Michael Taft has been contesting some of these 'obvious facts'.
David Begg was spot on in drawing attention to the very dangerous policy currently pursued. Analysis based on modelling of the Irish economy shows how various policy scenarios including pay cuts, public spending cuts and international recovery would impact on GDP, public sector borrowing and consumption (which I will hasten to add doesn't deter the ESRI from joining the Dublin Consensus). Public sector pay cuts offer extremely limited returns in terms of borrowing reductions.
Two key point that should not be lost in today's article by David Begg are the following:
1 "A very formidable deflationary coalition has been assembled in support of current policy. This was in evidence at the MacGill Summer School – an irony given Patrick MacGill’s commitment to working people – and it includes many of the State agencies like the ESRI and IDA."2 ".... there is a growing chasm of scepticism between the elite and the population at large concerning the efficacy of the policy prescription."
The first point is vital because I sense that the room for rational debate based on evidence, research and values is very limited because:
- openess to debate and conflicting ideas is not as welcome as it should be in state organisations
- the Irish economics profession is predominantly ... well, right-wing (how else can one put it)
- issues which have a long-term implication (environment, social equality, democractic reform) are crowded out due to an unusually high degree of short-termism - hence, for example, Oireachtas reform is reduced to a discussion about how many T.D.s we should have.
In conclusion - the switching to terminology of 'devaluation' over on irisheconomy.ie is very misleading. The 1986 and 1993 currency devaluations adjusted the prices of Irish exports on world markets and imports on Irish markets. It also kept inflation high for a time. Many differences apply between now and then, one of which was the extent to which product and labour markets internationally played a role in helping - eventually - Irish recovery. A so-called real devaluation now based, on wage-cutting, is a dangerous and possibly ruinous gamble. This was the point of Begg's article. The alternative is targetted stimulus based on recovery bonds in the context of a high national savings rate (as consumers are scared to spend) and the beginnings of a strategic investment in skills, jobs, innovation, new traded services. Otherwise, we may face a missed decade like we had in the 1950s, and like Finland initially underwent in 1991-94. Can we not learn from this? There is another way.