Longfield Lecture in Economics, UCC – Oct 18th 2018, 6pm

Cork University Business School & Department of Economics

 is pleased to invite you to the

Second Annual Longfield Lecture in Economics

 Professor John Fitzgerald

Adjunct Professor of Economics, UCD and TCD

 The Phoenix and the Ashes – 60 years of Irish economic policy

 Thursday 18 October 2018


Venue: Kane Building, Room G02

 All are welcome

 About the speaker

Professor Fitzgerald is one of Ireland’s foremost economists. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in both TCD and UCD, having previously been a Research Professor in the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin. He is a member of the Central Bank of Ireland Commission and he is Chairman of the Irish government’s Climate Change Advisory Council.

 About the lecture

Instead of ushering in a period of economic success, the first 40 years of independence saw a serious underperformance by the Irish economy. Ireland missed the free trade boat after the Second World War and, unlike the rest of Northern Europe from the Urals to Snowdonia, it did not invest in human capital.

Policy began to change in the 1960s. EU membership in 1973, and a steady commitment to developing a modern education system, eventually saw Ireland realise its economic potential.

Bad mistakes in fiscal policy in the late 1970s further delayed Ireland’s convergence to an EU standard of living. However, once the fiscal crisis was dealt with and the EU Single Market came into effect in 1993 Ireland grew very rapidly so that by the mid-2000s Ireland had a standard of living above that of the EU15.

Once again unwise fiscal policy, combined with a massive failure of financial regulation, saw Ireland face a major economic crisis in 2008. However, having got into this mess, policy makers made a very good job of extricating the country from the mire. Nonetheless this process was very painful, leaving a legacy of debt and damage to individual households.

The success of the Irish economy has been built on developing an extremely open economy, a sustained policy of investing in human capital, and a very open labour market. All of this has been underpinned by the multiple advantages conferred by EU membership.

2 replies on “Longfield Lecture in Economics, UCC – Oct 18th 2018, 6pm”

“However, having got into this mess, policy makers made a very good job of extricating the country from the mire.”

Really? We are not extricated. We are still in deep doo-doo: social welfare? public and private residential housing? national health? These areas have not improved at all. They’re worse!

“Nonetheless this process was very painful, leaving a legacy of debt and damage to individual households.”

Now this bit is correct – apart from the pain bit. You could prescribe analgesics for the pain, but what we are suffering is something else entirely. Its more akin to a smashed limb which requires amputation – real, not simulated. Anyhow, I regard the ‘pain’ metaphor as deeply disturbing since real persons experienced real financial traumas. Just call it for what it is. Impoverishment.

Debt is a real problem since it can, and does, expand with time. Only real, and significant increases in personal incomes coupled with slower increases in the costs of goods and services will alleviate a debt issue. The opposite seems to be occurring. That is, we have almost stagnant wage and salary increases but significant real increases in the costs of goods and services. If this pattern should continue expect a sharp economic reversal.

Someone may wish correct my math (if’n I’m wrong) but transport fuel costs have slowly increased by almost 30%. Now that’s what I would define as a recovery. Commuters might argue otherwise.

I note the focus on human capital in Professor Fitzgerald’s Lecture ….

I would like to hear a reflexive comment from Professor John Fitzgerald on the state of human capital within the academic community, especially the ESRI, and in particular how the mindset within the economics profession, in particular, which influenced government policy in terms of its ‘blind faith in markets in opposition to the state’, contributed to the 2002-2007 disaster, and what, if anything, has changed due to possible learning within this narrow one-sided ideological mindset in the interim. Or has it …?

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