I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized The day the ATM broke

The day the ATM broke

Sean Byrne
The Fall of the Celtic Tiger: Ireland and the Euro Debt Crisis, by Donal Donovan and Antoin E Murphy, Oxford University Press, 318 pp, ISBN 978-0199663958 The foul-mouthed taped conversations between senior executives of Anglo Irish Bank published in the Irish Independent in July of this year remind us that as Bob Dylan sang “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.” Irish taxpayers will be paying the debts of Anglo Irish and Irish Nationwide for a generation, yet five years after the collapse of those rogue banks no comprehensive inquiry into how they were enabled to behave as they did has been held. The government has promised that an inquiry will soon be established but must first settle a petty squabble over which Oireachtas committee will hold it. It is very unlikely that any inquiry will add much to what we already know. Brian Lenihan, the minister for finance who foisted the debts of the banks onto the shoulders of the taxpayers, is dead. Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank at the time of the bailout, who is believed to have coerced Lenihan into transforming the debts of the banks into sovereign debt, cannot be compelled to give evidence to an Irish enquiry. Like so many previous inquiries, one on banking is likely to be another futile exercise in barrister enrichment. If a banking inquiry is held all members should be required to read The Fall of the Celtic Tiger by Anton Murphy and Donal O’Donovan, which is the most comprehensive and penetrating analysis of the catastrophe that befell the Irish economy, beginning with the near collapse of the banking system in September 2009. To understand why the Celtic Tiger collapsed it is necessary to understand whence this strange beast sprang and the book begins by outlining the background to the astonishing levels of economic growth achieved in Ireland in the period 1994 to 2004. While opening to trade from the 1960s onwards and joining the EU had improved economic performance, Ireland lagged behind other small open economies until the 1990s. The first phase of the Celtic Tiger era, from the early 1990s until 2004, was based on our ability to attract high-tech industries, particularly in information technology and pharmaceuticals because we had a relatively well-educated English-speaking labour force, low corporation tax and, perhaps most importantly from the point of view of the US multinationals, were part of the Single European Market. The…

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