12 january 2013, the emerald isle

I am off to dublin on monday, on an oecd mission. I have been to almost every european country: fleetingly in finland, lots in lithuania, robbed in romania and barbed in bosnia (25-6 may 2011; see 31 august 2010 too), but I've never been to the subject of this week's charlemagne, ireland. It's a good article that touches on the massive success of what was once a backwater region most of whose gifted sons and daughters left. Antagonism with the old british enemy led them to tightly embrace a european alternative, and consistent policy paid off with a couple of roaring decades that shifted ireland into the ranks of established well-to-do economies. Against the mightiest odds they have retained their signature policy of rock-bottom corporate tax rates that still today drives investment and sustainability in an economy that has suffered the worst but bounced back the strongest. The contrast with greece is made and is stark and today everyone wants Ireland to pull through, as a posterchild of european policy. Though success, maturity and a tilt towards the nasty end of the british press tempered ireland's euro enthusiasm some years ago, leading to the infamous "no" votes, that does seem to have rather subsided to what could, hopefully without sarcasm, be called an all in this together attitude. Ireland needs europe to succeed as much as the other way around. They seem to be managing the politics in a very sophisticated way, and broadly to be coming through the worst well, and so it will be an interesting time to be there and take the country's temperature.