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Praise with a pinch of salt

MICHAEL Noonan often appears to be an old curmudgeon – but he is something of a darling to the international set.

That status was confirmed yesterday when the 'Financial Times' named him as the European Union's fifth best finance minister, coming close behind heavyweights such as Germany's Wolfgang Schaueble and Sweden's Anders Borg.

Jacques Delpla, adjunct professor at the Toulouse School of Economics, praised the Irish minister and the other bailout ministers for pushing "far-reaching and comprehensive reforms of a kind that have never been seen before" and standing up to "populist voices" and being "ready to fight entrenched vested interests".

Peter Vanden Houte, chief eurozone economist, ING, praised Mr Noonan for keeping "budget consolidation on track while also regaining access to market funding, confirming Ireland's status as the poster child of the periphery".

That's all lovely, but Mr Noonan shouldn't take the survey too seriously; the Pink Un's inaugural poll taken back in 2006 ranked Brian Cowen as the best finance minister in Europe.

Let's hope the methodology has improved since then.

Irish Independent