Sunday 4 December 2016

Finally, the sense of despair lifts as we see out 2015 on a note of optimism

Published 31/12/2015 | 02:30

Crowds are out Christmas shopping in Dublin
Crowds are out Christmas shopping in Dublin

The best of times or the worst times? The year coming to an end has been neither. But with Ireland's three-year-old recovery widening and deepening over the course of 2015, it has unquestionably been the best year since the crash.

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That is to be seen in any of the sentiment indicators which measure how people are feeling about the economy. The longest established consumer confidence index, compiled by KBC Bank and the ESRI think tank, soared over the course of the year. By November, it had hit not only 2006 bubble-era highs, but was at one of the highest levels ever registered in the survey's two-decade history.

If that seems odd, it is. Joblessness is still far above the full levels of the 2000-07 period and most people feel less well-off - in terms of their incomes and wealth - than they did before the crash.

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