Saturday 25 February 2017

The time has come to stand up for middle Ireland

There is a real world of consumers and business people struggling to put this country back on its feet, says Marc Coleman

TAX revenue growth moving closer to Government targets, improved manufacturing figures for the US and China, growth of nearly nine per cent in the Indian economy, four per cent annual growth in Germany, improved results from Irish Life & Permanent and Kerry Group, an increase in the stock market and -- finally -- the news that unemployment is settling at a rate very close to the levels that were predicted earlier this year by the ESRI, Central Bank and the Government. That is just a short list of the news that the pundits weren't talking about last week.

And it is forward-looking news, news that tells us more about what is to come than about what has gone wrong in the past.

The reason this type of news doesn't make it on to The Frontline is because most of the media think that we are only interested in the worst possible kind of news on the economy. Of course, the news last week about Anglo Irish Bank was traumatic. But it is like thunder -- very scary but the after-effect of something (lightning) that has already occurred. Swollen by the transfer of its loans to Nama, Anglo's average quarterly loss went from an already shocking €2.5bn in the 15 months to last December, to €4bn in the first half of that year. With €19bn of loans yet to be transferred, it's a certainty that that rate of loss will worsen for at least nine months before subsiding. As far as the taxpayers' exposure to losses goes, it's shocking. As far as a verdict on the economy goes, it's old news. In operating terms, Anglo made an operating profit while IL&P, Kerry Group and many other companies are reporting that they are turning the corner.

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