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Don’t believe everything you hear




By Michael O’Connor,

A new year, a new market rally.

Lower inflation, a Chinese reopening boom and a resilient labour market resulted in the biggest January gain in the S&P 500 in eight years as Wall Street switched from cautious to confident at the drop of a hat.

In true market fashion, last year’s losers have turned into this year’s darlings. The Tech-heavy Nasdaq Index jumped almost 11% (now up over 17% at the time of writing).

Facebook for example is now up 110% following its 66% loss last year, Netflix is up 120% while Coinbase is up 140%.

Job losses

One of the major contributors to the current market run has been the continued strength in the labour market.

Despite headline news about countless lay-offs, we remain in one of the strongest labour markets in history.

In the US, 517,000 jobs were added in January - the largest monthly gain since last July.

The unemployment rate is now 3.4%, the lowest level since early 1969.

Tech lay-offs have been front and centre, but as always, there is far more to a story than the headline the media are pushing.

Yes, 1.5 million people lost their jobs in the US during December.

However, the crucial data point the media left out was that US employers hired 6.2 million people over the same time period.

In fact, despite the media focus, the ratio of lay-offs to hires are well above historical standards.
Ireland’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was at 4.4 percent in January well below the 5% from the same period a year previous.

Three points to note

Despite the struggles in the tech industry at the moment, it only represents a tiny proportion of the overall labour market. Job losses in tech have been more than offset by new job openings across airlines, hospitality and retail.

Even during periods of robust economic growth, employers subtracted hundreds of thousands - and sometimes millions - of jobs per month.

Data needs context

Yes, current tech cut backs are concerning but there is more to the story than just one data point. During the pandemic these companies pulled forward three years’ worth of demand into one. Consumer tech demand exploded. Head counts expanded rapidly. The pace was never going to be sustainable.

From its fiscal year-end in September 2019 to September 2022, the employee count at Amazon doubled, Microsoft’s rose 53%, Google parent Alphabet Inc.’s increased 57% and Facebook owner Meta’s ballooned 94%.

Wall Street Journal

A single data point never tells the whole story, but why let the truth get in the way of a good story eh?

The truth is, for now, hiring remains strong, and the volume of current job openings out there suggests hiring could remain strong in the months ahead.

Some leading indicators such as wage growth, temp roles and quit rates continue to fall, pointing towards the potential rise in unemployment numbers to com - but we are not there yet.

In my opinion we have reached ‘peak’ employment conditions. As the lag effects of tighter economic policy take hold, this labour market strength will start to show more signs of weakness, but we are slowing from a very strong positions. Don’t let the headline news send you into a frenzy just yet.

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Roger and Brendan really into the SWING of things

A Killarney man who has been living in the US for over 30 years has maintained a very strong connection with his hometown through a novel golfing tournament which involves […]




A Killarney man who has been living in the US for over 30 years has maintained a very strong connection with his hometown through a novel golfing tournament which involves a regular challenge against local players.

Roger O’Sullivan, originally from Loreto Road and a member of the Rainier Golf and Country Club in Seattle, has linked up with another Killarney man, Brendan Keogh of SWING Golf, on several occasions to bring a group of golfers from the Seattle club to play a number of Kerry and Irish courses.

They compete for the Cider Cup which is their own unique take on the Ryder Cup.

In 2010 Roger led a group of 18 golfers from the US to play in Ireland and they repeated the journey and the adventure again in 2012, 2014 and 2017.

They had another trip planned in 2020 but that was cancelled due to Covid but they returned again in 2022 and a group of 44 golfers were back in Killarney in recent weeks to test their skills on the Kerry courses and against local players.

“Since we first started doing this in 2010 we have had 102 different golfers travel from Seattle,” Roger explained.
“I met Brendan Keogh on one of my visits home and he travelled to Seattle, at my request, and organised sponsorship at my golf club.

“Since then our trips have been expertly organised by SWING Golf who book us preferential tee-times, set up the schedule and coordinate our bus drivers. We have never had an issue or anything to worry about. Being friendly with Maurice O’Donoghue, we have always stayed at Scott’s Hotel,” he added.

The US visitors take on local players when in Killarney and this year there was 100 golfers playing on the Killeen course on the first day of their visit.

“The support of the locals has been incredible and I wouldn’t do this without them,” said Roger.
“There have been numerous friendships made over the last 14 years. We have supported a local charity on every trip and for the last two it has been the palliative care unit at University Hospital Kerry. This year we raised €5,100,” he said.

A former student at St Brendan’s College, Roger’s parents were Tony and Juliette O’Sullivan and his father was the head chef in the Gleneagle Hotel for over 20 years before the family purchased Danesfort Lodge at Woodlawn Cross on the Muckross Road.

Roger has been married for 20 years to Amy from Tampa, Florida and they have one daughter, Gracie.
Brendan Keogh joined SWING in the early days of its operation as financial operations manager, working alongside the late Paddy O’Looney.

A member of Killarney Golf and Fishing Club for 40 years, he is the current CEO and he will have served 33 years next September.

SWING, the brainchild of former Kerry Group chief, Denis Brosnan, markets and promotes the premier golf clubs in the south west and also runs an incoming golf agency.

Records show that the company has booked over 350,000 rounds of golf in the south west alone but it also facilitates golfers wanting to play elsewhere in the country.

The company’s senior team of Brendan, Eileen O’Sullivan and Tommy Pierce have 60 years of experience bringing golfers to these shores.

Killarney has been a huge beneficiary as it is a base for most visiting golfers while on the Kerry part of their trip. The locals like seeing the high spending golfers arrive in April for a season than runs until mid October.
2024 is busy and it is also looking positive for 2025.


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Killarney Toastmasters Celebrates 20 Years

Killarney Toastmasters Celebrates 20 Years




Over 30 members, past and present, gathered last Tuesday in The Dromhall Hotel to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of Killarney Toastmasters club.

Several founder members were present including Frank O’Sullivan and Bernadette Noonan, who are still current members of the club.
Members embrace the core values of Toastmasters International which are “respect, integrity, service and excellence”.
This year Killarney Toastmasters welcomed eight new members of various nationalities, who have brought many talents with them to this international club.
Outgoing president Anthony Walsh said: “I am heartened by the progress of new members and, following the success of the current year, I am looking forward to a bright future for the club.”
Anthony passed the chain of office on to incoming President Ann Hannan, who is very excited about leading the club in the year that Toastmasters International celebrates its 100th Anniversary.


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