Friday 19 January 2018

The Punt: Greece must Troy harder

Olivier Blanchard, chief economist for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Photo: Bloomberg
Olivier Blanchard, chief economist for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Photo: Bloomberg

INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund chief economist Olivier Blanchard, pictured below, may be attempting to give Greece a gentle boot up the backside.

Continued wrangling between Greece and the Eurozone over reforms and aid is casting a cloud of uncertainty over the 19-country currency bloc.

Athens has until the middle of this week to improve a package of reforms required for the release of Eurozone loans that it needs to stay afloat.

Were Greece ultimately to tumble out of the euro, it would deal a blow to the credibility of the currency union.

Or would it?

Unveiling the IMF's latest global economic assessment, Blanchard believes that a Greek exit from the Eurozone would be costly, but ultimately manageable.

He said it would be painful, but claimed there are better so-called firewalls in place now than in 2012.

Is Mr Blanchard giving Alexis Tsipras a gentle nudge to get on with the reform package?

Bennett plans hit a snare

Westmeath construction mogul John Bennett and his wife Jean have hit the skids with their planned development of a house on Dublin's expensive Raglan Lane, the Punt sees.

The pair used a company called Rivertempus in January to make a planning application to construct a new mews at 16A Raglan Lane, and to install a new ESB substation.

Just a week or so previously, an individual named Niall Falls made a similar application for a development at 16B Raglan Road.

The well-heeled neighbours are irate at the plans for both homes.

Solicitor James O'Reilly has been among the first out of the blocks, on behalf of the Raglan Residents Planning Group, in appealing to An Bord Pleanala a decision by Dublin City Council to grant permission for the development at 16A.

He points out that the council's own conservation officer advised against the development.

An Bord Pleanala doesn't expect to make a decision on 16A until the beginning of August.

John Bennett, along with founder Christopher Bennett, retired as a directors of Bennett Construction in 2011.

Swede dreams are made of this

We tend to admire Scandinavians for the lifestyle stuff. Their combination of the soft parts of socialism with the nicer bits of capitalism has long been the envy of the world.

It is easy to look longingly at what Nordic governments deliver for their citizens, and wonder why we aren't so well served here?

So, its only fair to point out that our own Government might be equally justified in casting envious glances northwards.

Irish people suffer from a fairly severe dose of the not-in-my-back-yardism (NIMBYism).

This is a country where Enda Kenny is castigated for pointing out that expanding the national grid - pylons and all - might be a bit ugly but would help reduce emigration.

The same is not true everywhere.

The Swedes are now in the process of dismantling the historic town of Kiruna (see opposite), at great expense and undoubted disruption, but with popular support. Because the economy needs it.

Volvos and flowing locks are all very well, but modern Vikings need to be disciplined to survive up north. Dream on Enda.

Irish Independent

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