Attitudes among savers improved in the month of December, according to the latest index from Nationwide UK Ireland. The bank takes a monthly look at people's attitudes towards saving and what influences their decisions.
Brendan Synnott of Nationwide UK/Ireland said 2014 saw the regular saver return to the market and the saver is no longer seeing Government policy as a hindrance to its saving decisions. "With the changes to taxes and DIRT taxes on savings as well as low interest rates in the past few years, it's been difficult to save. Now people have got used to that position and the desire to save is overriding the Government desire to return people to a better save-spend balance," he explained.
The latest index saw a reduction in the number of people who save regularly and a corresponding increase in the number of people who said they would spend their spare cash. Brendan Synnott put this down to the Christmas spend and said it did not necessarily point to a return of the consumer to their spending ways. The desire to hoard cash was still very strong in the Irish psyche, he said. He said this was reflected in the response to the reduction in interest rates to near zero by the ECB. "Regardless of how low rates go, the Irish psyche is driven towards saving for a rainy day while managing household budgets diligently and paying down debts. The Government wants the level of spending to go up so they've made it penal to save, but regardless, the desire the save is still high," he said.
On the decision by the Swiss Central bank to introduce negative rates on certain large scale depositors, Brendan Synnott said it had been done before in Japan and Australia and was not out of the question in the euro zone. "The downside is that people tend to hoard money in their houses," he concluded.
MORNING BRIEFS - US markets closed lower and stocks across Asia have been falling after the price of oil continued on its downward spiral. In yesterday's trade, the price of brent crude was down 5.5% to $47.36 a barrel while US crude was down 5% to $45.90 - both six year lows. Japan's Nikkei index was down despite numbers showing Tokyo had recorded a current account surplus for the fifth month in a row. Elsewhere in Asia, China's December trade figures were better than expected; exports were up nearly 10% and imports were down over 2% from a year earlier.
*** Also feeling the pinch of falling oil prices is Russia where the rouble has been under pressure. Now the Russian central bank has revealed the full cost its attempts to prop up the value of the currency. In the past year it said it spent $76 billion and €5.4 billion buying up roubles on the foreign exchanges. The currency lost over 40% of its value against the dollar in 2014 and was down 34% against the euro. That helped in pushing the inflation rate to 11.5% by the end of the year.
*** Inflation is one problem that is not affecting the euro zone at the moment and it appears the UK could be following in the same direction. UK consumer price figures are due out later this morning and are expected to show that the rate of inflation could have fallen as low as 0.5% in the year to December, mainly on the back of falling oil prices. Like the ECB, the Bank of England is mandated to keep inflation at around 2%. If it falls below 1% or goes over 3%, the Bank of England governor is required to write an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer explaining why inflation is off target and what will be done about it.
*** A provider of software products to the insurance industry is promising to create up to 80 new jobs here over the next two years. Guidewire Software already employs 150 people at its global services and development centre in Dublin. The jobs are being supported by the IDA Ireland.