In 2010, Ireland almost went bust. Now its growth rates are back at levels reminiscent of the days of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ in the 2000s. GDP rose by 1.5% in the second quarter of 2014, or 6.5% year-on-year.
“Pretty much everything is heading in the right direction,” as Philip O’Sullivan of Investec Ireland points out. Exports, crucial to Ireland’s GDP, rose by 10% in the first half, while investment is now growing by 15% a year.
Even consumers, shattered by the collapse of the credit bubble, managed to increase spending by an annual 1.3% between April and June.
It helps that Ireland’s two top trading partners, the US and the UK, are expanding at a healthy clip, while the euro has weakened and southern European borrowing costs have fallen as the threat of a euro break-up has receded.
But it’s not just down to “the luck of the Irish”, says the FT. Ireland has “taken the toughest of choices”.
Large wage cuts in both the public and private sectors have restored competitiveness. The government also forced the banks to come clean about their losses, paving the way for a recovery in lending.
With public debt still at a “dangerous” 120% of GDP and a huge private debt burden, Ireland isn’t out of the woods. But it is certainly peripheral Europe’s poster child.