Alex Massie

Back to the West: Irish Economic Update

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A follow-up to this post on the Irish economy: our friends on the Emerald Isle are now officially out of recession. That's good news. The bad news? Unemployment remains above 13% and, if you exclude multinational corporations, the "indigenous" economy (if you can call it that) still hasn't recovered completely. The bleeding has slowed but the patient remains enfeebled.

Nevertheless, overall the economy grew by 2.7% in Q1, assisted by the euro's decline agaist the pound and dollar. It's going to be some time before all is well but it's certainly possible that Irish Austerity, painful as it may be, is not proving a terrible failure. Then again, Ireland is helped, perhaps, by the fact and the memory that it's done this before. The failure of a Keynesian spending strategy in the 1980s granted Charlie Haughey's 1987 government the room to sharply cut public spending, decrease debt and, eventually, cut taxes - moves which helped lay the foundations for economic growth throughout the 1990s.

Indeed, while the Irish economy remains in poor shape, it's not perhaps as ill as it was in the mid-1980s when unemployment reached 17% and it often seemed that Ireland's principle export was still its people. The main point, however, is that comparisons with the 1980s are hard to avoid and that this, consequently, goes some way towards explaining why the Irish response to this latest crisis carries echoes of its response to past economic trauma.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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Topics in this articlePoliticsirelandrecession