David McWilliams: We won't have another 1980s-style recession

Ireland today is utterly different. Comparisons with the 1980s are lazy and inaccurate

In the 1980s Ireland was a backward country, economically and socially. Photograph: Getty Images

In the 1980s Ireland was a backward country, economically and socially. Photograph: Getty Images

It is difficult to be confident about the future when our rate of unemployment is 25 per cent, the State’s budget deficit is massive, and geo-politically the streets of the US, our most important investment partner, are in flames. But there are grounds for optimism. If we do the right thing now there is a pathway whereby the economy can recover quickly, and, with political vision, it can be reset to create a more inclusive and ebullient society underpinned by a competitive economy.

At the moment people are traumatised. Trauma tends to shorten time horizons. In a crisis we stop thinking about the future and focus on the here-and-now. Tomorrow becomes today. However, it is important to see beyond this emergency, and appreciate that the economy was vibrant in March. That economy has not died. It remains in “virus-imposed” hibernation. We can waken it.

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