The Irish Economy. What happened? What next?

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Sean FitzpatrickThis March saw a series of lunch time talks take place in the Central Library entitled ‘The Irish Economy; What happened, what next?’

The series was aimed at helping to answer, or at least providing possible answers to some questions around the Irish Economy:

  • How have we reached the point we are at now?
  • What has the policy of successive governments been?
  • How has this contributed to the current situation?

Where possible we recorded the talks and you can access them below. You will also find links to more information on each contributor, other talks they have given and blogs or books they have put out.


From independence to the IMF: The Irish Economy and the forces that shaped it 1922 – 2010. Conor McCabe.

Sins of the Father by Conor McCabeConor is a historian who looks at economic developments over relatively long periods of time in order to get some perspective on what occurs. He has recently authored a book ‘Sins of the father’, the central thesis of which is that the recent and ongoing bust has its origins in economic policy since the foundation of the State. According to McCabe this has seen economic development structured in such a way as to facilitate middle men and professional groups from cattle ranchers who sold cows reared on subsistence farms in the West of Ireland to bankers, solicitors and developers who benefited from schemes like the IFSC and the building and bank lending boom of the Celtic Tiger years.

The presentation was followed by a lively question and answer section.

Conor’s talk drew on his recently authored Sins of the Father: The decisions that shaped the Irish Economy which has been described as “far and away the best … attempt to explain our economic collapse” and has garnered praise from pundits as varied as David McWilliams and Vincent Browne.

Unfortunately the recording of Conor’s talk didn’t work out. For a flavour of what he was speaking about  listen to an interview about his book and a recent talk. You could also check out the blog he keeps at Dublin Opinion.


Austerity - Time for a Plan B? Michael Taft.

Michael Taft is a political and economics researcher at Unite, the trade union. A very engaging speaker he gave a brief talk on the alternatives to the politics of Austerity, what type of stimulus or investment might be appropriate considering the economic conditions we are currently in and where funding for such investment might come from.  His example focused on the idea of a national broadband infrastructure.

Michael then opened the floor to a free flowing discussion with a well informed audience.  Again there were problems recording Michael’s talk. There are a selection of pieces he has written on a stimulus investment in a broadband network there is also a recording of an interview he did back in January on the Irish economy.  Michael’s blog is


Ireland's Property Market, How did it come to this? And where to next? Ronan Lyons

Ronan Lyons is probably best known as the resident economist at and is responsible for its quarterly report on Ireland's residential sales and lettings markets.

Ronan gave a lively presentation which focused on four ‘stylised facts’ which are:

  • Real estate is a bad investment
  • The property market is imperfect
  • Accommodation is a service
  • Governments can manage the property market.

The talk ran through the changes over time to house prices in Ireland, both in the last twenty years and over the longer term. Ronan introduced the idea of “adaptive expectations” and the role this plays in the housing market i.e. that people look at what happened in the recent past and assume it will continue into the future. In terms of how we might value housing he discussed the ratio of rents to house prices. Finally there was a certain amount of crystal ball gazing and a look what might happen in the near future.

Ronan blogs at and has a range of material from recent talks.  He recently co-edited Next Generation Ireland which can be borrowed from your local library. 

Listen to the talk while following the presentation.

Audio only

Ronan Lyons talk transcript.


The Irish banks and Eurozone stability: Learning from the past, looking  to the future. Gregory Connor

Gregory Connor is Professor of Finance at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.  He holds a PhD in economics from Yale and previously taught at the London School of Economics, the University of California, Berkeley and Northwestern University. Gregory blogs regularly on the Irish Economy website.

Gregory Connor delivered a well prepared and informative talk and presentation. It was educational, though informal in tone and he took questions afterwards. Acknowledging that he was one of the majority of economists who hadn’t predicted the crash he said that there were some lessons that could be learned from examining what did happen and how it played out.

His presentation focused on a number of key themes – what the effect was of Ireland joining the Euro, and how things may have worked out differently if our banking regulatory system had been stricter. Following with a look at how we might ‘cure our hangover’ Gregory addressed the housing situation, mortgage arrears and how Ireland might get out of debt. 

Listen to the talk while following the presentation.

Audio only

Gregory Connor talk transcript.


Anglo Irish Bank and the part it played in Ireland's economic collapse Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is Finance Correspondent with The Irish Times and has covered the banking sector since the start of the financial crisis. Simon delivered a well prepared and informative talk based on his book “Anglo Republic: Inside the Bank that broke Ireland”.

The talk was quite detailed, starting with Anglo’s early days and its move into the property and developer niche. There was also coverage of the ‘relationship banking’ model where Anglo worked with developers during the day and entertained them at night. The story developed as we moved into the boom years caused by access to cheap funding through being in the Euro and the rise in house prices. 

Following the crash and the infamous night of the bank guarantee Simon went through what the bank bailouts are costing the State, and also detailed some of the dubious practices since uncovered that the bank was using to try and cover up its problems.

Simon is the author of two books, Something Rotten: Irish Banking Scandals, and Anglo Republic: Inside the bank that broke Ireland, which has been described as “a fascinating read for anyone interested in the present Irish crisis and how it unfolded”.  He is a regular contributor to television and radio, and won National Newspapers of Ireland Journalist of the Year award in 2011.

Listen to the talk while following the presentation.

Audio only

Simon Carswell talk transcript.

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