No Irish Spring: Emerald Isle as Credit Crunch Microcosm

While the story of the collapse of the Celtic Tiger is not a new story, I did enjoy Theodore Dalrymple’s recent piece in City Journal: How the Irish Bubble Burst.

We are supposed to learn something from this incubator of a pure economic meltdown. I find this amazing:

Some 300,000 new dwellings now stand empty in the Irish Republic, a number whose equivalent in the United States would be approximately 21 million.

And the emigration begins…

Unemployment is now 13 percent in Ireland; it would be higher if 5 percent of the working-age population (principally the young and well-qualified) had not emigrated over the last two years.

A few months ago, I did a podcast interview with a friend of mine from Ireland who described the unsettling change in values during the boom a few years ago while on a family visit.

I observed what I later dubbed the “Irish Carpenter Syndrome” (my label for working and middle class Irish investors who were snapping up condos in Manhattan sight unseen) egged on by the currency imbalance.

The poster child for this phenomenon was The Centria Condo adjacent to Rockefeller Center (faces the famed Christmas Tree directly over the plaza) during the 2007 rush to snap up anything they could. 100% of the buyers in this building were reportedly Irish. The high flying Ireland-based marketing firm that sold these condos to investors, largely sight unseen, imploded along with the investors.

The urgency that permeated this NYT article harkens to another time.

“It’s an Irishman’s dream to be able to go to Manhattan and be able to buy property there,” said Mr. McCann, 36, who added that he hoped to buy more New York apartments.”

Yes, indeed.

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