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Irish SME Investment in Economic Recovery


  • Carroll, James

    (Central Bank of Ireland)

  • Mooney, Paul

    (Central Bank of Ireland)

  • O'Toole, Conor

    (Central Bank of Ireland)


Following dramatic declines during the crisis, capital investment expenditure is increasing rapidly in Ireland. However, little is known about SME investment levels, the extent to which this is driven by improved economic conditions, and how their investment is financed. Using cross-sectional survey data, we find that the share of SMEs investing has increased steadily since 2012, and currently about a third of SMEs are investing in each six month period. Larger firms, exporters and innovators are more likely to invest. However, over the last three years, the share of smaller, domestically-focused enterprises investing has increased at a faster rate. We find a strong link between regional unemployment rates and SME investment. However, this relationship only holds for more domestically-orientated firms. As the unemployment rate has decreased, these findings provide some evidence to link macroeconomic improvements to the observed pick-up in investment activity of SMEs. Finally, we explore the funding mix for new SME investments. Internal funding/retained earnings account for the highest share, with bank financing and leasing together accounting for less than twenty per cent.

Suggested Citation

  • Carroll, James & Mooney, Paul & O'Toole, Conor, 2016. "Irish SME Investment in Economic Recovery," Quarterly Bulletin Articles, Central Bank of Ireland, pages 77-91, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbi:qtbart:y:2016:m:03:p:77-91

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Holton, Sarah & McCann, Fergal, 2012. "Irish SME credit supply and demand: comparisons across surveys and countries," Economic Letters 08/EL/12, Central Bank of Ireland.
    2. Petra Gerlach-Kristen & Brian O'Connell & Conor O'Toole, 2015. "Do Credit Constraints Affect SME Investment and Employment?," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 46(1), pages 51-86.
    3. Conor M. O'Toole & Martina Lawless & Derek Lambert, 2015. "Non-Bank Financing in Ireland: A Comparative Perspective," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 46(1), pages 133-161.
    4. Lawless, Martina & McCann, Fergal & O'Toole, Conor, 2013. "The importance of banks in SME financing: Ireland in a European context," Economic Letters 05/EL/13, Central Bank of Ireland.
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