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Trodax 2019 IE A4 297x210mm.qxp_Layout 1 02/10/2019 13:22 Page 1
Stormy economic waters ahead

In recent weeks I have seen Pascal Donohue described
as the worst Minister for Finance in the history of
the State. There have been a few candidates for that
description, some of whom would be better qualified.
However, the central thesis of the criticism of Minister
Donohue contained in a
Sunday Times article written by
Cormac Lucey is that he missed a valuable opportunity
to put the State's finances in a better position to
counteract any future shock to the Irish economy. With
interest rates at historic lows and tax revenues increasing annually
as we recovered from the Great Recession, should the Fine Gael-led
governments have been a lot more conservative in their approach?
There is no denying the fact that demands on the public purse are
di cult to resist especially when a government is only in o ce with
the support of the main opposition party. As we approach another
recession, however near or far away, the folly or otherwise of
spending every available cent of revenue will become evident. Not
only have we not reduced our enormous debt pile, but, until last year,
it was still growing. In the event that Brexit delivers the worst possible
outcome with no compromise deal between the EU and the UK, then
there will be a need for further borrowings to support those sectors
of the economy most exposed to trade with the UK. While our
borrowings as a percentage of national output are reducing, a further
increase in the total debt burden must give cause for concern.
The signs of an overheating economy are clear for all to see. Apart
from the peculiar blip in new car sales, other sectors are ramping
up prices. Hotel rooms in the Dublin area especially are ridiculously
overpriced. Restaurants, particularly at the top end of the market,
have ramped up their prices and yet are regularly booked out.
House prices are now above the pre-recession peak. All these price
indicators point to an exuberance in the economy that is at odds with
reality. While there are more jobs now than at any time in Ireland's
100 years of independence, many of them would be at risk in the
event of a significant downturn in the economy. Jobs in the IT and
pharma sectors are, in the main, highly paid; however, many others
are not only relatively lowly paid but also precarious. A two-track
employment profile with the highly skilled in great demand and the
rest working for margins above the minimum wage, inevitably creates
a more inequitable society. We need only look to the United States
to see that this does not bode well for societal harmony. At the very
extreme end of the scale, corporate salaries for those at the top of
the management ladder draw down remuneration that bears no
comparison to those further down the ladder. While the argument
goes that there is a need to retain top sta and that salaries and
inducements are benchmarked across individual sectors, this is little
more than a self-serving exercise, designed to further enrich those
already well rewarded for their services. As bonuses again become
an acceptable aspect of corporate remuneration, the temptation
must again be to chase profit at any risk. Profits are necessary and risk
must be rewarded. If those risks become reckless then we should at
least be aware of the potential consequences; remember, it is only 10
years since reckless risk-taking by our banking sector drove the Irish
economy onto the rocks.
6 Upfront
9 Business News
12 Feature: Dennis Duggan
16 Smart Farming
21 Macra celebrates 75 years
56 Management Hints
60 Machinery
70 Motor
74 Rural life
76 Competition
78 Very end
Herd Health Focus
40 Responsible antibiotic use in
mastitis control
42 Knowledge Transfer: fertility
46 Housing: time to remove
performance-limiting parasites
from heifers
50 New challenges in New Zealand
animal welfare

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