Anthony Murphy, now at the Dallas Fed, is a renowned Irish econometrician with a strong research interest in housing markets. Back in 2004 he was commissioned by the National Competitiveness Council to study the competitiveness implications of the housing boom.
The first paragraph of his report read: “Ireland’s booming housing market has attracted and continues to attract a considerable amount of attention, both domestically and internationally. Irish house prices are extremely high by historic and international standards, both in absolute terms and relative to incomes. The strength and duration of the house price boom is unique. Many other countries and regions have experienced large house prices booms. However, at least in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, most of these booms have ended in a house price bust.”
The report, which is here, was obviously written in very judicious language but was highly critical of the fiscal contribution to the boom. (His demolition in Section 3.5 of many of the research papers written on the boom is also well worth reading). The NCC declined to publish it. Though I have a good deal of respect for Forfás and the NCC in general, I am forced to ask: how much attention might it have received, and might it have made any difference, if it had been published?