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Recalling the Celtic Tiger

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Edited By Eamon Maher, Eugene O'Brien and Brian Lucey

This book looks at various effects, symptoms and consequences of the period in Irish culture known as the Celtic Tiger. It will trace the critical pathway from boom to bust – and up to the current beginnings of a similar, smaller boom – through events, personalities and products. The short entries offer a sense of the lived experience of this seismic period in contemporary Irish society.

While clearly not all aspects of the period could realistically be covered, the book does contain essential information about the central actors, events, themes, and economic trends, which are discussed in a readable and accessible manner. Each entry is linked to the overall Celtic Tiger phenomenon and its immediate aftermath.

The book also provides a comprehensive account of what happened in this period and will be a factual resource for anyone anxious to discover information on the areas most commonly connected to it. All entries are written by experts in the area. The contributors include broadcasters, economists, cultural theorists, sociologists, literary critics, journalists, politicians and writers, each of whom brings particular insights to some aspect of the Celtic Tiger.

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Debt (Eoin Flannery)

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Eoin Flannery

Debt

Indebtedness is a form of future-capture; it often draws upon past economic or financial performance as a means of access to credit, but once such access has been granted, it hijacks the future of those who are indebted. In Ireland during the Celtic Tiger, such indebtedness commonly took the form of property purchases at premium prices.

Home ownership was not viewed as in a way punitive; rather, investment in the future was encouraged. The latter idea here of ‘investment in the future’ is the primary watchword of the debt economy, as consumers are solicited to burden themselves with mortgages. Yet ‘investment in the future’ is a little more than a metaphor, and its very figurative qualities were, and are, employed to soften, even shroud, the material precarity of substantial indebtedness.

Of course, flouting of regulations by mortgage lenders and an abdication of regulatory oversight permitted a critical intensification of debt creation, a point highlighted by Peter Nyberg in his subsequent report on the Irish banking crisis. In this report, Nyberg underscored the high-risk latitude given to property investors across the market as one of the primary causes of the financial crash experienced in Ireland. In sum, lending was more important than any sense of adherence to sectoral regulations.

A report produced by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) accepted that there was consented to view that: ‘(1) Personal debt in Ireland is very high relative to...

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