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Sales of dresses

The big jumpers and coats can go back up to the attic as the weather improves. Dresses are selling well, with eBay showing dress sales jumping 13 per cent in the last month. Any sign of spending is a positive. Economists have spent years examining the impact of the economy on skirt lengths. Short skirts are a good sign and long skirts signal tough times ahead. The most likely explanation is that economists went all Simon Cowell and got caught eyeballing nice legs. They then had to come up with a pretty sketchy excuse. Haven't heard any of Simon Cowell's excuses for his randy behaviour yet.... but they should be good.

Crime Stats

The number of break-ins or attempted crimes against business dropped by a remarkable 40 per cent in the first quarter of 2012, compared to the same period in 2011, according to the latest Netwatch Crime report. Social unrest caused by unemployment and a lack of prospects is a key contributor to crime. They haven't exactly diminished, so what's happening? Sunnier evenings, Champions League football and a shortage of hoodies in Penneys?

Bond yields

It's squeaky bum time again in Europe. Spain is propelling itself towards a wall at increasing velocity creating real fears about the future of the euro again. Irish bond yields -- an indication of how dodgy we are as an investment -- rose noticeably to 6.93 per cent. Just wait until the No campaign picks up a bit of steam. Bond yields will tiptoe higher as the gap between the Yes and No vote shrinks.

GNP expectations

The volume of our Gross National Product fell by 0.7 per cent last year according to the Central Bank but is expected to rise by 1 per cent during 2012. This measure of economic growth strips out multinationals repatriating profits and includes money coming in from abroad. This is often cited as a better indication of future prospects than GDP in an open economy like Ireland. Mind you the Central Bank has a history of being way out with some of its forecasts.... so we'll either overshoot by a staggering amount or underperform dismally.

Used car sales

Consumer confidence has taken a bit of a beating over the last week or two. Big Phil has a lot to answer for. The U-turn on septic tanks, the household charges shambles and now a stonking big bill for water meters. Big Phil brings a touch of instability to consumer spending and its shown up in latest figures for carsireland.ie which saw sales drop 2.9 per cent last week.

Trade Surplus

Uh...oh. We don't have a plan B. The only way out of this economic car crash is to export like mad. Our trade surplus shrank to just €197m as exports fell from €8.3bn in January to just €7.3bn in February. The figures for the last bit of 2011 show that exports grew at 3.5 per cent. This is pretty awful given that the growth rate was double that in the final quarter of 2010. Crikey. A sharp slowdown in export growth is forecast for this year. Apart from people. We'll keep exporting loads of them.

Fuel prices

In just three months, the prices of petrol and diesel have increased respectively by 9.68 per cent and 4.5 per cent. This hits the household budget right in the knackers especially if people are living in negative equity hell out in the commuter belt. The relentless price rises decreases the amount of disposable income floating around and increases the cost of our imports. All in all it's not a bit of help.

Sunday Indo Business