Friday 27 April 2018

The Punt: Has Tsipras's Time come?

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reacts during an emergency parliament session in Athens. Photo: AP
Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reacts during an emergency parliament session in Athens. Photo: AP

Alexis Tsipras is capable of turning the bitter lemons of austerity into political lemonade (ah here).

The Greek prime minister was forced into what looked like an electorally crippling bailout last week and presides over an economy hanging by the thinnest of threads. But he is favourite to be Time's iconic "person of the year".

Tsipras is a survivor, the left wing former firebrand saw off a second rebellion in as many weeks within his government yesterday. (We're reserving judgement on whether the "former" should come before "left" or "fire" in the previous sentence.)

Of course the reason we know Tsipras is favourite to make Time's cover (at 11/2) is because of a press release from gambling firm Betfair. Their quest for publicity gives odds on Angela Merkel (boo!) making the Time cover at 7/1. Taylor Swift and Pope Francis are at 14/1 each and Conor McGregor (yay) is at 100/1.

The runners and riders are pure hokum of course. Its the kind of stealth advertising pioneered by Ryanair and perfected by Paddy Power, which is incidentally where Betfair boss Breon Corcoran cut his teeth.

Dunnes' online plans continue

Dunnes Stores is continuing to make structural changes to some outlets around Dublin as it eyes a launch of its online grocery shopping service.

The Irish Independent reported earlier this year that the retailer is planning an autumn roll-out of the service at selected stores in the Dublin area.

It's years behind rivals such as Tesco and even SuperValu, and with no centralised distribution system in place it will be harder for Dunnes to efficiently operate an online grocery service. Still, that hasn't stopped the retailer, headed by Frank Dunne and Margaret Heffernan, from ploughing ahead.

It sought planning permission earlier this year to make changes to its busiest outlet, the flagship Cornelscourt in south Dublin, to install click-and-collect bays for online shoppers.

It has now sought planning permission to make changes to a store in Clondalkin, in west Dublin, to provide an online grocery storage area.

According to research group Kantar, Dunnes has a 22.2pc share of the Irish grocery market - putting it in third place behind Tesco and SuperValu.

Andy's on a rates downer

You'd never think that one of the fastest-growing economies in the G7 could possibly need lower interest rates. But then, you're not Andy Haldane.

The Bank of England's chief economist, below, has made a name for himself as a free-thinking contrarian in recent years, even publicly siding with Occupy activists and likening the need for simplicity in banking regulation to a dog catching a Frisbee.

"He's an original thinker," says Robert Jenkins, a former colleague. "If the facts take him in a direction that's not politically fashionable, he nevertheless has the courage to make his statement."

The 47-year-old Haldane's latest untraditional stance is that the BOE's next interest rate move could just as easily be a cut as an increase. That's a far cry from the views of his boss, BOE Governor Mark Carney, who says the next move from the current 0.5pc will probably be up - the first hike since 2007.

Haldane, in fact, happens to be the only member of the bank's nine-person Monetary Policy Committee who's publicly countenanced a possible reduction, even after more than two years of growth in the UK. He says he's not convinced the recent wage gains will persist, and the strong pound may stifle an inflation pickup.

But Carney has said the timing for the first interest rate hike will be clear by the end of the year.

Irish Independent

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