All the signs point to another year of strong economic growth for Ireland
Rossa: Let us put the Irish economy in the context of the euro area: fastest economic growth, lowest unemployment rate, healthiest government finances.
Another year of strong economic growth is in prospect in 2006.
Philip: We see two key themes. Firstly, ECB rates will rise to 2.5%, but despite the higher interest burden for Irish households, factors such as the SSIA monies and labour earnings growth mean this should not prove overly cumbersome.
Secondly, consumer spending will be the main driver of the economy, helped by high rates of employment growth. It is this growth in domestic demand (GDP less volatile trade flows) that will fuel another strong year for the Irish economy, with growth of 5.6% expected in 2006.
Shane: Despite many gloomy permutations, the balance of probability is that the Irish economy will remain on a steady and sturdy growth path over the next number of years.
Rossa: We forecast that GNP will expand by 5%, driven by buoyant consumer spending. Next year will be characterised by another healthy gain in employment, thousands more new houses and a reduction in saving by households as Special Savings Investment Account (SSIA) funds are released from next May.
Philip: This year is likely to be the 14th consecutive year in which Ireland has outperformed the EU-15 average in terms of growth, with GDP expected to increase by some 5%.
Shane: Economic growth will continue to be strong in 2006, with GNP projected to increase about 5%. This puts Ireland amongst the fastest growing economies in the eurozone. Unlike much of the growth during the Celtic Tiger era, our current economic strength is home grown.
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