It may not be perceptible to the naked eye, and for most of us it sure doesn’t feel like it, but the Irish economy may be ready to leave intensive care. Make no mistake, a long and difficult period of treatment is in store, but there is mounting evidence that the worst is over.
Certainly, the last set of headline economic growth figures suggested a case of severe winter flu. This was due in large measure to an export engine stalling in the face of weak global demand and an end to patents on some of the blockbuster drugs produced for foreign consumption in our vast pharmaceutical sector.
Over the course of an uncharacteristically sunny Irish summer, however, the economy’s vital signs took a turn for the better. Unemployment fell slowly but steadily to reach 13.4%, improving by roughly 0.1% per month. Nor is this solely down to emigration and people giving up on the job search; 9,000 full-time jobs were being created monthly up to the end of June. Retail sales surged 6.1% in July, in part because the new 132 number plates encouraged people to buy cars in mid-summer rather than wait until January. Continue reading