This morning's well attended Business Breakfast at NCI was presented by Professor Brian Lucey of Trinity College who spoke about the state of the Irish economy. Prof Lucey is an accomplished speaker and a well-known economist, and I (as a non-economist) was looking forward to hearing an informed State-of-the-Nation presentation (i.e., not one from a politician).
|Image source: IMDb.com.|
Prof Lucey got straight to the point and said that the biggest problem facing Ireland is "jobs". Though he suggests that we have reached the "bottom", we will still "bounce along the bottom for a while" yet.
Exports, muted inflation, and the fact that the banks are not any more "rancid" than before. He called the banks the "rotten corpse" of the Irish economy. He suggests that to improve on these "good" things that Ireland should focus more on the SME sector rather than FDI. He even pointed out that the Greek economy is in a better shape than ours (if you forget their enormous debt). He also points out that Ireland has not yet experienced "austerity" (are you watching Sinn Féin?) - simply because we have exported it. I couldn't agree more.
The domestic economy is "on the ropes" and making very slow progress. The ugliest thing about the Irish economy is the unemployment level. Prof Lucey got really annoyed when talking about this as he sees a massive waste in educating and exporting our best people - he called this an "unspeakable economic crime". He also showed us some evidence that "HiTech" won't solve the problem - this was disappointing for me to hear as I had assumed that this sector was thriving and was the bright spot in the jobs market.
As if we were not depressed enough by now, Prof Lucey spoke about the promissory notes to Anglo. I didn't know this, but he told us that this was basically "destroying money" instead of using it for other purposes. He also made the point that the problems in Ireland are not "just about the banks", and that the European Union cannot do a lot if we simply "walk away" from the Anglo debt.
Overall this was both a very interesting and a depressing talk, and very informative for less-knowledgeable people (like me). Prof Lucey was a passionate speaker, even mentioning "independence" and "1922". I had to leave before the end (to deliver a class), but I'm sure he got a great round of applause at the end. Well done also to the NCI Marketing Department for putting on such a great event.