| 6.8°C Dublin

Women's shoes

Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik or other snazzy high heels are seen as an indicator of a weak economy as women spend money on taller, flashier shoes as a form of escapism. Researchers at IBM have tracked social media sites and blogs to determine that flat shoes and kitten heels are making something of a comeback in the US. As the economic crisis got nasty in 2009, the median heel height peaked at 7 inches but more recent stats suggest that it is now closer to 2 inches. Latest stats from eBay.ie show that sales of women's shoes in Ireland are 17.25 per cent up over the last year. However, 69,283 pairs of stillettos listed on eBay.ie far outweigh the number of kitten heels with 5,768 for sale.

Markets in Europe seem to be blissfully unaware that the end of the world is nigh. Maybe they're right and bearish commentators are talking through their hats. The Eurostoxx300 has risen 11.9 per cent since late November, outdoing the US S&P500 index. Even the bombed-out countries are doing well, with Spanish index up 9.1 per cent and Italian stock markets up almost 7 per cent. The ISEQ hit a six-month high last Wednesday, having risen a whopping 17 per cent since the rally began in November. Friday's mass downgrades and the breakdown of Greek debt talks should reverse the gains spectacularly tomorrow.

Frothy cappuccinos and lattes continued to sell last week, with Insomnia reporting volumes up by 0.1 per cent as the endless dark mornings make it harder to wake up. The strength of small-scale discretionary spending remains despite weakness across retail. Mind you, we'd all be asleep at about 10am if it wasn't for flat whites.

Not a mix we'd recommend for personal consumption, but exports of stuff like butter and Baileys and other Irish food and drink products rose a stonking 12 per cent to €8.65bn last year. Food and drink exports rose at three times the pace of other exports in the first part of the year. Britain and the EU were the main markets, which is a bit of a worry, but non-European exports rose 20 per cent.

Save for a couple of minutes in 2011, for the first time since the pre-bailout era, the nine-year Irish government note yield has dipped below 8 per cent to 7.89 per cent. Given that so many governments are worried about the "7 per cent" point, this number could have another connotation for us now! Perhaps we are moving back down towards it and could further our chances of getting back into the bond market, as the troika called to see us last week!

Weeeeeeeee! Thud! That was the sound of consumer confidence hitting the floor in December, according to a survey published last week. The reading fell from 60.1 all the way down to 49.2 -- the lowest level since the dark days of the IMF bailout. Consumer confidence was walloped by the Budget, VAT rises and the general uselessness of tinpot Euro leaders. Consumer confidence levels are the key to high street spending and rebooting the domestic economy, so uh-oh.

Sunday Indo Business