FT article on DMcW’s
and thorn in the paw of the Celtic Tiger. He was among the few to have spotted and called the credit and property bubbles that brought the tiger to its knees, and has pilloried and pickled the country’s political, financial and business elite in a stream of best-selling pop-economy polemics. Follow the Money is his latest, bursting with profane portraits lampooning the dramatis personae of the boom and bust who, as it were, talked themselves on to the stage. A stand-up economist is born.
“When the parliament of a country turns into a theatre, then the theatre must become the parliament,” says McWilliams, gleefully irreverent behind a shock of red hair as he sips coffee in his local café in Dalkey, south of Dublin. Excoriating Dublin’s bail-out of the banks last month, he retrieved the figure of the Gombeen – the loathed money-lenders who preyed on the peasantry after the great famine – for use against those who operate at the tawdriest intersections of politics and business. “The neo-gombeen,” McWilliams wrote in the Irish Independent, “is a traditional gombeen hiding behind the international lexicon of high finance. The neo-gombeen thinks that if he uses the language of the Financial Times, as opposed to the Skibbereen Eagle, he can get away with it.”