What is 'Celtic Tiger'

Celtic Tiger is a nickname for Ireland during its boom years between 1995 and circa 2007, when its economy was growing rapidly.  The gross domestic product (GDP) averaged 9.4 percent annually through 2000 and about 6 percent a year for the remainder of the period. The person credited with coining the name Celtic Tiger is Kevin Gardiner in a 1994 investment report for Morgan Stanley about Ireland’s economy.

Breaking down 'Celtic Tiger'

Celtic Tiger is a variation on Asian Tiger, alluding to Asia's economic growth. And, since the time of Ireland’s second boom in 2004, marking the country’s resurgence on the world stage, the press occasionally has referred to Ireland as “Celtic Tiger 2” and “Celtic Tiger Mark 2.”2

Ireland's Economic Journey

Miraculously, Ireland jumped from being one of the poorest countries in Europe to one of the richest in only a matter of years. Ireland’s first boom was in the late 1990s when investors (many of them tech firms) poured in, drawn by the country's favorable tax rates—which were as much as 20-to-50 percent lower than those in some other areas in Europe. Additional reasons for the economic uptick include a rise in consumer spending, construction, and business investment; social partnerships among employers, government and trade unions; increased participation by women in the labor force; long-term investment in domestic higher education; targeting of foreign direct investment; an English-speaking workforce; and membership in the European Union (EU), which provided transfer payments and export access to the Single Market. This boom ended in 2001 with the bursting of the internet bubble.

A Second Boom

The second boom, in 2004, was largely the result of Ireland opening its doors to workers from new EU member nations. A rise in housing prices, continued investment by multinational corporations (MNCs), growth in jobs and tourism, a revitalization of the information technology industry, and the United States’ own economic recovery all have been cited as contributing factors for Ireland’s 2004 comeback. But by mid-2007, in the wake of the growing global financial crisis, the Celtic Tiger had all but died.

Why Tiger, and Why Celtic?

The tiger is a symbol for power and energy all over the world; but this is especially true in Asia, where the tiger is linked with the power and mightiness of kings. The tiger is also associated with passion, ferocity, beauty, speed, cruelty, and wrath. The "Celtic" part of the nickname denotes Ireland as being one of the Celtic nations.


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