Sunday 24 September 2017

Dan O'Brien: Statistical Santa Clauses pull some crackers

Statistical Santa Clauses: that was what came to mind yesterday when the State's number crunchers delivered an unexpected, but very welcome Christmas present to a gathering in the basement of government buildings on Merrion Street. The economy surged ahead in the third quarter of the year compared to the first half of 2013, according to their newly minted national accounts numbers.

Are happy days here again? Not quite, but by almost every measure the figures show that things are looking better. They add to a growing body of evidence that shows the economy turning around. They also offer genuine hope that 2014 will bring tangible benefits for everyone, and even the possibility that the Government could get away with a less stringent budget than currently anticipated next October.

Yesterday's third-quarter figures on gross domestic product, which is the widest ranging measure of how much wealth an economy is creating, showed a very strong uptick. It was the second consecutive quarter of growth. As the chart shows, GDP has recovered the ground lost in the year to the first quarter of 2013, even if it is still 8pc below the bubble-era peak, reached exactly six years ago.

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