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Finance chief gets key economic data at the local Spar

The Department of Finance Secretary General John Moran has revealed that when it comes to taking the pulse of the real economy, he likes to hear from taxi drivers and the people at his local Spar shop, believing their views to be better "leading indicators" than the reams of statistics provided by his officials.

Addressing the annual dinner of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin last Thursday evening, Mr Moran gave those present an intriguing insight into his thinking on the country's progress so far towards economic recovery.

Departing from his script, the Department of Finance chief happily informed his audience that the sale of chocolate was on the increase in the Spar on Merrion Row.

As the bean counters' stomachs rumbled, Mr Moran proceeded to draw the link between rising sugar consumption on Dublin's political beltway and the return of confidence to the wider economy.

"Last Sunday, I went into a Spar around the corner from our office and this guy came up to me in an orange bomber jacket and matching runners and I had no idea who he was.

"And he says to me 'so are we going to make it?' I said 'I actually do think we are making a very significant amount of progress' and he says 'well I'm glad to hear that because I own this shop. Our numbers are up. We've been battling this for two or three years and now everybody's spending a little bit more.

'What we're seeing on the till numbers now is people are spending another 40 or 50 cent each. They're buying a bar of chocolate with their sandwich. They're getting just that little bit more confident. I'm particularly happy you said that because I want to open another shop, which I'm going to do.'"

And while Mr Moran also told his audience how he and his officials normally listened to taxi drivers when trying to assess how things were going in the real economy, at the moment they weren't as good a barometer.

"They're on a bit of a stimulus because of the whole EU presidency thing," he quipped.

Irish Independent