In response to a call Catherine Murphy, TD calling for support for a European Debt Conference.
Unite Trade Union economist Michael Taft writes:
Of course, this data [above]only goes so far. There are a number of other factors that determine sustainability – the level of foreign borrowings, exports, current account surplus, high-tech employment and activity. A high-income country can sustain a high debt level that a low-income country couldn’t. But at the gross level, we can see that Ireland is a highly indebted country and, within that, carrying the highest level of illegitimate private banking debt.
….So let’s bottom-line this. We are highly indebted with high levels of interest payments. The Government intends to run substantial surpluses to meet those interest payments. At the same time, we are facing into a slew of problems – not least of which is a chronic investment crisis and a massive repair job to a social infrastructure which was pretty anaemic prior to the recession, never mind now. A growing elderly demographic, household debt, continuing high levels of emigration and a deprivation rate of 30 percent: and we intend to run up a surplus of nearly €9 billion in a few years…
Who, in other words, gets the best deal from its international lenders, good Ireland or bad Greece? There’s no contest. Last year, Greece paid €8 billion to service debts of €315 billion. Last year too, Ireland paid €7.5 billion to service debts of €214 billion. So it cost us almost as much to service €100 billion less. Why? Well at least in part because, even before Syriza took office, the Greeks didn’t go around telling everyone that their debt is “affordable and repayable”.