Wednesday 24 January 2018

Ailish O’Hora: House price figures real boost to the economy

Consumer desire to spend rose again last month, a survey found
Consumer desire to spend rose again last month, a survey found

SO the sun has disappeared.

But today’s upbeat house price figures are a reason to be cheerful and come alongside a stabilisation in the labour market – two key pillars in the domestic economy.

And the domestic economy is where we really need to see positivity.

There has been much commentary about Gross Domestic Product or growth recently and it is important.

But that will not come without a recovery in the world economy and while that has started, it is largely beyond our control.

What we can control, to an extent, is the domestic one.

The Central Statistics Office house price figures show first growth nationally in house prices since January 2008 while in Dublin the figures were even more positive- although they are obviously coming off significant lows.

Property ownership, rightly or wrongly, is central to the Irish psyche and the latest figures should be a boost psychologically.

This should have a knock-on-effect on consumer spending which, in turn, will benefit growth in the economy.

Of course, we’re not completely out of the woods yet.

People are still smarting after the introduction of the property tax, we have yet to be weaned off the EU/IMF/ECB bailout loans and Budget 2014 looms with plans to take €3.1bn out of the economy.

While there is wriggle room in the budget from the promissory note deal, how the Government plans to orchestrate this is not yet clear.

But even a small gesture could prove a big boon for the Irish consumer’s pocket and the economy both of which have been shrinking since the boom ended.

While the ratings agencies are still blowing hot and cold on the future of the Irish economy, the reality is it is only a matter of time before we get those upgrades – particularly from Moody’s which still has a “junk” or non-investment grade rate on Ireland.

Let’s face it, while it may be time to lay off on the austerity to give the economy a bit of time to breathe, so far Ireland has managed the financial crisis better than Greece, Spain or Portugal.

We need to believe in ourselves and drive our own domestic economic recovery.





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