The CSO today released the Quarterly National Accounts for 2009:Q3. Consistent with other indicators such as a stabilising unemployment rate, the release is consistent with a bottoming out of the economy. Though the year over year patterns still show sharp declines (7.4 percent for GDP and a whopping 11.4 for GNP) the best read we have on what happened during the latest quarter—seasonally adjusted quarter-over-quarter changes—point to stabilisation. GNP was down 1.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis over the quarter and GDP was up 0.3 percent. So technically, one could argue that this release confirms commenter John the Optimist’s call in September that Ireland was already out of recession.
There are, of course, caveats to this. The seasonal factors are based on limited data and so not particularly reliable. And the increase in GDP occurred despite declines in consumption, investment, government spending and exports (this was offset by the decline in imports). But still, one has to welcome anything that looks like good news.
How do these figures square up with the government’s projections in the budget? One point to note is that the bottoming out means that next year won’t have the same negative carry-over that this year did. In other words, if quarterly GDP remains flat at its 2009:Q3 level up to the end of 2010, then the year average for 2010 will be essentially the same as the year average for 2009. This assumption also implies a year-over-year projection for GDP in 2009 of minus 6.8 percent.
Against this background, one could argue that the budget’s projection of a 1.3 percent decline in GDP next year is perhaps too negative. Alternatively, with €4 billion of fiscal adjustment to be applied and a banking system that will still be restricting credit, perhaps the government have it about right.