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.

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Use The Mirror

The Irish Economy Blog www.irisheconomy.ie began in 2008. In November 2008, Queen Elizabeth reflected a common public reaction when having been given an academic briefing on the origins of the international credit crunch which broke out in August 2007, she wound up the “lesson” by asking why nobody had seen the crisis coming. The queen had the main aspects of the global financial crisis explained to her by Prof Luis Garicano during the inauguration of a new building at the London School of Economics (LSE). Prof Garicano, director of research at the LSE’s management department, said afterwards: “The Queen asked me: ‘If these things were so large, how come everyone missed them? Why did nobody notice it?’” When Garicano explained that at “every stage, someone was relying on somebody else and everyone thought they were doing the right thing”, she commented: “Awful.” Last January, Robert Shiller, an economist at Yale, observed that America was in the midst of a boom in popular economics: books, articles, blogs, public lectures, all followed closely by the general public. And this had happened, he wrote, at a time when the general public seemed to have lost faith in professional economists, “because almost all of us failed to predict, or even warn of, the current economic crisis, the biggest since the Great Depression”. The sudden transformation of the Irish economy from boom to bust has left many bewildered and frightened and has produced a similar boom in the consumption of popular economics by the public. The late Garret FitzGerald was the first Irish economist to write regularly for a general audience through a column in The Irish Times from the 1950s. However, with his passion for statistics, FitzGerald should not be seen as an antecedent to the modern genre of “celebrity economists”, in whose work the emphasis is on opinion rather than fact, inconvenient truths or topics likely to alienate sections of the public audience are avoided, and hugely consequential proposals are floated without detailing the downsides or the process of implementation. Consider, for example, the almost casual recommendations that Ireland should unilaterally default on its debt or exit from the euro without an agreed withdrawal mechanism. Such courses would be likely to create mayhem, involving collapsed banks, local firms shut off from overseas supplies and an economy which is dependent on foreign firms for 90 per cent of its tradeable exports exposed in a period of…



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