Ireland’s economic transformation in the course of the past thirty-five years was remarkable in many ways. Up until the early nineteen-eighties, Ireland’s income per person was one of the lowest in Europe, right alongside Greece’s. Unemployment was well above sixteen per cent for much of the nineteen-eighties.
The country’s income began to hurtle upward after 1995. Dell, Intel, and Microsoft joined Apple in Ireland. Large pharmaceutical firms also came…
…But, alongside this “real” economy, Ireland developed a fantasy one, based on exploiting accidental quirks in European and global markets.
This helped fuel a local housing and finance bubble that exploded, causing long-term pain…
But both before the financial bubble and afterward, Ireland’s primary global sales pitch was that the country offered multinational firms a twofer: you can get your tax avoidance and a qualified, English-speaking workforce all at the same time.
G’wan the twofer.
…Ireland’s modern growth came at a relatively benign time in the global economy. Economists and pro-trade activists called it “The Great Moderation.” The world was going to be more global, richer, happier. Everybody was going to look a lot like Ireland. In that world, who cares if some countries turn a blind eye to tax-avoidance schemes? We’ll all be richer in the future and can sort the grubby business out later.
….A secure Ireland, one that will be economically healthy for years to come, needs to be built on a “real” economy, one based on strong investment in innovation, manufacturing, and valuable services that other people want to pay for. It needs to be based on things done in Ireland, by people who live in Ireland—who pay Irish taxes.