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Business Briefs Economist sees boom continuing

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

Damn the begrudgers and the skeptics, Ireland’s good times are set to continue.

According to one of the country’s top economists, Dermot O’Brien, the Irish economy will continue to boom for another decade.

What O’Brien has to say carries particular credence. He was, after all, among the first to correctly forecast the current Irish boom and he has consistently been voted the top economic commentator in the country.

Some observers have warned that Ireland’s economy is heading for eventual trouble because of high inflation, house prices and the scale of gross domestic product growth. But O’Brien, chief economist for the Dublin stockbroking firm NCB, dismissed these claims, saying it’s a misreading of the economy.

O’Brien’s analysis focuses on the changing profile of the population and, in particular, the workforce. While 10 years ago, the majority was under 25, the reverse is now the case, with the workforce now having greater earning capacity. And with population on the rise, more and better educated workers will join this group, earning more and, in turn, contributing to high growth. However, O’Brien believes that many couples will, like many American, have to wait until they are in their 30s before they have the disposable income to buy a home.

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O’Brien also feels that high pay rises can be justified by higher productivity.

O’Brien’s bullish analysis comes in a paper entitled "Strong Foundations for Future Growth."

Meanwhile, more kudos for the Irish economy are expected from the International Monetary Fund. According to news reports in Ireland, an IMF report, to be published this week, will dismiss arguments the economy faces danger from spiraling inflation and sky-high property prices.

Huge revenue, no profits

Riverdeep, the Irish educational software company quoted on the Nasdaq, has posted a loss of $35 million for the year to June. But despite the losses, the company recorded unprecedented revenue growth, up to $8.3 million for the year, from $363,000 in 1999.

Riverdeep has offices in Dublin and Massachusetts.

Frozen drinks

Some Irish publicans are facing prosecution for failing to obey the government’s freeze on the price of drinks, according to the director of consumer affairs, Carmel Foley.

The pub owners’ body, the Licensed Vintners’ Association, has denied that its members breached the government’s order. The LVA added that the order was not specific about the production of documents and that the issue had not been fully discussed with them before the order was signed.

The six-month price freeze on drink was introduced as part of a range of measures to tackle inflation. Pub owners were ordered to keep prices at May 15 levels and to produce proof that they had done so.

But spot checks carried out on almost 300 pubs revealed that only one in four could produce price records dating back to May 15. It has also been alleged that some pub owners raised prices.

Stock prices

In a move the Wall Street Journal described as "almost revolutionary," the pricing of stocks will, during the coming months, be listed in decimals instead of fractions.

For centuries, stock prices have been quoted in fractions based on eights of a dollar. Now, the move to decimals means, in effect, that prices will be quoted in dollars and cents.

The move should make those pages of bland stock tables, with column after column of tiny numbers, easier to understand.

Conference at Fordham

The Fordham Corporate Law Institute will hold its 27th annual conference on "International Antitrust Law and Policy" Oct. 19-20 at Fordham Law School, 140 East 62nd St., in Manhattan.

The conference will focus on European Union competition policy issues. Among the speakers will be EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti and U.S. Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein.

Details, call Tonia Bush at (212) 636-6945 or email tbush@law.fordham.edu

Road deaths

Last weekend, eight people were killed on Irish roads, bringing the total to 53 for those who lost their lives in traffic accidents during July and August. Small wonder Irish auto insurance rates are so high.

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