Chief Economist of Goodbody Stockbrokers addresses Chamber members

Guests were treated to the premise that Ireland is in the eye of a financial storm and all economies are being affected to differing degrees. This was the discussion at this year’s annual Dundalk Business Breakfast, sponsored by Goodbody Stockbrokers. The company’s Chief Economist, Dermot O’Leary, addressed key economic issues such as the credit crunch, Irish property and the outlook for growth over the next few years. “For Ireland, a period of re-balancing is now in train,” said Mr O’Leary. “The economy is not broken, however, and there is still long-term growth potential due to a healthy demographic structure.”

Dermot indicated that Louth did not suffer from high levels of unsold housing stock, at 2.9% available for sale it was in fact the lowest in the country, so unlike Roscommon and Leitrim was not blighted by houses not selling. He also reinforced that example compared to UK, Ireland’s national borrowings were very low, and even though our growth had fallen back to 5% in 2007, it was still the envy of major Europe countries.

He did see that Sterling’s exchange rate fall was the one that would affect Irish exporters margins the most, given that so many imports and exports are hedged by being dollar. Denominated.

Chaired by the Chamber’s President, Joe McCarthy, there was a particularly high attendance from the business community of Dundalk and the surrounding areas, who seemed keen to hear the latest views on the state of the Irish economy in the current climate, but were buoyed by Dermot’s views that we have reasonable growth expectation in the medium term and even if immigration were to fall to zero in 2008/9, we’d still be building 50,000 units per annum. He did reflect that under-performing regions such as Dundalk, absolutely needed specific short-term fiscal measures in place to accelerate private sector investment, as well as the Gateway funding to remedy local infrastructure build out.