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Inflation one to watch as Christmas lull abates

The Christmas/New Year lull is finally abating and we’re getting back to a busier calendar for the week ahead.

After their festive break, our TDs and Senators return to Leinster House and one of the highlights of the week from a finance point of view will be the appearance on Thursday of Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan before the banking inquiry. It held just a few hearings before the break, and they didn’t provide anything too exciting.

This week’s hearing could prove to be somewhat more interesting.

The European Central Bank has signalled it won’t be turning up at the inquiry, but Professor Honohan, who sits on the Governing Council, may be able to give some interesting insights.

Today, Enterprise Ireland unveils its 2014 review and will, no doubt, reveal that it has had another resoundingly good year.

2014 was Julie Sinnamon’s first full year at the helm of the semi-state agency and the pressure was on to match the success of her predecessor Frank Ryan.

Enterprise Ireland’s sister agency, the IDA, last week set out its own results for 2014, highlighting a record year with employment at multinationals here now at its highest level on record.

Keeping with the theme of investment, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan convenes a three-day conference today bringing together Irish ambassadors and senior diplomats, along with the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and ministers.

Over the course of the conference, ambassadors will meet directly with executives from more than 40 Irish companies to discuss opportunities and challenges in international markets and how embassies can help them to succeed.

Tomorrow, the Department of Finance launches its public consultation on the so-called Knowledge Development Box, introduced in the Budget as the Government announced it was scrapping the ‘Double Irish’.

Knowledge boxes, or patent boxes as they are known in other European countries, allow companies to avail of a low rate of tax on profits derived from intellectual property.

We don’t yet know what the rate will be in Ireland’s case, and the launch tomorrow isn’t expected to shed that much more light on it. But it will allow industry groups the first opportunity to make detailed representations to the Department on how the scheme should operate, including what the rate should be.

Pressure has been intensifying on the European Central Bank to do more to kick-start the ailing Eurozone economy, especially with inflation turning negative for the first time in more than five years last month, in large part caused by the dramatic drop in oil prices.

We’ll get to see this week whether inflation in Ireland has also dipped into deflation territory, when the Central Statistics Office releases the latest Consumer Price Index.

Prices on average, as measured by the EU Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP), barely rose at all in November, increasing by just 0.2pc compared with November 2013. In fact, monthly, it actually dropped 0.3pc compared with October.

Hopefully more promising news will come in the form of the latest Goods and Imports data also on Thursday. Ireland has managed to weather the Eurozone stagnation largely because our main trading partners include the UK and US, whose economies are performing relatively well. One hopes for more robust data to come, but there have been ominous signs out of Britain which are a little worrying. Further evidence of a slowing British economy came on Friday as official figures showed a surprise drop in construction in November and falling industrial output.

UK Chancellor George Osborne is likely to provide an update when he gives a speech to the Royal Economic Society in London on Wednesday.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

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