Irish finance minister Michael Noonan was in the U.S. last week for a low key visit with a high level of urgency behind it. Noonan was here to reassure the U.S. economic and political establishment that Ireland, despite its economic and fiscal woes, was still a solid and reliable partner and place to invest. Above all, though he might not have openly enunciated it, he was saying that Ireland was not Greece.
That said, Ireland’s immediately economic future is in no small way linked to the fortunes of Greece, a nation that is sending shudders through international markets as it wrestles with the political fallout of a bailout that looks as if it will ultimately dwarf even the €85 billion one that the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund prescribed for Ireland.
Noonan was particularly keen to point out that Ireland was adhering to the “program” as he described the bailout and the imposed conditions that come attached to it. Ireland, he said, was “ticking off the boxes” and would continued to show that it was op to the challenges of living within its rather reduced means. He even offered some hope for hard-pressed Irish taxpayers by indicating that bondholders in two major Irish banking operations, now under government control, will have to share the burdens of their insolvency.
Bottom line? Don’t give up on Ireland because Ireland will be back. We can only hope that the minister can tick off this particular assertion sooner rather than later.