THE eurozone is in crisis but something strange is happening closer to home -- we aren't doing too badly anymore. The evidence of the economy bottoming out is all around us: in the stabilisation of the unemployment rate; in the exchequer figures which keep coming in on target; and in the number of new '11 reg' cars.
These are just some of the reasons to hope that the Central Statistics Office will report on Thursday that the economy grew in the second quarter. While it's still too early to start talking about green shoots here are five important reasons why we managed to prevent ourselves from falling over the cliff.
One: the EU-IMF agreement.
For better or for worse, we have slavishly stuck to the bailout conditions imposed by the IMF and the EU. After years of unpleasant surprises, it has been good for us and good for our creditors to believe once again that we are able to keep our word. We simply had to start meeting targets at some stage or we would have lost the trust of those few people and organisations outside the country who believed in the Irish story.
Two: telling it straight.
The Government's communications strategy is strangely better than the old one. This is a bit of a puzzle quite frankly because there are hundreds of reasons to criticise the way this Government deals with the media, but the truth is that it is somehow working -- especially for our Finance Minister Micheal Noonan who does not appear to be making up policies on the hoof or blithely issuing new growth forecasts every time a camera is pointed at him. Both Enda Kenny and Mr Noonan tend to talk when they have something to say and then exit the stage. The last crowd gabbed all the time and often ended up lying, as they did over the bailout talks, with the result that they left office with no credibility at all.
Three: Anglo bondholders.
This contradicts the last point but bear with me. The Government has broken its word on the "not a red cent" pledge on bailing out the banks and burning Anglo's senior bondholders. While there can be no moral excuse for misleading the public or saving the foolish bondholders from their folly, most of us know that there is an economic argument. Breaking their election promises has presented a clear message internationally. I don't like it and you probably don't like it either but perhaps we must all see it as a form of penance for all the other madness. In any case, it makes good financial sense and the markets -- if that's who we are trying to please here -- are trusting us because of it.
For every Talk Talk, this country has dozens of responsible multinationals who are good corporate citizens that look after their staff and stick by the country through thick and thin. Ten years ago, the doomsayers predicted the multinationals would soon up sticks and move to countries with even cheaper labour. It hasn't happened. Low corporation tax helped, of course.
You can visit small and medium-sized companies all over this country where proprietors and their staff have taken massive hits to their salaries and their conditions. Firms where people have had to be laid off and companies where sacrifices have been made to keep the show on the road and people in work. Companies that are still paying the taxes which pay off the national debt and keep our public sector in the style to which they have become accustomed. Without them, Ireland would be a desert.
As I write this, Dublin had just beaten Kerry by a point and Ireland had beaten Australia the day before -- proof that underdogs can come back. We are also at half-time in the Great Recession. The euro crisis is a clear danger to our progress and Europe could still destroy everything but with luck and determination we will be Europe's comeback kids.