Saturday 17 March 2018

Our economy needs a confident and functioning property market

The artificial depressant of stamp duty must be abolished if we're to come out off a vicious spiral, writes Marc Coleman

To be or not to be. To buy or not to buy. Hamlet was a bit of a head-case and prone to extreme swings of emotion, from elation to despair.

The extreme swings of emotion were part of the tragedy of that play. They're also part of a tragedy that could unfold if we don't get a grip on ourselves. For every stupid consensus, there is an equally stupid opposing consensus and if the consensus zombies were wrong in 2007 when they told us the economy and housing market would never stop growing, they are now equally wrong to tell us they will never grow again.

A fortnight ago the IMF upgraded its forecast for Ireland's growth, while Finland's prime minister Mari Kiviniemi told us we would be back on our feet in a few years. She ought to know: Finland's small open economy recovered from a recession equally as savaging as ours. Last week Standard & Poor's said we were turning the corner. On Wednesday, leading bond market player Dan Fuss started buying Irish bonds, saying they were undervalued. Another consensus -- a euphoric one about recovery -- is the last thing we need. But competently and calmly, we realise that our economy and residential property market will recover as they have done before. And if we know that, we can start spending and buying houses at reasonable levels of activity and prices, somewhere between the highs of 2007 and lows of today.

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