Wow! Exports are up 34%; Investment is up 27%; imports are up 22%. Wham, bam, the economy grew by 26%. Sensational. Per capita income per person in employment has increased from a whopping 88k in 2010 to 130k in 2015. I’m sure you can feel the booming economy in your pocket? Of course you can’t, the national accounts are a sham.
So what’s really going on?
The increase in investment, although you can’t see it in the national accounts, is being driven by airline leasing. My hunch is that this has increased by about 110%. Airline companies of the world are effectively transferring their financial activities (as new aircraft machinery) into Ireland for tax purposes. As a student of mine nicely put it: imagine all those massive Boeing planes flying around the world, then imagine them in Ireland, and hundreds of people working on them. Where are they?
In truth. We couldn’t even fit these planes in Ireland. It’s just around 20 people managing a financial fund for tax avoidance purposes. Then using the generated money for profit redistribution. That’s what’s really go on.
The increase in exports, although more real, and somewhat more complicated, is a result of a similar dynamic. It’s large corporations transferring assets and IP patents into Ireland – with no real connection to employment – and then booking it as real investment, for tax purposes. There can be no doubt Ireland has an export-led economy, and this is being driven by US FDI. But these massive jumps in growth are not linked to real goods/services. They shouldn’t be in the GDP figures.
The 26.3% makes for a great media headline. But if the media want to go find this growth, they might as well go plane watching at Dublin airport. It’s a farce. There is simply no credibility to the national accounts. Most serious observers looking in at Ireland, know this. And this is what should really concern the government and civil servants.
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