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Ireland is destined to become a “feeder nation” that is reliant on money being sent home from workers abroad, a leading hedge fund has warned.Toscafund, the London-based investor founded by Martin Hughes, said an exodus of Irish nationals abroad will hit the country’s economy over the next decade – dashing hopes of a return to the “Celtic Tiger” economy that fuelled growth in the lead-up to the financial crisis .
By 2020, Toscafund said Ireland’s population could be back where it stood in 2004.
Savvas Savouri, chief economist at the hedge fund, said: “The departure of Irish nationals as well as those who migrated to the Republic during more favourable economic times will pull down consumption levels and real estate prices.
“The new norm for Ireland and others across Europe will be quite literally living on reduced means and relying on a quite different economic model from their recent pasts.
“Quite different but not, we must add, altogether new. Having not depended on remittances for many decades, Ireland, like Portugal, will come to rely on these once more.”
Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” economy, which was famed for its double-digit growth for a decade from the mid-1990s, has contracted sharply in recent years having been hit by soaring state debt, a property market meltdown and surging unemployment.
Banks such as Anglo Irish Bank lent aggressively during the period. Ireland’s government, which received an €85bn (£68bn) euro bail-out from the Troika in 2010, has since spent about €70bn bailing out the county’s banks.
In a note for clients, seen by The Telegraph, Mr Savouri continued: “Having seen tourism as a bonus on top of a well-functioning internal economy, Ireland, like Spain, will see this return as fundamental in generating foreign income. Having seen the export of goods – including agricultural products – as part of a rather primitive growth model, Ireland, like Greece, will have to return to some significant form of this.
“As much as this economic repositioning will be seen as regressive and unwelcome by many, the reality is that it involves the few options the weaker members of the eurozone have, and Ireland is no exception.”
In contrast, Toscafund said Northern Ireland’s population was likely to increase by a tenth during the period and both the UK and Ireland would benefit from closer economic ties.
The warning on Ireland’s future emerged as worries around the eurozone remain focused on Spain, amid widespread expectations it will be the next bail-out recipient.
Madrid has already received international aid for its banks, which stress tests on Friday showed need capital injections totalling €60bn – less than the market had feared.
None the less, the Spanish state itself is widely expected to require an international rescue, as the country’s finances are hammered by the painful recession which has pushed its unemployment rate to the highest in the industrialised world.
Spain’s 2011 public deficit has been revised up to 9.44pc of gross domestic product from 8.9pc, and will come in at 7.4pc instead of 6.3pc this year, its budget minister said yesterday . Its latest jobs figures, published on Tuesday, are expected to reinforce the country’s employment crisis.
Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, has delayed any plea for aid, which would initiate a European Central Bank plan to buy Spain’s debt and ease its financing costs.
However, Madrid on Thursday announced a budget focused on spending cuts .
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