The Irish ability to 'suck up' the pain of the government’s austerity plan is nothing less than 'astonishing' according to Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.
Stiglitz said he was amazed that the Irish had not taken to the streets to riot like other European countries, adding that their refusal to do so may be akin to a kind of religious ideology.
'It's like a view that you have sinned, Greece has sinned - redemption through pain. It's almost a religious notion that if you sinned so badly, you have to feel the pain to get redemption,' he told Ireland's national broadcaster RTE in an interview.
Then Stiglitz attacked the plan to take billions out of the Irish economy through austerity budgets as 'totally absurd' and that economists know it does not work.
"Why that was not understood by European leaders was beyond me,' he said.
Columbia University Professor Stiglitz, the former chief economist at the World Bank, is known for his opposition to austerity plans and has voiced his views many in the past. Nonetheless he said that he believes Ireland will recover.
But it will not return to the unprecedented growth path Ireland was on before the economy tanked, he clarified.
'Yes you will get back to where you were...but it will be a lost decade, at least, I think that's the reality that Europe needs to wake-up to.'
According to the Independent, Stiglitz then reiterated his belief that bondholders should have been burned during the bank bailout instead of Irish taxpayers, when 60 billion euroes was pumped into the Irish financial system.
'The first mistake was to make citizens pay for it. The bondholders - in a conventional bankruptcy if you are the owner of a firm that goes bankrupt you suffer. You get the upside in capitalism and you get the downside.
'The European Central Bank and others in Europe wanted to save the banks and the other investors in Europe. So it was really a trade off between banks all over Europe and Irish citizens.
'It was Irish citizens not so much bailing out the economy as bailing out the bondholders.'
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