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IT’s THE ECONOMY STUPID!

This week’s Sunday newspapers invented a whole new genre of misery lit with the main theme being the sheer scale of the economic crises in which we find ourselves. The analogy doesn’t end there: the coverage does tend to induce page-turning and the ending doesn’t look pretty.

Take your pick on the coarseness of the hairshirt that will be December’s Budget: €4 billion, €4.5 billion or other variants depending on the newspaper. There is also no shortage of speculation on where the axes will fall and on how the numbers will be made to stack up.

Similarly, the final bill for the banks’ rescue produces such variations that Paddy Power might consider running a book on it.

Anywhere north of €50 billion would seem to be odds-on favourite but, as Richard Curran writes in The Sunday Business Post, the plain answer is that we just don’t know.

“A figure of €50 billion was used last week as the final cost of the bank bailout. In truth, we can’t know for sure because some capital investments going in to the banks will yield a return, while others are simply dead money.”

For the record, Curran’s own newspaper expects the government to take €4.5 billion out of the economy in the Budget and says more welfare cuts and new taxes were both likely.

Juxtaposed to this piece on the newspaper’s front page is the news that Anglo Irish Bank has all but written off the value of businessman Sean Quinn’s investments. This will cost the taxpayer almost €2.5 billion. Although the bank would still seek to recoup its losses, the write-off is an admission

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