Wednesday, June 18, 2014

18/6/2014: IMF on Irish Economic Growth: Sunshine is Still Awaiting the Future

Per IMF: "Growth is expected to firm to about 2.5  percent from 2015, with a gradual rotation to domestic demand despite little support from credit initially. Risks appear broadly balanced in the near term, but are tilted to the downside over the medium term, in part owing to risks to reviving financial intermediation which is important for sustaining job rich domestic demand growth."

Ah, the dreams… Firstly, actual IMF projection is for growth ow 2.4% not 2.5% in 2015. That 2.5% based on Fund own forecast will only arrive in 2016, not 2015. Secondly, per IMF previous forecasts (see next post), that 2.5% growth was supposed to hit us in 2015 (based on December 2013 forecast), reach 2.7% in 2015 based on June 2013 forecast and reach 2.5% in 2014 based on June 2012 forecast… so that 2.5% growth is, as before, still a mirage on the horizon...

"Strong domestic indicators and an improving external environment support staff projections for real GDP growth of 1.7 percent in 2014. Recent World Economic Outlook projections put growth of Ireland’s trading partners at 2 percent, driving export growth of 2.5 percent." Oops… but a tar ago the Fund said in 2014 we shall have 3.5% exports expansion… In fact, the fund downgraded Irish exports growth from 3.7% in 2015 to 3.6% between December 2013 and today's forecasts.

"Final domestic demand is expected to expand by 1.1 percent, led by investment, with significant upside potential given the investment surge in the second half of 2013. A modest ó percent increase in private consumption reflects rising incomes driven by job creation and improving consumer confidence. Public consumption will remain a drag on domestic demand as public sector wage costs continue to decline under the Haddington Road agreement." Wait… so consumption and domestic investment are booming. And IMF is moving forecast for 2014 for final domestic demand from 0.4% in December 2013 to 1.1% now. But materially, IMF forecast did not change that much: it was 1% for 2014 in June 2013, 1.1% in June 2012 and 1.4% in May 2011. And this is against a shallower GDP base since then! In other words, growth is improving forward because it disappointed in the past...


Neat summary of risks around recovery: "prospects appear broadly balanced in 2014–15 but tilted to the downside over the medium term. Staff’s growth projections lie at the bottom end of the forecast range for 2014, and near the median for 2015, with sources of upside to both exports and domestic demand. Key risks include:

  • External demand. Ireland’s openness (exports at about 110 percent of GDP) makes it vulnerable to trading partner growth, such as a scenario of protracted slow global growth, or if escalating geopolitical tensions were to notably affect EU growth.
  • Financial market conditions. The substantial spread tightening despite high public and private debts faces some risk of reversal, perhaps linked to a surge in global financial market volatility. Although the direct fiscal impact would be modest owing to long debt maturities, adverse confidence effects would likely slow domestic demand.
  • Low inflation. Ongoing low inflation in the euro area would lower inflation in Ireland, slowing declines in debt ratios and dragging on domestic demand in the medium term.
  • Bank repair shortfalls. As firms’ internal financing capacity is drawn down, sustaining domestic demand recovery will depend increasingly on a revival of sound lending, where substantial work remains ahead to resolve high NPLs to underpin banks’ lending capacity."
Surprisingly, IMF lists no risks relating to households or SMEs, despite pointing at these in relation to the banks. Which implies that the Fund sees no difficulty arising in the households and SMEs sectors from banks aggressively pursuing bad debts, but it sees risk of this to the banks. I am, frankly, puzzled.

You can see the virtual flat-lining of Irish economy in 2012-2013 here:

Next post: IMF growth projections: a trip through the years...
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