Pendulum Summit an uplifting start to year ahead

Your business this week: Unemployment data, conferences, results, indicators

From L to R: actor Colin Farrell, rugby coach Stuart Lancaster, politician Boris Johnson. Photograph: Agencies

From L to R: actor Colin Farrell, rugby coach Stuart Lancaster, politician Boris Johnson. Photograph: Agencies

 

MONDAY

Indicators: Euro zone retail sales (Nov); UK new car sales (Dec); German factory orders (Nov) and retail sales (Nov); US factory orders (Nov).

TUESDAY

Indicators: Irish retail sales (Nov) and unemployment (Dec); Euro zone services, economic and industrial sentiment (Dec), business and consumer confidence (Dec) and consumer inflation expectations (Dec); UK house prices (Dec); German industrial production (Nov); US business optimism index (Dec) and exports and imports (Nov).

December’s unemployment data will cap a year in which the number of people out of work continued to fall – one of the bellwethers of economic recovery and a boon to claims of astute political stewardship in a potential election year.

Last month, Central Statistics Office (CSO) numbers showed unemployment had reached a new post-recession low of 5.3 per cent in November, down from 5.4 per cent the previous month.

While there have been a number of upward revisions to the jobless rate, the overall trend has remained steadfastly downward. At the same time, the number of benefit claimants on the Live Register has dropped to a 10-year low.

However, it is not all positive. Tuesday’s data, no matter how confirmatory of a strong jobs market, will follow Bank of Ireland’s economic pulse indicator which last week revealed its second lowest ever reading in December, coming in at 88.3, down 1.6 on the prior month, and 0.6 lower than a year ago. Loretta O’Sullivan, the bank’s chief economist pointed to a fall in both consumer and business sentiment during the month.

“While metrics like solid GDP growth and the low unemployment rate indicate that the Irish economy is performing well, we expected global trade tensions and Brexit uncertainty to temper the mood among households and firms in the second half of the year and this has proved to be the case,” she said, with a prescient take on how such positive economic numbers may quickly evaporate in the months ahead.

WEDNESDAY

Results: Delta Air Lines.

Indicators: Irish consumer confidence (Dec) and industrial production (Nov); Euro zone unemployment (Nov); UK labour productivity (Q3); German exports and imports (Nov).

Meetings: ECB non-monetary policy meeting; Pendulum Summit (Convention Centre Dublin); “The Wealth of Business depends on the Health of Workers” seminar by Small Firms Association (Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2); Enterprise Ireland 2018 results launch (Department of Business, Kildare Street, Dublin 2).

An uplifting start to the year ahead, and to its many conferences, is the two-day Pendulum Summit beginning on Wednesday. “Self-empowerment” gatherings usually smack of snake oil but a glance at Pendulum’s line-up shows it means business. Monty Python’s John Cleese and actor Colin Farrell sprinkle a touch of glitter while an appearance by Boris Johnson gives a nod to the more serious side of things in the business world as the UK stumbles towards further Brexit miasma in the coming weeks.

Pendulum was founded in 2013 by former rugby player Frankie Sheahan as a means of inspiring a recovering country with messages of change. Attendee numbers in that time have risen from 600 to about 7,000 last year and speakers have included Richard Branson, Deepak Chopra and Jo Malone, all contributing to the event’s self-proclaimed mission of empowerment.

2019 may need such a positive start. Boris Johnson’s 40-minute slot will be a big pull but remains as unpredictable as the man and its title (“Opportunity in Uncertainty”). Nevertheless, he will help set the pace for this year’s Brexit developments as they resume in earnest.

Other speakers this year include comedian Ruby Wax, Baroness Karen Brady and former England rugby coach Stuart Lancaster.

THURSDAY

Results: Sudzucker.

Indicators: US new home sales (Nov).

Meetings: ECB monetary policy accounts meeting; “After Britain: Wales and Ireland in the Post Brexit Era” talk by Adam Price, leader of Welsh Plaid Cymru party (Institute of International and European Affairs, North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1).

FRIDAY

Indicators: Irish new car sales (Dec); UK GDP (Nov), manufacturing and industrial production (Nov) and construction output (Nov); US inflation (Dec) and economic optimism (Jan).

Meetings: “What Does China Want? China, Europe and Global Ambitions” talk by Oxford professor of history Rana Mitter (Institute of International and European Affairs, North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1).