Friday, 31 July 2015

Podcast on Working Conditions Research

The latest installment of the TASC podcast features an interview with Prof James Wickham about his research for TASC on working conditions in Ireland.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Lessons from the Greece Debacle

Guest Post Ronald Janssen: There is no point in denying reality. By crushing a rebellious Greek government and disciplining its voters, the ‘Masters of Austerity’ have won a great victory. Implications extend far beyond Greece itself. What is now being inflicted upon Greece rams home the message that the dismal results of austerity policy are preferable compared to the disaster the ‘institutions’ will unleash if a government dares to step outside the orthodox framework.  

Here are two lessons from the Greek debacle the Left in Europe needs to reflect upon seriously.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Inequality: The gap between space travel and food banks

David Begg: It is quite interesting that the British Tory Party, which originally opposed the introduction of a minimum wage, has committed itself to bringing in ‘A living wage of £9.35/hr by 2020'. This is all part of George Osborne’s scheme to reinvent himself as a modern day one nation Disraeli. But if the idea of the Tories as ‘The Workers Party’ stretches credulity – he did also make massive welfare cuts after all, and is bent on emasculating the trade unions – perhaps it is a recognition that inequality is becoming a major issue.

In fact there is a growing awareness that inequality undermines economic performance. Even Christine Lagarde of the IMF has said ‘Recent IMF research tells us that less inequality is associated with greater macroeconomic stability and more sustainable growth’¹.

Monday, 20 July 2015

What do the OECD health statistics tell us about Ireland?

Paul Sweeney: The OECD has recently published its “Health at a Glance: Europe 2014”. This is very useful even though I am critical of this organisation for purveying some extreme liberal ideology on economics, taxation and other matters.

For example, OECD rarely uses the word “taxation” without attaching the ideologically-loaded word “burden” to it. Thus tax is always a “burden” to these tax-funded civil servants and they rarely describe it as it is – as a charge or payment.

The OECD’s data is based on national statistics and is very useful for comparisons. So if you ignore many of its economic recommendations, the data is useful in most cases and this international comparative health data/information is helpful. This is a flavour of what is in the report.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Fact-checking the National Economic Dialogue Factual Guides on Tax and Equity

Cormac Staunton: The National Economic Dialogue concludes today. The Department of Finance have published guiding documents for each of the breakout sessions.  They state that they should “not be seen as prescriptive but rather seeks to set out the current factual situation and to suggest some of the key questions which participants may wish to consider”.

Here are a few comments on the ‘factual situation’ as presented in document for the Economic Growth and Equity in Tax Policy group.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Survey results show Ireland wants a "Social Recovery"

Cormac Staunton: New research carried out by ‘Behaviour and Attitudes’ on behalf of TASC shows that there is strong support for investing in public services over tax cuts in the next budget.  It also shows that the vast majority of the Irish public are in favour of a rise in the minimum wage and that more than three-quarters believe that the minimum wage should be a ‘living wage’. 

As the National Economic Dialogue convenes this week, and as the Low Pay Commission prepares its report, what signals does this give to government in the run up to the Budget and indeed the next election?

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

European integration should not come at the cost of humiliating an entire people

David Begg: The Greek situation looks difficult. The economy is in danger of seizing up if the current standoff between the Greek Government and the rest of Europe cannot be resolved. Earlier reports that the parties were within €60m of a settlement had not been convincingly denied.

So we can assume that there is more at stake here than money. Given the failure of the austerity programme over the last seven years and the unsustainable level of its debt, Greece has a strong case for debt relief. It has a strong case for shifting the emphasis away from austerity and towards economic growth. The European establishment wanted regime change in Greece.

They didn’t get it and the result is that the legitimacy of EMU is now challenged in a way that goes beyond money. There is much media concern about the absence of trust between the eighteen prime ministers and Tsipras, but that cuts both ways.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

How to Pay for a Living Wage?

Nat O'Connor: A single person working full-time needs to earn €11.50 per hour to afford a minimum decent standard of living. This is a rise in the cost of living of 5 cent since this time last year.

Full details of this year's figure are available on In brief, while some costs have gone down, and the USC changes have reduced taxes on lower earners, the large increase in rents has pushed up the average cost of living for low income workers.

Many commentators and analysts agree that anyone working full-time (39 hours/week) should be able to afford to meet their basic set of needs, but the question arises: how can we afford it? In particular, how can struggling small businesses afford it?

Friday, 3 July 2015

The Greek Crisis: Lessons from Ireland

Jim Stewart: The Greek crisis and tragedy is a seminal moment for the Eurozone and the EU.

The Taoiseach has stated “For Greece there is a lesson from Ireland” (CNN news March 4th 2015). There are certainly lessons for Greece from Ireland, but the improved Irish economy is not one.

The deep recession in Ireland was largely of our own making, but Troika policies exacerbated and prolonged the recession. An important part of economic improvement has been due to the devaluation of the Euro against the Dollar and especially the Euro devaluation against Sterling, given the unique influence of the UK in the Irish economy.

At the same time the US and UK experienced robust recoveries. In contrast the Greek economy has not been able to benefit from Euro devaluation. Valuable lessons may be learned by Greece from Irish interactions with the Troika, especially the ECB. No doubt Greece has also much to share with other Eurozone citizens.

Testimony by Kevin Cardiff (former Secretary General at the Department of Finance, available at to the Committee of Inquiry into the Banking crisis illustrates much of Greek Government complaints about the anti-democratic nature of the Troika programme, its irrationality and self defeating nature in terms of hindering economic growth and the stabilisation of public finances.  Some examples:-

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Call to Europe on Greece: The European Progressive Movement must and will play a crucial role

Prof. Stephany Griffith-Jones, Ernst Stetter and Vassilis Ntousas: There is still time to reach a fair and equitable deal with Greece, a deal that ensures the country’s fiscal, financial and debt sustainability and that offers a clear pathway out of the crisis.

At the same time, the lessons learnt from the Greek crisis should lead the Eurozone to greater institutional convergence.

The underlying assumption of this convergence, which would comprise of concrete steps towards stronger governance, enhanced common fiscal and investment instruments, debt mutualisation, and more shared sovereignty, is the sense of common responsibility that must be gradually strengthened amongst the Eurozone’s member states in how they address future challenges in the global economic and financial arena.