Irish Exceptionalism in the World Economy

Patrick Honohan’s Cunningham Medal Lecture at the RIA is here.

3 replies on “Irish Exceptionalism in the World Economy”

@The Guv’nor

Well written; eminently readable. A steady knock!

Methinks the Hibernian ‘variety of capitalism’ has yet to be critically figured out; nor have the Hibernian ‘societal effects’ [Maurice, Sellier, Silvestre: The Social Foundations of Industrial Power, 1986] been mapped out.

Minor point:

‘… the famous bank guarantee’

Prob a typo: Shurely ‘the INfamous bank guarantee’ is more appropriate considering the empirical fact that the lumpen Hibernian Citizenry were unceremoniously “Bailed_IN” … and .. er .. kept in by the ECB and the ordo-liberal EZ powers that be.

Interesting speech. And like all interesting speeches, it’s thought-provoking though I’m not convinced it makes the case for Irish economic ‘exceptionalism’. It could be argued that the Irish economy is more like a bobbing cork on a turbulent sea of globalisation. That its ‘national policy choices’ are restricted, primarily by factors of size and scale, and what’s possible within those constraints. The future is not just about policy choices on industrialization, infrastructure or labour mobilization or current political fantasies about creating the next ‘microsoft’. Arguably, there’s a huge gap in our current policy portfolio where the likes of a spatial policy (the last flawed version of which was thrown out the window but with no replacement in sight) should be, or even what a coherent energy policy might look like. Resilience and adaptability in the face of adverse circumstances, and political stability in support, are all very fine things in aiding recovery, but the opportunity to address more mundane policy questions, which have long term implications, are being missed.

On the Great Famine, I can see the argument that Honohan is making, but historically the point is not about the demographic trend that subsequently became apparent. The Famine effectively wiped out an entire class of labourers and cottiers in many parts of Ireland. It also fatally weakened another, the landed class, in terms of their economic and political power. Thus a great social tragedy amplified and accelerated trends that were already underway within the rural Irish economy.

Methinks the Hibernian ‘variety of capitalism’ has yet to be critically figured out;

It’s principal feature and fundamental driving force, is Rent Seeking. That and getting the public to pay your bank loans. All in all, it’s the system that got us where we are today.

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