Category Archives: Irish economy

12/10/20: Ireland PMIs and Economic Activity Dynamics for September


September data on Irish Purchasing Managers Indices is now complete (with Construction sector reporting last), and the signals coming from the data are not pretty:

Services sector activity is back in contraction: September reading of 45.8 shows relatively sharp downward momentum, swinging 6.6 points on August reading. September reading is statistically below 50.0 zero growth line, and below historical mean (55.0).

Manufacturing sector reading is at stagnation 50.0 in September, down from 52.3 in August. Statistically, September reading is below historical average of 51.4.

Construction sector is posting a second consecutive month of contraction at 47.0 in September. The reading is statistically below both the historical mean and the median, as well as below 50.0 zero growth line.

This means that official composite PMI (which does not include Construction sector index) is now at 46.9, statistically signalling economic contraction. September index is statistically below index median, although it is statistically indistinguishable for the historical average (which, owing to massive volatility in recent months sits at 49.8).

Chart above shows my own 3-Sectors Index of economic activity, integrating Manufacturing, Services and Construction sectors PMIs, weighted by their relative contributions to Gross Value Added. 3 Sectors Index has fallen from 52.1 in August to 47.5 in September. August reading by itself was not impressive: it was statistically below the historical average and the median, and was barely statistically significantly above 50.0 zero growth line. September reading is very poor, indicating a return of recessionary dynamics in the Irish economy in a critical month of September that normally marks strong growth month for the economy.

2/10/20: A new mortgage arrears crisis on its way


My latest article on Irish banking sector problems with distressed mortgages is out today in The Currency

There’s a new mortgage arrears crisis on its way, and official Ireland is not ready for it

The Central Bank of Ireland has started publishing new data on mortgage arrears – and the news is not good. An arrears crisis is brewing. The banks, and the state, are woefully unprepared for it. 

9/8/20: Ireland PMIs and Economic Activity Dynamics for August

Ireland's PMIs are signalling a cautious recovery in the growth dynamics across three sectors, with growth still underperforming historical averages.

Irish Services Sector PMI rose to a respectable 52.4 in August from 51.9 in July, with the latest index reading sitting 38.5 points above April 2020 COVID-19 pandemic lows. However, statistically, the index remains below historical average of 55.0 and the median of 56.8. In other words, second month post-contraction phase of the pandemic, Irish services sectors are still struggling to restore growth (not levels) in activity consistent with a robust recovery.

Irish Manufacturing Sector PMI fell to 52.3 in August from July's 57.3 reading. The series are generally more subdued than Services PMI, which means that August reading is statistically indistinguishable from the historical average of 51.5 and is bang-on the median of 52.31. Manufacturing activity swung 16.3 points between COVID19 trough and August reading. Overall, Manufacturing growth seems to have fallen off the post-COVID19 high.

Irish official Composite (two sectors) PMI is currently at 54.0 which is statistically at the historically median rate of growth. The series are too short to talk about averages and historical comparatives in any serious terms. 

Irish Construction Sector PMI (not included in the official Composite PMI) came in at 52.3 in August, up from 51.9 in July and 48.7 points above the COVID19 trough in April. Current reading is statistically above the historical average, but identical to the historical median. This suggests that much of the rebound can be down to seasonal and cyclical volatility, as opposed to thee genuine recovery. 

Here is a summary chart of the three sectors dynamics:

I compute my own GVA-shares-weighted 3-sectors Activity Index, using all three sectoral PMIs reported by IHS Markit. The 3-Sectors Activity Index currently sits at 52.4, down from 54.1 in July and up 30.1 points on COVID19 trough. The current growth in economic activity in Ireland is statistically below historical average, and historical median. And it has moderated from July high, suggesting that the economy is still struggling to recover levels of activity lost to the COVID19 pandemic.

1/8/20: Ireland: Agricultural Subsidies and Production

CSO published final data for 2019 'value added' in agriculture. As always, a fun read from the perspective of which constituency in a 'market economy' loves Big State. You've guessed, it Agri business. And no, I can't claim it is farmers, for they get the minority stake in the largesses that are European Common Agricultural Policy subsidies.

Here is a chart:

In 2019, Irish agricultural sector gross output at producer prices was EUR 7,960.9 million. Based on estimated GNI*, this means that the entire sector gross output (not net) amounted to just around 3.73% of the domestic economy in Ireland, just around the average for the decade of the 2000-2009 (3.95%) and below the average for 2010-2018 (4.60%).  In annual terms, gross output was down 3.1 percent y/y and was the lowest since the end of 2016. Subsidies net of taxes paid amounted to EUR 1,837.1 million in 2019, the highest level since 2008 and up 2.63 percent y/y. 

Overall, subsidies in 2019 amounted to 64 percent of the entire Gross Value Added in the sector, and 96 percent of the Net Value Added. CSO reports data for 'entrepreneurial income' in agriculture, which, really, is income accruing to owners of the production units. These include farmers, but also large corporates and coops. Subsidies amounted to 69 percent of the total Entrepreneurial Income in 2019.

Subsidies fell in importance when it comes to the Net Value Added in the sector year on year from 103% in 2018 to 96% in 2019, but remained the same in terms of their importance to the 'Entrepreneurial Income' in the sector.

By decade: subsidies amounted to 39% of the 'Entrepreneurial Income' in the sector in the 1990s on average, rising to 99% in the decade of 2000s, primarily due to a massive jump over 2005-2009, before falling back to 78% for the decade through 2019. Excluding net subsidies, 'Entrepreneurial Income' in agriculture averaged EUR 1,127.6 million per annum in the 1990s, and excluding the Great Recession period, EUR 259.8 million in the 2000s. Again, excluding the period of the Great Recession, the same annual average was EUR 666.12 million in 2010-2019, with 2019 annual figure of EUR 829.6 million. 

To say there is little growth in economic activity in Irish agricultural sector, in terms of sector value added is to make an understatement. Comparing 1995-1999 average to 2017-2019 average, Irish GNI* is now 3.1 times higher than it was in the 1990s. Meanwhile, agricultural output at basic prices rose by just 46 percent, Agricultural sector Gross Value Added is up only 1 percent, Net Value Added is down 15 percent, Entrepreneurial Income is up 45.7 percent, while subsidies (net of taxes) are up 73 percent.