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Yes but a Varadker led government probably wouldn't want to push the boat out too far either - Fine Gael is the most socially and economically conservative major party in Ireland.

Ireland's debt/GDP ratio ballooned from 25% to 120% during the crash and banking crisis which has left a bit of a debt-phobia scar in the national psyche, although not on the same scale as Germany's.

However the problem then wasn't even the level of public debt - private and corporate debt had reached 430% of GDP. This has been coming down slowly since 2016 to about 380% - still v. high, driven by corporate debt and Ireland's high rate of owner occupation and mortgage financing.

Since then the absolute volume of national  debt has remained roughly constant at c. €210 Billion although the has declined from 120% to 65% of GDP largely due to the "Leprechaun economics" growth in Irish GDP.

The Irish statistics office has developed an alternative measure of the size of the Irish Economy stripped of the distortions caused by the activities of global corporates in Ireland called GNI*. By this measure Ireland's debt/GNI* ratio is currently 104%, still high by international standards.

Every now and then the papers publish scare stories about Ireland having one of the highest national debt/capita ratios in the world, at €44,000 or €90,000 for every worker. This, of course, ignores the fact we also have one of the highest incomes.

With interest rates at record lows, this is, of course a good time to borrow and to recycle past debt. Ireland has paid €60 Billion in interest on its debt in the past decade but this burden has been coming down each year, from €8 Billion in 2014 to €4.5 Billion next year.

But with concerns about the sustainability of Ireland's corporate tax take - due to international reforms of the corporate taxation system - the government is taking a conservative approach to additional borrowing for anything other than infrastructural or Brexit related expenditures.

Nevertheless I think we are in relatively good shape to take a no-deal Brexit related hit to our economy and finances. The problem is more the asymmetrical nature of any shock - hitting farming and agrifood businesses in more rural parts which are already doing much less well than Dublin and the urban centres.

Politically this is dynamite for Varadker's hopes of re-election, as he is already perceived of as representative of the urban professional property owning middle classes and insensitive to rural and more working class concerns.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 9th, 2019 at 09:54:46 AM EST
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