Vic Duggan: From its peak at the back end of 2007, the Irish economy sank like a stone for two solid years, seasonally-adjusted quarterly GDP falling 10.7% in real terms. Ever since, it has seemed alternately to be sinking more slowly or rising gradually. In reality, for two and a half years it has been treading water beneath the surface. Between the first three months and the second three months of 2012, estimated GDP was within a rounding error of zero growth, avoiding a technical recession – two quarters of successive GDP contraction – by less than one euro for every person in the country. In the 10 quarters since end 2009, GDP has increased just 2.6%, barely keeping pace with population growth. The unemployment rate remains stranded at 14.8%. The domestic economy is starved of the oxygen it needs to grow: consumers are overburdened with debt; businesses are either afraid to invest because of weak demand or unable to invest due to lack of credit; government is reinforcing the problem through ongoing, enforced austerity. The one bright light is Ireland’s continuing strong export performance, even in the face of a challenging external environment. Those who until recently were writing Ireland off as an ‘export laggard’, in need of aggressive austerity to restore competitiveness, must now surely see that the opposite is in fact the case. Cost competitiveness has been largely and painfully restored, and exports remain robust, but austerity is undermining confidence at home and sapping domestic demand. The CSO’s mid-September data dump tells us the following:
Vic Duggan is an independent consultant, economist and public policy specialist catering to international clients across private, public and NGO sectors. Having worked during the early part of his career at the European Commission and the European Investment Fund, he spent the three years until early 2011 as economic adviser to Joan Burton TD. From June 2012, he worked as a consultant economist with the World Bank (first in Jakarta, then in Washington DC), with Oxford Business Group and with the Nevin Economic Research Institute. Having worked for three years as an advisor to the OECD Secretary-General, he moved to the Organisation’s Investment Division in February 2016 to work directly with the Head of Division to support the G20 investment agenda, to service the OECD’s Investment Committee and to manage substantive inputs for use and dissemination by the Secretary-General.
Vic graduated in 2012 from the MPA Programme in Economic Policy Management in the School of International & Public Affairs at Columbia University, New York.
He writes a monthly column on the Irish, European and global political economy for Liberty, the newspaper of Ireland’s largest trade union, SIPTU. He also writes on his own blog about the political economy and various other matters.