The Xtra-vision story may not have a happy ending

On the surface there may be reasons to be optimistic that Xtra-vision can survive in some form. But dig deeper and the future looks bleak. The stores are remaining open while the search begins for a buyer. The receiver says that most of the stores are profitable. Unlike many other retailers the company is not overburdened with debt. However, this is a receivership not an examinership.

How to do a banking inquiry

By Sean Whelan, Economics Correspondent So it looks like Matthew Elderfield is off to Lloyds Bank in London. There is certainly a big job to be done in repairing the regulatory side there, if the recent UK Houses of Parliament report into its Halifax – Bank of Scotland (HBOS) unit is anything to go by. Entitled “An accident waiting to happen”, the report doesn’t hold back in its conclusions, describing HBOS growth strategy as “a manual for failed banking” (the …

The End of Austerity?

By Sean Whelan, Economics Correspondent “The Commission does not believe that cutbacks are the solution to Europe’s challenges. But, yes, sound public finances are an essential part of sustainable growth”. – Jose Manuel Barroso, Friends of Europe Roundtable, October 2011 “For some, the main consideration is the need for stability. For others, it is growth. I say we need both.” – Jose Manuel Barroso, State of the Union Speech, November 2011 “I believe those who want to over simplify the …

Householders facing hot water?

By Business Editor David Murphy Householders will have to pay water bills in future. It is not entirely clear when that will happen. But the big question is whether they will be paying for an efficient well-run service? A draft report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers suggests the answer is ‘No’, unless there are radical reforms. The document, called ”Irish Water: Second Interim Report” was released to RTÉ News following a Freedom of Information request and updates an earlier published study. At present …

The Gang of Ten

By Seán Whelan Economics Correspondent The good news from Olivier  Blanchard, the chief economist of the IMF and main author of its World Economic Outlook, is that only ten advanced countries have such big debt and deficit problems that they cannot avoid taking action to deal with them. The bad news is that Ireland is one of them.  And more bad news – so is America.  Ditto for Britain.  And Japan.  And six other euro zone states. So that’s us …

Lessons from Dublin EcoFin meeting (Part 1)

by Seán Whelan, Economics Correspondent. Michael Noonan invited the Brussels-based economic think tank Bruegel to contribute a thought provoking paper to the ECOFIN meeting in Dublin Castle last Friday on Europe’s growth problem.  Director Jean Pisani-Ferry and economist Zsolt Darvas duly obliged, and let the ministers have it with both barrels. For example, the very first line of the paper reads: “Europe’s pre-crisis growth performance was disappointing enough, but the performance has been even more dismal since the onset of …

EcoFin comes to town

  by Economics Correspondent Seán Whelan Dublin Castle is the venue for this week’s meeting of EU Finance and Economics Ministers, along with Commissioners Olli Rehn and Michel Barnier, and the governors of the euro zone’s central banks. Fresh from its exertions over Cyprus – and needing some R&R before turning to (or is that on) Slovenia – the Eurogroup is coming to town on Friday morning.  Accompanied by its bigger and slightly richer cousin, the Ecofin, and the governing …

Oops. They missed. Economic forecasts for Ireland 2002 – 2011

by Business Editor David Murphy Later this month the Department of Finance will update its forecasts for the Irish economy. Economic forecasts matter; yet they are frequently wrong and fail to predict important developments.