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Fintan O'Toole, historian, biographer, critic and journalist with the Irish Times, has written a brilliant account of the Irish boom and bust.
The boom only lasted from 1995 to 2001, then productivity and export growth both fell. Yet as late as February 2008, Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond promised, "we will create a Celtic Lion economy to rival the Celtic Tiger across the Irish Sea."
Ireland's household and company debt was the highest in the EU, 1.1 trillion euros, while (some) Irish owned 1.3 trillion euros worth of foreign portfolio asset securities. Between 2004 and 2007, the richest 450 people added 41 billion euros to their combined wealth, often from the huge windfall profits of selling land for building.
Ireland was more dependent on foreign investment for its manufacturing base than any other country. Most foreign investment went into the finance sector. By 2005, Dublin's International Financial Services Centre accounted for 75 per cent of all the foreign investment in Ireland.
The idiotic notion was that "Consumption would replace production. Building would replace manufacture as the engine of growth." Between 2000 and 2008 capital stock rose 157 per cent - but this was mostly housing bubble: private sector productive capital stock rose by only 26 per cent.
The Irish people kept on voting for and electing those who blew up the bubble - who also turned out to be tax-cheating liars, convicted fraudsters and receivers of bribes. The people re-elected Bertie Ahern prime minister even though he had admitted being on the take.
The Irish Central Bank and the Department of Finance knew about the widespread crimes of tax evasion and fraud committed by politicians and bankers and did nothing to stop it. They ignored the huge criminal conspiracy involving Ireland's top politician Charlie Haughey with his 45 million euro fortune.
After the crash, the government put 54 billion euros into Ireland's banks, without imposing on them any obligation to lend. The state took on 77 billion in loans, including 40 billion of Anglo Irish's loans, only 11 per cent of which was business banking; the other 89 per cent was bubble-based - in property and building. The government saved Ponzi banks and wrote off useful banks, like Postbank with its 170,000 customers.
Ireland needs investment in people - in industry, health, education, childcare and affordable housing. But the government is slashing wages, welfare spending and investment, worsening the crisis. And it is blaming public sector workers 'to distract attention from the main source of our economic woes', as the government's chief economic adviser Alan Ahearne admitted.