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The Crisis of Financialisation in Ireland

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  • SEÁN Ó RIAIN

    (National University of Ireland,Maynooth)

Abstract

This paper explores the intersection of national and transnational processes in shaping Ireland’s financial crisis. It uses insights from economic sociology to reconcile the analytical tension between an understanding of Ireland’s crisis in terms of the unfolding of an international process and explanations that focus on specific national features. A series of significant policy decisions in the late 1990s favoured financial markets in allocating capital and opened up significant institutional space for speculative lending. Underneath the apparently consistent expansion of the property lending bubble since the mid-1990s, there was a significant shift in investment logics from the early 2000s as both residential and commercial real estate spending became detached from underlying demand. This shift in logic was based on two significant “translations” of investment rationalities into justifications of lending and investment that underpinned the bubble. Irish banks’ own conceptions of risk and rational investments shifted subtly over time so that property lending was translated into a rational investment, encouraged by market dynamics such as increased bank profits, rising share prices and concentration of decision making power in the banking system. At the same time, and in the context of the establishment of the euro, investing in the assets of Irish banks was translated into a rational investment for international banks, in large part through the metrics of the credit ratings agencies. The paper concludes by revisiting the question of how we should understand the specifics of particular financial crises in conjunction with the general dynamics of financialisation – pointing to the importance of “translation” processes in creating social rationalities and the significance of “market liberalism” as a social formation in enabling these translations and promoting financialisation.

Suggested Citation

  • Seán Ó Riain, 2012. "The Crisis of Financialisation in Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 43(4), pages 497-533.
  • Handle: RePEc:eso:journl:v:43:y:2012:i:4:p:497-533
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Karl Whelan, 2010. "Policy Lessons from Ireland’s Latest Depression," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 41(2), pages 225-254.
    2. Connor, Gregory & Flavin, Thomas & O’Kelly, Brian, 2012. "The U.S. and Irish credit crises: Their distinctive differences and common features," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 60-79.
    3. Girma, Sourafel & Görg, Holger & Strobl, Eric & Walsh, Frank, 2008. "Creating jobs through public subsidies: An empirical analysis," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 1179-1199, December.
    4. Honohan, Patrick, 2006. "To What Extent has Finance been a Driver of Ireland's Economic Success?," Quarterly Economic Commentary: Special Articles, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), vol. 2006(4-Winter), pages 59-72.
    5. Carlota Perez, 2002. "Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 2640.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michelle Norris & Michael Byrne, 2015. "Asset Price Keynesianism, Regional Imbalances and the Irish and Spanish Housing Booms and Busts," Working Papers 201514, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    2. Michael Byrne, 2016. "‘Asset Price Urbanism’ and Financialization after the Crisis: Ireland's National Asset Management Agency," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 31-45, January.

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