Paul Sweeney: When all of the advocates of austerity are now calling for growth as well as more cuts, is it no wonder the public is confused?
The peoples of Europe have clearly decided a) that the level of austerity imposed on them is too harsh, b) it is hitting the poorest hardest (what is new?) and c) it is not working (after four years, they know it for sure!). So the conservatives have a new hymn sheet with the word growth peppered at the end of every refrain instead of amen. But people are not fools. They know that the growth policies being proposed are “Structural.” They are impacting only on supply side, with cuts in minimum wages, basic hours, benefits and all the rest of it where it impacts on the precariat.
Our own government is deeply disappointing in its slavish adherence to the Supply Side Approach to the economy. Four years on, plummeting domestic demand – by 26 per cent and still falling - and large falls in GNP and GDP are worrying. There was a rise of 0.7% in GDP last year. This fact has been trotted out at every opportunity as a great economic “fact”. Unfortunately, this piddling performance could be revised down to 0.0 shortly and even at this pace, it will take 15 years to get back to where we were.
Sebastian Dullien has a good critical perspective on what needs to be done here. It ties in nicely with the finely honed Demand Side analysis, recently undertaken by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions for boosting jobs and confidence in Ireland’s collapsed economy.
Paul Sweeney is former Chief Economist of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. He is a member of the Economic Committee of the ETUC and chair of TASC’s Economists’ Network. He was a President of the Statistical and Social Enquiry Society of Ireland, a member of the National Competitiveness Council of Ireland, the National Statistics Board, the ESB, TUAC, (advisor to OECD) and several other bodies. He has written three books on the Irish economy and two on public enterprise, including The Celtic Tiger; Ireland’s Economic Miracle Explained and Selling Out: Privatisation in Ireland, chapters in other books and many articles on economics.