Thursday 22 February 2018

Stephen Donnelly TD: We're mad as hell and need to show it

There is no deal on bank debt because the perception abroad is that we are quite content to be pauperised, writes Stephen Donnelly TD

LAST Tuesday I had lunch in Boston with four Harvard professors. I hoped to discuss one question: what can Ireland do to turn around our levels of national debt, household debt and unemployment? To my surprise, the view of Ireland's prospects was decidedly positive. We had taken the hard medicine, were closing the budget deficit and our economy was growing again.

So I gave them the following two figures: 1) our gross national product (GNP) fell by 2.5 per cent last year and 2) our national debt was climbing towards 160 per cent of GNP. One of the professors paused, looked me in the eye and declared: "You're screwed."

Over the course of Wednesday and Thursday, I met a further 13 people in Washington DC -- IMF and World Bank officials and a range of experts from leading American think tanks. Amongst those I met were renowned economists and advisers to the Bush and Clinton administrations.

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