There is no doubt that fine Gael and Labour were decimated in the last election because they ran on the headline of, "Keep the recovery going." The majority of voters felt they were still deep in the do-do so they sarcastically asked, "What recovery?"
To win the Presidency at the time, Bill Clinton ran with the legend, "It's the economy stupid." At present in Ireland though, that should read, "It's the stupid economy."
Countries follow international rules of accounting to declare the health of their total economy. So in mid-2016, Ireland Inc reported its year-on-year performance over 2014/2015. What economists everywhere are keenly looking for is the overall growth figure for the period. Some EU economies are reporting zero per cent growth while others, such as Germany, show a modest one and a half per cent.
Imagine the utter amazement then when our sheepish Government statisticians told us that growth in Ireland stood at an astonishing twenty-six per cent. As David McWilliams put it, "It would imply that the average income per person working in our country would have increased to €130,000 per annum in 2015."
Dan O'Brien in the Indo puts his finger on it when he says, "Taking 2014 and 2015 together, GDP grew by 37pc in just 24 months. Some of our peer economies in Europe haven't grown by that much in 24 years. It is obvious nonsense."
Our local wits have christened it, "Leprechaun Economics," with some priceless letters appearing in the press here and here.
Jim Power in the Indo explains a lot of what's wrong with the reported numbers and if you want to know the details you'll find them here.
But what really gets my attention is that the statistic of 26 per cent growth for Ireland is correct, if the accepted methods of international accountancy are used. Correct doesn't mean real or sustainable or even that it's good news for the country. It only means that by the measure employed to determine it, the national economic picture looks astounding. Now then, if the reverse were the case instead, would that too be real or just simply correct but immaterial to us? This leads naturally to the question, is everything we are told about the economy, (and the need for austerity), just bullshit to indent us all?
Strange times indeed.
P.S. Is it a crock of gold or a crock of shit?