More growth, more cars

On the news that NCB stockbrokers have just released a very optimistic report on the Irish economy. According to the firm, Ireland, because of its ‘unique’ population profile among other things, will continue to have economic growth in the region of a very respectable 6% annually for the next 15 years. That’s less than the boom year times when we were up in double digit growth, but well ahead of Europe and the US at the moment. A key reason for this predicted boom is that the generally youthful Irish population is entering the age when it will earn best. The report also predicts 70,000 immigrants coming in annually, giving an Ireland in 2020 where a fifth of the population will be immigrants (like me!). The firm also says the good times will translate into even more car ownership however… yikes! Like we need more cars.

Overall, I’d be more cynical. Like RTE economics editor George Lee, I can’t see how we can assume continuing growth in our productivity (we are already up against some walls in that area now) and Ireland has massive pressures on infrastructure — healthcare, housing, roads, education — to manage any of this fruitfully. Plus, we are very much at the mercy of outside forces, such as the US economy, the European economy, the availability and price of oil (as we have virtually no indigenous energy sources) and so on.

This report seems to me to be a bit like predicting your 5 year old will go on to be the next Bill Gates in adulthood, based on her predilection for playing computer games. There’s a long and rocky road ahead and as we should know, people can as readily leave this country as flow into it.

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