Report finds that Irish Dept. of finance has 'shockingly low' amount of economists


Here's one we could have foreseen.


The Wright Report into the shadowy underworld of the Irish Department of Finance, the government department responsible, among other achievements, for overseeing the financial implosion of the Irish economy and IMF bailout, has found that the Department continues to suffer from a 'shockingly low' level of expertise in the form of qualified economists working at the Department, while also shedding light on ousted leader Cowen's claims that he wasn't briefed on the imminent meltdown of the economy before it all went bust.

So what's more surprising, that politicians were lying or that a Department of Finance lacks qualified economists? Given the choice I'd probably vouch for the latter.

The Report itself was (almost) perfect, but spoiled, at least for some, by the fact that the (then) Minister for Finance himself, Brian Lenihan, actually sat on its committee for the duration of its deliberations, before being handed its final draft several months before it was made available to the punters on the street, conveniently after the general election had taken place.

What effect this had on perhaps diluting the strength of the report's findings we can only guess, but it would seem to cut entirely against the grain of an independent watchdog-style report to have the head of the group being investigating ranking among its committee members.

That be as it may, though, the Report still delivers some fascinating glimpses into the inner workings of the Department of Finance Upper Merrion Street, and the Report's head, Canadian Department of Finance secretary Rob Wright, makes some worthwhile recommendations. The only problem is that all this verbiage would have been helpful before the whole house came tumbling down (a popular Irish political forums website, politics.ie, categorizes it as the 'Wright Report at the Wrong Time').

Here's just some of what the Department was found to have done before the financial crash:
  • The Department 'lacked coherence across its divisions' in its responses to various financial challenges.
  • It didn't recognise the risk to the tax system posed by a very pro-tax policy which was being pursued for quite some time.
  • All this, the Report says, could have been due to a shortage of qualified economists and financial market experts working at the Department during that time. Which is what's really worrying!
There are other conclusions but I think the main message was that the Department lacked the staff to fully realize how bad the policy it was pursuing was, and failed - in large part - to communicate the warnings to a government, who seem to have been slow to pay heed to their advice at the best of times.

Like most official Reports the full version doesn't make for riveting bedtime reading, but at least a Report was undertaken into what went wrong before the financial collapse. The only problem was that it was too little too late.






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