photo copyright alawlor 2008

So, the country is in recession for the first time in twenty five years.  Batten down the hatches, as they say, this could be a rough ride.

By my reckoning the Celtic Tiger boom finished about August or September last year.  We had ten years of unprecedented economic growth.  Economists around the globe stood and stared, their jaws residing somewhere below the knees, unable to believe the fantastic gains being made year on year in the Irish economy.  Now, a mere ten months after the tiger stopped roaring, we are facing our first recession in a quarter of a century.  Already the minister for education has told us that the school building fund is bereft of resources.  Dermot Ahern recently silenced the unseemly row in the north-east over where the new regional hospital should be built by glibly informing those involved that there would be no money available to build the hospital after all.  Over the coming months we will see project after public project being cancelled or massively scaled back as the government tightens the public purse strings.  Almost every economist I heard on radio today said the the national development plan should continue.  Many said that with the excess capacity now available in the building industry and construction and engineering firms desperate to secure new contracts in an ever shrinking market that the time was ripe to secure good value for money on large infrastructure projects.

Will the government do this?

Not a chance.

The priority of this government will now be to curtail public spending as much as possible over the next thirty months.  We will then see a sudden, massive increase in spending in the 18 months leading up to the 2012 general election as Fianna Fáil tries, once again, to buy its way back into power.  The most depressing thing is that this same strategy has worked twice before and, if the recession doesn’t get too deep, it will probably work again.

Fool, me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  Fool me three times?

Some better prospects on the economic horizon, however, with the news that the government is soon to give us a casino on every corner. Every cloud has a silver lining, I suppose.

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