Wednesday 13 December 2017

Cocaine use

Overall use of illegal narcotics has fallen slightly over the last four years, which is jolly good news -- for obvious reasons. Well done Robert Downey Jr. However, crunching into the figures shows a less positive trend.

The number of people shovelling cocaine up their noses and talking gibberish has dropped by a third to 2.5 per cent of the population. Studies in Florida have shown that falls in cocaine use have tracked the weakness in the local economy. From an economic point of view, the drop in cocaine use indicates pretty flimsy discretionary spending levels.

Hoodies

Nothing spells economic gloom like huddles of youths loafing around in hoodies. Latest numbers in from eBay.ie show that sales of hoodies have risen by a worrying 54 per cent in the last three months alone. God help us.

Property prices

In October Irish property prices fell at the fastest rate since April 2009, tumbling 2.2 per cent. That brings the fall to 15.1 per cent for the year. High-profile property auctions have given transparency to the market, which has contributed to the price falls. Falling property prices mean that the banks will face bigger losses and that consumers will be less inclined to spend money.

Irish bond yields

The brown stuff is heading for the fan at great speed. When the Germans flub a bond issue you know that the game is up. The Eurozone as we know it is toast ... probably. Irish bond yields went postal, hitting 9.7 per cent. This is the highest since August and pretty much wipes out all the austerity goodwill we'd clocked up with investors over the last six months. A black week.

Equally weighted basket of ISEQ shares

Investors got hosed big time last week as our top 20 shares in the ISEQ shed almost 7 per cent last week. Ireland is about as popular with investors as someone with bird flu, SARS, Ebola and the cheese touch.

11890 enquiries

The upcoming VAT hike will ram the stake through the hearts of any struggling retailers. Nice one Mrs Merkel! But at least Christmas jumpers and other clothes are still selling. Directory enquiries firm 11890 recorded a big jump in the calls for clothing shops last week of 39 per cent. Maybe it's from people looking for jobs?

Euro exchange rate

Maybe it was because we were trying to give them Kevin Cardiff, but the value of the euro against both the dollar and sterling tumbled, hitting $1.33 and £0.86 respectively. As a result, our (non-euro) exports are cheaper and imports are more expensive. Given that we export more than we import by far (balance of payments surplus), there's a thumbs up for this.

Ratio of new enterprises to business closing down

Only for the second time since the beginning of this index, this ratio is below one. This is deeply troubling for the economy as for every business that closes, there is less than one enterprise born into life. If this fall-off in commercial activity continues, it means that fewer jobs can be created and less tax can be collected, hampering any possible recovery.

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