Sunday 11 December 2016

Could free money be the simple answer?

Pumping money into the financial system has failed, says Brendan O'Connor. To revive economies we must give cash to the people

Published 31/08/2014 | 02:30

Labour Party leader Joan Burton
Labour Party leader Joan Burton

In the poshest hotel in Dublin last week, they told me that they had practically 100pc occupancy the night before. And they have been fairly full for much of the summer. "It was like someone just turned on the lights about eight weeks ago and said to people, 'it's okay'," someone told me. And indeed the lights are on a lot around Dublin - new restaurants, new cars coming out the wazoo. Property booming, unemployment down.

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Some sectors of the economy are certainly back at the party. Even austerity seems to be over, with the only question about the budget now being not if to cut taxes, but how to cut taxes.

Of course, the party hasn't restarted for everyone. While unemployment is down again to 'just' 11.3pc, jobs growth has slowed down and in fact unemployment is up in the West, and still running at alarming levels in places like the South East (14.3pc). Overall our unemployment is still roughly twice the level it is in places where governments were less religious about austerity and more enthusiastic about stimulus, like the US and the UK.

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