First of all, eventual recovery after years of Depression-level unemployment is a strange definition of success. But there’s also a specifically Irish twist. Pharma accounts for a large share of Irish exports — but it makes a much smaller contribution to the Irish economy. Partly that’s because pharma uses a lot of imported inputs, so that it has relatively low domestic content. Partly that’s because pharma is very capital-intensive, employing very few people — and the capital is foreign owned, so that the contribution to Gross National Product, which deducts income paid to foreigners, is smaller than the contribution to Gross Domestic Product, which doesn’t. Indeed, Ireland is one of those countries where you really want to track GNP rather than GDP to get a sense of how the country is doing.
So how’s our GNP?