In the past week or so there have been plenty of attempts by the Dublin elite who have sleep-walked this country into catastrophe to blame others. For an example, see the quotations in this article. If Chancellor Merkel had kept her big mouth shut, the implication is, everything would have been alright.
This line of argument seems to imply that Ireland was simply facing a liquidity crisis — in which random events and loose lips can indeed sink ships of state. And, to be fair, there certainly was a liquidity crisis.
However, an awful lot of influential external observers believe that Ireland is also facing a solvency crisis, brought about by the suicidal bank guarantee of September 2008, and compounded by our lousy growth performance (10 successive quarters of falling real GNP, with more potentially to come). The Government could have chosen to listen to Morgan Kelly that evening, but it didn’t — after all, who would take such an irresponsible young person seriously! — and the rest is history. If it is a solvency crisis, then it was always going to come to this, as long as the Government tried to stand by that guarantee. Mrs Merkel may have been the trigger, but if she had stayed quiet there would, inevitably, have been some other trigger.
The really important point to make about what Mrs Merkel said is that she was right. There is indeed a limit to how much taxpayers are going to be willing to bail out bank creditors, and so there should be. If she, or the IMF, or any other external body, forces the sort of restructuring of bank debt that our own leaders have been so reluctant to contemplate, then ordinary Irish people will be very grateful to them. If the restructuring doesn’t happen this weekend or soon thereafter, then presumably it will be a major issue in the forthcoming general election campaign, and we will get an early test of whether Mrs Merkel’s political instincts are right.
Update: today’s FT editorial makes some very similar points.