Thursday, 21 April 2011

Palcic and Reeves on privatisation

Given the week that's in it, PE readers may be interested in a new book by Donal Palcic and Eoin Reeves, Privatisation in Ireland: Lessons from a European Economy. Further details are available here.


Paul Hunt said...

Philip Lane has opened a thread on this over at irisheconomy:

There's usually a bit more traffic there.

Tomboktu said...

And readers of PE might also be interested in Exiting from the Crisis: towards a model of more equitable and sustainable growth edited by David Coats, published by the ETUI, Brussels.

It is available as a PDF for free at

SlĂ­ Eile said...

@ Tomboktu that's a very interesting report. thanks for link
@Paul - is the quality (or your own and other inputs) and not the quantity that counts on PE. so keep commenting and challenging the progressive consensus - we need contrarians here since 'groupthink' is not cool at the moment sort of ...!

Paul Hunt said...


Thank you for the kind words. But I'm not particularly encouraged by your qualifying "sort of.." and I'm not seeking to challenge the 'progressive consensus' as a contrarian; I'm seeking to challenge it so that it may develop and expand to secure the necessary popular support.

There seems to be this implicit assumption that many citizens who should support this 'progressive consensus', but do not, are victims of a 'false consciousness' or of a 'learned behavour' that is not in their real interests, or of oppression by forces of which they are not fully aware. There are elements of all of these, but these citizens geuinely believe that they are making decisions, and are fully capable of making these decisions, in their own interests. Either explicitly or implicitly treating them as being dupes of market forces, or of forces of which they lack the knowledge to be aware or simply treating them as being too ignorant or incapable of acting in their own interests - is guaranteed to get their backs up. When this is accompanied by attacks on economic processes with which they feel comfortable, can manage and from which they benefit, by support for 'priviliged insiders' and by demands to advance the state apparatus - all accompanied by crocodile tears for the unempployed and poor - their repulsion is increased.

In the context of Donal and Eoin's book - and particularly in the context of electricity and gas - the current system of regulation is gouging €300-400 million a year from consumers, businesses, citizens and the economy. (The level of pay in the semi-states is neither here nor there in this context and it angers me that there is so much media focus on this, when the true villains are those who administer current policy and regulation.)

The Review Group's report didn't address this directly, but the many forceful recommendations on refrom of regulation suggest the problem has been identified. Any question of privatisation is entirely separate from and secondary to this. Any government, and this one is no expection, having already being forced to concede that the process of bank supervision and financial regulation was totally dysfunctional - with huge detrimental impact on Ireland's international reputation, will live in dread of being forced to reveal that economic regulation in all other sectors is equally dysfunctional.

I don't know how this will play out, but it won't be pretty. All I know is that this continued gouging of citizens and the economy cannot continue.