I propose to take Questions Nos. 10, 17 and 108 together.
As I outlined in budget 2019, the economy at a macro level is in good shape at present, with a much faster than expected recovery from the crisis. The recovery in part reflects improvements in Ireland's competitiveness in recent years, as measured by the Central Bank's real harmonised competitiveness indicator. Our competitiveness has improved by over 20% from the low point in 2008.
Despite the rapid rate of recovery, the main indicators of overheating do not yet suggest evidence of any widespread overheating pressures. While price pressures have been seen in the housing market, these are more a function of structural imbalances between supply and demand that we are actively seeking to alleviate, rather than being themselves evidence of overheating.
The strong growth in employment in recent years has seen the unemployment rate fall from a peak of around 16% to 5.4% in September. While this is an improvement, the unemployment rate is still above, albeit slightly, the level I would consider to represent full employment in Ireland.
As of now, the recovery in the economy has not yet given rise to broad inflationary pressure. In the first nine months of the year, inflation as measured by the harmonised index of consumer prices averaged 0.7% on an annual basis. This follows five consecutive years in which inflation has been below 1%.
Regarding credit growth, it should be noted that lending to Irish households, as the Deputy will be well aware, only turned positive during the second half of last year. Of course, this is a particularly important factor in evaluating whether we are seeing inflationary pressures within the economy.