ESRI conference to blow away kite-flying on Budget
THIS WEEK:DESPITE LABOUR leader Eamon Gilmore’s strong warning to party and Government colleagues against leaking any of the possible contents of the December budget, kite-flying season is in full swing.
Speaking at the Labour Party’s recent think-in, Mr Gilmore pointed out that many of the leaks in advance of last year’s budget never became a reality, but nonetheless served to create a lot of unease among the public. “I hope we don’t see a repetition of that this year.”
No such luck. So far, the kites have included everything from details on how the property tax might be framed to means-testing of third-level grants, the targeting of well off pensioners, changes to the monthly child benefit payment, and increases to PRSI.
Hopefully the ESRI’s Budget Perspectives 2013 conference on Thursday will provide a clearer sense of what’s likely to come down the tracks on budget day.
The think tank’s David Duffy will examine the macroeconomic context for Budget 2013, while John FitzGerald will give a talk on fiscal policy for next year and beyond.
Research will also be presented on work incentive issues, while guest speaker Prof Mike Brewer will analyse the UK’s proposal for a “universal credit”.
Seasonal work suits our political class
RECRUITMENT DRIVESdon’t get any more seasonal than the campaign being run by Rathwood shopping and activity centre on the Carlow/Wicklow border. Rathwood is looking to recruit 85 enthusiastic elves and helpers for its Santa Train Experience, which attracted more than 30,000 visitors last Christmas.
Positions range from Santa’s personal helpers to woodland and postman elves and, naturally, all successful applicants will be trained in “elf and safety”. The deadline for applications is this Sunday, and in case Rathwood has difficulty finding suitable recruits, we’ve come up with a few suggestions.
Candidates must be theatrical and possess excellent storytelling skills, so where better to look than to our political classes? For example, a certain former taoiseach demonstrated his flair for the dramatic on many occasions, not least in a bizarre TV advertisement which saw him hiding in a kitchen cupboard and which earned him the moniker of the “elf on the shelf”.
And then there are Eamon Gilmore’s “Little Elves”, as Joe Higgins dubbed the Labour Party’s idealistic young TDs who sit looking “pale and wan” on the back benches.
As for Santa Claus, the mystical figure who flies in to distribute gifts to all the little children who’ve been good all year ... well, not so long ago, that role used to fall to the Minister for Finance on budget day, but we reckon the IMF’s Ajay Chopra is the only man for the job now.
Bakery group’s targets pie in the sky?
WHEN ARYZTA publishes results for the year to the end of July today, it is expected to report a rise in full-year revenue to as much as €4.2 billion. Should be enough to keep shareholders happy, right?
Possibly, but looking ahead, NCB analyst Darren Greenfield warns that the Swiss bakery group’s 400 cent earnings per share (EPS) guidance for its 2013 financial year could prove a pie-in-the-sky target.
Two of Aryzta’s biggest customers – fast-food giant McDonald’s and coffee-and-doughnuts chain Tim Hortons – have reported trends which indicate a slowdown in recent months.
For instance, in an update last month, Tim Hortons indicated that economic uncertainty is hitting consumer confidence. As a result, Aryzta may have experienced a tough fourth quarter.
In a preview note, Greenfield points out that even if the Irish-listed Zurich-based group – which has a majority shareholding in Origin Enterprises – manages to deliver on its 2012 EPS target of 338 cent, which would require year-on-year profit growth of 11 per cent, it would need to grow profit by a further 22 per cent in 2013 in order to hit 400 cent EPS. “Management is not getting any help from the macroeconomic environment. We feel it may be time to throw in the towel on this one,” he suggests.