Ivan Yates: Property prices rise, new jobs are on way and yet shackles of austerity are still tight as ever
The most important characteristic for a politician is to listen. Not only to hear what's said, but to absorb. I am continually confounded by credibility gaps between endemic statistical analysis and individual anecdotes about the real state of the economy.
I know that: 58,000 new jobs have been created in the past year; unemployment is reduced from 15 to 12pc; property prices have risen by 6pc; Exchequer returns show tax revenues are up on last year. Yet on Main Street, I'm listening to a different story.
Over the past week, here's what I've randomly heard: well-established jeweller says he's having "the worst trading in 30 years of an established business"; pharmacist is suffering worst decline than at any time in the recession due to the impact of generic drugs and reference pricing; a travel agent tells of "a disastrous summer due to the good weather at home and holidaymakers booking directly themselves"; advertising executives having a horrendous December; a sportswear retailer enduring an appaling November -- blaming the local property tax. Their initial reaction is of fear that it's just their ship that is not benefiting from the rising tide, pointing towards internal blame.