Michael Burke has an analysis of the nature of Ireland’s economic crisis in the Socialist Economic Bulletin which is a blog published by Ken Livingstone. His account of how we got into our economic crisis is by and large a coherent one (an unfortunate typo suggesting that NAMA proposes to pay €54bn for assets worth €77bn notwithstanding) although one can quibble with some of his judgements. For example, his claim that the April 2009 budget was regressive is not supported by the results reported by Tim Callan using the ESRI tax-benefit model on this blog. One point he highlights to which I had seen little reference before is the implication of the collapse in domestic asset values for our net external debt position, given that much of this borrowing was financed by foreign bondholders.
In contrast to the detailed analysis of past history, his proposals for responding to the crisis are little more than sketched out and are thus less convincing. Competitiveness is not seen as a problem despite his clear analysis that a big contribution to our current trade surplus is the collapse in imports of investment goods and that our relatively good export performance is heavily influenced by the special circumstances of the dominant chemicals sector. One proposal is to delay fiscal adjustment because of its deflationary consequences (a demand already being made by the trade union movement). Another is to “take control” of leading property and construction companies presumably in order to restore economic activity in construction, although why this would make sense given the substantial over-capacity that exists in both residential and commercial property is not clear. He also proposes nationalisation of the banks and repudiation of some or all of their accumulated debts, policies which have been debated and which have found some support on this blog.