The macroeconomy operates with two arms: the fiscal arm and the monetary arm. It can been seen as a boxer, with a left jab and a right hook.
Fighters go into the ring with a chance of beating their opponent, but if they have one arm tied behind their back against a two-fisted adversary, their chances fall to zero. Same with an economy. If either monetary or fiscal policy is not working, the ability of the economy to stay in the game is drastically diminished.
On Monday night, some 1,000 young people gathered near the Spanish Arch in Galway and were roundly criticised for doing so. But in vilifying them, we forget at our peril that those young people are also Ireland’s future.
They will pay for your retirement and will propel the country forward. They will take the risks, create the companies, music, art and culture of 21st-century Ireland. They will possibly manage and navigate the country towards a United Ireland.
We could be witnessing the beginning of the end of the United Kingdom. The centrifugal forces of competing nationalisms are strong enough to recast the old order and to redesign this part of the world in a way that has not been seen since the Tudor era, when England started its Imperial project in Ireland.
The centre now struggles to hold because nationalism is being driven by the centre. Nationalism is now Whitehall’s default position.
This week, we’ve had so much incoming economic information, it’s hard to know where to start. News that the economy is in a recession confirms what we all knew.
Likewise, Google’s decision, which it came to well before the rout in tech stocks this week, not to take a large office block in Dublin 2 is not such a surprise and is a portent of things to come. As this column argued a few weeks back, commercial property in Dublin and other major tech-focused urban centres, like San Francisco, is in for a torrid time.
While we are still convulsed over Phil Hogan, the EU has moved on. This week, the powerful head of the German Bundesbank, Jens Weidman, sought to reframe the battleground for 2021 and beyond.
The future of Europe will be a struggle between the North and the South and, more specifically, between Germany and Italy, Europe’s two manufacturing powerhouses.
Another lockdown will destroy the economy unless we change direction. It’s really that simple, and it is because the banking system no longer works as a distributor of capital in the country.
Our Government and ECB have approached the crisis in the same way: cutting interest rates to zero to coax businesses to borrow and to encourage banks to lend. As a result, banks are the critical intermediary between the Central Bank, the State and the economy.