herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

How we told you what was coming in 2012

1 More Irish retailers will go bust in 2012

In September Clerys, the iconic Dublin retailer, went into receivership with debts of €15m and was sold shortly afterwards.

Clerys was merely the latest in a series of Irish-based retailers to bite the dust. With non-motor sales down by almost a quarter by value since 2007, it won't be the last.



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2 House prices will continue to fall

It has become a seasonal ritual, as regular and reliable as the falling of the leaves in the autumn. Every spring the estate agents assure us that property prices have bottomed out and that recovery is just around the corner.

For a few short weeks earlier this year it looked as if 2012 was the real deal with Dublin property prices rising for three consecutive months during the spring.

Alas, the property market once again flattered to deceive with a further 8.1pc price fall being recorded for the 12 months to the end of October.



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3 The banks will turn predatory

Despite, or perhaps because of receiving €64bn of our money, the banks have refused to play their part in stimulating economic recovery, preferring to hoard the taxpayers' cash instead.

For anyone who had any doubts about the banks' recalcitrance, the recent performance of the "public-interest" directors before the Oireachtas Finance Committee will have served as a reality check.

With the banks now openly threatening to sabotage the new Personal Insolvency Bill, they now constitute perhaps the single biggest obstacle to reviving the economy.



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4 Labour will quit the Government

In the December 2011 Budget the Government was able to put off making difficult decisions by raising the VAT rate by 2pc to 23pc.

A year later the property tax came to the rescue.

Despite this the Labour Parliamentary Party lost another two TDs and a senator in 2012.

With no further fiscal rabbits left to pull out of the hat, will it prove to be unlucky (20)13 for Labour?



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5 The ECB will cut rates further

In July the ECB cut its official interest rate to just 0.75pc, its lowest-ever level.

At the December 2012 council meeting, ECB president Mario Draghi (inset below) unsuccessfully sought to cut rates once again with most analysts now expecting a further rate cut in the first half of 2013.



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6Banks will try to force homeowners off tracker mortgages

While the banks have supposedly agreed with the Central Bank not to force homeowners to give up their tracker mortgages, the reality is somewhat different, with frequent reports of banks devising various ruses designed to "persuade" homeowners to give up their trackers.

Meanwhile, the legal case between Permanent TSB and a group of buy-to-let investors who are trying to keep their trackers drags on.



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7 Mortgage arrears will keep rising

By the end of September 2012, more than 86,000 owner-occupier mortgages were 90 or more days in arrears, up from 63,000 a year previously.

Meanwhile, almost 27,000 buy-to-let mortgages were also more than 90 days in arrears at the end of September 2012.



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8 Oil and other commodity prices will collapse

Didn't happen. Oil finished the year at around $110 (¤83) a barrel, almost exactly where it started 2012. However, steel prices fell by 45pc during 2012, while gold -- which led the surge in global commodity prices -- has lost almost 10pc of its value over the past three months.



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9 Ireland will leave the euro

Will 2012 be seen as the year when it finally dawned on the EU and the ECB that they need Ireland almost as much as Ireland thinks it needs the euro? With Greece going from bad to worse and Spain and Italy looking ever dicier, the eurozone badly needs a success story.

Last March the Irish Government was allowed to cobble together a deal with Bank of Ireland which meant that it didn't have to repay the latest €3.1bn instalment of the Anglo promissory notes, while in June we were promised a deal on our €64bn of bank debt.



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10 The economy will begin to recover

The Irish economy is growing once again with the Department of Finance expecting 1.4pc GNP growth in 2012 and 0.9pc in 2013. In practice, this growth isn't feeding through into the domestic economy. Is economic recovery possible while we remain in the euro?



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