To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger Hardcover – March 2, 2010
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
“O’Toole … has produced a coruscating polemic against the cronyism and corruption that in his view helped to fuel the boom…. [H]is highly readable book is a salutary reminder that cronyism, light regulation and loose ethics can be a deadly combination.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
About the Author
Fintan O'Toole is a columnist and critic for the Irish Times. He was elected Irish Journalist of the Year in 1993 and was a drama critic for the New York Daily News from 1997-2001. The author of several previous books, he is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, Granta, and other publications. He currently lives in Dublin.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
As the Celtic tiger lies puking feebly into the gutter, surrounded by the debris caused by the bursting of one of the worst real-estate bubbles on record, the Irish economic boom has come to a painful, screeching halt. By August 2009, the month when the Irish prime minister finally dropped his "Celtic tiger as a template for economic development" speech from his speaking portfolio, the level of debt among Irish households was the highest in the EU, GDP was predicted to shrink by 13.5 percent in 2009 and 2010, Government debt had almost doubled in the preceding year. With a fifth of its office spaces empty, Dublin had the highest vacancy rate of any European capital and was rated as having the worst development and investment potential of 27 European cities. The Irish stock exchange had fallen by 68% in 2008....
The litany of depressing statistics goes on. In this book, Fintan O'Toole, a political commentator and columnist for The Irish Times, sets out in chilling detail the particular combination of factors that led to such a catastrophic end to Ireland's economic boom.Read more ›
The boom only lasted from 1995 to 2001, then productivity and export growth both fell. Yet as late as February 2008, Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond promised, "we will create a Celtic Lion economy to rival the Celtic Tiger across the Irish Sea."
Ireland's household and company debt was the highest in the EU, 1.1 trillion euros, while (some) Irish owned 1.3 trillion euros worth of foreign portfolio asset securities. Between 2004 and 2007, the richest 450 people added 41 billion euros to their combined wealth, often from the huge windfall profits of selling land for building.
Ireland was more dependent on foreign investment for its manufacturing base than any other country. Most foreign investment went into the finance sector. By 2005, Dublin's International Financial Services Centre accounted for 75 per cent of all the foreign investment in Ireland.
The idiotic notion was that "Consumption would replace production. Building would replace manufacture as the engine of growth." Between 2000 and 2008 capital stock rose 157 per cent - but this was mostly housing bubble: private sector productive capital stock rose by only 26 per cent.
The Irish people kept on voting for and electing those who blew up the bubble - who also turned out to be tax-cheating liars, convicted fraudsters and receivers of bribes. The people re-elected Bertie Ahern prime minister even though he had admitted being on the take.
The Irish Central Bank and the Department of Finance knew about the widespread crimes of tax evasion and fraud committed by politicians and bankers and did nothing to stop it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love Fintan O'Toole and I generally agree with him on most issues. This book is an overview of the crisis and how it happened and it quite good, but there is a major issue with... Read morePublished 17 months ago by David Osborn
Very good condition. Dust jacket in perfect condition. Pages unbent and no marks or tearing. Good book for class room.Published 22 months ago by Aleja Allen
Are six stars not possible ? An worms-eye view, but given from a western cultural perspective. This kind of thing is only possible when the author has lived outside of his country... Read morePublished on November 8, 2013 by brian
A must read for anyone interested in public policy or governance. It will likely depress you, but contains many messages that should be learned!Published on September 3, 2013 by L. Gent
O'Toole levels a withering barrage of criticism at his countrymen. In his summary, he makes some very acute observations about Irish culture.Published on April 29, 2013 by timothy j otoole
This is probably the most historically accurate, factually-driven and emotion-free book I have read on the current economic state of Ireland. Read morePublished on February 2, 2013 by Karen Jordan
I give this book five stars. It is written in a language that most financial novice's will understand. I am one of those 80's emigrants who did not return during the boom. Read morePublished on November 13, 2012 by Ainsworths
Fintan has given an excellent account of how a small country became corrupted by greed and opportunism. It is a dreadful indictment of Ireland at all levels. Read morePublished on April 9, 2012 by abogadonz
In this book, Fintan o'Toole brings together all those facts we know, or have read about in recent times. Read morePublished on March 17, 2011 by boring.housewife