New Edition of ‘The Economy of Ireland’ Launched by Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan

Posted on: 23 September 2014

The completely reworked 12th edition of The Economy of Ireland: National and Sectoral Policy Issues edited by Professor of Economics, John O’Hagan and Assistant Professor in Economics, Carol Newman in the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy, Trinity College Dublin, was launched on September 18th by the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, at Government Buildings.  The revised text provides a critical assessment of Irish economic recovery in the context of lingering economic problems and the editors point out that “It is worth remembering that economic policy is exercised in the political market place….” and must be considered in this context.

Since the first edition in 1975, this popular book on the economy of Ireland has focussed on the provision of a medium-term policy context, in terms of historical background, policy objectives for Irish society and a review of economic policy issues covering a wide field.  The latest edition examines the extent of the problems remaining as the country’s recovery gathers momentum, including high unemployment, intergenerational inequity (with the burden of the crisis on the shoulders of the younger generations) as well as resolution of the remaining problems in the banking sector and restoration of balance to the public finances.

The editors point out that Ireland’s economic future should also be seen the context of much greater potential risks than financial market failures, such as the threat of a major terrorist attack or a war initiated by the aggression of a nation state – both of which would have catastrophic consequences for the economy of Europe upon which Ireland so much depends – and the possibility of a major environmental disaster and severe energy and water shortages.

The book is organised into sections on policy context, policy implementation, policy issues at a national level, policy issues in the market sector and policy issues in the non-market sector (health and education). In a chapter on the historical background Professor of Economics at Suffolk University Boston, Jonathan Haughton, discusses the words of historian Joe Lee that most economists are blind to either long-term perspective or lateral linkage’ and that ‘with the exception of a handful of superior intelligences, Irish economists are far more impressive as technicians than as thinkers”. Additional chapters present insights on a range of topical concerns from social partnership to agri-food sector as well as food safety.

Examining social partnership, Professor of Economics at Trinity, Philip Lane, states: “As the economy recovers and momentum builds for pay increases across the economy, the potential value of a new wave of social partnership agreements may be recognised in addressing the risk that decentralised wage bargaining may lead to an excessive loss in international competitiveness.” Professor Emeritus at Trinity,  Alan Matthews, in his chapter on the agri-food sector states: “There are few rural constituencies where a TD would feel safe in opposing farmer demands for more support.” In relation to food safety he states that: Food production and tourism are major elements in the economy, and… Ireland has a vital economic interest in becoming a centre of excellence in food safety.”