Friday 15 November 2019

'Miracle is real thing' shocker


Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Easy now. Keep her steady there. And we were doing so well. We had learnt the biggest lesson EVER in caution, and the run of ourselves, and the losing thereof. And we have been quietly determined never to let it happen again. We even managed to ignore little telltale signs of recovery. We just kept our heads down and kept paying off our debts. The word boom, which used to be generally regarded as a good word, became a curse word in Ireland. We listened to naysayers and economists and the like with a reverent respect. Because experience had taught us the guy or gal with the negative spin was probably right. And we were so proud of ourselves for learning our lesson.

And then the Central Bank comes and ruins all our good work. The fact that the Central Bank is sounding optimistic is a worry. While the Central Bank of course missed everything back in the day, we had come to regard them in recent years as responsible killjoys, dampening the property market and generally making sure no one went mad. So the fact that it was they who started coming out with reckless giddy talk last week made it all the more dangerous.

And then there was the phrase they used: it had the word miracle in it. No one has dared use the word miracle around here in conjunction with the economy since the time of the last economic miracle, when miracle came to mean a temporary period of delusion based on a chimera. But here were the ultimate killjoys talking about miracles, Phoenix Miracles. This was strong stuff in a country where the phrase Celtic Tiger has become a term of abuse.

And no sooner had we dismissed this notion of a Phoenix Miracle, than the man from the Central Bank mentioned the literature on Phoenix Miracles. So it turned out a Phoenix Miracle was not some thing coined by the press, or something the Central Banks plucked out of their arses. It was a real thing with a substantial body of literature, presumably by top economists, to back it up. And we ticked the boxes.

And when we saw the boxes we ticked, it made it even worse. The key feature of a Phoenix Miracle is a strong recovery but with very weak movement in credit and debt. In other words, this miracle was occurring without us getting up the wazoo in debt again. It was a guilt-free miracle, for which there would be no awful consequences.

It was dangerous talk indeed. Indeed, one would argue this Phoenix should have been kept under wraps. Because we only know one way to react to this kind of news. Higher wages, get rich off property and more handouts from the Government for everything and everyone. Truly, they shouldn't have told us about the bloody miracle. We're not fit to be privy to that information.

Sunday Independent

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