Wednesday, September 5, 2012

5/9/2012: The balance of imbalance: Irish Exchequer deficit in January-August 2012

In the previous two posts I examined the Exchequer receipts and net voted expenditure for January-August 2012. Now, on to the overall balance.

In July 2012, the Exchequer deficit stood at €9.13 billion against July 2012 headline deficit of €18.89 billion. In August, cumulated 2012 deficit rose to €11.35 billion (up €2.22 billion in one month) compared to €20.43 billion in 2011 (2011 monthly rise in August was €1.54 billion).
Fact 1: Irish Exchequer deficit rose at faster pace in August 2012 than in August 2011, so in monthly changes terms, August 2012 was not an improvement on August 2011.

However, the headline figures are incorporating several factors that gold-plate our deficit performance in 2012 compared to 2011, none of which the Government is willing to actually directly separate to identify the true performance. Let's try doing this job for them:

  • As mentioned earlier, €233 million on 2011 revenue side came from the one-off sale of the Bank of Ireland shares, while €251 million of corporate tax receipts booked into 2012 is really the revenue from 2011. This means the deficit in 2011 should be adjusted by -€18 million and the balance in 2012 should be adjusted by +€251 million.
  • In January-August 2011 the state spent €7.6 billion on recapitalizing banks, while this year the spending was only €1.3 billion plus there was a payment of €450mln in 2012 into the ICF (Insurance Compensation Fund). This means we should adjust the Exchequer balance on 2011 side by -€7.6 billion and 2012 by -€1.75 billion.
  • Promo notes 'restructuring' this year meant the net cost of the Notes booked at €25mln, against €3.1 billion in 2011. This means adjusting 2011 deficit by -€3.1 billion and 2012 deficit by €25 million.
  • In 2011 revenues from the banks measures - clearly a temporary source, as the EU Commission has warned Ireland already about the future tapering off of these receipts - amounted to €1.27 billion, while in 2012 they amount to €2.06 billion.
Accounting for the above one-off and temporary measures, the underlying deficit figures are:
  • 2011 January-August period: €10.98 billion or €9.71 billion if we omit accounting for banks receipts;
  • 2012 January-August period: €11.88 billion or €9.82 billion if we omit accounting for banks receipts.
  • Hence, January-August 2012 period deficit, comparable to that for the same period in 2011 is worse, not better, by €109-896 million depending on whether we consider windfall differences in temporary revenues from banks.

Fact 2: On comparable basis, stripping out one-off measures and temporary allocations, Irish Exchequer deficit is worse in the first 8 months of 2012 than it was in 2011.

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