Monday 26 June 2017

Colm McCarthy: Crisis is nowhere near end despite all that austerity

Of the Troika members, only the IMF departs Ireland with reasonably clean hands, says Colm McCarthy

Bon voyage: The IMF's Peter Breuer, left, Craig Beaumont, centre, and other delegates leave the Finance Department after the Troika's final visit in October last
Bon voyage: The IMF's Peter Breuer, left, Craig Beaumont, centre, and other delegates leave the Finance Department after the Troika's final visit in October last
Colm McCarthy

Colm McCarthy

As Ireland prepares to exit the three-year Troika lending programme, the first country to do so, the European economy remains mired in recession with no sign of leadership in economic policy at European level. It is timely to consider the curious travelling three-ring circus that has overseen the disbursement of non-market finance to the struggling eurozone countries and to assess their contribution in Ireland, the star pupil.

It began to emerge, in the summer of 2010, that Ireland would succumb to the alarming rise in bank-related debt and would have to exit the bond market. Mutterings began to surface in the media about Ireland being 'forced into the arms of the IMF', this being presumed a fate worse than death. The Fearsome Threesome of the IMF, the EU Commission and the European Central Bank had made their inauspicious debut in the first, and botched, Greek bailout in May 2010.

Ireland was next up. One prominent politician of my acquaintance, then in opposition and now in Government, asked me around July 2010 what it would be like, should the same fate befall Ireland. My answer was to the effect that, "the IMF will be the least of your worries".

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