Sunday 19 November 2017

Lost confidence must be restored

Confidence is elusive. But it is not an illusion. It is real and it has to be engendered, inspired even. Blaming the people or the media for the widespread lack of confidence does not inspire anyone.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen castigated journalists last week for generating negativity and concentrating on too much bad news about the economy. How could they not? There is so much of it -- reports from the IMF, the ESRI, the Department of Finance, Patrick Honohan, Regling and Watson, documents released by the Department of Finance, the dramatic rise in debts and insolvency cases, and downgrading by international rating agencies.

Nor is it sufficient to say, as Justice Minister Dermot Ahern did last week, that people should stop saving and start spending. The marked increase in savings is an indication of a lack of confidence by the people in the immediate future of the economy. It indicates real fear about jobs and mortgages and pensions and possible budgetary measures at the end of the year. These fears cannot be dispelled easily. They certainly cannot be allayed by simply telling people to snap out of it.

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