Irish people hit hardest during financial crisis, ECB report reveals

Ireland’s citizens lost more of their personal wealth than any other eurozone country in the aftermath of the financial crash, while Germany and the Netherlands gained the most, fresh data from the European Central Bank shows.

In an analysis of the years between 2009 and 2013, ECB experts discovered that Ireland lost more than €18,000, per person, while Spaniards saw wealth dwindle by almost €13,000, as property values in both nations plummeted.

Greeks saw their notional wealth decline by almost €17,000 for the same reason.

In the Netherlands and Germany, by contrast, the wealth per capita grew by roughly €33,000 and €19,000, respectively, due in part to a boost in financial investments over that time.

READ MORE: Counting cost of financial crisis - Immorality of bank deal highlighted

The data, a snapshot before the recent economic upswing in Spain and Ireland, illustrates the stark differences between countries in the 19-country eurozone.

Fr Seán Healy of Social Justice Ireland said the data was further proof that ordinary Irish people had paid a higher price for the financial crash than many of their peers in other countries.

“The burden of addressing the causes of the crash in 2007/08 were unfairly distributed,” said Fr Healy.

“It should also be noted that the distribution within the country was not evenly spread and that the biggest hits were taken by the poorest 10% and the richest 10% of the population and that also was unfair in that the poorest took some of the heaviest hits.”

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said it was “yet another report which shows the unjust debt Ireland was burdened with”.

“The drastic drop in individual wealth is not at all surprising given the disastrous property bubble which inevitably burst,” said Mr Doherty.

“The last few years have seen an absolutely massive transfer of debt onto the people’s shoulders through the socialisation of private banking debt.”

By presenting the data in this manner, the ECB acknowledges the divergence, though there is little the central bank can do to remedy it.

Its money-printing scheme known as quantitative easing is spread out according to eurozone member countries’ relative size and not determined by economic needs.

To fix imbalances between strong industrial nations such as Germany and countries such as Spain, experts have long pushed for a system of payments from rich to poor states.

Germany, which fears this would lumber it with unmanageable costs and believes handouts would discourage spendthrift countries from reforming, has rejected the suggestion.


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