Irish political leaders only respond to a problem when there is crisis…sorry, I meant a dire crisis.
So it’s a bit early to expect a response to reality - it will surely take more pain before Dicken’s Micawber spirit - " something will turn up" - will be junked.
There are no simple solutions but when a 2-bedroom poke of a house in an old estate in Dundrum, Dublin, is today on the market for €425,00, then it will take sometime for not only the politicians to catch up with reality.
The World Bank said last November that Ireland is the fourth most expensive economy in the world.
The big multinational manufacturers will over the next 15 years close their Irish operations and I’m not convinced that the mantra about service exports will pay similar dividends.
The shakeout in the global finance industry and hedge funds in particular is going to hit the IFSC hard.
The two biggest Irish companies by revenue operate out of the offices of Microsoft’s law firm in Dublin - Matheson Ormsby Prentice.
So the likes of Intel could move on but a service company with the same financials, may hire 100 or less compared with Intel’s 5,000 and its network of local suppliers.
Opening up export markets is not easy - why can you find an Irish pub in most big European cities but most steak houses have a South American brand?
In the short term, the biggest advance would be an end to the marketing bullshit at policymaker and State enterprise agency level. Then at least as in 1958, the challenges would be stark.
I have been told that the instructions for the group that produced the recent services “strategy” was not to split the export data between Irish and foreign-owned firms. So solutions proposed had little relevance for small Irish service exporters.
The State itself has relied on US consulting firm Accenture for much of its IT work in recent years and most of Accenture’s 1,600 staff are engaged in public sector work.
In August, the Sunday Bus Post had an article about Cowen’s visit to China next week.
The writer said that previous trade missions had generated a lot of business.
As WC Fields said: there’s a sucker born every minute.
All the announcements of deals/signings of agreements, will have resulted from trawl of past business and it will be announced and reported as if Cowen gets off a plane in Shanghai and waves his magic wand.
Exports to China increased by 30% last year. Impressive it may seem but I have asked Enterprise Ireland for an estimate of the sales made by Irish-owned firms. So far, they seem very reluctant to provide it as it will conflict with the bullshit that has been prepared for Cowen.
Even decisions on the exports from the likes of Microsoft and Intel in Ireland, are not made in Ireland.
I have asked EI also for detail on patents issued in respect of the huge sums spent on third-level R&D. Forfas, which tracks other R&D data told me to contact EI but I guess nobody bothers about such a trivial thing!
Irish Services Strategy Group Report: Political whitewash ignores overwhelming dominance of foreign-owned firms in Irish service exports thereby neutering strategy for Irish firms
Irish Economy: IBEC and understanding the world East of Suez