This spring break I did not follow the masses to any of the coastlines or islands. Instead, I was able to join the European masses in my first trip to Europe. Specifically, I visited Italy and Spain where I ventured through the cobblestones of Florence, scaled the Colosseum in Rome, and struggled to adapt to Spanish eating habits in Barcelona. Rome was remarkable with all of the ruins surrounding my hotel and in my opinion should be the first stop for anybody visiting; even if you’re not particularly religious, the Vatican is a must-see. Overall, I had a blast on my trip but it had a much deeper meaning than sight seeing. I realized while I was there how sheltered my upbringing has been thus far and how beneficial it would be for me to travel to other regions of our world.
We are very lucky to be American and to be associated with the “freedom” that serves as a footnote for America. Given the United States’ dominant global presence, I wanted to dive a little deeper into a European country that isn’t a top player. I followed my Irish heritage and financial interests to the breathtaking country of Ireland. While Ireland engraves gorgeous plateaus of greener than green grass, there is much more than meets the eye.
I used the think tank known as The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) to do some further research into Ireland’s economic status. Recently, Ireland has been making headlines as being a target country that will default along with Portugal and Greece. According to the think tank, Ireland experienced a very similar housing bubble burst that the US did. Ireland was coming off of a decade in which their GDP nearly doubled in size. The housing bubble caused soaring growth in the construction and building sectors which left Ireland in a less than favorable situation by 2007. Seemingly mirroring our collapse, the financial sector collapsed with the housing bubble as it was heavily overweighted with exposure to the property market. In turn, prices soared and left Ireland in an even deeper hole by 2009.
Ireland’s economy is heavily dependent on trade because, as mentioned, it is not a dominant global player. That being said, when the global credit crunch developed, Ireland was left stranded with no one wanted to buy their goods. The global financial collapse left Ireland’s GDP down 40%. You could say it would be a bit of an understatement to say Ireland is in some trouble. Herein lies the point. During our financial crisis, yes, some people lost tons of money, jobs, and homes. However, we were able to implement fiscal and monetary policy that has slowly dragged us out of the recession. This is very eye opening as all of us, myself included, do not usually worry about the economy at our age. We feel confident that our education will help lead us to a job that our country is “constantly” supplying.
Getting to the meat of my post, what if we were of Irish nationality? What if all of a sudden, all businesses started going under and were no longer able to supply jobs due to the lack of demand for exports? As Ireland is so reliant on trade, this is a very plausible situation. Secondly, Ireland is part of the European Union. This also complicates the situation as there are 27 different governments that are all using the same currency. Here in the United States we have a centralized government and one currency that go together. 27 different fiscal policies is difficult to pair with one currency.
I guess my point, again, is that we should not take for granted the opportunities we have available for us here in the United States. In my travels over break, I realized there is much more to the world and social science for that matter, than just the United States of America. I think it would be an interesting experience to be able to try and enter the job market there over a period of time.