Book Launch: The Terrific Rise and Terrible Fall of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger: European Debt and the Future of U.S.-style Globalization
November 23, 2010 Leave a comment
“Ireland is in the midst of a tremendous crisis,” opened David J. Lynch, Senior Writer with Bloomberg News at his book launch When the Luck of the Irish Ran Out: The World’s Most Resilient country and its Struggle to Rise Again. On November 9th at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Lynch painted a historical mosaic of Ireland’s economic and social transformation over the past few decades. Told through five different individuals’ accounts of Ireland’s economic boom and bust, his story recounts Ireland’s once prosperous, export-driven economy and its devolution into export-dependency, alongside a subsequent housing bubble and construction boom.
Following brief introductory remarks by Kent Hughes, Director of the Program on America and the Global Economy, Lynch began by stating that he wanted to tell a story of the Irish people and Irish identity. Characterized by a distinct cultural duality, he professed, the Irish people- “brilliant failures” as described by Oscar Wilde, have “tremendous gifts without much to show for it.” Prior to the mid 1990’s, Ireland had “two realities”- the “real society and a society of pretense”- an ostensibly socially conservative society in which divorce was illegal yet family dysfunction was clearly present. Lynch noted that the features of this society included a government rife with corruption and the near universal emigration of its educated labor force in search of employment opportunities.
Nearing the end of 1994, he went on, Ireland’s economy was paralyzed by an 18.5% unemployment rate, a debt to GDP ratio of approximately 133%, and a huge budget deficit. Describing the economic climate as bleak, compounded by violence in Belfast and other parts of the United Kingdom’s Northern Ireland, Lynch stated that Ireland’s social stagnation caused it to become a “country looking backward.” Read more of this post