Ship of Fools
Hardcover · 240 Pages
$25.95 U.S. · $32.95 CAN · €18.99 E.U.
Recommended for These Courses
- Business and Economics: Business / General
- Business and Economics: Economic Conditions
- Business and Economics: Economics / General
The death of the Celtic tiger is not an extinction event to trouble naturalists. There was, in fact nothing natural about this tiger, if it ever really existed. The “Irish Economic miracle” was built on good old-fashioned subsidies (from the European Union) and the simple fact that until the 1980s Ireland was by the standards of the developed world so economically backward that the only way was up. And as it began to catch up to European and American averages, the Irish economy could boast some seemingly remarkable statistics. These lured in investors, the Irish deregulated and all but abandoned financial oversight, and a great Irish financial ceilidh began. It would last for a decade.
- The International Monetary Fund was predicting that Ireland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would shrink by 13.5 per cent in 2009 and 2010 – the worst performance among all the advanced economies and one of the worst ever recorded in peacetime in the developed world.
- Government debt almost doubled in a year.
- In May 2008, €13.5 million was paid for a 450-acre farm in Warrenstown, County Meath – one of the highest prices ever paid for agricultural land anywhere in the world. By 2009 the level of debt among Irish households and companies was the highest in the European Union.
- The country’s gross indebtedness was larger than Japan’s, which has thirty times the population.
- Between 1994 and 2006, the average second-hand house price in Dublin increased from €82,772 to €512,461 – a rise of 519 per cent. By 2009 Irish house prices had fallen more rapidly than any others in Europe.
- With a fifth of its office spaces empty, Dublin had the highest vacancy rate of any European capital and was rated as having the worst development and investment potential of twenty-seven European cities.
- The Irish stock exchange fell by 68 per cent in 2008
- The average Irish family had lost almost half its financial assets
- Unemployment rose faster than in any other Western European country, increasing by 85 per cent in a year.
- Ireland’s bad bank, the National Assets Management Agency (Nama), which had to take over €90 billion in loans to developers from banks that would otherwise be insolvent holds more assets [sic] than any publicly quoted property company in the world, dwarfing giants such as GE Capital Real Estate and Morgan Stanley Real Estate, which own assets of €60 billion and €48 billion respectively.
About the Author
Fintan O'Toole is a columnist and critic for the Irish Times. He was elected Irish Journalist of the Year in 1993 and was a drama critic for the New York Daily News from 1997–2001. The author of several previous books, he is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, Granta, and other publications. He currently lives in Dublin.
Brian Groom, Financial Times
“O’Toole … has produced a coruscating polemic against the cronyism and corruption that in his view helped to fuel the boom…. [H]is highly readable book is a salutary reminder that cronyism, light regulation and loose ethics can be a deadly combination.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“An interesting and readable post-mortem…. Ship of Fools is not just for those drawn to Irish politics or economics. Americans, in particular, will relate to Ireland's battle to restore its economy and renew faith in its leaders.”
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