By Mohamed El-Erian
The opinions expressed are the author's own.
It is safe to say that there is broad agreement on what is most desirable for solving the Irish crisis -- namely a mix of domestic policies and external financing finely calibrated to enable the country to grow strongly, create jobs, stabilize the banks, and overcome large and mounting indebtedness.
Unfortunately, what is most desirable is not feasible given the path Europe is embarked on; and, to make things even more complicated, what appears feasible to Europe is not necessarily desirable. As a result, Ireland finds itself stuck in an unstable muddled-middle. It can't get ahead of the crisis; it is far from a first best solution; and it confronts choices that are painful to implement and uncertain in outcome.
What is evolving in Ireland today resembles what was done in Greece six months ago. Expect the Irish government to commit to even greater budgetary austerity, its European neighbors and the IMF to provide massive funding, and the banks to receive liquidity, capital injections and other unconventional forms of support.
While seemingly exceptional to many, this approach constitutes the path of least resistance. In fact, it is the most feasible. But we should not confuse feasibility with desirability.
At its roots, the approach addresses liquidity but not solvency. It adds to the debt overhang rather than reducing it. And it uses the socially-painful method of income and growth compression as the principal way to promote international competitiveness over time.