Colm McCarthy provides an interesting analysis in the Irish Times today (December 3rd 2008) about the poor November tax returns. A key issue raised by Colm is the market’s appetite for sovereign bonds, in view of the projected rapid increase in issuance across the advanced economies. Since there is a general increase in risk aversion, it will be important to ensure that Ireland is perceived as a low-risk sovereign. To this end, it is important for the government to establish a new multi-year fiscal programme that shows how the growth in public debt will be managed, with a clear plan to return the debt to a sustainable path once economic recovery takes hold.
The general budget balance for Ireland has sharply declined, with a surplus in 2007 being transformed into a deficit of at least 5.5 percent of GDP in 2008 and a target deficit of 6.5 percent of GDP in 2009.
The appropriate fiscal balance for Ireland was the subject of a panel discussion at the ESRI Budget Perspectives 2009 Seminar in October 2008. Papers and/or presentations by Ray Barrell, Joe Durkan, Patrick Honohan and Philip Lane are available here.
There is also a relevant paper by Philip Lane from the ESRI Budget Perspectives 2008 Seminar, held in October 2007: ”Fiscal Policy for a Slowing Economy” .
More generally, the appropriate fiscal policy for a small open economy that is a member of EMU is the subject of an IRCHSS-funded research project that is led by Philip Lane. You can learn more about this project here.
The Wall Street Journal (December 1st 2008) has an interesting article on how Latvia is dealing with pessimistic economic commentators. Click here for the article.
How to Combat a Banking Crisis: First, Round Up the Pessimists
Latvian Agents Detain a Gloomy Economist; ‘It Is a Form of Deterrence’
RIGA, Latvia — Hammered by economic woe, this former Soviet republic recently took a novel step to contain the crisis. Its counterespionage agency busted an economist for being too downbeat.
“All I did was say what everyone knows,” says Dmitrijs Smirnovs, a 32-year-old university lecturer detained by Latvia’s Security Police. The force is responsible for hunting down spies, terrorists and other threats to this Baltic nation of 2.3 million people and 26 banks.
Now free after two days of questioning, Mr. Smirnovs hasn’t been charged. But he is still under investigation for bad-mouthing the stability of Latvia’s banks and the national currency, the lat. Investigators suspect him of spreading “untruthful information.” They’ve ordered him not to leave the country and seized his computer.
This is a new initiative that has the goal of facilitating discussion of the Irish economy. Stay tuned for postings from a highly-qualified pool of contributing economists.
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