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Busts, cuts and recovery -- our top ten predictions

1 Government will set the banks binding lending targets. Despite receiving a further €24bn of capital in 2011, bringing the total cost to the taxpayer to €64bn, the banks are refusing to lend. That has got to change and soon if the economy is to have any chance of recovering. With the state owning AIB and Permanent TSB outright and holding the whip hand at Bank of Ireland, expect the Government to set the banks binding targets if they continue to refuse to increase their lending.

2Repossessions will soar. With almost 27,000 buy-to-let mortgages, 18pc of the total, more than 90 days in arrears and 86,000 owner- occupied mortgages, 11pc of the total, also more than 90 days in arrears, it is clear that decisive action to deal with the rapidly escalating mortgage crisis cannot be postponed much longer. With the Government pledged to close the legal loophole which makes it virtually impossible for banks to repossess properties stand by for a huge increase in repossessions in 2013.

3There will be a deal on bank debt. With the situation in Spain and Italy continuing to worsen the Troika desperately needs a bailout success. Ireland, regardless of its problems, is its only hope of such a success.

That can only happen if we get a worthwhile deal on our €64bn of bank debt. However, any such deal will come with strings attached and constitute a second bailout in all but name. This country will remain under adult supervision for many years to come.

4Michael Noonan will step down as Finance Minister. With his 70th birthday coming up in May and a Cabinet reshuffle due in the autumn, Michael Noonan will return to the back benches, almost 31 years after he first became a minister. A deal on bank debt would set the seal on his ministerial record.

5More retailers will go bust. With the value of non-motor retail sales down by almost a quarter from its 2007 peak and an increasing proportion of sales going online, more bricks and mortar retailers, both Irish and foreign-owned will bite the dust.

6The worsening eurozone economic crisis will force a German U-turn. With the Spanish jobless rate now running at over 25pc and Silvio Berlusconi on the verge of a political comeback, Germany's austerity prescription isn't working -- not even for Germany.

While Germany will try to avoid such a U-turn until after that country's autumn elections, events are likely to force a policy reversal long before then.

7The ECB will cut interest rates. With Germany following the eurozone periphery into recession Mario Draghi will be able to force through the cuts in official ECB rates that Europe's economy desperately needs.

In practice this means that official ECB rates, which are currently just 0.75pc, will fall to virtually zero.

The bad news is that, unless you have a tracker mortgage, most Irish borrowers will not benefit from the rate cut.

8A strong economic recovery will kick in during the second half of the year. With the ECB cutting interest rates and America on the mend, the long-awaited Irish economic recovery will get going in the second half of the year. .......However, any such recovery will take time to feed through into the domestic economy. Expect instead the sort of "jobless growth" we last experienced in the early 1990s.

9 A deal on the "fiscal cliff" will set the stage for a strong recovery in the US economy. Barack Obama's decisive re-election as US President last November has forced the opposition Republican Party to soften its resistance to any tax increases. This in turn has made a deal on America's massive budget deficits more likely. It will boost the US economy and make American assets, including the dollar, more attractive to investors.

10MOST OF THE IRISH BANKS WILL BE BOUGHT BY OVERSEAS BUYERS. A key feature of any deal on bank debt will be the sale of the state's bank shareholding to the ESM, the permanent bailout fund. This means that AIB and Permanent TSB will be entirely foreign-owned while the Bank of Ireland, of which the state owns 15pc and a group of North American investors 35pc, will be majority foreign-owned.