Dan O'Brien: Good economic news has slipped under the radar
Irish households are rebuilding their wealth, but exporters to the UK are being squeezed, writes Dan O'Brien
As the nation was transfixed by the bizarre events in faraway Rio de Janeiro last week, a good deal of things were happening almost unnoticed closer to home that will have a much bigger impact on people's lives. With Budget 2017 now less than eight weeks away, most of the news on the economy and its prospects last week was good, unlike the scandal-riddled news from Brazil.
First off, the Central Bank reported last Thursday that we are getting richer. This, thankfully, has nothing to do with the "leprechaun economics" GDP figures which are supposed to measure our collective income - compiling those numbers is the job of the State's statisticians at the CSO. An entirely different crowd of number-crunchers at the Central Bank are tasked with adding up the nation's debts and the value of everything we own to calculate Irish wealth (it can be helpful to think of income as a flow, much like a river, and wealth as stock, or the lake into which the income/river ends up and accumulates).
The most relevant component of these wealth numbers relates to households (Dame Street's boffins also calculate the net worth of the government and businesses). Thursday's household wealth figures were good, showing that collectively debt is being ground down and the value of properties, pensions and other assets continues to rise. In other words, people's collective wealth is growing.