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4 Responses to “Irish Economy Conference Papers and Audio”
I thoroughly enjoyed “Privatisation: past performance and prospects.” - the unsurprising conclusion being that they normally have poor outcomes for the collective good. Amusingly during the questions and answers one well known economist seemed particularly annoyed by the discussion of the good performance of the PT&T before the clusterfeck of privatization and complained about the advantages semi-states enjoyed over their (non existent at the time) private sector competition. They enjoyed lower borrowing costs thanks to state backing you know! Not fair.
Michael Taft’s plenary session tried to focus on the human cost of austerity so far (the poor get poorer) and when this failed policy might be rejected.
Colm McCarthy’s banking union talk was entertaining, dispiriting and witty. Germany’s ability to project its increasingly narrowly defined self interest through a stranglehold on monetary and fiscal policy in the EU appears to mean that EMU is guaranteed hostile to countries with economies not tightly coupled with theirs.
The talk on labour market activation was revealing, though perhaps not in the way intended (much talk of sanctioning the unemployed for not trying hard enough).
It was a terrific day and a reminder that if Irish economic policy was being made on the basis of the facts rather than neoliberal dogma and Euro-goldbug tendencies we would be following policies that are almost the diametric opposite of the current EU consensus.
I hope it is not too soon before there is another such event, a big to thank you to everyone involved.
“we would be following policies that are almost the diametric opposite of the current EU consensus”
What policies would those be pray tell? Burn the bankers is it? But still maintaining public spending and taxation levels where they were in 2008 presumably? Because of course the international bond markets would be lining up to throw cash at us…
* Protection of bank bond holders, banks and financial capital in general (”debt as a sacrament” as someone put it here)
* Hard currency fetishism/inflation hysteria.
* Privatizations (after all, it is not as if market failure has recently been an issue)
On the bond market price issues it is absolutely fair to point out that Ireland’s funding costs would be much higher outside of the bailout, on the flip side funding requirements outside the car crash of EMU and the European non-solution to the banking crisis would have been much lower. See the different bond yields for Finland and Sweden illustrating the premium of currency independence - Krugmanated here), or see how the UK kept low funding costs even while Platonically ideal upper class twit Osborn took wrong decision after wrong decision (though the game is now up).
Taxation does need to be increased but it is questionable whether given the current choking of demand in the EU the overall effect would be helpful. We are in a recession after all and in a proper Economic union fiscal policy would be loosened, not tightened.
Finally it is worth mentioning that the current set of EU policy preferences are meant to be self-reinforcing, difficult to escape from and to enforce economic polices that are politically palatable to the German bloc and protect the ECB’s stakeholders.
Ireland should not beat itself up too much about being the victims of wrong headed economic imperialism, but we do need mount a better defence.
I think the conference’s various speakers understood that.
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