There he goes again

It is becoming great sport following up the Minister for Finance’s comments Michael Noonan was at it again on This Week:

RTÉYou mentioned we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in if the Fiscal Treaty had been some years ago. This would have saved us from getting into the deficit problems we got into. But how would have that prevented that given that at the time the IMF and the European Commission were complimentary of our structural deficit?

NoonanWhat I was saying was that if this was a matter of law - Ireland or Spain or Greece or Belgium or Cyprus - if this was a matter of law and people had to fulfil their obligations to balance their budgets, that’s the point I was making...It’s a straightforward point and without contradiction.

Well, that is pretty definitive.  And pretty wrong.  What were the EU estimates of the structural deficit (it’s proxy – the cyclically-adjusted budget balance) at the end of the speculative boom period?

structural deficit

The exception is Greece – which has had long-term structural problems. For all the other countries, they were estimated to be in compliance with the Fiscal Treaty. Ireland, Spain and Belgium were consistently in compliance, with the odd blip. Cyprus started out in trouble but by 2006 they were in compliance.

So what is the minister talking about? Does he even realise the data contradicts him? Or does he care?

Of course, this is the minister who reduced the problems of Greece to feta cheese. And here he is again on This Week defending his Greek comments:

“I’m trying to stop contagion. It’s one of my jobs as finance minister to protect the Irish economy.”

How do risible comments ‘stop contagion’? And wouldn’t he be better off actually describing the reality of the Fiscal Treaty, rather than pretending it would have done something that it never would have done? {jathumbnailoff}