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6-Part Web Video Series Documents Irish Financial Crisis

In this age of social media, with videos getting shorter and shorter, what should you do if you want to tell a longer story about your organization’s impact on the world?

Here’s one potential solution: an episodic video series.

Washington DC’s International Monetary Fund engaged Dorst MediaWorks to tell the story of its work with the Government of Ireland during the post-2008 economic crisis. We proposed a 6-part series, totaling less than 20 minutes. This is a good example of a complex, international project that the Dorst MediaWorks editorial and video production teams love to take on.

#1 of 6 videos: Ireland: A Celtic Tiger Booms & Busts

When the Irish economy overheated in 2008, a property bubble and banking crisis provoked a severe economic downturn. In part because of regional dynamics and the Great Recession, Ireland’s response was insufficient, and the decline persisted. In late 2010, a troika of institutions responded: the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the IMF. Despite growing pains, the troika succeeded in stabilizing Ireland’s banks and helping the economy bounce back.

Dorst MediaWorks headed all phases of production. We worked closely with the client before traveling to Dublin to interview people who were involved in the events: Patrick Honohan, former Governor, Central Bank of Ireland; Kevin Cardiff, former Secretary General, Department of Finance; Aidan O’Hogan, Managing Director, Property Byte; Larry Murrin, CEO, Dawn Farms; Dan O’Brien, Chief Economist, Institute of International and European Affairs & independent journalist; Liam Reid, Corporate Relations Director for Ireland, Diageo; Ann Nolan, Second Secretary General, Department of Finance; Danny McCoy, CEO, IBEC. Back in the USA, we interviewed Ajai Chopra, former Mission Chief, Ireland, IMF and Liaquat Ahamed, Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

#2 of 6 videos: Crisis! Ireland Calls the IMF

Ireland was relatively poor compared to other European countries in the 90’s. They attracted a lot of foreign investment in that period, and they grew very rapidly. In the late 90’s, they were growing almost 10 percent a year. It was seen as the Irish Miracle. In the real estate business, Ireland experienced phenomenal growth. The economy began overheating, however, with a real estate bubble characterized by property boom, price boom, and a construction boom. When the bubble burst, the building industry collapsed, and a significant portion of the economy collapsed with it. Unemployment peaked at around 15 percent. The Irish economy suffered a very big contraction by any historical comparison.

There was a lot at stake, since the Irish banking system was profoundly dysfunctional. To lose credibility in that environment would have had a very severe long-term effect on employment and the prospects for economic recovery. By early 2009, the government had laid out a multi-year program of fiscal adjustment, hoping it was just a temporary panic. However, the banks were in deep financial trouble since they’d extended loans for real estate and real estate prices had crashed by 60%. By October 2010, the financial markets would not extend new loans. Banks were unable to finance themselves. It was a classic moment for appealing to the IMF for financial assistance.

#3 of 6 videos: Ireland: The Troika Comes to Dublin

It became a race against time to stop the outflow of money from the banks. The Troika arrived in Ireland in December 2010, made up of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and really importantly, the IMF. The IMF was in the mix because it had long and deep experience of these kinds of crises and of these kinds of programs. The Irish wanted to have an international dimension for what was a difficulty within the European Union more widely. The European Union could’ve done this all with their own money. They didn’t actually need the IMF’s money. They just needed the IMF’s imprimatur and technical expertise. In fact, none of the European institutions had ever done this before. The Fund was definitely the most experienced of the three constituent parts of the Troika. In November 2010, the Irish State agreed to an €85 billion rescue deal. It was made up of €22.5 billion from the IMF, €45 billion from the EU and bilateral European lenders (UK, Denmark, and Sweden), and €17.5 billion from Ireland’s own resources.

#4 of 6 videos: Ireland: Stress Test Consensus, Bondholder Dispute

The most important thing was to stabilize the banks. The Troika’s idea on that was to do a very intensive stress test. The key measure was to bring in an external, neutral party to come do an asset quality review, and a diagnostic of what was happening in the banks. It made an enormous amount of difference that the IMF was supervising it because they were viewed as being independent. The bailout was controversial in several ways. One of the big things was around how the creditors in the banking system were dealt with. There were clear differences of views between the Irish authorities and the Troika and within the Troika on that issue. It led to constant butting of heads. That was probably the single most controversial aspect of the entire bailout period.

#5 of 6 videos: Ireland: Austerity, Toward Recovery

Austerity was not a choice. It was a reflection of necessity. The contentious issue was between the Fund and the European Central Bank. The ECB, in particular, at the beginning, were pushing for even faster austerity, which some felt would kill off the economy altogether. On the particular choice of measures, the IMF left this to the Irish authorities to choose. That was very important, because it gave them ownership of the budget measures that they implemented. “The IMF captured the confidence of the nation,” said Patrick Honohan, former Governor, Central Bank of Ireland. “And people said, ‘These guys … are here to help us’.”

#6 of 6 videos: Ireland, Inc 2.0

The economy hit rock bottom by the end of 2010. It was a very severe slowdown. And it stayed down at bottom for another two years. The recovery began in late 2012 when the labor market turned around — two consecutive quarters of employment growth. “The financial crisis could have destroyed that reputation, so the really great work of the IMF and the other Troika partners was to stabilize Ireland to kick on again,” said Danny McCoy, CEO, IBEC.

“That was what was at stake I think in the downturn,” said Patrick Honohan, former Governor, Central Bank of Ireland. “That’s why we appealed quickly to the IMF to turn that around, but the wider confidence in the vitality and dynamism of the economy was not lost.”

When it’s time to tell a complex, international story, and it works for you to collaborate with a Washington DC video production company, consider working with Dorst MediaWorks on your next project. Here’s the location of our boutique video production studio, in the heart of Washington DC.


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