Sunday 22 October 2017

The Exchequer figures were good but it is hard to escape the feeling that they don't matter anymore

THERE was something almost melancholic about yesterday's press conference for the Exchequer returns. This summer ritual is the moment when the Department of Finance presents a snapshot of the State's finances and explains what is going on. Yesterday, despite signs of improvement in the economy, we were left with more questions than answers.

There was a time when economists flocked to the Department of Finance's July briefing to learn what was going on. Yesterday, most of them were conspicuous by their absence. There was also a time was finance ministers who were on top of their brief answered the questions.

Yesterday, they popped up on television but left their civil servants to deal with the nitty gritty. There was a time when reporters asked questions because the Exchequer figures mattered. Yesterday, two reporters asked three questions before the whole sorry thing limped to a close.

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