Leading economist Alan McQuaid steps down for new role

One of the country’s leading economic commentators, Alan McQuaid, stepped down this week from his job as chief economist at Cantor Fitzgerald in Dublin.

He is planning to pursue a career as an independent economist.

It comes after Cantor completed the acquisition late last year of Merrion Capital where Mr McQuaid was head economist for many years.

Following the Merrion acquisition, Cantor carried out a reorganisation of its operations, which marked a further wave of consolidation for brokerages in Ireland in the wake of the banking and debt crisis of a decade ago.

Mr McQuaid started his career as an economist at the Department of Finance in the 1980s at a time when the State was facing another serious economic crisis, as unemployment topped 18% and the debt burden reached over 120% of GDP. The public and private sectors were expanding their economics analyses amid the crisis. In 1987, he joined what was then known as Goodbody James Capel for an economics team then run by Peter Bacon and subsequently joined Bloxham Stockbrokers as chief economist.

Trading in Irish shares and bonds was active in the late 1990s despite preparations for monetary union under the single currency.

Mr McQuaid said Irish bond desks remained busy until recent years. However, quantitative easing by the ECB under which the central bank bought huge amounts of sovereign bonds of eurozone countries and other debt to keep interest rates low had damaged the bond trading business.

Huge new costs placed on brokers by European regulators following the crash also damaged the business.

Broker Davy acquired the private wealth business of Bloxham when it was liquidated in 2012 and Mr McQuaid transferred to Merrion as chief economist. “The phenomenal” rebound of the economy from the crash has confounded many doomsayers, Mr McQuaid said.

He will work as an independent economist and commentator before seeking a new permanent role.

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