Half-wise before the event… February 19, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, European Politics, Irish Politics.
One wonders if the latest news gleaned from Cabinet Papers that Fianna Fáil Finance Minister Charlie ‘If I have it I’ll spend it’ McCreevy actually warned about many of the elements that contributed to the financial crisis in 2000 is a means of in some way ameliorating the news from the latest polling data that Fianna Fáil is undergoing a resurgence of support.
And yet, it is interesting that McCreevy’s concerns were actually fairly limited. He is on record [this next from the Irish Times] as:
…[criticising] the “huge Estimates demands” submitted by ministerial colleagues to his department ahead of Budget 2000.
He also identified “widespread, unrealistically high” expectation among the public about wage increases, tax relief and current spending, which he said threatened to undermine competitiveness. The “significant uptick” in construction costs was another development which Mr McCreevy believed “seriously threatened” Ireland’s ability to maintain economic and social progress.
When it came to housing he thought that prices were “still rising far faster than prices more generally and far faster than any rate of earnings increase which could be acceptable from a competitiveness standpoint”.
But note that when it came to issues with the banks, not a word. It’s not, of course, that he was wrong about housing, or some aspects of the other issues listed. But this is a partial reading on his part.
And also note that not a word either about the dangers of taking an axe to the income tax system – or more generally about a naive and overly enabling approach – to the point of state complicity – with the financial industry.
Although in fairness, one other element, that of the approbation of various European and international bodies for the supposed ‘Celtic Tiger’ can also be added to the mix, and that would come slightly later in the day.
But let’s not remove autonomy and responsibility from McCreevy. He wasn’t someone who just wandered in one day and found a seat at the Cabinet table with the place card Minister for Finance in front him. He was central to the decision making process that led to the very outcomes we see around us today. And as, perhaps more, importantly, he was a very vocal proponent of the ideology which underwrote that decision making process.