National mood returns to gloom after new year spike
THE national psyche has reverted to gloom following a brief burst of new year optimism.
A survey that aims to capture the 'mood of the nation' has suggested that hopes of an economic recovery dimmed two months into 2010. The survey of 1,000 adults by market research firm Amarach found fewer people feel financially comfortable enough to make it through the recession.
The mood among Irish consumers suggests that the assurances offered by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan in early January, that an economic recovery would be under way later this year, failed to convince the public.
The survey also showed that consumer confidence continues to flag, with only 18 per cent of people feeling more relaxed about spending.
When asked the exact same question in January, the figure was 21 per cent.
The research, which is conducted on a monthly basis for Allied Irish Banks, provides a barometer of the national mood as the country languishes in recession. However bad things are now, they are still not as bad as we thought they were last year.
The national mood was at its worst in April 2009 when the survey first started but it has been improving very gradually ever since.
Back then, the national recovery indicator -- which arrives at a figure for recovery between 0 and 100 based on an analysis of the data -- was 8 per cent.
That figure has gradually increased month by month to a high of 27 in January.
The lightened post-Christmas mood was attributed to new-year optimism but it could also be linked to the insistence of Mr Lenihan that things would be better in 2010. The mood has proved short- lived, however. By February the economic recovery index was back to 22.
One of the survey's more surprising findings is that, despite being most affected by unemployment, men claim to be having a better recession than women.
Women tend to be more pessimistic -- or realistic, depending on your point of view. Men, on the other hand, are more upbeat.
Women are more likely to pay off debts quickly, are less likely to borrow money from the bank and are more uptight about spending.
Forty-four per cent of women believed they were financially comfortable enough to make it through the recession, compared with 50 per cent of men.
And while 43 per cent of men were confident that the recession will end soon -- because of news from other countries -- only 38 per cent of women shared that confidence. Men were also more relaxed about spending money, and more likely to borrow money from a bank if they needed to. On the other hand, 64 per cent of women said they would prioritise paying off debts as quickly as possible compared with 60 per cent of men.
According to researchers, men appeared to be having a 'better' recession than women, with 59 per cent of men to 52 per cent of women saying they had experienced "enjoyment" a lot recently. Commenting on the findings, Amarach said: "Since we began tracking Irish attitudes to economic recovery, there has been a gradual return to optimism.
"Nevertheless, this has not yet translated into significant changes to overall consumer behaviour, though some segments of the population are ahead of others in responding more positively to wider economic trends."