Mises Daily Articles
Ire and Ice: A Tale of Two PIIIGS
There were a lot of commentaries regarding the Ireland and Iceland 2008–2012 financial crises. Most of the commentaries were confined to the description of the events without addressing the essential causes of the crises. We suggest that providing a detailed description of events cannot be a substitute for economic analysis, which should be based on the essential causes behind a crisis. The essential cause is the primary driving force that gives rise to various events such as reckless bank lending (blamed by most commentators as the key cause behind the crisis) and a so-called overheated economy. Now, in terms of real GDP, both Ireland and Iceland displayed strong performance prior to the onset of the crisis in 2008. During 2000–2007, the average growth in Ireland stood at 5.9 percent versus 4.6 percent in Iceland. So what triggered the sudden collapse of these economies?
Central-Bank Policy the Key Trigger for Economic Boom
Central-Bank Policies Trigger Economic Bust
Bad Policies Are Coming Back
Summary and Conclusion
Many commentators blame reckless bank lending as the key cause behind the 2008–2012 financial crises in Ireland and Iceland. Our analysis, however, suggests that it was not the banks as such that caused the crisis but rather the boom-bust policies of the central banks of Ireland and Iceland. It is these institutions that set in motion the false economic boom and the consequent economic bust. While Iceland allowed its banks to go bankrupt, the Irish government chose to bail out its banks. So, in this sense, the Icelandic authorities did the right thing, and Iceland has consequently outperformed Ireland economically. We hold that despite this positive step, Iceland's authorities have introduced various welfare schemes that have curtailed the benefits of having let banks go belly up. Furthermore, both Ireland and Iceland have resumed aggressive money pumping, thereby setting in motion the menace of boom-bust cycles.