Friday, March 22, 2013

22/3/2013: National Accounts 2012: Ireland - Part 2

The first post of the series covering 2012 National Accounts looked at the headline numbers for real GDP growth (link here).

This post covers sectoral weights in GNP and our GDP/GNP gap.

In terms of the latter, GDP/GNP gap in 2012 stood at 22.02% in favour of GDP, down from the record 25.0% in 2011, but still the third highest in 2003-2012 period. The trend remains up and latest decline in the gap clearly appears to be mean-reverting adjustment similar to the pattern established since 2005-2006.

The above suggests that over time we can expect upward movement in the gap, leading to the contraction in GNP (either in growth terms or even in levels). For example, adjusting 2012 GNP for 3-year average gap implies lower GNP by some 0.3% or EUR378mln, adjusting the same for 3-year average annual growth rates in the gap implies GNP lower by EUR3.0bn or 2%.

While the above exercises are highly stylised and should not be taken as rigorous assessments, they show clearly that volatility in our GNP induced by the MNCs transfers of profits abroad is significant and renders some of the y/y comparatives highly suspect.

Now on to sectoral contributions to the economy:
  • Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing share of GNP declined from 2.4% in 2011 to 2.1% in 2012, thus falling back to where it was at the peak of the property and construction boom in 2006. This is the joint-lowest sector weight in GNP in 2003-2012 series with 2006 being another year of lowest contribution. Put simply, we have a Department out there in the Civil Service that is overseeing something that amounts to only 2.1% of the economy and not once in 2003-2012 period amounted anything more than 2.9%. In fact, 2003-2012 average contribution for the sector is just 2.53% with subsidies from EU accounting for much of that. You don't have to be a genius to see that the 'Food Island' ideal is just a pipe dream when it comes to our own production levels. We might have a larger food sector, but it is not dependent critically on our agricultural sector.
  • Industry accounted for 28.4% of GNP, down from 29.3% in 2011. 2003-2012 average contribution is 30.24% which shows overall the secular decline in the sector importance. Most of this decline was driven by the collapse of Building & Construction sector which went from 9.9% share in 2004 to 1.4% share in 2012 - massive 8 years of consecutive declines. Ex-Construction, Irish industry (well, mostly MNCs) have grown in their share of GNP contribution from 24.6% in 2003 to 27% in 2012.
  • Distribution, Transport & Comms sector share remained relatively static at 27.5% of GDP in 2012 compared to 27.6% in 2011 when it heir the record levels for 2003-2012 period.
  • In line with the declines in overall activity, Public Administration and Defence sector posted a decrease in its share of GNP from 5.9% in 2011 to 5.5% in 2012. Still: back in 2003-2006 the sector was running at 3.9% to 4.1% and 2003-2012 average is still 5.2% - below the current running levels. 
  • Other Services sector importance in GNP contribution fell back from 46.7% in 2011 to 45.2% in 2012 and the sector is now slightly behind the 46% average for 2003-2012.
  • Taxes Net of Subsidies slipped further from 12.4% in 2011 to 11.8% in 2012. The 2003-2012 peak was in 2007 at 16.1%.

Thus, overall, there are two main themes in rebalancing of the economy: 
  1. Increasing share of MNCs activity in GDP (and temporarily GNP), which means that the official figures for the National Accounts now even more overestimate the real economic activity in the country; and
  2. Long-term falling out of Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing and Construction sectors from the economy, with Public Administration & Defence clearly showing signs of contraction, albeit at the rate that is, so far, trailing contraction in overall economy over the period 2003-2012.

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