The most popular article on the Irish Times site at the moment is a report about last Monday’s economic conference, organised by the Department of Economic in UCD and dedicated to our current economic crisis.
It is probably the most popular not because of our continuing cultish fascination with economists – cue the nunnish fawning RTE does over Jim Power’s televisual performance “oh that man does a lovely economic forecast” – but rather because almost the entire article is dedicated to the rather spectacular rant given by Morgan Kelly.
The article suggested that Kelly pulled no punches.
Recovery will be slow: “It has taken us 10 years to get into this situation – it will in all likelihood take us 10 years to get out of it.”
Mr Kelly said he had been hailed as being extremely prescient as a result of his warnings in relation to the property bubble, when in fact he and a handful of other “amateurs” were merely stating what was obvious.
Sparing no blushes, he said professional economists in the Central Bank and the Economic and Social Research Institute “need to look very closely at their analyses of the Irish economy and figure out what went wrong”.
Stephen Kinsella has put up his notes on the proceedings on his blog, but describes Kelly’s presentation thus:
Kelly’s rant was so powerful, hair pieces fell off at the back of the room. The strength of his rant could have powered most of the economy’s electrical requirements, were there a way to harness this purest of the pure rant juice efficiently.
You can see slides from each of the presentations up on the Irish Economy blog, the stomping ground of the usual cohorts, but I wouldn’t bother. From what I’ve heard the conference provided no new ideas or practical solutions about how Ireland can get out this economic mess.
Instead of reading about those who suggest that we slash the wages of the lowest waged work force in the EU (bar rioting Greece) you’d be better off reading Michael Taft’s recent posts, especially his latest on wages (although they’re all excellent).
Incidentally Stephen Kinsella, who is a junior lecturer in economics at the University of Limerick, has kindly written a very thorough and interesting response for Irish Left Review to the proposals suggested by Michael Taft in his article Towards a New Economic Narrative.
But back to Morgan Kelly once again. It’s very possible, even for a short time that Kelly starts to develop cult status all his own, with a fan base of people waiting in anticipation for his next rant at the callowness of our government and the infernal incompetence of Irish banking. This would be ridiculous of course. As he said, its not as if he’s some sort of seer. He only pointed out stuff that was obvious, but which the guardians of the establishment – government and bank officials, economic commentators employed by financial institutions and the media – not only ignored but who repeatedly declared that the opposite was the case. Although I’ve no idea what he looks like (or for that matter sounds like) from the tone of his article I keep on imagining him as being a bit like Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons.
…with a head sporting a star shaped mane of rich red curly dreads held slightly aloft and a hand inserted half way under the lapel of his Louie Copeland tailored jacket, he speaks with an initially calm educated voice. But as his rhetoric increases its pace he begins to speak about the property market, government and Anglo Irish Bank through gritted teeth…
But if he’s Sideshow Bob, who is Bart? Of course, he’s Charlie McCreevy. Letting my imagination run away a bit I fancied the idea of Charlie McCreevy turning up accidentally at the conference on Monday while Kelly was in full flight. McCreevy, while instructing a subordinate to find him a seat is spotted by Kelly. The economics professor suddenly cuts off his speech and lunges for McCreevy’s throat. Bystanding economists drop their notepads and blackberries and run to the assistance of the EU commissioner as Kelly says ‘Why, you little….’ and all McCreevy can say is ‘Kukkk-kuuuk-kuuuk!’