Don't blame Scientology. It seems that Tom Cruise has a "man bag", which may explain some of the seismic events of the last week or two. Worryingly, there are an increasing number of "man bags" doing the rounds on city streets. We blame the French. But sales of women's handbags are a key indicator which gauges confidence about the future well before any official statistic. The thinking is that women put off chunky spending -- and a handbag can be rather chunky -- until they are more certain that there are no looming catastrophes. There's a definite change in sentiment over the last week or two. Latest eBay.ie numbers show that sales of handbags have risen by 12 per cent last month.
Jobs for suits
Recruitment firm Brightwater reported that its sales had ramped up by a hefty 35 per cent in the first half of the year. "Employees have been reluctant to leave jobs for new opportunities but this is changing and this will give the jobs market a much needed churn," says Brightwater's Mairead Fleming. "The growth areas continue to be in IT with the number of accountancy roles also increasing across all sectors." Sales and marketing remains steady and specialist banking roles have increased.
We are offering our cead mile failte to fewer foreign tourists this year, as the total number of trips to Ireland decreased by 1.1 per cent between March and May, in comparison to the same period in 2011. This indicator tells us of the recessionary problems clearly evident in the countries where our tourists typically come from, particularly in the UK, where things are getting bad. On the plus side, Temple Bar smells slightly less of wee than it usually does. But given that tourism is one of the country's biggest indigenous industries, the fall in numbers especially from across the Irish Sea is a serious worry.
The country's manufacturing sector grew at its fastest level in over a year, with domestic companies hiring new staff and securing big orders. The latest NCB Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 53.1 in June, up from 51.2 in May. Any score above 50 means that the sector is growing. The employment part of the index also jumped sharply, recording its biggest ever monthly rise since December 1999. The strength of the manufacturing numbers is partially due to the concentration on the pharmaceutical sector -- which, like a sturdy cockroach, seems to be able to survive almost anything. Boo yah! A thumpingly good set of numbers.
Irish government bonds
We sold some bonds. For the first time since the lights went out in December 2010. Some people bought them. There was a decent demand, as we were offered 2.8 times as much money as we wanted to borrow. The interest rate or yield on Ireland nine-year bonds (which is a pretty useful gauge of how foreign investors view the economy, continued to fall sharply, hitting 6.29 per cent). A high interest rate means that we're seen as a ropey bet, so any drops are a real positive. It seems we're less dodgy than Spain now.
The amount of goods forwarded from our ports throughout the country is at the highest level on record at 15,240,000 tonnes, which represents a 6.1 per cent increase on the year before. This is in line with expectations, given that our total exports are at the highest level in 10 years. The busier our ports, the more international trade is taking place -- and hence the more employment can be sustained and taxes paid. These numbers were bolstered by the latest Investec Ireland export review, which showed a 0.2 per cent rise in exports in the second quarter of the year.
Sunday Indo Business