Friday 22 March 2019

David Chance: 'Cause for optimism despite Brexit uncertainty'


Stock image
Stock image

David Chance

Since the dark days of 2012, the annual output of the economy has risen by more than 65pc, far outpacing the post-crash recovery of any other European country.

We started in a darker place than most, but we have long since parted company from the less than fab four PIIGS grouping of countries - Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

Some of that growth was, of course, the product of an accountant's pen and of profit-shifting by multinational companies. That was especially the case in 2015 when growth of 25.6pc gave rise to the mocking term 'leprechaun economics'.

But it could have been so much worse. Italy's economy, for example, is still smaller than it was at the onset of the global financial crisis, while Greece's implosion produced a recession that lasted longer than the US's Great Depression.

All good things come to an end and the 6.7pc growth in gross domestic product recorded in 2018 will be the last year of outsized gains.

Even before we account for the damage that looks to be inflicted by Brexit, the economy here was set to slow into a growth range of 4-4.5pc this year.

Brexit will, of course, push some of the costs of our neighbour's self-inflicted economic woes onto us this year and growth could be as low as 1.5pc according to the Central Bank, but that will still beat most of the rest of the eurozone.

And, for all the sound and fury over Brexit, there are record numbers of people with real jobs here and they are finally getting pay rises. While there are concerns over low pay, youth unemployment, housing and infrastructure, there are worse places to be.

In the words of London-based consultancy Capital Economics, "despite rising uncertainty about Brexit and the wider eurozone slowdown, Ireland's economy is still performing pretty well".

Irish Independent

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