Ireland still has 'social capital' and reasons for optimism, economist says
Ireland still had a lot of “social capital” that would stand it in good stead, economist and author of Economics for Dummies Peter Antonioni told the Kilkenomics festival yesterday.
“One reason for Ireland to be optimistic is that it’s not Britain,” he said. “There’s actually social capital here. It doesn’t exist in a state of permanent rage, which is what’s going on all the time on the other side, permanent existential angst with everybody.”
Examples of social capital, he added, included being able to talk to a neighbour about a problem, engaging in conversation with people and remaining optimistic.
“You can’t really put a price on things like that.”
In Britain, Mr Antonioni said, people were more likely to “barricade themselves away from the rest of society”.
Investment banker Kiron Sarkar said tax receipts were picking up in Ireland, there was “a great demographic” of “highly educated and motivated” people and there was leverage in negotiations with Germany and other EU leaders as they did not want Ireland to default on its debts.
However, the founder member of the Rothschild International Privatisation team said going into negotiations with Germany trying to be a poster boy of Europe was a waste of time.
“Your Irish Government right now is not hard,” Mr Sarkar said. “They’ve taken a very, very soft line. You’re in a position to be able to extricate a good deal.
“Is your Government able to do that?” he asked. “I don’t think they’re there yet. The goody two-shoes image is a complete load of rubbish.”
Matina Stevis, a journalist with Dow Jones Newswires and former editor-in-chief of Greek newspapers City Press and Free Sunday, said Ireland had “no idea how important it is that you’re not Greece” as it still had leverage when dealing with the debt issue.
Stephen Kinsella, an economics lecturer at the University of Limerick, said more children were born in Ireland last year than in any year since 1891.
“We’re a much younger rich country than Germany. In 15 or 20 years, these kids are going to be way more educated if we change our education system to allow that to happen.”
Mr Kinsella also said there were signs the property market “might be restarting” here.