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The Briefcase: good numbers, burnt bondholders, and the ghosts of Irish banking

This was the week in business.

It’s the Friday before the August Bank Holiday, and time for‘s round-up of the most important business, SME, and economic stories of the week.

Read this, then for goodness sake LEAVE THE OFFICE.

Need to know

Rude health?

It was a good week for the Irish economy, according to a few key indicators.

On Wednesday morning we heard that the unemployment rate had dropped (again) to 11.5% in June.

That’s a fall of 0.1%, and means that 382,800 of us are now unemployed, down 3,400 from the month before.

central-bank-stress-tests-2-390x285 The Central Bank Eamon Farrell / Photocall Ireland Eamon Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

That news buttressed quarterly CSO figures which showed that the government deficit had fallen to 5.6% of GDP, down from 7.9% this time last year.

Government revenue went up €736 million from the first quarter of 2013, to €14.6 billion in Q1 2014.

And there was a pleasant surprise to start the week, when the Central Bank predicted, in its third-quarter bulletin, that the Irish economy would grow by 2.5% this year.

Dame Street had previously predicted a 2% GDP growth, but better-than-expected export performance and a stabilising domestic demand led to an upward revision.

Argentina Debt An Argentinian protestor stands outside the presidential palace in Buenos Aires Rodrigo Abd / AP/Press Association Images Rodrigo Abd / AP/Press Association Images / AP/Press Association Images

Nice to know

  • AIB made a breakthrough in some style this week, reporting a €437 million pre-tax profit for the first half of 2014. That’s a €1.3 billion turnaround from their figures at the mid-point of 2013.
  • Meanwhile, Bank of Ireland had a funny old week. This morning they reported their first profit in five years, having turned a €395 million loss in the first half of 2013 into a €399 million profit this year. However, the announcement came as a slew of frustrated BoI customers awaited their Bank Holiday wages, delayed by a technical glitch. Awkward.
  • Argentina defaulted on its debts for the second time in 13 years. Finance Minister Axel Kicillof slammed US hedge fund “vultures” who insisted on full repayment after the last time the country burned the bondholders in 2001.
  • Like the ghosts of banking’s (near) past, former Anglo executives Pat Whelan and Willie McAteer were in court this week. Judge Martin Nolan raised a few eyebrows by telling them “Enjoy your community service”, after handing out 240 hours each, instead of two-year jail terms for their illegal lending scheme.

mcateer-whelan-photocall-sam-boal-390x285 Ex-Anglo executives Pat Whelan (L) and Willie McAteer (R) Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Now you know

  • After recently announcing major plans for a “Dublin Canary Wharf“, Nama was back in the news this week for putting its first retail park portfolio on the market for a total of €110 million.
  • Chartered accountants in Leinster are, on the whole, very happy campers. Their annual report pointed to rising salaries, increased hiring, and rocketing job security. But then, those wacky accountants are always getting excited about something or other.
  • An influx of our British cousins to these shores in the last six months has contributed to a 10% boost in tourism numbers.
  • Twitter had its investors grinning on Tuesday, after a very healthy second-quarter report boosted its share price by 30%.

The outbox

Amazon followed eBay’s lead and announced its very own 3D printing store… Depositors at the liquidated Berehaven Credit Union started to get their money back… Samsung blamed their profit slump on increased smartphone competition…and last year 32,154 new .ie websites were registered in Ireland – most of them business-related.

One for the road

holiday Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

This could be the busiest weekend of the entire year for packing the car and heading to favourite summer spot on the island.

In light of that, and after a few intriguing studies recently, we asked you whether it makes more financial sense to holiday abroad or in Ireland.

The results of the poll so far are extremely revealing – check it out, and have your say here. 

Read: The Briefcase: a US President, the Budget and definitely not a housing bubble>

The Briefcase: Plans for Dublin’s ‘Canary Wharf’, trips to Addis Ababa and Lidl’s pricey wine list>

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