GOLDMAN SACHS’S senior European economist produced a howler last week with the assertion that the bank no longer views mortgage arrears as representing the largest domestic risk to the Irish economy.
Tell that to the 30,000-plus Irish families North and South who are immediately at risk of eviction because of mortgage arrears.
The Goldman Sachs report said: “The biggest risk now in our view is provided by political developments.”
Yes, you’ve guessed it – for “political developments” read ‘growth in support for Sinn Féin’.
There’s a breath-taking arrogance to Goldman Sachs’s conclusion, not least because it represents the interests of the international financial and banking elites which were directly responsible for the global banking crisis.
The unspoken implication is that those same interests will prefer some combination of the current Fine Gael/Labour Coalition and Fianna Fáil to become the next government.
The corollary of this thinking is that austerity should continue in the 26 Counties.
That’s exactly what the Tory-led Coalition Budget in Britain also announced last week, including a threat to cut a further £12billion from the welfare state.
The Block Grant allocated to the Northern Executive now faces another massive reduction.
Austerity is not an aberration. It is a fiscal and economic strategy for ‘recovery’ based upon dismantling welfare protections, reduced public services, fully marketising the economy, and producing the opposite of a fair economic and social recovery.
Enforced austerity is the solution proposed to reduce the structural deficits across Western economies by the very financial institutions which caused the international banking crisis in the first place.
Austerity isn’t meant to be a fair recovery strategy. It is a socialised debt reduction plan which demands absolute conformity from those in society expected to pay and take the pain.
In fact, austerity is a trap.
Its only consequence is to drive all of society into an inexorable economic and political race to the bottom.
The result is increasing breakdown in social cohesion and community solidarity, conflict between public and private sectors, sectional disagreements over Budget priorities and expenditure – and (in the North) to fight among ourselves over the public expenditure nightmare imposed upon the Executive by the British Government.
Goldman Sachs and others are cheerleaders for ‘race to the bottom’ economics and politics.
Obviously, Goldman Sachs now wants to be part of setting the Irish political agenda as an ideological ‘player’ during the next three elections between this May and May 2016.
There will be plenty of others doing the same in the coming period to secure maximum social conformity from citizens, North and South.
We can stop that happening by looking outwards, not inwards, and challenging the political narrative which legitimises the austerity agenda of the economic and financial elites.
That is what the Westminster general election on 7 May needs to be about.