Belfast Telegraph

Republic's boom-time errors can be a lesson for us all

By Margaret Canning

Repeated warnings to 'change course, or else,' can be ignored by the best of us. And countries and their leaders have the same self-destructive streak, especially during booming economic times.

Ireland's economic boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s is the best recent example, fuelled by soaring values of an asset many ordinary people have within their grasp - property.

Everyone felt like their newly-acquired property wealth was infallible, and if there were flats to buy off-plan down the road, why not buy a few in Bulgaria, too?

The Republic's Banking Inquiry has been hearing that the booming economy and over-heating property market in the Republic - which was a few years ahead of our own - was attracting the wrong time of attention as far back as 2001.

According to Marco Buti, the EC's director general for economic and financial affairs, an intervention in 2001 over how things were going was snubbed. The-then Fianna Fail/Progressive Democrats ignored an early earning against tax cuts and more spending, instead continue to cultivate its status as a poster-child for booming prosperity.

Ironically, eight years later it would be a poster child for austerity - but could those measures of austerity been avoided if more was done sooner? And the worst thing is, politicians love a boom so much that the same could probably happen again.

Belfast Telegraph

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