They're itchy and you'll normally look like a taxi driver if you wear one for "fashion" purposes. But for the final hours of Euro 2012, you simply have to do your bit. Success in sporting events has a major impact on a country's GDP. Sporting damp squibs less so. However, spending on replica kits helps boost the economy. Latest figures from eBay show a stonking 66 per cent jump in sales since January of Ireland jerseys.
First Communion spending
The days of spray-tanning tweens, squeezing them into a Vera Wang and arranging a stretch Hummer to the church have dissipated somewhat. First Holy Communion spending has dropped by 25 per cent over the last year, falling from an utterly bonkers €1,000 down to a still rather insane €744, according to Ulster Bank stats. The average amount received by kids dropped to €432 from €468 last year. While the drop represents a degree of sanity returning, it also highlights a weakness in consumer spending.
The amount of paint, hardware or bits of glass sold fell by a staggering 32 per cent between 2007 to 2011. That's a heck of a lot of shelves that haven't been put up or back gates that haven't been painted. Either men -- who do most of these jobs -- have got much better at weaseling out of household jobs, or consumer spending is terribly weak. Things aren't getting better either, as sales of DIY materials fell 12 per cent in the first four months of the year compared with the same period in 2011.
In May, the Government collected 0.7 per cent more VAT than expected and the total amount in 2012 thus far is 2.3 per cent higher than in the same period last year. While the annual rise can be attributed to the increase in the rate, the surplus over expectation can only arise from people spending more. This is good for the economy as the more that people spend, the faster that money can move around the economy, the Exchequer and the tills of our retailers.
The Irish construction market has contracted spectacularly since 2007 and it doesn't look like it's bottomed out just yet. The construction purchasing managers' index -- which is a barometer for activity in the sector -- has remained below the crucial 50 mark since May 2007. Any score below 50 indicates that the market is getting weaker.
Irish bond yields
As the money being loaned to Spain is bouncing above €100bn, the markets are unconvinced that it's enough and they certainly don't believe the solution is anywhere in sight -- particularly with the Greek elections looming. In spite of all this, the Irish government bond yield has decoupled from the Spanish yield as it has dipped to 7.38 per cent over the past week. Could we see Spanish long-term interest rates overtaking our own?
The CSO served us with another stark reminder of the difficult employment conditions in Ireland as the numbers in employment fell by 18,100 annually to Q1 2012. However, only 13,300 of those people were added to the unemployment numbers, which points to the packed departures lounges in our airports. If there are fewer people in jobs, all aspects of the economy suffer, which in turn causes declining confidence, which propels this vicious circle.
Sunday Indo Business