| 10°C Dublin

Close

Premium


Immediate and extensive borrowing is the best - if risky - bet for bailing out economy

Dan O'Brien


Close

Open for business: Newspaper vendor Francis Mumbley from Stonybatter, Dublin, at work on his stall in O’Connell Street, Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath

Open for business: Newspaper vendor Francis Mumbley from Stonybatter, Dublin, at work on his stall in O’Connell Street, Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath

Open for business: Newspaper vendor Francis Mumbley from Stonybatter, Dublin, at work on his stall in O’Connell Street, Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath

The world is changing by the hour. The biggest global health challenge in living memory is shutting the planet down. Countries from India to South Africa and the US to Brazil have seen what happened in China, and see what is unfolding in Europe. They are closing down travel, movement and commerce. The world is now on a war footing to fight the outbreak and its economic consequences.

The Irish government, like its counterparts across the world, is putting in place measures that would have been unthinkable just four weeks ago. Mistakes will be made, but in an emergency it is necessary to move fast. The cost of non-decisions can exceed the cost of bad decisions.

As the most powerful actor in any society, the State is the only entity that can mobilise and co-ordinate the resources to handle the sort of emergency that is unfolding. The multiple arms of the State also spend more money than even 100 of the largest companies. Targeting that vast financial firepower can make the difference between an awful outcome and an utter catastrophe.