90,000 phones listed for sale on eBay.ie, including 11,000 fancy smartphones. The rise in sales represents some strength in consumer spending.

Weekly earnings

During the last three months of 2011, our weekly average earnings tumbled by 1.5 per cent (on an annual basis) to €689.54. This contraction of income is having a poke in the eye for spending plans -- and also for consumer confidence, leading to deflation in parts of our economy and to reduced growth. All-in-all, rather grim.

Tax take

The Exchequer returns (or tax pouring into State coffers) was 2.8 per cent ahead of forecasts. Admittedly, the Department of Finance had a role in the forecasts -- and we all know it couldn't forecast its way out of a paper bag. The downside to the figures was that the Department of Social Welfare and Department of Health weren't able to get anywhere near their budget targets and overspent like mad. You can bet that the taxpayer will have to make up the shortfall somehow. But broadly speaking, the tax figures were less bad than good.

Credit Review Office

The Credit Review Office was set up to give small businesses an avenue down which they could take on the banks, if they had been unjustly refused loans or overdrafts. So far 69 decisions where a bank has been unjustified in turning down a credit application have been overturned. Yep, that's 69. And there are around 130,000 small and medium businesses in the country. That's 0.05 per cent of SMEs helped. The eighth report of the Credit Review Board, published last week, trumpets the fact that 683 jobs have been supported by the body since its establishment. That's 683 out of a total of 766,000 workers employed by small firms. Underwhelming or what? Five companies went out of business every day in May.

Government bonds

Spain finally came out and explicitly asked for help to shore up its ailing banking sector. However, the markets are in absolute conflict. The cost of our own government borrowing has fallen to 7.54 per cent, when we should have expected the opposite to occur. The chances of Ireland making the symbolic return to the markets in coming weeks are quite high. But we'll probably try to get away with just raising a fiver.

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