October 8, 2007 10 Comments
If David McWilliams can take credit for the phrase ‘Celtic Tiger’, can I be first to use the phrase ‘Post Tiger Ireland‘? Looking 5 years out, whether or not the Irish property market has a hard or soft landing, Ireland is going to be a very different place.
We were looking at buying a car in Smiths Ford Garage in Drogheda. The Sales guy (very personable but old school salesman) knew that we were coming in. The car we looked at had a flat tire. In Tiger Ireland , this wouldn’t have mattered – he could shift his quota of cars in the first week of the month. In Post Tiger Ireland (TM), cars are still going to sell , but the salesman is going to have to work for his money – doing the basics like fix the tires and clean the car properly.
So, anybody want to put money on the following not happening over the next 5 years?
- Not a national disater:
We’ll have a hard / soft / gentle as a feather (delete as appropriate) landing in the housing market. This will be talked about as a ‘national disaster’. It won’t be – the non construction 73% of the economy will continue along, maybe a little bit more cautiously, but it will carry on.
- We’ll find a way to ‘blame the Brits’
(and everybody else) but unlike the last 800 years, we messed this one upselves. Don’t expect this to stop an unwanted increase in nastiness towards anybody looking non-Irish. The majority of the bullies will be those who left education early to take advantage of the construction boom and are now left high and dry. Sales of Harp Lager to increase?
- There will be an increase in the politics of envy.
Before we were living the Irish Dream – everybody could make it big. Now, expect punative (an ineffectual) tax proposals on property developers , complaints (but nothing done) about high public sector wages and pensions and demands from the ‘losers’ to be compensated (reform of stamp duty anyone?).
- Ireland will become (even) more like Britain
A mature but growing , first world economy. Yes, they’re our closest neighbour (geographically and culturally) , we support their football clubs and spend money in their chain stores. Expect the politics to become more similar – the key debate will be around improving the quality of public services (Health, Roads, Schools, Policing).
- At least one major multinational will pull out with job losses in the thousands.
There will be demands for government to ‘do something’ (the time for action will be 5 years too late). Away from the headlines, Irish Startups (in knowledge sectors such as IT , Financial Services and Pharmaceuticals) will create jobs, but in smaller companies.
- Ireland will grow older.
The average age of the Irish population will grow older as the baby boom passes. It’s possible that we could have too many schools in 15 years time – at least until the current babies have kids of their own. Another Irish Property Bubble in 2027?
- The ‘New Irish’ will draw more talent into the Irish Economy.
Many ‘New Irish’ (choose this weeks PC term) are here to stay for the same reason that many Irish people still live in England and the US. Would you take your 5 year old daughter back to school in Poland if she only spoke English? ; Migrants tend to follow where friends and family have gone before. This will give the Ireland a boost as we get the cream of overseas talent, even when other EU desinations become available. Expect more Paul McGraths on the Irish Football team.
- Suburbs are the new Ghettos.
Carbon taxes and higher fuel costs are here to stay. Traffic jams in Dublin are going to get even worse (think pre-congestion charge London). Doing an expensive 2 hr commute will become less and less attractive, especially when house prices fall. Poorly built boomtime housing will decay quickly when not maintained leading to a vicious circle of decline when those that can afford to get out, will.
- IT will be the major growth factor in the Irish Economy.
Despite all the buzz around Green, Space and Nano technologies, few of these are ready for widespread commercialisiation. Not only will IT be the direct engine of growth, but it will enable growth in other industries (e.g. Irish Business using Skype videoconferences to offer Financial Services to the City of London).
- Something will happen that we can’t predict.
In the 60′s , few foresaw the viciousness of the troubles. In the early 90′s , few predicted the robustness of the Celtic Tiger. What does this decade hold? A 9-11 with Irish linked perpetrator’s? Large scale social unrest caused by the Euro-straightjacket? Miracle cures for obesity, cancer and smoking? I have no idea.
There are some of these predictions (especially number 2) that I don’t like. What do you think?`]