Home Economics Economist says president’s speech was ‘contradictory’

Economist says president’s speech was ‘contradictory’

Economist says president's speech was 'contradictory'

A leading economist has described a speech by the president Michael D. Higgins regarding the economy as “contradictory” and “difficult to follow”.

Austin Hughes said there were some inconsistencies with Mr Higgins’ speech on Friday, who claimed there was an “obsession” with economic growth in Ireland. The president also took notice of the way economics is taught in Irish third-level institutions.

Mr Hughes, who has worked at KBC Bank for three decades, replied yesterday that there were several inconsistencies with the address.

He said: “Looking at it in the round, it’s a very difficult speech to follow, it’s contradictory at times.

“He talks about how economists are fixated on growth, but he also talks about how most economics research is aware of issues like inequality and wealth distribution, which are central to the concerns he raises, so I think he recognizes it in the small print, but it’s not something that’s in the mainstay of the speech.”

Mr Hughes also said the president was “shooting at the wrong target” and that the “ammunition” he uses is from a “past world”.

“There are a lot of problems here and there is a political color to these forms of economics that are more formally spoken about in the general political debate, but not by a head of state,” he said.

Speaking to the Thinktank for Action on Social Change (TASC) in Áras an Uachtaráin, Higgins said: “A fixation on narrowly defined efficiency, productivity and continued growth has resulted in a discipline that has blinders on the ecological challenge – the ecological catastrophe – which we now face.

“That narrow focus forms an empty economy that has lost touch with all that makes sense, a social science that is no longer connected, or even tries to be connected, with the social issues and goals for which it has evolved over centuries. developed.”

The comments are implicitly critical of the economic policies of successive governments. However, Labor senator and economist Mary Sherlock defended the address. She said he was “absolutely right to open up the conversation about the goal of growth in Ireland”.

She added: “Many thousands are currently not feeling it because of the incredible housing shortage and, in addition, there are environmental and biodiversity costs to most economic activities.

The response from economists is not surprising.

“Most economists here are not rooted in ecological economics, which argues that there is a limit to consumption growth. Just as bone specialists and dermatologists agree completely on how much sunscreen to use, we shouldn’t expect all economists to agree on economic grow. “

She added: “The president is making a fundamental point about growth for growth’s sake. For the past three decades, we have known that unrestrained growth in certain sectors such as manufacturing and fuel extraction has enormous environmental and social costs for communities.”

Austin Hughes said there were some inconsistencies with Mr Higgins’ speech on Friday

A spokesperson for the president said: “In Friday’s speech, President Higgins stressed the importance of ensuring that policymaking takes into account and is informed by not only indicators such as GDP growth or necessary economic analysis, but also the wider social and environmental needs of both Irish society and humanity more broadly in different circumstances.

“The President welcomes the strong work being done in the economics departments of many of our universities.”

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