The total taken by the Tote during the annual Christmas race meeting at Leopardstown was €1.736m, which represented a huge 19.7 per cent increase on the same festive event in 2011. Given that a day at the races is considered a hobby (for most attendees) and that the money gambled is disposable cash (again, for most attendees), this is a good sign for the Irish economy. If a similar pattern was evident in other cash-flow intensive domestic industries, it wouldn't take long for a recovery to start to take hold.
The New Year begins as the previous year finished – the Irish Government's eight-year borrowing cost is now just 4.17 per cent. The markets jumped for joy as fears about the fiscal cliff lifted this week and with Eamon Gilmore predicting a "post- recession" era in our economic journey by the end of the year, it appears that those who put their money where their mouth is are asking for less to lend it. That's a good start to 2013.
In 2012, 23 per cent of companies generated e-commerce sales, which didn't deliver any growth on the year before. It's important that companies grab hold of technology to enable them to offer convenience to the customer, achieve scale, increase efficiency and open their doors to a wider audience. It would be better for the economy and would mean a commensurate recovery if this indicator was to regain growth.
Balance of payments
The balance of payments is a highly indicative statistic of our international trade and points to the amount of money that leaves or enters the country. For Q3, there was an extra €3bn swirling around the Irish economy, which was broadly similar to the previous quarter, but 100 per cent higher than the same period last year. This is very positive for Ireland and illustrates that the export success of the nation is filtering through to the domestic economy.
Change in real GDP
On an annual basis, during the third quarter of 2012 our inflation-adjusted economic output fell by 1.1 per cent following two consecutive quarters of growth. This is a truly negative sign for the economy as our domestic spend, investment and government expenditure fell significantly. It is noteworthy that fears about further budget cuts had a big impact on the aggregate spending behaviour – but it is also indicative of the cautious, fearful, anxious mood of the nation which needs to see hope before becoming more flexible with the purse strings.
Maybe we had a long weekend as a lead-in to Christmas, or maybe the bargains were good, or maybe we simply had a little extra money this year? In any case, happy retailers saw a rise of between 2 and 2.5 per cent in sales during the weekend up to December 25. Cautious optimism glimmered for a strengthening upon this foundation for the year ahead. The nation's spending in our local shops is the most lucrative of all for the economy as it generates jobs, tax receipts and confidence which breed more of the same.