Reykjavik-on-Liffey (Not)

It is a headline that was sure to be written by someone and this week’s Economist runs with it: the article is here.  However, the content of the article correctly focuses on membership of the euro as the key reason why the Irish situation is fundamentally different to the tragic Icelandic situation.

4 replies on “Reykjavik-on-Liffey (Not)”

other recent headlines include things like “tiger tamed” and “no more Celtic Tiger”. In 1997 they had “The Celtic Tiger: Europe’s shining light”. And the famous late eighties “Ireland: The poorest of the rich”. Their 1988 article deserves a place in the halls of infamy, painting Ireland as little more than a group of uppety peasants who had destroyed itself by trying to imitate their former masters (you should read the article if you think this is an exagerration). Their 2004 article “The Luck of the Irish” admits that they “did no better than anyone else” at predicting what was to happen. In general, the Economist articles on Ireland often do point out some harsh truths that may be hard to see from inside. But I really feel their general record on Ireland is quite poor in terms of both description and prediction and are often written as if they are decsribing some curiousity rather than an economy that has had some innovative as well as destructive ideas over the last thirty years. The current headline that Philip links is tabloid journalism with no informative intent and, as Philip points out, is not even giving a good clue as to what the article is about.

The biggest Irish issue where accurate prediction was required over the last decade was the housing bubble. The Economist passed that particular test with flying colours, in sharp contrast to many people domestically.

I dont agree with this but this would be a fairly pointless one to argue through. The best thing people should do if they want to rate The Economists’ performance in charting the Irish Economy is either look at the Ireland page on their site or do a search in their (excellent!) site using the keywords “Irish Economy” “Irish Property” and so on restricting the search between 2003 and 2006 or even up to 2007 if you want to be nice.

Reykjavik on the Liffey? Well maybe, it is looking a lot more likely. I am agog at the back slapping and slavering attitude of the Labour Party and Fine Gael to Finna Fail’s latest poll situation coming in the middle of the current financial armageddon. If there is one thing that is apparent, in the current mess, it is that Ireland cannot afford the luxury of the tribes in the Dail any longer. In fact, if they continue with their tribal voodoo they will accelerate the bankruptcy of the country.

Ireland would be very, very hard pressed to put a decent government together with, even the pick, of all the parties in the Dail. That is apparent to any casual observer and only the most deluded and partisan would continue to argue otherwise.

This may run against the grain and ego’s of the partisan politics which is practised with religious fervor in Ireland. However, it is obvious to all and sundry outside of Ireland, including the international debt rating agencies, who would be fools not to apply the brakes to Irelands ineptitude and some would say institutionalized corruption. Eight Hundred plus quango’s populated by five thousand plus political appointees and these figures are for 2006.

There is little point in pretending we are not in dire straits and being hailed as “patriotic” if the blind practice of this “patriotism” is a kin to being plain stupid and leads us fairly swiftly to our demise as a reasonably autonomous people. So Brian Lenihan by this definition is a “patriot” and I am not.

I am going to repeat the message!! If we try to put a government together from Finna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, Greens and Sinn Fein we would be very, very lucky to get enough brain power to run the country. That dilemma and the solving of it, is what stands between Dublin becoming Reykjavik or worse.

We need dramatic changes to the financial, regulatory and political models which have led to the astonishing and dramatic failure of the country. The revamping of these systems is the solution required. However, where is the fulcrum for this revamping going to come from? Will it come from within? I doubt it! One thing is sure and that is, If it does not come, it will lead to swift failure and civil unrest in Ireland. The silly strikes being organised by the dodo birds that we thought were extinct are further evidence that we will be taken over and run by our main Eurozone partners, without whom we would already be bankrupt. Will the dodo birds in the dail wake up?

The idea of leaving the Euro zone and returning to a punt currency is just a fantasy and if that happens we will not become Reykjavik try Zimbabwe!

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