Five new reasons the economy is looking up
A number of new reasons to be cheerful about the economy have emerged in the past week although the recovery is still fragile.
Despite our crippling debt, the reasons for a more upbeat tone ranged from strong Exchequer Returns to a more upbeat SME sector.
1. Exchequer Returns: November's tax returns came in more than €500m more than the same period last year. There was a surge in income tax, reflecting better unemployment numbers, as well as stamp duty and VAT. The 9.5pc hike in VAT returns were particularly welcome as they suggest that people are beginning to spend more money.
2. Bank of Ireland: Bank of Ireland announced today that it will start paying back bailout funds it received in 2009. While it could be argued that the repayment of €1.8bn in preference shares is a drop in the ocean it's still a long way from where we stood when the banking sector collapsed over five years ago.
3. A more upbeat SME sector: This is a bit of a turn-up for the books from the normally downbeat sector. The results of a survey this week showed that half of SMEs believe banks are now lending while trading conditions are also improving for Irish SMEs, with 72pc claiming turnover has increased or has remained stable.
4. Falling unemployment levels: Unemployment levels remain one of biggest challenges in the economy but the good newss is they are continuing to fall. The latest figures out today show unemployment at 12.5pc in November - down from 12.6pc in October.
5. Strengthening PMIs: Despite a blip in manufacturing sector last month, there are ongoing improvements in a range of PMIs.
NEW orders in the services sector expanded at the sharpest pace last month in more than six years, new figures released today showed. Growth in new business accelerated for the second month running and confidence was at a seven year high, according to the latest services Purchasing Managers’ Index from specialist bank Investec.