By Simon Johnson
On the face of it, Ireland seems poised on the brink of default. Its debts are very large relative to the size of its economy, most of this money is owed to foreigners and – unless there is an unexpected growth miracle – the country will struggle to pay its debts in full for many years to come.
Yet all the indications are that, as part of the historic rescue package to be introduced this week by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, Ireland will not default on or otherwise restructure its most substantial debts. Why not?
To be clear, Ireland owes a huge amount of money to the outside world. In the best scenario, Ireland’s government debt is likely to stabilize at more than 100 percent of gross national product (G. N. P.); in the worst scenario, with greater real estate losses and a deeper recession, this level could reach 150 percent. Continue reading