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Financial predictions: So what did our man Dan White get right last year with his January 2014 forecast?


Megan O'Shaughnessy, 23, Thomas Beveridge, 22, Lisa Stacey, 27, and Shantelle Farrell, 20, queueing to buy a house at Millers Glen estate in Swords

Megan O'Shaughnessy, 23, Thomas Beveridge, 22, Lisa Stacey, 27, and Shantelle Farrell, 20, queueing to buy a house at Millers Glen estate in Swords

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi


Megan O'Shaughnessy, 23, Thomas Beveridge, 22, Lisa Stacey, 27, and Shantelle Farrell, 20, queueing to buy a house at Millers Glen estate in Swords

At the start of every year I make ten calls on what we'll see in the economy and business for the following 12 months. Here are my hits and misses for 2014.

1 UK and US interest rates will rise. Didn't happen. Both the Bank of England and the Fed kept interest rates at record low levels in 2014.

Unfortunately that wasn't all good news as it was the continuing weakness of the British and American economies that persuaded the central bankers to keep interest rates low. That's not going to last much longer. A miss, for now.

2 The dollar and sterling will rise in value against the euro. At the beginning of 2014 a euro would have bought you $1.37 or 83p. Today your euro will get you only $1.22 or 78p.

While this is bad news for anyone travelling outside the Eurozone it's great news for Irish exporters whose goods and services are now cheaper in the key British and American markets. Definitely a hit.

3 Higher inflation caused by a weaker euro will lead to all-out war within the ECB. As I predicted at the beginning of 2014, the euro weakened against both the dollar and sterling.

However, largely due to falling oil prices and the continuing weakness of most Eurozone economies, this didn't translate into higher inflation.

This didn't preserve the peace at the ECB. In 2014 the code of silence, which has operated at the upper echelons of the ECB since the formation of the single currency in 1999, finally broke down with the German members of the ECB council in virtual open revolt against ECB president Mario Draghi and German "sources" brazenly briefing against the Italian.

A hit, but not quite how I had expected.

4 Nama will be broken up. Just because something should happen is no guarantee that it will. So it proved with Nama, which is still with us at the end of 2014. But for how much longer?

With Nama having now repaid more than half of the €30.2bn which it borrowed on our behalf to buy the banks' bad property loans and hoping to have repaid 80pc by 2016, the state "bad bank" is now on course to wind up much sooner than the original target date of 2020. Definitely a miss.

5 The property market recovery will pause. With average Dublin house prices having risen by 24.2pc in the year to October, I'm still cleaning the egg off my face. Contrary to what I had forecast at the beginning of 2014, the rate at which house prices were increasing actually accelerated during the year. No disguising a miss on this one.

6 At least one of the Irish banks will require more capital following the ECB stress tests. Both of the major Irish banks, AIB and Bank of Ireland passed the ECB stress tests as expected. It was different story for Permanent TSB with the publication of the stress tests in October revealing that it would require €855m of new capital. A hit.

7 A hole in its pension fund will sink at least one major Irish company. A survey last August calculated that the 16 most valuable companies on the Irish Stock Exchange and the 13 largest semi-states had a combined deficit of €8.5bn in their pension schemes.

Thankfully no company has yet been sunk by the hole in its pension. A miss, but for how much longer?

8 The end of milk quotas will lead to a wave of dairy mergers. Milk quotas, which have artificially restricted Irish dairy production for the past 30 years, finally come to an end at the end of March 2015. This will lead to a rapid rise in Irish milk production, which is currently capped at just 5.5 billion litres a year.

However, with the exception of Glanbia's demerger of its Irish dairy processing business in 2012, this has yet to happen but it will. Farm advisory body Teagasc is forecasting that the milk price paid to Irish dairy farmers will fall by almost 30pc in 2015. A hit, but not just yet.

9 The need to find more capital for the banks will lead to further privatisations. While Permanent TSB will be able to raise most of the €855m of fresh capital which it needs following the publication of the ECB stress test results on its own, the State will almost certainly have to put its hand in the taxpayers' pocket for the last couple of hundred million euro.

With IAG offering a reputed €2.20 a share for Aer Lingus, the state stands to trouser over €290m from the sale of its remaining 25pc stake in the airline. Just enough to bail out the Permo. Probably a hit.

10 Retail sales will finally begin to recover. Retailing was absolutely hammered by the post-2007 downturn with the value of retail sales falling by almost a quarter and 50,000 shop workers losing their jobs. This decline was reversed in 2014 with the value of retail sales, excluding volatile car sales, rising by 2.1pc in the year to October. A hit.