Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Soaring Profits almost equals the Total Wages Bill in Ireland.

Paul Sweeney: The news that Ireland saw GDP growth of over 26.3% in one year in 2015 at first appears remarkable. However, it had little impact on jobs or citizens’ welfare. It was the work of “magicians” working for multinationals in the tax avoidance industry.

It really illustrates is how multinational corporations and their servicing agents in the big four accounting firms and legal firms are using Ireland to avoid tax internationally with major profit-shifting, base erosion and other financial shenanigans. 

Normally - in the past in developed countries - the wage share was around 75 per cent of national income. It has been in decline because of globalisation, the decline of union power, reduced taxes on companies, productivity gains going to capital etc.

A remarkable figure is the 44% growth in profits in 2015 over 2014. This is in stark contrast to some growth in aggregate wages of 5.6% (mostly because there were more workers employed) and indeed a small rise in the earnings of the self-employed.

Monday, 11 July 2016

From self-harm to social Europe?

James Wickham:  When in the 1960s the poor of the US ghettos rioted for the first time, they burnt down the areas in which they lived.  When the excluded of the French banlieus rioted in the 2000s, they burnt down the schools which served them.  Now the excluded white ethnics of the English working class have gone one better.  They have not only trashed their country’s economy (which arguably has given them very little for years) they have set in motion a process by which the institutions of the United Kingdom itself could be destroyed.

Friday, 8 July 2016

A New EFTA-EU Relationship Post-Brexit?

Nat O'Connor: Trying to imagine a “perfect” agreement for the UK to enjoy a stable, friendly and mutually beneficial trading relationship with the EU is problematic. A better solution would be to envisage this future relationship as an ongoing process rather than a final agreement or compact. The best candidate for this process would be a new relationship between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the EU, based on respectful ongoing dialogue on the best way to organise trade with the EU’s neighbourhood. This would involve strengthening the EFTA into something more than it is today. If done right, such a process could provide the EU with a valuable mechanism for trading and co-operating with its close neighbours.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Brexit, Ireland and economic policy

James Stewart: Brexit marks a fundamental change in how we think about the EU and  our relations with our closest neighbour. Advice on what should be done has been both freely given and plentiful. 

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Teething pains of lobbying transparency register

Nuala Haughey: The first official report on the workings of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 offers important insights into how the new transparency regime is working after less than a year in operation.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Brexit threats to rights of migrant workers and students


Roland Erne: All European citizens have just been stripped of their European citizenship rights in Northern Ireland and Britain. Hence, no European right to vote in local elections, no European social rights (e.g. no European Health Insurance Card), and no European right to be treated equally anymore.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Brexit Scenarios

Nat O'Connor: The UK exit from the European Union is a sad event, not least because it is highly unlikely to deliver better living conditions to people in deprived communities who voted Leave. And by demographic change alone, in ten years today's Remain camp will be the majority (but Out nonetheless).

Next comes the long process of disentanglement. It is worth considering what the longer-term scenarios might arise from Brexit, in order to avoid some plausible nasty outcomes and to steer towards some kind of positive outcome that would benefit the UK and EU, and Ireland. Just two examples follow, but much more thinking is needed of all the many complex implications of this vote.

Better off without them?

James Wickham:  The founding fathers of the European Union believed that economics determined politics.  They have been proved wrong. What will happen now, after Brexit, involves politics – political choices, political values.  The European Union can only survive if its supporters recognise this.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The World economic outlook is not great


Paul Sweeney: The outlook for the world economy is not great, with low economic growth, rising inequality and slow demand, according to the OECD, the rich countries’ think tank. It published its Outlook earlier this month.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Neoliberalism exposed

Rory Hearne: Neoliberal policies have resulted in increased inequality and have failed to achieve economic growth. Furthermore, increased inequality in turn hurts the level and sustainability of growth. This statement is nothing new to progressives but it is very significant that the IMF has come out in recent weeks and identified these failings in neoliberalism.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Giving Ireland - and Europe - some backbone

James Wickham:  A progressive Europe requires putting the state back in.  And ‘the state’ means both the national member states and the European Union itself.  What follows is a written-out version of my invited intervention at a recent conference in Athens organised by Syriza and other progressive organisations.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Taoiseach appears to seek Increased Public Investment, as does OECD.


Paul Sweeney: The leak in the Irish Times (13th June 2016) that the Taoiseach has written to Mr Juncker, President of the EU Commisson, on the need for greater investment in Ireland is welcome, but appears somewhat disingenuous. 

His letter appears to quote the report published by TASC last December which pointed out that Ireland’s level of investment was at its lowest level ever and was the lowest in the Union. Mr Kenny said investment in infrastructure in Ireland was at its “lowest level for many years, and also represents the lowest level of any member state at present” – the two points emphasised by TASC.

Friday, 10 June 2016

A Basic Income for All? Has its Time Come? Or is it a fad?


Robin Wilson: The recent Swiss referendum on a universal basic income for all has cast back into the spotlight a proposal which has periodically had its advocates, ranging from green progressives to right-wing libertarians. What it hasn’t had is popular support: 77 per cent of Swiss voters rejected it.

So why has universal basic income enjoyed a certain return to political fashion? It is a disarmingly simple idea based on a disarmingly simple premiss. The digital revolution threatens massive technological unemployment; ergo, every citizen should be paid a basic income regardless.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

In this Programme – “There’s One for Everyone in the Audience.”



Paul Sweeney: This Programme for government is quite different from previous programmes. It is 160 pages where is the last programme was a mere 60. 

The many promises are a recognition of the vulnerability of this new minority government. It has to be more open to the views of others. In turn, this means that it will be much more difficult to be decisive in policy implementation. Yet, this handicap may lead to better policies. One of the downsides of social partnership was that issues took a long time to resolve, but the benefit was that better decisions were made in the long run, because many had contributed, foreseeing the downsides and strengthening policy. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

A New Era for Housing Policy?

Nat O'Connor: Now that there is to be a Minister of Housing, Planning and Local Government, as well as a Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal, one might hope for decisive shifts in housing policy.

The Fine Gael manifesto and the Programme for Government outline a range of commitments, including delivery of more social housing and affordable housing. Regardless of ideology, one might hope that the new ministers might wish to see a more coherent and honest housing strategy. At present, housing policy is neither.

Monday, 23 May 2016

How fares tourism? A review of the Programme for Partnership Government


Dr  Ziene Mottiar: It is surprising that a sector which employs 205,000 people, brings €6.6 billion of revenue into the country and contributes €1.6 billion in taxation is given so little attention in the Partnership for Government document, especially in light of the fact that there is considerable focus on rural development within the programme.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Where ambition meets reality: new Government spending plans do not add up


Marie Sherlock: As we have learned the hard way over the past decade, there is one hell of a gap between the lofty ambition of rescuing and building the economy and the hard task of making it happen and finding the resources to do so.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Benefits of the Benefacts database


Nuala Haughey: A new database of information about some 18,000 non-profit organisations in Ireland will no doubt contribute to the drive for more accountability and transparency in the sector.
Billing itself “civil society online,” Benefacts is a free and searchable public directory that provides regulatory, financial and governance data about the non-profit sector which employs more than 100,000 people and has a combined annual turnover of more than €6bn. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

How the Government should tackle the housing crisis ­

Rory Hearne: The draft Programme for Partnership signals that the new Government will give urgently needed prioritisation to the housing and homelessness crisis. Positive measures include a commitment to “significantly” increase the delivery of social housing units, raising the level of rent supplement, developing “cost rental” housing, addressing mortgage arrears and progressing
the right to housing in the Constitution.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Reducing inheritance tax: populism and financialisation

James Wickham: Last week one of the first proposals of the new government was to raise the threshold for inheritance tax.  This is one of those measures that can have popular appeal and which are actually extremely regressive.