Deleveraging, Banks and Economic Recovery in Ireland

Don Walshe, Dermot O'Leary


The challenge that the Irish economy faces can best be described in the context of flows and stocks of assets and liabilities. Under the Memorandum of Understanding with the IMF/EU/ECB Troika, Ireland must implement a severe fiscal austerity programme and reduce the size of its banking system. These goals must be achieved in the context of a deleveraging process in the household sector brought about by the need to repair balance sheets following a collapse in the value of housing assets. The current policy mix, which aims to reduce these stocks simultaneously, is unlikely to be successful, a feature we term the domestic trilemma. An external trilemma arising from the constraints of EMU membership also limits the policy choices for highdebt economies attempting to engineer an export-led recovery. This paper argues that a sequencing of policies is required for Ireland to achieve its goals.

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