Friday, July 27, 2012

27/7/2012: Ireland's Institutional Accounts Q1 2012

Some positive news on the economy front: Q1 2012 Non-Financial Quarterly Institutional Accounts are out today from CSO (link) and headline numbers showing no significant deterioration and even improvements in areas that do matter, except for the one that matters most to Government plans for the future.

The text below mostly quotes from CSO release linked above, with my comments in italics:

Point 1: The gross disposable income of households was €21,986m in Q1 2012 – an increase of €771m or 3.6% y/y.

This was driven by wages rising by +€170m and profits increases for the self employed of +€365m. Lower interest repayments on loans of -€272m further increased gross disposable income.

Point 2: Household expenditure fell marginally by €9m in Q1 2012 compared to Q1 2011 to €19,361m.

Point 3: Points 1 and 2 above mean that gross household savings increased from €2,439m in Q1 2011 to €3,209 in Q1 2012. The gross savings ratio, which expresses savings increased from 11.2% of gross disposable income in Q1 2011 to 14.2% in Q1 2012. Meanwhile, consumption of fixed capital by households fell from €1,056m in Q1 2011 to €1,037m in Q1 2012, and overall deficit in capital account for the households was shallower at -€154m in Q1 2012 as opposed to -€296m a year ago. This suggests that while deleveraging is still on-going, the rate of capital paydown has slowed slightly. In other words, households have slowed deleveraging and potentially increased capital acquisition. Albeit both effects are very small, these are welcome, if confirmed.

Point 4: An increase in current taxes of €673m between Q1 2011 and Q1 2012 was slightly offset by a fall of €312m in social contributions over the same period, resulting in an increase of €361m in the resources side of the government account.

Point 5: On the uses side of the account social benefits paid by government increased by €289m.

Point 6: Combining Points 4 and 5, the government savings deficit (resources less uses) showed an improvement of €125m – up from -€3,700m in Q1 2011 to -€3,575 in Q1 2012.

Point 7: When account is taken of investment and capital transfers, the net borrowing of the government sector amounted to €4,182m in Q1 2012 compared with €4,489m in Q1 2011.

Point 8: combining Points 4-7: in the nutshell, taxes went up faster than spending went up and voila we are ‘doing less worse’.

Point 9: A major bit: the rest of the world recorded a surplus of €994m with Ireland in Q1 2012 so that Ireland recorded a current account deficit with the rest of the world compared with a surplus of €1910m in Q1 2011. A swing of €2,904m in the wrong direction. Recall that per economics gurus of Green Jersey type, current account surpluses are the only hope for Ireland’s recovery. Oops…
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