Tags: Ireland | Print | Currency | euro | punt

The Guardian: Ireland Printing Its Old Currency, Just in Case

By Michael Kling   |   Tuesday, 27 Sep 2011 01:37 PM

Ireland's central bank reportedly is printing Ireland's old currency in case the country leaves the eurozone. At least that's the rumor circulating in Dublin, notes Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Bloxham stockbrokers in that city.

McQuaid, writing a guest commentary for The Guardian, says he's not sure if the rumor is true. But he does hope Ireland has contingency plans in case the euro disintegrates.

Then again, given the record of European leaders, a lack of backup plan wouldn’t be surprising.

As Greece struggles to remain solvent, the European monetary union is scrambling to stop the debt crisis from spreading. If the crisis does spread, Ireland might be next in line.

Some pundits say Ireland should drop the euro.

Being master of your own destiny does have appeal, McQuaid admits. If it returned to the punt, Ireland could boost exports by devaluing the currency and reduce its debt burden.

But if it had its own currency, the Irish would move their deposits overseas, which could destroy the country's banks.

Ireland would have trouble borrowing, and interest would have to rise to retain deposits and attract investors. Inflation would soar.

Homeowners' mortgage debt would increase when converted to devalued punts.

"The collateral damage would be huge and felt by everyone," McQuaid warns.

Creating the currency took years of planning, and dismantling it would be equally complicated.

"It is hard to imagine, as some people are suggesting, that we could just go back to the punt overnight," he writes. "So we are not going to simply finish with the euro on a Friday, and then out of nowhere come back to work on a Monday with the old punt back in existence."

Taking a different view, Alex Singleton, writing in his blog for the Daily Mail, said Europe must kill the euro, in addition to letting Greece default.

The euro itself is the problem, he asserts. By its very nature, the same monetary policy for 17 countries will always create credit bubbles in some countries. The eurozone will be constantly plagued by a debt crisis.

Giving more powers to the European Union won’t solve the problem. "There's only way to give stability to the eurozone's economies," he declares. "They need to abolish the euro."

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Ireland's central bank reportedly is printing Ireland's old currency in case the country leaves the eurozone. At least that's the rumor circulating in Dublin, notes Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Bloxham stockbrokers in that city. McQuaid, writing a guest commentary for...
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