David McWilliams put it well when talking about austerity not working, he said

Yet the really strange thing is that it(austerity) is billed as being mainstream economic thinking. It is not mainstream economics, it is highly radical. What is mainstream and proven is the power of devaluations. Yet those recommending the course of action that mainstream economics tells us to do are labelled radicals.

Because Ireland isn’t able to devalue, it chooses the austerity route.

Therefore, government spending will be reduced dramatically. But if the government is not spending, who is?

We should be, but we are not because we are worried about the future, so we are saving. Who is spending the missing 11pc of our income which has just been taken out of the Irish economy? Now here is where our policy gets a bit hopeful to say the least because in order for our economy to stay just as it is, foreigners need to massively increase their buying of Irish goods.

Ireland has tried an “internal devaluation” through cutting wages. Latvia has tried a similar soultion, but how does this stack up with Iceland who simply devalued their currency and became competitive overnight.

Irish and Latvian wages have remained more or less the same since 2008 against our competitors. In contrast, Icelandic wages against its competitors have fallen dramatically. Iceland has become dramatically more competitive vis-a-vis Ireland and Latvia because it devalued its currency dramatically in 2008/09. Iceland in one sharp devaluation has achieved what Ireland and Latvia are supposed to achieve over years of grinding down wages. If we are supposed to achieve Icelandic levels of wage competitiveness, we will have to shrink the economy over the next few years. By having their own currency the Icelandics did in a few weeks what we have been trying — unsucessfully — to do over four years.

We are currently being told that the euro breaking up is a terrible thing but David McWilliams is of the mind that having your own currency and devaluing is the solution.

Having its own exchange rate allows a country to adjust quickly. Yes, living standards when measured in euro fall, but that has to happen in both the Irish and the Icelandic case. The question is how do you achieve this and are you giving your people a chance?

There is a reason why no economy in the world has ever emerged from a recession like ours without changing its exchange rate. The reason is that it simply can’t be done. There is no evidence anywhere, ever, that shows that a country can operate a successful “internal devaluation” — particularly an economy carrying as much debt as we have.

Is Irelands “internal devaluation” really working?

Much is made of the “flexibility” of the Irish labour force. But the flexibility is not in wages but in levels of unemployment. The Irish labour market adjusts alright, but the adjustment comes not in falling wages but in rising unemployment and emigration. This is what we don’t want to happen, yet this is what the policy is leading to.

So those getting paid too much in Ireland still get paid too much, yet the people who feel the real cost of the “internal devaluation” are those who lose their jobs because rather than cut wages, employers cut staff.

When people are laid off, it is very difficult to get a new job because no one is spending in the economy. The government is not spending and the people are not spending. But what about the the much heralded export-led growth which postulates that foreigners will buy loads of Irish goods, more than compensating for the fall in domestic spending?

Well it doesn’t happen, partly because Irish wages don’t fall as we can see in the chart, so Irish goods are no more competitive than they were a few years ago. Yes, exports have risen, but nowhere near enough to offset the local contraction. This is why unemployment has trebled in three years and why emigration is running at over 1,000 people a week. It is not that the policy of internal devaluation is not working, it can’t work. It has never worked anywhere, ever.

As economists who propose the normal tried and tested solution to carrying too much debt, i.e. devaluing your currency, now politicians and the MSM are labelling them as radicals or extreme.

The truth is that what is extreme is following a policy which has never worked anywhere and the cost of which is mass unemployment and mass emigration. Now that is truly radical.

 

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