The rate of bank lending relative to GNP tripled here between 1997 and 2008. You'll find this information in a paper called The Irish Credit Bubble, written by Morgan Kelly in UCD. If you find yourself asking "What would Morgan Kelly know about the Irish economy?" then welcome back from the moon.
And there we were thinking the Noughties were about property. We now know they were about debt. We also know how this happened. At some point before 2006, a friend with no experience of anything would warn that you were dangerously under-leveraged. 'Dangerously' was the key word here, because none of us had ever heard the word 'leveraged' before. Not wanting to be left out, you would then tell another friend she was dangerously under-leveraged, often over a bottle of cava. You then introduced her to a broker with special powers who could secure her a 110pc mortgage for 10 times her salary. This is how you and your friends got out of danger.
We ended up as a nation that couldn't walk past a credit union. It wasn't unusual to see a guy sent out to buy a cake, arriving home with a mortgage. In a Range Rover. A loan wasn't just money. It was confirmation from the high-ups that you were a good person. This has always mattered to Irish people. When foreign banks started doling out loans, we nearly lost our lives. Foreign high-ups think we're good people. Oh Jesus, fill your boots.
Things are different now. The Government has imposed tight controls on lending to prevent people getting access to crazy credit.
So that's that settled, then. We need a new government.