Posts By Sophie Reynolds

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Developing of the Tale of the Tiger: Ireland and the IMF

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The paradox of the hot bath is symmetrical: it draws the blood to the periphery, as well as the humors, perspiration, and all liquids, useful or harmful. Thus the vital centers are relieved; the heart now must function slowly; and the organism is thereby cooled.

(Foucault 1961 [1965: 169–70])

The following essay is an attempt to answer a question of critical importance to the history of the Irish State’s development; Namely, in light of the IMF’s recent disciplinary stance toward the Irish State, and in consideration of the key role played by a number of inter- and supra-national financial institutes in stimulating Ireland’s period of unprecedented economic growth, can the IMF’s stance in the post-crisis period be deemed an attempt to legitimise the institute’s technocratic claims to authority; and what are the implications of Ireland’s bailout within the wider context of Europe.

The essay will be two-pronged in its approach; in the first section, we will seek to offer a revisionist interpretation of the negative consequences of Ireland’s economic growth having been characterised largely by external exigencies. Ireland of the Celtic Tiger era was heralded as a “successful model for small and peripheral states in this era of globalization.”[1] The factors culminating in its dramatic demise thus merit closer attention within the wider context of development (or indeed post-development) studies.

In the latter section, we will seek to contemporise the discussion by focusing on the EU-IMF bailout in 2010. Here we will attempt to offer a political economic approach to the IMF’s intervention and authoritarian stance in Ireland, by contrasting the Fund’s economic surveys prior to and following the financial crisis. We will offer two readings of this: first, we will consider if the Fund’s authoritarian stance can be read as part of the institution’s bid to continued legitimacy– in its failure to prevent the crisis, and in light of its crisis of legitimacy prior to this.[2] Secondly, we will consider how the Fund’s stance toward Ireland relates to its roles as part of a wider international economic system, acknowledging that the IMF and the World Bank function as “twin intergovernmental pillars supporting the structure of the world's economic and financial order.”[3] In so doing, we will seek to offer an alternative reading to the “sovereign” debt crisis.

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