Saturday 18 January 2020

Recovery index

Nick Webb and Susan Hayes

There's nothing polar bears like more than a banjaxed economy. Less economic activity means fewer factories belching out toxic gases, which is jolly good news for the melting ice caps and the polar bears. It's a bit rubbish for the rest of us in the short term, as weak economies mean higher unemployment, lower wages and general misery. But at least we can breathe. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions had risen by a full 1 per cent in 2012. We now emit 57.92m tonnes of gack. Much of the increase was due to a 5.9 per cent increase in energy generation emissions. As an economic indicator it shows recovery taking hold.


The Department of Finance has a really poor record when it comes to forecasting how the economy will perform. Its forecasts in April suggested that the economy would grow by 1.3 per cent this year. That's been revised down to 0.2 per cent. The department pegged growth at 2.4 per cent for next year. Now it figures it'll be about 1.8 per cent. Things are screeching to a halt. But, given its dismal track record, everything will probably go the opposite direction. The ESRI thinks growth will hit 2.6 per cent next year. One will have egg all over its face. Again.


The amount of whopping big cruise liners visiting Ireland has soared 17.6 per cent since last year, with passenger numbers rising massively. There was also a 192 per cent jump in the volume of passengers disembarking in Dublin. The tourism sector has had a good year and The Gathering turned out to be a pretty smart idea. There has been a 6.7 per cent increase in tourist numbers this year. Increased tourism boosts one of the country's largest indigenous industries and also brings in lots of foreign moolah.


The man in the white van is the engine of the economy, as SMEs provide most of the employment in the country. More white vans equals more business activity. The number of new goods vehicles registered this year for the first time is down 4.2 per cent on 2012. There were 9,041 new goods vehicles registered this year. However, the trend is more positive, with September figures showing a 33.2 per cent increase compared to the same month last year.


There has been a lot of talk about a property shortage in Dublin and double-digit price rises – despite a slew of ghost estates peppering the rural landscape. Cash buyers aside, the economy needs new credit to be released to turn the trickle of liquidity into more of a sustainable flow. There's been a 0.7 per cent increase in the number of mortgages issued in Q2 and that is complemented by a 14.6 per cent increase in the amount of mortgages approved in August on a year-on-year basis. After five painful years in the construction sector, these leading indicators are pointing upwards and we may finally be past the 'bumbling along the bottom' phase.

Sunday Independent

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