Irish economic ‘miracle’ on shaky ground, says Kelly

Policies pursued by ECB president Draghi limited Ireland’s economic ‘cold turkey’, says UCD economist

The recent figures on employment show that rapid growth has returned to the Irish economy, according to economist Morgan Kelly of UCD.

He said the policies being pursued by ECB president Mario Draghi had stopped Ireland going through as much "cold turkey" as would have otherwise have been the case.

In an address entitled Whatever happened to Ireland? , he said the crisis had been shorter and less severe than would have been expected when looking at what had happened in other jurisdictions.

He said the reason for the “miracle” had nothing to do with Ireland but was rather to do with ECB policies which meant the banks and sovereign governments were still able to access funding.


However it was the nature of miracles that when you looked closer, they did not look so miraculous.

Banks across Europe, including Germany, were in difficulty and repeated stress tests had dodged the issue. The pending test of the European banks might do so again, though the ECB might do “a trial run” by implementing a proper stress test on the Irish banks.

While it was the policies of Mr Draghi that had saved Ireland, he was also the biggest threat to us, by way of the pending stress tests, Prof Kelly said.

As matters stood, the SME sector was surviving as a result of the banks’ forbearance. A lot of SMEs would be “wiped out” if there was a clean up of the banking system. “We haven’t had the real crisis yet.”

Prof Alan Ahearne of UCG said the policies introduced by Mr Draghi had been crucial to stabilising Europe. "Draghi responded, and that is what you want from policymakers," he said. People who make very pessimistic forecasts tend to assume policies won't change.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent