Monday 22 January 2018

Gardiner's optimistic speech is out of touch with reality

THE Punt is still mulling over Kevin Gardiner's "glass half-full approach". The man who coined the phrase "Celtic Tiger" went to pains to big up Ireland's economic health at a banking conference held earlier this week.

Mr Gardiner, right, the chief investment officer at Barclays Wealth Europe, set out a list of "reasons to be cheerful" for the country's most senior bankers (none of whom particularly have reasons to be cheerful). "Your exports exceed GDP!" he said. "Your workforce is mobile!" The list went on and on.

But The Punt is still sceptical, for one reason in particular. Mr Gardiner asked his audience whether anyone thought the country's economy was in good shape; no one raised their hand.

He then asked whether anyone thought living standards had ever been better at any point in history; again, no one raised their hand. In theory, this highlighted a contradiction and proved his point. But we have to ask – is it fair for a highly paid banker to insist that we have all never had it so good?

Try telling that to those working-age adult "children" still living at home, whose low pay and precarious job prospects mean home-ownership isn't an option even after the fall in house prices.

Wake up and smell the overpriced coffee, Mr Gardiner.

Irish Independent

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