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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 26 October 2012
A great read and one that matters. David McWilliams manages to combine a light-read novel with providing insights into the current economic crisis in Ireland and the rest of Europe. The two of them are cleverly intertwined, emphasizing the so obvious but often forgotten fact that economy is about real people. We meet Olivia Veckers, a young, popular history teacher. She loves her job but doesn't agree with the Leaving Cert system, encouraging her students to think for themselves rather than regurgitate textbook lines. We follow her all through her pregnancy of her second child, meeting many colourful relatives, friends and colleagues on the way. Like so many others, she's struggling with her mortgage of her house in Wicklow, bought during the boom. Her husband lost his job, her own working hours are reduced and their mortgage interest has gone up, all in all resulting in their outgoings being much larger than their income. Olivia and Sean talk to the bank to try and negotiate a deal but to no avail. A lawyer-friend offers to help them and together they decide to take on the banks in court.
`The Good Room' was a room many ordinary Irish people used to have, used only when very important people - the doctor, the priest - came to visit. In the good room, everyone pretended. The ordinary people pretended to be more posh than they were, the posh people played along. The Good Room is becoming rare, but its spirit lives on, according to DMW: Irish negotiators in Europe behave like his granny facing the local doctor in her Good Room, `adopting a subservient position desperately clinging on to a notion of respectability. Are we more concerned with the perception of respectability than with reality? Why, when evidently bust, didn't we call it like the Icelanders and tell the creditors where to go?'
DMW doesn't pretend to have all the answers, but he does make it clear that the behaviour of Irish negotiators in Europe affect the likes of Olivia and Sean, her family and friends - us. He points out that convential wisdom, mainstream thought, isn't always right - in fact, is quite often wrong. Will the judge rule in Olivia and Sean's favour, because the bank failed in their duty of care, by recklessly lending them more than 3.5 times their income during the boom? We won't know, not until a real-life Olivia and Sean - and there are plenty around - will take up the legal challenge in a real court.
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on 21 January 2013
As others have already commmented, a very good commentary on Ireland's current economic problems, written in a homely eady-to-read style. Anyone who follows his blog will already be familiar with many of his arguments.

I felt that the idea of intertwining the economic analysis with the real-life problems of a typical fictional victim of what went wrong with Ireland, didn't always work. Eg, did we really need to know about flatulating in a shop during her pregnancy?

Some concepts were brilliantly explained; other, such as the "discount window" were not explained at all. Using Iceland as an example of how the crisis might better have been solved may be correct; however Argentina, also going through a similar crisis has also tried to stiff its creditors, and is now effectively shut out from the world bond markets. There were also some minor editing errors, for example Belgium does not have the EU's highest national debt, either nominally or as a precentage of its GDP.

Still, all in all, a good read.
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on 20 March 2013
I've given it four stars because it's fun to read and up-to-the-minute and a bit controversial.
I'm not so sure I enjoy his economic suggestions. They seem to be so against the mainstream that I am doubtful about them. He seems to favour action which will "avoid hitting the ordinary man-in-the-street" unlike the Irish government's apparent attempt to spread the pain. But if we hit the so-called wealthy in their savings investment vehicles then surely we are truly hitting the ordinary people who have their pensions, savings plans etc invested in these very schemes?
A good read and very illuminating.
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on 20 December 2012
This book is easy to read and the content is good. Ther timeframe and events are up to date ( autumn 2012). It's layman economics and very easy to understand and follow. The comparsions with the three life style situations, hit the nail on head and many thousands of people in Ireland could identify with the charactures in the book. Worth buying if you want an insight on the irish economic situation at the moment.
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on 4 August 2014
another McWilliams masterpiece - framing economics in the lives of ordinary people -and their struggle with the recession - identifying the causes and ramifications of too much greed in the banking system - from bankers and their customers.
definitely worth the read
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on 26 April 2016
One of the dumbest, patronising and singularly pointless books I have ever had the misfortune to spend any of my life reading. Do yourself a favour do anything else other than read this drivel.
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