This is my new book to be published on October 27th. It is a new way of looking at the economy because it is written through the eyes of a pregnant 32 years old teacher, Olivia Vickers. Olivia is the amalgamation of more than a few people I have met over the years who find themselves trapped between negative equity, a huge mortgage and negative equity. She is your sister, your daughter, your wife or your girlfriend.
Hers is the story of a generation, and more than anything else reinforces the point that economics is not about reams of figures such as GDP, inflation, or the current account, but it is the business of real people’s lives’.
In terms of economic policy, conventional wisdom and how it will change in the years ahead in Ireland, the central message of the book is that conventional wisdom — such as that followed and endorsed by the Irish establishment at the moment — is never defeated by some great countervailing idea which persuades the elite to change direct. Conventional wisdom is blown away by the great march of events. And the great big events are only the agglomeration of thousands of small events happening everyday, in every town and village all over the country in ordinary people’s lives — people like Olivia Vickers.
Ireland is deeply in debt, beholden to the IMF, the EU and the bond markets. Its economy is frozen, and years of austerity are ahead.
It didn’t have to be this way – and it doesn’t have to be this way. In The Good Room, David McWilliams, who wrote about the dangers of the Irish property bubble and imbalances within the eurozone at a time when other commentators were saying everything was fine, explains the bizarre economics behind Ireland’s current predicament, and illuminates a radically different path for the country. He illustrates the consequences of debt and austerity for ordinary Irish people and explains why austerity can’t work. And he shows that history offers numerous useful models for Irish recovery – provided we open our eyes to them.
The Pope’s Children was the book that connected the dots between economics and daily life in Ireland during the boom years. The Good Room does the same for the Ireland of the bust, and is – in its call for a completely different approach – an even more urgent and necessary work.