Macroeconomic Data Revisions Post author By Philip Lane Post date March 19, 2015 New analysis by Eddie Casey and Diarmuid Smyth here. Categories In Uncategorized 30 Comments on Macroeconomic Data Revisions ← Cyprus and Greece → 2 Lectureships in Economics at UL 30 replies on “Macroeconomic Data Revisions” Interesting paper confirming that Irish data revisions are substantial relative to the international norm. The new BOP methodology has added a further degree of uncertainty to Irish GDP forecasts for 2015, as the monthly merchandise trade data is now swamped by the quarterly BOP figures, released at the same time as the quarterly national accounts. In 2014, for example, merchandise exports amounted to €89.1bn on the monthly trade data but were recorded as €112.5bn in the BOP (and national accounts). Service imports are now enormous, at €123bn last year, against €64bn in merchandise imports ( and €53.5bn in the trade data) Moreover, the final quarter saw annual growth in real imports of 18.8% and 13.9% in exports so 2015 forecasts may well involve a wide range of views on external trade. The latest NERI forecast, for example, has exports and imports growing by under 5%, implying a dramatic slowdown through the year in terms of BOP trade flows. IFAC Working Paper No. 1 ABSTRACT This paper examines revisions to Irish quarterly macroeconomic data focusing on growth rates of real GDP as well as the main expenditure components. A real-time database is constructed from the Central Statistics Office’s Quarterly National Accounts release. This is used to measure the extent of data revisions while also formally testing the presence of statistical bias in Irish data. Although estimates of GDP are found to be unbiased, the same cannot be said for some of the subcomponents, most notably investment spending. Using data from the OECD, we compile an additional data set for 25 OECD economies to assess the relative scale of revisions to Irish data. Finding that revisions to Irish real GDP growth rates are among the largest observed – even when allowing for differences in growth rates – we examine a number of factors that may indicate why cross-country differences emerge. The scale of data revisions, particularly in Ireland, appears to bear some relation to the structure of the traded sector. More generally the paper also highlights the potential for weaker forecasting performances in countries where data revisions are likely to be relatively high.’ Methinks a few more dodgy transfer-priced capital flows around! Dodgy numbers … a dodgyness index …. over to the number crunchers …. I’m sorry…it’s late and I’m tired, but if the “Conclusion” in that paper is meant to be a conclusion then they and I went to entirely different schools. Does it conclude anything? Imagine a politician or non-specialist economist reading that paper and going to the conclusion to see if there’s a useful “so what” out of all that work. Their key takeaway is likely to be, simply, “there isn’t one”. As this paper shows, there appears to be a significant bias towards revising UP estimates of economic growth in Ireland, especially when the economy is growing rapidly. On this basis, I’d be quite hopeful that the initial CSO estimates of 4.8% GDP growth and 5.2% GNP growth in 2014 will eventually be revised UP to close to 6%. As well as the contributing factors mentioned in this report, it is beginning to appear to me that population growth is again being underestimated and net emigration overestimated. This happened between 2006 and 2011. The 2011 census showed the population was 100k higher than previously estimated and GDP, GNP and the number in employment all had to be revised up. I wouldn’t expect the revisions following the 2016 census to be anything like as great, but I’d still expect them to be significant. Unless I missed it, the Irish Fiscal Council seem to have dropped any suggestion that the CSO figures overestimate growth because of ‘contract manufacturing’, a line which some commentators are still peddling. The CSO specifically refuted this possibility when they published the national accounts last week. Forecasts like yesterday’s NERI forecast are not forecasts in any scientific sense, but are simply figures plucked out of the air. They are no more scientific than ‘forecasts’ of the Six Nations results tomorrow. One of the differences between economics and sport is the ludicrous degree of prominence given to ‘forecasts’ in the former. One wouldn’t expect to wake up to an IT front-page headline today that said: ‘Leading pundit forecasts Ireland to lose by 17 points tomorrow’ and then have lots of gloomy discussion about the ‘forecast’ on the media throughout the day. ‘Forecasting’ the results of sporting events does take place, but its light-hearted fun and no one takes it seriously – in sport the result is all that matters. In economics ‘forecasts’ get almost as much attention as the actual outcomes. Thus, the NERI forecast of a slowdown in growth from 5% to approx 3.5% this year has been widely discussed in the media and, apparently, the fact that they forecast a significant slowdown is deemed to be bad news. In fact, as I said above, its not a ‘forecast’ in any scientific sense, but simply a figure plucked from the air. All we know about the economy now is (a) Initial CSO estimates put growth at 5% in 2014 (b) the CSO are adamant that this estimate is correct and not due to ‘contract manufacturing’ (c) as this IFC paper shows, the initial estimate is more likely than not to be revised UP in coming years (d) all indications are that so far in 2015 economic growth has accelerated (due to falls in oil price, euro etc). Therefore, without making a forecast as such, in the absence of some dramatic malevolent external event, I’ll be amazed if economic growth in Ireland in 2015 is not significantly higher than in 2014. A longer-term perspective for Europe is given in another report: http://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/immigration-rise-may-be-route-to-eu-growth-study-says-1.2146212 “A major increase in planned immigration into the European Union may be the only way to keep the European economy expanding into the future, according to a joint study by academics in the Economic and Social Research Institute and University College Dublin.” “The paper, by ESRI research professor Kieran McQuinn and UCD economics professor Karl Whelan, finds that the pattern of population ageing in Europe will have an ENORMOUS impact on its growth potential.” “Examining long-term demographic trends in the context of recovery scenarios in the wake of the 2008 crash, the researchers said their findings were “SOBERING” for those who expect economic growth to settle the euro zone’s problems in the next decade.” “A policy of large planned increases in the amount of immigration into the EU, while also politically challenging, may turn out to be the only way to keep the European economy expanding in the future.” This is exactly what I have been posting here for years. To put it in a nutshell, extreme social liberalism along with militant anti-religion and secularism, bringing in their wake the demise of the traditional family and industrialised abortion, has totally destroyed Europe’s demographics. Now a fearful economic price is to be paid, with the only way out for dying Europe being immigration of millions each year from neighbouring North Africa, the Middle-East and the non-thriving parts of Asia. A prize for spotting what all these regions have in common? Those ISIS guys weren’t as dotty as we thought when they recently boasted about ‘taking Rome’. Fortunately, Ireland has been spared up to now the disastrous demographic trends that the authors identify in continental Europe. But, for how much longer? It is clear that a major media-led campaign is underway to change the culture in Ireland and to send it down the same disastrous demographic route as other countries in Europe. @Hugh CSO first estimates of national accounts are late and wrong. Fantastic data all week out of the UK. Great employment numbers – never been higher. And borrowing has collapsed all of a sudden. Osborne is now way ahead of target this year, looks like they are experiencing the same dramatic turnaround as ourselves. It turns out that Government spending isn’t the engine of growth after all! Academics are always moaning about politicians not implementing evidence-based policy – well how about we implement this evidence a little bit more? During the housing bubble years, the DOF forecasters were consistently surprised by how well the economy was doing. And during the bust years that followed, they were surprised at just how badly it was crashing. Could it be that the “surprise” element of economic growth is strongly cyclical? 🙂 It looks to me like a great piece of work. Forecasting and assessing the forecasts of others is fundamental to the role of IFAC. The paper demonstrates convincingly that some of the key data used as inputs into macro forecasting models for Ireland – Irish macroeconomic data reported by the CSO – tends to have much bigger errors than is normal among other countries at the point when it is first published. Just by itself, this demonstrates that “garbage-in, garbage out” is at least a major contributory factor in explaining why Irish macro forecasts so often turn out to be exceptionally inaccurate. An interesting follow-on piece of work would be to produce quantitative estimates for how much of the underperformance of models of the Irish economy is due to this factor, and how much is due to other factors such as sub-par models or unpredictability of key variables. The Irish economy is, after all, something of an outlier, and it would be somewhat surprising if modelling approaches optimised for mainstream countries were perfectly suited to Ireland. @ JTO Entertaining and lively contribution as always. I’ve thought the same about economic forecast. It seems absurd how much time they’re given. You’re comments on family and abortion seem contradictory. Surely those that choose to have an abortion don’t want a child because of either lack of partner and/or financial support. So wouldn’t banning abortion give rise to less ‘traditional’ families? i.e. High level of single mother households, like Ireland has for example. This paper supports that to some extent: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3711005.pdf You don’t believe those reasons for population decline do you? Really? It seems likely to me the main reason for a slow down in the birth rate is that women are more educated than in your day and are being treated more equally in the work force. Not because they don’t believe in God any more, though education probably helps with with not believing :). Hence the ‘opportunity cost’ of having kids is higher. With women sorting out their education and career advancement first and so coming to children later. Which in turn lowers the chances of the women having children and reduces the chances still further of them having many children. It would also increase the chances of most educated women finding more educated partners. Which in turn means households have higher gross income, which in turn means they can borrow more money which in turn means they can take on more debt to buy property, which in turn means higher property prices in ‘desirable’ areas. Which in turn means more class segregation in cities, which in turn means people that otherwise wouldn’t delay the family further, do so in order to be able to afford a house first.. Of course then you have a 2 person working household. Which means less time and more supports required for child rearing. Which is why it doesn’t surprise me that in more misogynistic cultures like Italy that birth rate is so bad, as women get far less help from their partners than say as a Norwegian woman (another country with abortion on demand) would get from hers. The answers to these problems aren’t to be found in bringing God back, ending abortion or limiting women’s choice to the home or convent. Though I’m sure you know that. The conclusions seem to affirm that one should be cautious about reading too much into initial growth rate estimates in Ireland as they are not only volatile, but also highly subject to revision. That seems like a pretty solid takeaway as regards conclusions that should matter for any policymaker. It’s also interesting in the context of last year, when the annual real GDP growth rate in Q2 was above 7%. That clearly added to the lobbying momentum pre-budget. Growth rates for 2014 were subsequently softened by a H2 performance that saw contract manufacturing impacts unwind. That’s why the CSO were keen to note it didn’t have a full-year impact (i.e. H1: contract manufacturing in; H2: contract manufacturing out). While this feature wasn’t a matter of revisions, it was another case of over-stating the significance of quarterly information in an economy as erratic as Ireland’s. An awareness of issues like this is probably one reason why the Budget real GDP estimates and the fiscal council’s were both around the actual outturn of 4.8% back in autumn. Very useful piece of work, well done guys. This should caution the legions of journalists who report on flash estimates every quarter as if the numbers were solid. text from Blind Biddy somewhere in Scotland: Men were magnificent, and I’m partial to a few, but the Irish Women’s Rugby Team today were simply AWESOME! http://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/six-nations/inspirational-president-higgins-leads-the-tributes-to-victorious-irish-womens-team-31085978.html @That’s Legal Thank you. The first step should be to reach a consensus that the collapsed demographics, now prevalent in continental Europe, is a bad thing and will destroy economic growth. That, rather than the Euro, is the major root cause of Europe’s growth collapse and one of the reasons why Ireland has had by far the most dynamic economy in Europe since the late 1980s (apart from 2008-2011), with no sign of this dominance this ending. I have been saying that for years here. Delighted that a couple of distinguished economists are now saying the same thing. Although I note that the Dublin 4 media have largely ignored their report. All having agreed that its a bad thing, the next step should be to establish the causes of Europe’s demographic collapse. I’d say there is no one single factor. Its likely a combination of religious belief, social welfare system, culture, tradition, propensity to abort etc. It can not be just education alone. Ireland is at least as well educated as other European countries, but it has (up to now at least) suffered much less from collapsed demographics. Also, the more religious, but at least as well educated, U. States has not suffered to anything like the same extent as Europe. @DOD Scotland’s rugby collapse in the past 20 years is no surprise to me. When I was young Scotland would generally beat Ireland at rugby. Now they are a joke. One possible factor: in the 1961 census Scotland had more persons aged 20-35 than Ireland – by the 2011 census Ireland had twice as many persons aged 20-35 as Scotland. Pope Paul VI deserves some of the credit for Ireland’s double humiliation of Scotland on the rugby field this weekend. I predict that Scotland will be independent before it next beats Ireland in the Six Nations. Incidentally, if the Six Nations was decided on GDP/GNP growth rather than on points scored, Ireland would have won 23 Grand Slams in the past 29 seasons, with many more likely in the next decade. Maybe Ireland should press for a change in the scoring system? Just been checking how my prediction posted on this site in 2011 (when the media consensus was that the Irish economy was finished) that Ireland would have the highest economic growth in the EU15 over the decade 2007-2017 is coming along. These are the cumulative real growth rates between 2007 and 2014: note: 2007 was the pre-recession peak, the year which is supposed to be ‘peak bubble’ for Ireland note: GNP for Ireland – GDP for all others  Luxembourg +7.2%  Sweden +5.6%  Germany +5.0%  Austria+ 4.0%  Belgium +3.9%  U. Kingdom +3.7%  France +2.3%  Netherlands -0.1%  Ireland -1.4% (GNP)  Denmark -3.3%  Spain -5.0%  Finland -5.1%  Portugal -6.3%  Italy -8.9%  Greece -25.7% Over the period 2007-2011 Ireland was bottom of this table. But growth since then has pushed it up to 9th of 15. Based on current and and forecast growth rates up to 2017, I’d say my prediction has a good chance of coming true. Luxembourg looks to be the only country in with a shout of pipping Ireland for growth over the period 2007-2017. But, if Ireland does so well over the period 2007-2017, where does that leave claims that the growth up to 2007 was a ‘bubble’? http://www.bis.org/publ/qtrpdf/r_qt1503e.htm BIS paper on deflation quoted in today’s FT. It seems there is little evidence to support the view that deflation in the price of goods and services is negative for real economic activity and that it has been confused with the impact of falling asset prices, notably housing, which is clearly negative. @ JTO Agreed. Population decline should be of of far greater concern to the policy makers of Europe. Especially Italy. The concensus so far seems to be that all that’ll be needed is more immigrants. Very weak thinking, there won’t be enough immigrants to solves Europe’s problems and even if there was, they’re going to want to go to the high growth countries to work, which will also be the high population growth countries. Which is a reason to be bullish on the Anglo-spheres population growth increasing. As well as migrants, the few young left in old Europe will also want to flee their aging high tax States. Again, look at Italy. We could be looking at exponential decline curve in some regions and an exponential growth curve in others. Agreed education plays a big part. Not the only part though. Supports for women are extremely important. Whether from partners, labour market or state. The only reason America beats the population decline stats is the Hispanic migrants. If America contained just it’s white ( more educated population) it would have the demographics of Italy. America is becoming more and more a country of old whites and young Hispanics. Incidentally the latter groups births per woman ratio is also declining but from a high base. Finally, I can’t help but boast that I’m doing my part. I’m the proud father of a lovely baby girl as of last January. One part Irish, one part Finnish. Perhaps she’ll be a future EU commissioner for population increase. More gibberish from Fintan O’Toole in today’s IT. http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/fintan-o-toole-stability-can-only-come-from-radical-change-1.2150216 The core belief of clowns such as this is that Ireland is such a disastrous failure that only a massive shift in the direction of marxism can save the Irish economy from total ruin and save Irish society from total disintegration. For O’Toole and others of similar ilk, its a race against time. Ignore all current economic data, and Keep screeching about imminent economic armageddon and social disintegration in the hope that people will listen before the avalanche of economic resurgence, now apparent to all but the totally brandead, sweeps them away. In answer to O Toole’s question: for how many of the 93 years since 1922 has the Irish economy been successful? If success is defined as growth above the European average, the answer is approximately 59 (of which 45 in the past 57 years). I’m surprised there hasn’t been a post on the paper mentioned by JtO in his 20 Mar. comment: http://www.karlwhelan.com/Papers/McQuinnWhelanMarch2015.pdf It’s certainly thought-provoking – even if these thoughts provoke nightmares for short-termist governing politicians. @ JtO You are quite right, and have been right for a while, to highlight the strength of the recovery in Ireland and the positive outlook for the next few years. But it isn’t very credible to say that nothing went wrong in the years up to 2007. Or that the only thing that went wrong was a loss of confidence. Or that Ireland was just a victim of external events. The collapse in 2008-2010 was not caused by doom-sayers. After all there is never any shortage of doom-sayers, but the economy usually functions just fine. The international credit panic of 2008 doesn’t explain it either: other small countries survived that without having to be bailed out. It is more accurate to say that Ireland was a contributor to and an epicenter of the international panic, not a victim of it. Over the period 1740 – 2000 the population of Ireland grew from under 3 million to just under 6 million. Obviously that does not mean there was no famine in the 19th century. Similarly economic growth over the period 2007-2017 will not erase the historical fact of the collapse in 2008-2010. @ Skeptic it wont erase the collapse, but it will provide some better long term context. Although boom-bust economics isn’t what we should be aiming for, we should at least give some due credit to the boom part of it. “BIS paper on deflation quoted in today’s FT. It seems there is little evidence to support the view that deflation in the price of goods and services is negative for real economic activity ” Maybe it’s a bit early to say , Dan? What impact will deflation have on wage increase negotiations ? Both the US and the UK need to get wage increases going to generate inflation and neither are doing very well at the moment. The argument hat stagnant wages increase in real terms under deflation is grand but it does not help the big picture. @ JtO I beg to differ on “collapsed demographics”. Europe is among the first regions of the world to undego “demographic trnasition”. Far from being a negative result of liberal immorality, this is a positive result due to a stabilizing population. Large parts of Europe already have high population densities (Monaco is the world record holder). Assuming Europeans don’t want densities to grow from their current high level (400/km2) to levels approaching those of south/southeast Asia (700-1000/km2), they need their populations to stop growing, which fortunately is happening. When your pop stops growing you inevitably go through a period of aging demographics, which is a negative for total GDP. However it is GDP per person that counts when it comes to living standards. The alternative is to assume that populations will grow forever. Ireland is exceptional because our pop density is well below levels in many regions of continental Europe. So our population can still grow. Maybe Connaught will look like Holland one day. But we should not assume that what’s good for us would be good for the rest of Europe too. Where did the notion that QE is reflationary come from ? Lots of repeating of it but very little data to back it up. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fe3e64b8-922d-11e4-bfe8-00144feabdc0.html “Eurozone deflation risks and the need for radical ECB reflationary action via full QE — beyond negative rates, unlimited bank loans and selected credit easing — are the dominant themes guiding investor sentiment at the start of 2015, in stark contrast to where ECB watchers’ consensus expectations were a year ago,” said Lena Komileva at G+ Economics.” http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9ec53f5c-925f-11e4-b213-00144feabdc0.html “The risks of not fulfilling our mandate of price stability are . . . higher than they were six months ago,” Mr Draghi told Germany’s Handelsblatt. Despite scepticism by Germany’s Bundesbank, the ECB’s governing council agreed “unanimously” to act if necessary to “address risks of a too prolonged period of low inflation”. @Thats’s Legal Congratulations on the birth of your baby daughter. @Skeptic01 I never said ‘nothing went wrong’. Lots of things go wrong all the time. The main thing that FF did wrong was to make a sharp turn to the left around 2001, symbolised by getting rid of Charlie McCreevy and increasing public spending far too much. However, if you read the media around that time, they were being demonised for being too right-wing and not spending enough up to that time. Even Joe Schmidt would say lots of things went wrong during the Six Nations, but it doesn’t detract from his overall success. That’s a nice analogy by the way. The victories over Italy, France and England were the 1990-2007 Celtic Tiger. The defeat to Wales was the 2008-2011 recession. After that defeat some pundits said it proved the first 3 victories were a fluke, that the bubble had burst, and that Ireland would lose to Scotland. The victory over Scotland is the post-2011 rebound. The bottom line is that, assuming current forecasts prove accurate, averaged over a long period of time (1986 to 2020 at least) Ireland will have had by far the highest growth in western Europe. In those 34 years, Ireland’s growth will have been well above the EU15 average in 30 of them. For that to happen, those things that went wrong must have been greatly outnumbered by those things that went right. @ BEB, JtO Looking back over the past 30 years we have indeed seen remarkable growth and it does imply that a lot of the right choices were made. We have seen two periods of bust – the 1980s and the recent episode. Both were caused by excessive borrowing, led by the government in the first case and by the private sector in the second. (Perhaps the excesses are in fact encouraged by the longer term growth pattern, which causes periods of over-confidence and complacency). After the 1980s experience there was a general acknowledgement that excessive public debt and borrowing is dangerous. The new lesson we should now have learned is that excessive borrowing can also be driven by the private sector. Were FF too left-leaning after 2001? They were certainly happy to spend the extra revenues generated by the bubble and decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth. So, ESRI say taxes should be kept high to avoid the ‘economy overheating’. http://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/esri-issues-warning-over-plans-for-budget-tax-cuts-1.2151811 In their world, its tax, tax, tax. No tax cuts when the economy is contracting because we can’t afford them. No tax cuts when the economy is growing because we might overheat. @ JTO Do you know what the debt level is ? How do you propose to reduce it at a time of macro uncertainty ? @JtO, You’ve no need to worry. The Government won’t take a blind bit of notice of these admonitions. There’s an election to be won – and promising goodies all round is the only thing they know. By issuing this advice the ESRI is covering any exposed posteriors in the event that things go pear-shaped. A competent and sensible government would have spent some time tackling the huge citizen and economy-sapping excessive cost of household consumption: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&language=en&pcode=tec00120&plugin=1 and associated low levels of actual individual consumption (AIC) per capita: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/6216033/2-11122014-AP-EN.pdf/2d6e4635-8dfd-4950-8ce6-27c421ad25d1 But that would mean implementing policy and empowering economic regulation and competition enforcement that would upset powerful and influential special interests. So there’s no chance of that happening – particularly in the long run-up to a general election. The supreme irony is that the various opposition factions and assorted ‘independents’ also favour various selections of these special interest groups, so the vast majority of ordinary citizens will continue to be ripped off irrespective of the mix of TDs they elect. PS. The ranking of the AICs in the linked document almost perfectly matches a ranking of the quality of democratic governance in EU member states. Northern Europe above the average, Italy and France around average, the PIGS (with Malta and Cyprus) below average and the new CEE members well below average. @ PH I would suggest that the latest Eurostat data confirms what can be guessed from simple observation either from a reading of history or travel in some of the countries concerned. (This tends to restore one’s faith in statistics!). There are, however, many elements other than differences in governance to be taken into account e.g. access to raw materials, notably coal and steel, the industrial revolution in the UK, German dominance in the chemical and engineering industries later, and the resultant accumulation in wealth and skills; which continues. The use of national boundaries is also very misleading. Northern Italy has more in common with the countries north of it than with the Mezzogiorno. The same holds true of northern relative to southern Spain, not to mention the economic divide in the UK. I agree, however, that governance is a central issue in the efforts of countries, because that is the way that is the way the EU is currently organised, to catch up. Greece offers incontrovertible proof of this. Ireland may well follow. @Skeptic01 “Looking back over the past 30 years we have indeed seen remarkable growth.” “We have seen two periods of bust – the 1980s and the recent episode.” As you seem quite knowledgeable about history, you probably know that how long exactly the growth has been going on for, and whether the periods of non-growth merit the term ‘bust ‘, depends on which version of history you take. I’d say the growth has been going on for much longer than 30 years and that there have been no ‘busts’ (just recessions similar to elsewhere), but that’s just my reading of history. These are the alternative economic histories available. You pay your money and you take your choice. Dublin 4 elites version of Irish economic history: (a) Ireland was a rich prosperous country pre-1922 (b) De Valera then seized power in a coup and ruled uninterrupted from 1922 until 1979, during which time he destroyed the prosperity inherited from the British and caused tens of millions to emigrate (c) De Valera retired aged 145 in late 1979 and was then replaced by Haughey who ruled as a dictator from 1979 until the early 1990s, enriching himself at the expense of the starving masses and causing Ireland’s first bust (d) there was some growth from the 1990s on, but it was all a ‘fake’, being composed entirely of the construction of houses in remote wildernesses where no one lived (e) this ‘fake growth’ bubble burst in 2007, plunging Ireland into its second bust, this one being the worst in the history of the world and the product of a government composed entirely of crooks (with the honourable exception of Pat Carey) (f) following FF’s destruction, some tentative improvement in the economy since 2013, but even in this period the growth has been largely illusory, an accounting trick resulting from the practice of ‘contract manufacturing’. JTO version of Irish economic history: Between the ending of the British occupation in 1922 and 1958 growth in Ireland was patchy. But this period saw: (a) the artificial partition of the country, leaving a completely unindustrialised 26-county rump whose population had fallen by 60 per cent in the previous 75 years (b) the Great Depression, and the erection of trade barriers worldwide (c) the UK-declared Economic War on Ireland in the 1930s (d) World War 2. Under these circumstances, it was next to impossible to have had high economic growth. But, even during this period there was a relative stabilisation of population and a large reduction in net emigration compared with what had gone before (population fell by 3.8 million between 1847 and 1922, by just 0.16 million between 1922 and 1961). And the 1930s saw a relatively successful industrialisation beginning from scratch. Economic growth took off in earnest after 1958. It began while De Valera was Taoiseach. Let’s assume the current growth phase lasts until 2020. It will probably last much longer, but let’s not look too far ahead. That will mean that in the 62 years between 1958 and 2020 Ireland’s average GDP/GNP growth rate will have been circa 4.5 per cent, by far the highest in western Europe, and comparing with 2.0-2.5 per cent in the UK and continental Europe. During this period, and in total contrast to what occurred in the previous 120 years, Ireland will have experienced more immigration than emigration and Ireland’s population will have risen by more than any other European country, up by 68 per cent between 1961 and 2015, compared with 25 per cent in the UK, 20 per cent in continental Europe, and just 3 per cent in Scotland (which latter fact is partly responsible for last weekend’s rugby results). During the period 1958-2020 there will only have been 2 relatively short periods of under- performing the UK and continental Europe: 1982-1986 and 2007-2011. For the other 54 years (1958-1982, 1986-2007, 2011-2020 at least), the norm will have been for Ireland to grow much more rapidly than the UK or continental Europe. Describing these periods as ‘bust’ is inaccurate. It would be more accurate to describe them as periods of recession. Nearly all European countries suffered recessions around these periods, although they were not as severe as Ireland’s. However, against that there were other periods when the UK and continental Europe had severe recessions and Ireland escaped – for example: 1974-75, 1990-92. In the UK in this period there have been 4 major recessions: 1974-75, 1979-81, 1990-92, 2007-09. Ireland has had only 2, granted they were more severe The only justification for the term ‘bust’ rather than ‘recession’ to describe the period 2007-2011 is the fact that temporarily Ireland was frozen out of the bond markets. But, in retrospect (although a few like myself said it at the time) this freezing-out lasted only for a year or so and was not due to Ireland being unable to pay its debts (subsequent events show it was easily able to pay its debts), but rather to an orchestrated politically-motivated campaign to convince markets that Ireland was unable to pay its debts, which is rather different. @ JTO “For the other 54 years (1958-1982, 1986-2007, 2011-2020 at least), the norm will have been for Ireland to grow much more rapidly than the UK or continental Europe.” The cost of the last bust was off the scale. Who cares if the economy grew 2005-08 – how much bigger were the losses afterwards ? Ireland doesn’t have the institutional discipline to run property bubbles. Comments are closed.