MORE than a year into the flight of the deposits, the Central Bank is finally providing data that allows observers to see the cash exodus from Ireland's six 'traditional' banks.
The situation is a marked improvement from the old regime, where 'Irish' banks were lobbed into a group of about 15 banks that have retail operations in Ireland.
But anyone hoping for a eureka moment on the deposit situation is unlikely to find it in the Aggregate Balance Sheet for the 'covered' banks unveiled yesterday.
The performance of AIB, Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB, Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Nationwide and EBS is indeed newly-grouped in one category dubbed "covered" institutions (as in covered by the government guarantee).
But the data still doesn't give us a definitive handle on the volume of deposits leaving the Irish banking system and ending up in Swiss banks or under the mattress.
Because the Central Bank number crunchers (here or in Frankfurt) have opted not to cleanse intergroup action from the deposit category.
This anomaly means that an undetermined amount of deposits being "lost" in any one month is down to intergroup movements -- essentially money moving from one legal entity of an Irish bank to another legal entity of that same bank.
So when we say that €17bn of deposits was pulled from the six 'covered' Irish banks in January, we don't know how much of this €17bn is actually deposit outflows and how much is accountancy manoeuvres. The result is a series of unflattering headlines for Ireland in the local media and across the globe.
'Irish banks lose another €17bn in deposits' does not a positive headline make. And it's particularly unfortunate if the real story is 'Irish banks transfer €11bn of money between themselves and lose €6bn of deposits'.
It's not as bad as the bad old days, of course, when Irish banks' data was unceremoniously dumped in with data from the other banks.
Then we had catastrophically misleading headlines like '€40bn pulled out of Irish banks in December' when in fact with newly-cleansed data, just €17.5bn was pulled from the six 'covered banks'.
But as Ireland's banks contemplate the long return to money markets, headlines (and the obtuse data that inspires them) is probably something their already-stricken brands could do without.