Monday 24th August 2015
Upbeat mood on Ireland’s third quarter economic outlook
Economic uncertainty across Europe and in China appears to be weighing on investors’ minds, with a 2% drop in positive sentiment evident in the latest Rabo- Direct Investor Barometer.
Nonetheless, some 89% of investors are confident about the country’s economic prospects in the third quarter — down from 91%.
A slightly larger decline in the number of people expressing confidence in the global economy was recorded with 76% of this mind, a drop of 3%.
Investor confidence in the Irish property market has fallen sharply, down 10% from 67% to 57%.
An increasing number of investors are optimistic about their personal finances, however, up 3% to 84%.
“The stream of good news about the Irish economy continues to sustain overall sentiment, which has impacted positively on investors’ confidence around their personal financial situation.
However, not surprisingly, recent events in Greece and China have impacted investors’ economic outlook,” said Rabo-Direct head of investments, Killian Nolan.
“With the likelihood that the current low growth and low inflation trend will persist in the medium term, the challenge for investors is around achieving a return on their available funds.
The growing influence of technology in our daily lives and in replacing jobs through software and robots means some of the best returns available today are in technology investment. Other investments performing well include healthcare and European property markets.”
FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS IN IRELAND ARE GETTING OLDER
The average age of the first time HOME buyer in Ireland has risen by four years to 33 over the past decade, with one estate agency group predicting that this figure may rise sharply yet again over the next few years.
In 2005 the average first time buyer in Ireland was approximately 29 years old, but, according to a Real Estate Alliance (REA) survey, this figure has increased by 14 per cent and is still rising due to a combination of circumstances.
High rents and the introduction of the mortgage deposit rules have combined to create a situation that is increasingly delaying the entry of young people into the housing market.
“While many young people are now returning from abroad with the growth in the economy, they are finding it difficult to secure mortgage approval without a full year’s employment behind them, which is pushing the average up all the time,” said REA CEO Philip Farrell.
“Through economic or other reasons, our young people left the country in their droves over the past decade, and this has created a lost generation in housing purchase terms.
“A high percentage of young Irish adults in their early 20’s chose to travel the world for extensive periods of time – at one stage emigration was claiming 60,000 young Irish people a year.
“In many cases the decision to do this is taken following completion of college education or after learning a skill.
“As a result of this people are taking longer to return home, settle down and have families – we estimate that emigration has put many people’s life plans back by five years.
“We are also finding that young people’s attitude towards property buying in their 20s is changing as a result of the global crash.
“Due to the uncertainty surrounding property values during the recession, many young people chose to ‘park the bus’ in relation to purchasing their own home and confidence in property as an investment was diminished.
“Interestingly, average life expectancy in Ireland has increased by four years to nearly 81 over the last 15 years. This figure will continue to increase and it is our opinion that young people feel that they have more time on their side.
“As a result of both of these factors, we have seen many potential first time buyers choosing to either remain in the family home or rent for longer periods rather than following the race to get on the property ladder.
“This has had a knock-on effect and the average age of the second-time buyer is 39 and also increasing.
“It is important to remember that there exists particular pockets of the country where these figures are both lower and higher than the average.
“We estimate that the average first time buyer in the capital is closer to 35, due to high property values.
“However, in rural country towns with a large multinational IT employer, our agents report that the first time buyer average is in the late twenties as well-paid employees secure mortgages for more affordable properties.
“Over the past two years average property values have increased at a faster pace than average wage levels, therefore the whole area of affordability has become a factor.
“One issue for consideration is the low prevailing interest rates which will not remain so forever and ultimately will also affect the affordability issue.”
One of the main deterrents for young purchasers is getting adequate access to finance, according to REA agents.
“The introduction of the Central Bank’s mortgage deposit requirements, combined with higher rents, has made it increasingly difficult for young people to save deposits, especially in Dublin.
“While their use as a medium to restrain house price increases has been welcome, they have had the effect of suppressing movement in many areas of the market.
“This has been most apparent amongst second time buyers who need to raise a full 20% deposit. Their inability to do so is creating a knock on effect in supply of suitable housing for first time buyers.
“The new income requirements of 3.5 times salary combined with increased deposit requirements introduced by the Central Bank in February of this year will continue to put pressure on the average age of first time buyers in this country.
REA agents are also reporting that young people are also being forced to reapply for finance due to mortgage offers expiring as a result of sales falling through when part of a selling chain.
Robert Grimes of REA Grimes Mortgages in Dublin feels that the traditional view of the property ladder has changed for young people.
“I feel that first time buyers are looking for a house that they can possibly live in for life rather than having to plan to trade up.
“I definitely feel that there is a fear factor of not making the same mistake that family members, friends or work colleagues did a decade ago.”
Psoriasis drug may aid diabetes treatment
Drug benefits those with type 1 diabetes
Scientists have discovered that a drug that is currently used to treat the skin condition, psoriasis, could benefit people with type 1 diabetes.
The news has been welcomed by the national diabetes charity, Diabetes Ireland.
A team in the US discovered that the drug, Alefacept, which targets the immune system of psoriasis sufferers, appears to keep the insulin-producing cells of people with type 1 diabetes safe and healthy.
The results follow a two-year clinical trial involving people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
The same team of scientists had already reported positive results back in 2013, but now, 15 months after the last dose of the drug was given to participants, they are taking less insulin on a day-to-day basis.
They have also been found to have higher levels of the C-peptide protein in their blood than those given a placebo. This is a by-product of insulin protection. This suggests that those taking Alefacept are making more of their own insulin than those not taking the drug.
Meanwhile, the scientists also found that people who had taken the psoriasis drug had lower levels of cells that are known to attack the pancreas in type 1 diabetes, and higher levels of cells that regulate the immune system.
Dr Anna Clarke, research manager at the Diabetes Ireland Research Alliance, described the findings as ‘really promising’, particularly because this drug is already in use, ‘so is already deemed to be safe’.
“Any development that helps us understand how people respond to a therapy that alters the immune system could create new treatment approaches and make a cure or vaccine for type 1 diabetes one step closer,” she commented.
Dr Gerald Nepom, director of the Immune Tolerance Network, which carried out the clinical trial, acknowledged that ‘achieving a long-term benefit following a short-course therapy is a challenging goal’. He said the next step in the research will be to carry out a detailed analysis of the immune cell types in the blood of those who responded to the psoriasis drug.
“This will help us identify the best way to improve this type of immune therapy for people with type 1 diabetes and potentially other autoimmune conditions,” he said.
New system with An Post to slash retail red tape
Retailers will be the first group to benefit from a new licensing portal which it is hoped will slash through much of the cumbersome red tape that has existed up until now.
The new portal being established by the Government in conjunction with An Post and Escher Groups will act as a one-stop shop for retailers to register and apply for licences they are obliged to have for trading purposes.
The system, which will be rolled out to some 20,000 retailers by December, is expected to dramatically reduce the amount of time in form filing required to comply with various licensing obligations.
Welcoming the announcement of the system, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said the it was being rolled out in response to issues with the current system raised by businesses.
“I am very conscious of the time businesses spend on the various licence applications required by Government and agencies and this initiative is in response to business demands. By streamlining this system it goes some way towards our goal of making Ireland the best small country in the world in which to do business,” Mr Bruton said.
A review of the current system was undertaken to study the various licences required by businesses, from which the idea of the portal was born.
The Government then committed that all relevant licensing authorities would work towards the development of an integrated system amalgamating processes in existence across government departments, agencies and licensing authorities.
To begin with, the system will be available for retailers to make use of with applications for 29 core licences across 40 public sector authorities available.
Among the licences retailers will be able to apply for are gaming licences, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) licence, as well as those required by food business operators and casual traders.
An Post and its technology partner Escher are putting the system in place to allow licences to be available on the portal for the retail sector by December.
“This has the potential to be a significant step in reducing the administrative burden for business, particularly for small businesses and startups. As the minister with responsibility for SMEs, the feedback I often get from entrepreneurs is that while we have made significant strides in reforming and reducing bureaucracy for business, there is still too much red tape
“The new system will save time for businesses and make it easier to apply for and renew licences,” Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash said.
Ancient fire fountains once exploded on the moon’s surface
Scientists may have solved the mystery of how fiery eruptions took place on our moon’s surface. Researchers have discovered the volatile gas that drove the eruptions.
“The question for many years was what gas produced these sorts of eruptions on the moon,” said Alberto Saal, one of the researchers, in a news release. “The gas is gone, so it hasn’t been easy to figure out.”
The evidence of explosions come in the form of tiny beads of volcanic glass that can be found on the lunar surface. The researchers carefully analyzed glass beads brought back to Earth from the Apollo 15 and 17 missions. In particular, they looked at samples that contained melt inclusions, which are tiny dots of molten magma that become trapped within crystals of olivine.
So what did they find? It turns out that lava associated with lunar fire fountains contained significant amounts of carbon. As it rose from the depths of the moon, the carbon combined with oxygen to creast substantial amounts of carbon monoxide gas (CO). This CO gas was responsible for the fire fountains that sprayed volcanic glass over parts of the lunar surface.
“Most of the carbon would have degassed deep under the surface,” said Alberto Saal, one of the researchers, in a news release. “Other volatiles like hydrogen degassed later, when the magma was much closer to the surface and after the lava began breaking up into small globules. That suggests carbon was driving the process in the early stages.”
The findings reveal a bit more about the history of the moon which, in turn, may reveal a bit more about the formation of our own planet.