Thursday 27 June 2019

Easy tiger: nine signs we could be spending our way into trouble

Changing times: Chef Dylan McGrath. Photo: Andres Poveda
Changing times: Chef Dylan McGrath. Photo: Andres Poveda
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

This week, there has been a massive €3m cocaine seizure and dire warnings of wild overspending by the Government.

Accommodation has got so expensive that ministers complain that they can't afford to stay in the capital.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with pop star Kylie Minogue
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with pop star Kylie Minogue

A fortnight ago, we reported on signs that the pre-crash Celtic Tiger is back - from Bertie-style tax giveaways to drinkers in the Shelbourne opening champagne with a sword.

So what are the other signs that the spending party has started - and we could end up with an expensive economic hangover?

1. Economists say Leo & Co are blowing it

The State's budgetary watchdog, the Fiscal Advisory Council, is the latest body to attack the Government for "repeatedly" missing its financial targets. The council said Budget 2019, which allows for a €4.5bn spending increase next year, was "not conducive to prudent economic and budgetary management". But Leo knows better and insisted public spending is modest.

The Shelbourne restaurant
The Shelbourne restaurant

2. Dylan McGrath charges €120 for a steak

When the economy is overheating, conditions are ideal for a celebrity chef from the Celtic Tiger era to cook up a treat. At his new restaurant Shelbourne Social in the heart of Dublin 4, Dylan McGrath charges up to €120 for a steak platter: "30-day dry-aged rib eye with pickled red, fried chard, and café de Paris Hollandaise".

And do you want some spuds with that? You could go for the "thin slices of wagyu beef on crispy potatoes with sesame, garlic, hot sauce and crème fraiche" for €45.

If you think it's a touch pricey, just remember it's not just a restaurant. It's a "destination".

3. Advent calendars for €450

God be with the days when an advent calendar was a card for kids with windows opening onto pictures of the Holy Family.

Now advent calendars open a window into everything from overpriced scented candles and mini bottles of gin to age-defying beauty products - and they can set you back up to €450.

What better way than to look forward to the arrival of our Lord Saviour than to open a window containing Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum and Orgasm Blusher?.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me Mini Full Fat Eye Lashes.

Corgi produced a sock advent calendar for €450 and it sold out in Ireland. It's ideal for those dark nights when it can be hard to find a matching pair.

4. Prawn sandwich brigade whoops it up again

If you were thinking of joining the shmoozing set in the corporate hospitality boxes of the Aviva stadium for the Six Nations match against England, you are too late. The so-called "prawn sandwich brigade" is in its element again and tickets commonly costing over €700 each are sold out.

According to a report this week, the IRFU asked RTÉ to stop showing footage of guests in its corporate boxes during live coverage. Is there a danger viewers will suffer from boom envy?

5. Restaurants want deposits - just to book a table

Irish restaurateurs called for the introduction of non-refundable booking deposits just for the privilege of eating in their establishments.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland wants deposits to halt the problem of people not turning up

What next? With prices sky high, should diners be encouraged to take out a mortgage, or a PCP loan, where they pay a balloon payment for the meal after the dessert?

6. Christmas household spending soars to €2,690

We will spend a total of €4.65bn during the period - €150m more than last Christmas.

Not surprising when some families seem to have two or three different types of poultry, more than one tree, and think nothing of shelling out over €2,000 on speakers on Cyber Monday.

7. Not even a minister can afford a roof over their head

A group of disgruntled Fine Gael junior ministers were reported to have complained they cannot afford to stay in Dublin mid-week due to spiralling hotel costs. The poor dears have to make do on a salary of €130,000, but don't get accommodation expenses.

Perhaps they could take up a suggestion of People Before Profit councillor John Lyons. He wants a change to planning regulations to allow families to provide homes for relatives in log cabins in their back gardens.

It's time to accommodate ministers in garden sheds.

8. Builders won't return calls

You need a leak fixed, a roof repaired, or a bathroom tiled? Don't expect anybody in the building trade to return your call before 2022. They are busy throwing up office blocks for some tycoon who was once in Nama.

According to the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, there is a shortage of plasterers, carpenters, electricians, brickies and plumbers. But don't worry, they'll phone back in the next crash.

9. Job applicants are 'ghosting' employers

With unemployment dropping to 5pc, workers are taking a cavalier attitude to employers and indulging in behaviour commonly found in online dating. A growing number of job applicants are "ghosting" companies, not showing up for interviews or failing to turn up on the first day of a new job without any contact. HR consultant Peter Cosgrove said many applicants are now treating interviews as if they are interviewing potential employers rather than vice versa.

Irish Independent

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