Long range growth figures are a fascinating source of insight into what is happening in the economies over decades. Here's the data on GDP growth in advanced economies (29 countries) for 1980-2013. All figures are computed by me from the IMF data.
Let's start with a long view.
Chart below shows growth in real GDP per capita cumulated over 1980-2013 period:
The chart above clearly shows that after 33 years spanning periods of growth and two crises, Ireland is well-ahead of all euro area and Western economies in terms of cumulated growth in real GDP (the series are based on GDP expressed in constant prices in national currencies).
What the chart above does not show is that:
- In the period of 1980-1989 Irish growth run at an annualised rate of 1.8% per annum, earning us 17th rank out of all 29 economies
- In the period of 1990-1999 Irish growth run at an annualised rate of 5.6% per annum, earning us 1st rank out of all 29 economies
- In the period of 2000-2009 Irish growth run at an annualised rate of 0.74% per annum, earning us 17th rank out of all 29 economies
- In the period of 2010-2013 Irish growth run at an annualised rate of 0.65% per annum, earning us 17th rank out of all 29 economies
What does the above suggest? One: it suggests that our 'catching up' period of the 1990s was very robust: we outperformed the group average growth rate by a factor of x2.66 times.
Two: it also suggests that the 'catching up' period was not followed by sustainable growth momentum, as our growth rates declined in 2000-2013 period to those below the rates recorded in the 1980-1989 period and once again fell below those for the majority of advanced economies average.
Three: With our catch-up growth still putting us well ahead of the average in cumulated growth terms, including the growth rates for comparable catch-up economies, it is unlikely that we are due another 'catching up' period of growth any time soon. In other words, we need to get organic, sustainable growth sources to continue expanding in the future.
Chart below shows our performance across the above metric by decade:
Our performance, once adjusted for FX rates and price differentials tells a slightly different story: once we control for currencies movements, it turns out that we were less exceptional than based on comparatives for GDP expressed in national currencies:
- In the period of 1980-1989 Irish growth run at an annualised rate of 5.6% per annum, earning us 17th rank out of all 29 economies. The average growth for all of the 29 economies was 6.4% and median was 5.8%, so we were below average, but not that much different from the median.
- In the period of 1990-1999 Irish growth in GDP per capita pop-adjusted run accelerated to an annualised rate of 7.6% per annum, earning us 1st rank out of all 29 economies. The average for the 29 economies fell to 4.0% and the median to 3.8%. This was the period of our catch-up. So instead of x2.66 rate of growth relative to the average, we got x1.90 times the average.
- In the period of 2000-2009 Irish growth in GDP per capita PPP-adjusted run at an annualised rate of 2.6%% per annum, earning us 21st rank out of all 29 economies, which averaged growth rate of 3.05% and median of 2.9% per annum. The period marked the end of our catching up and the on-set of our bubble-driven growth that still was less than average or median.
- In the period of 2010-2013 Irish growth run at an annualised rate of 2.7% per annum, earning us 17th rank out of all 29 economies, against their average of 2.2%, but a median of 3.0%. This confirmed the growth trends in 2000-2009.
- Beyond our own case, note the steady decline in the advanced economies average growth rates by decade.
Do note two interesting facts emerging from the above, based on both GDP in national currencies and GDP PPP-adjusted:
- By both metrics of GDP per capita growth, Ireland in 2000-2009 had growth lower than Ireland in the abysmal 1980s (that is the effect of the massive crisis covering years of 2008-2010).
- By both metrics of GDP per capita growth, 2010-2013 period (after we officially 'emerged' from the Great Recession) have been worse than the dreaded 1980s.
One last chart, showing evolution of GDP per capita over time: