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President Michael D Higgins Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Michael D: “Skewed values” partly to blame for economic collapse

The President said that “radical individualism” and light-touch regulation led to markets being seen as infallible.

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins has said “undeclared assumptions, skewed values” and a materialistic society were to blame for the current economic “morass”

The President said that economics rooted in “radical individualism” coupled with light or no regulation let to a situation where markets were seen as infallible.

President Higgins was speaking at the launch of the Trinity Economic Forum this evening, designed to be a student version of the Global Irish Economic Forum held in Dublin Castle last September. He told attendees:

We know that the present economic morass through which we are struggling did not come about by accident. We know it came about because of a failed paradigm of economic policy, undeclared assumptions, skewed values, and the growth of a culture where our assets were valued and utilised on purely material considerations.

He cited the failure of the dominant economic model which pushed “radical individualism” and “a theory of infallible efficient markets delivered through policies of light or no regulation.

We are all now grappling with the enormous consequences of that failure and must now move forward to a better model – one that will build social cohesion and provide a sustainable basis for economic development.

The President urged public policy makers to think about the impact of their reforms on Irish society, telling the conference: “Economic development cannot be seen in isolation from the enormous impact is had on societal norms and values”.

He spoke of his wish to see a new economic model  that protects the common interest, saying:

If we are to craft a healthy, equal and inclusive society we need a strong vision that can see clearly beyond the baleful consequences of the radical individualism which threatened, in recent years, to kill our social interdependence and inflicted the hurts of unemployment, hugely reduced incomes, negative equity and young people departing from our airports every week in search of a better life.

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