Sunday 19 November 2017

The tales of the two Brians

Cablegram message from American financier and presidential advisor Bernard Baruch to Winston Churchill, November 15, 1929

"Since the late 1950s, Ireland has come a long way economically. By almost any measure, Ireland has transformed itself from a poor, inward-looking country to one of the world's most vibrant and dynamic economies, with high living standards and high rates of growth. This success, achieved over many years and not without mis-steps, is grounded on sound economic fundamentals."

November 19, 2007: Finance Minister Brian Cowen delivers the Indecon Public Policy lecture at the Royal Irish Academy.

"We should bear in mind that the fundamentals of the Irish economy remain strong."

January 26, 2008: Finance Minister Brian Cowen addresses the Laois Chamber of Commerce Ball.

"It is important to remember that the fundamentals of the Irish economy remain strong and that the economy has responded quickly and effectively to changing economic conditions in the past."

January 30, 2008: Finance Minister Brian Cowen addresses questions on fiscal policy in the Dail.

"The more important point that the Taoiseach was making is that the fundamentals of the Irish economy are strong."

February 26, 2008: Finance Minister Brian Cowen backs Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's claims on the economy during Dail questions.

"The fundamentals of the Irish economy remain strong. This will help us to absorb the housing adjustment and external shocks, so that our medium-term prospects are favourable. For instance, our public finances are sound, with one of the lowest levels of debt in the euro area."

April 24, 2008: Finance Minister Brian Cowen addresses questions on fiscal policy in the Dail.

"Under this Government's assured stewardship, the fundamentals of the Irish economy remain strong. Because of this, we are well-placed to absorb the housing adjustments and external 'shocks', so that our medium-term prospects will continue to be favourable. Our public finances are sound, with one of the lowest levels of debt in the euro area."

May 14, 2008: Newly appointed Finance Minister Brian Lenihan addresses the Seanad on the economy.

"These are indeed challenging times. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that the level of economic activity remains very high, as does the level of employment and income per capita. The underlying health of our economy remains robust."

September 24, 2008: Finance Minister Brian Lenihan addresses a motion on the Government's handling of the economy.

"We can now see the first signs of a recovery . . . our strategy is on track."

"Today, I can report that notwithstanding the difficulties of the last eight months, we are now on the road to economic recovery."

"Our plan is working. We have turned the corner. I commend this Budget to the House."

October 20, 2009: Finance Minister Brian Lenihan in his budget speech.

"We will achieve a return to growth in the early part of next year. That's why I say we have turned the corner."

October 20, 2009: Finance Minister Brian Lenihan warms to his budget speech theme even further in a press conference at Government Buildings.

"I believe that the 2009 Exchequer Returns demonstrate that the action taken by Government in managing the public finances is working. Given the small improvement in the actual deficit over that anticipated in the December Budget, we face into this year's task with a greater sense of confidence. The challenges we face are great but the Government is committed to the targets set out in the recent Budget. As I said, economic growth will return during the course of this year and this will assist in the ongoing improvement in the public finances."

January 5, 2010: Finance Minister Brian Lenihan on the end- of-2009 Exchequer returns.

"And I am bringing a positive message of hope and confidence about Ireland. Yes, I am going to speak about how we have stabilised our national finances, taken tough budget decisions and won increased confidence from investors in our country.

March 4, 2010: Taoiseach Brian Cowen tells Small Firms Association National Small Business Awards finalists of the 'positive message' the Government is sending to the world for St Patrick's Day.

"Already, we have reaped the benefits of this growing confidence. Since last April's Supplementary Budget and the announcement of the decision to establish NAMA, borrowing costs have fallen and our bond spreads have halved."

March 30, 2010: Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's Dail statement on the banks.

"Our determination to deal with this imbalance in our public finances through firm and decisive action, has engendered real confidence in our economy on the international stage. The world out there believes in us and in our ability to work our way through our difficulties and return to growth."

March 30, 2010: Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's Dail statement on the banks.

"We now have a credible fiscal position. That is because over the last two years, we have introduced budgetary adjustments of more than €15bn.

"As a result, we are now in a position to stabilise the deficit and we are on a firm path to economic recovery."

March 30, 2010: Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's Dail statement on the banks.

"The theme you have chosen for this year's event -- Turning the Corner -- is, I believe, entirely appropriate. Because that is what we are doing. The decisive action taken by the Government since the current crisis broke has seen stability restored during 2009. And the latest indicators are consistent with our expectations of returning the economy to growth during the course of the year."

May 6, 2010: Taoiseach Brian Cowen addresses the Annual Conference of Chartered Accountants Ireland.

"Over the past two years, significant progress has been made on all fronts and we can be sure Ireland is turning the corner."

"Confidence in Ireland is rising and the decisive action we took means our economic outlook is good. The ESRI has predicted that growth will return to the economy in the second half of this year and the European Commission is predicting that Ireland will grow at double the eurozone average next year."

"The markets too can see this. Our decisive action has brought us credibility. This credibility is reflected in our reduced costs of borrowing, which is crucial to keep the country running."

"We have learned hard lessons and have taken difficult decisions. Our economy is now emerging from recession and Ireland is strongly fighting back."

May 13, 2010: Taoiseach Brian Cowen addresses the North Dublin Chamber of Commerce.

"While painful, the tough decisions we have taken are working. I believe that we have reached a turning point in our economy"

"This Government has worked hard to develop a plan for economic recovery and it's working."

"This Government has provided confidence and credibility for Ireland in the markets. Right across Europe, many countries are now facing serious problems in their public finances. Ireland has gained an advantage by moving quickly to tackle them."

"Our economy is now emerging from recession and Ireland is strongly fighting back."

June 15, 2010: Taoiseach Brian Cowen supports the motion of confidence in himself in the Dail.

"The good news is we should return to economic growth during the course of this year. The European Commission and OECD now project that Ireland's GDP will grow next year at 3 per cent, which is double the euro area average."

June 23, 2010: Taoiseach Brian Cowen addresses the IBEC president's dinner at the Mansion House.

"Our plan is working," it has "brought this economy out of recession . . the worst is over . . . economic activity in this country is turning the corner."

July 2010: Finance Minister Brian Lenihan in optimistic mood.

"That is a turning of a corner that hasn't been seen in very many economies in the world."

"The figures are consistent with my Budget-day projections for this year and, as I outlined, I expect that the economy will resume growing in the second half of the year.

"There are already tentative signs of recovery among many of the Republic's trading partners."

September 23, 2010: Finance Minister Brian Lenihan remains upbeat.

"It's not that forecasts were wrong. The forecasts were justified on the basis of what was set out at the time."

"There have been changes during the course of this year in world and European economy fundamentals."

October 20, 2010: Taoiseach Brian Cowen blames everybody else's fundamentals for the poor state of our own.

Sunday Independent

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