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New York Times: Ireland’s Turnaround May Not Be So Rosy

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TWO years ago, even as other troubled European economies continued to deteriorate, some economic statistics seemed to indicate that Ireland’s troubled economy had turned the corner and was growing again.


The government reported that gross national product had grown in 2010 for the first time since the country’s property bubble burst in 2008, and that its current-account balance had turned positive for the first time since 1999. A positive current-account balance was a sign that the country as a whole was already paying down its overseas debt. Since that was clearly not happening to the government’s debt, it indicated a sharp turnaround for the private sector.


Other statistics were not nearly as rosy. Unemployment was continuing to rise, and domestic demand — the total purchases by people and companies in Ireland — was continuing to fall. But the fact that Ireland’s current-account surplus had turned around when nothing similar had happened in such countries as Portugal, Spain and Greece was viewed as a clear sign of success for the country’s economic policies.


Well, maybe not.


John FitzGerald, an economist with the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin, pointed out last month that a quirk in the way the statistics are computed, coupled with fears of a tax law change in Britain, had produced unrealistic increases in both the balance of payments and G.N.P. figures beginning in 2009.


For the rest of this interesting article, which some very interesting graphs, please see:





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