Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A Progressive Development (growth) Policy for Europe

Paul Sweeney: Did you know that last year 22.9 million people in the EU were unemployed, of which, a staggering 10.9 million people were long-term unemployed. At the current pace of reduction, the unemployment rate would take 7 years to return to its pre-crisis level in Europe. This is one of the many interesting points in a new economic study from European progressive economists.

The authors of the Independent Annual Growth Study “The Elusive Recovery”, expect that economic growth is going to slow down in the EU in 2017 to 1.6% after 1.9 % in 2016 and to 1.5% in 2018 because “tail-winds are turning into headwinds.” Brexit, higher oil prices and especially the slowdown in trade will impact negatively, along with uncertain politics.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Is an Irish Trump possible?

Rory Hearne: Trump’s election should make us reflect about our own national and regional economic and political situations and contexts. Trump’s success has resulted, in significant part, from a deep seated economic insecurity and exclusion amongst growing segments of the US population. So could we see an Irish Trump or new right-wing party elected into the Dail or even lead a new government?

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Trumpolicy and the likely effect on real investment

Jim Stewart: The effects of "Trumpolicy" on real investment are difficult to understand. Corporate investment and flows of FDI to Ireland and other countries are extensively influenced by factors other than tax, as revealed by annual investment surveys.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

An unholy trinity: what Trump policies, Brexit and political change in Europe could mean for economic stability

Jim Stewart: The policies of the Trump administration following Brexit and possible political change in Europe in the near future could lead to unprecedented change in Ireland. Despite the narrow immediate focus on the possible effect on U.S.foreign direct investment, longer run implications for world economic stability, for society, and political governance are likely to be far more important.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Book - Review: Branko Milanovic, “Global Inequality”.

Paul Sweeney: There are many books and reports on inequality now. It has been the big social issue for some time, but it is finally recognised as very important in economics. At last!

TASC’s excellent annual report “Cherishing All Equally 2016” is the best in measuring Irish inequality comprehensively and there are important and informative books like Inequality by Tony Atkinson who spoke at TASC last year; Joe Stiglitz (“The Price of Inequality” and “The Great Divide:); “Chronicles: in Our Troubled Times; by Thomas Piketty who addressed the largest meeting on economics in Ireland – on inequality - in Dublin also promoted by TASC a few years ago.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Enough of the post-Trump hand-wringing: it’s time to harness people power and push back

Maura Adshead: A colleague who studies Russian politics tells the anecdote about the Russian economics minister, holding a press conference after the 2008 financial crash. In answer to a question about what this meant for the Russian people, he replied; “the situation is hopeless - but not serious”. It took the stunned audience a few moments to realize the translator's error: the situation was of course serious, but not without hope.

Should judges be required to publicly declare their interests?

Nuala Haughey: Should judges should be obliged to make annual declarations of interests – such as property, gifts, land, and shares – in much the same way as TDs and Senators already do?

Minister Shane Ross thinks so. Explaining the rationale for this proposal, the Minister cited a recent case of a High Court judge who stepped aside from hearing a long-running dispute involving the cement company CRH, after concerns were raised about his ownership of CRH shares.

Monday, 14 November 2016

The Divide Documentary: Money, Stress and Inequality

Nat O'Connor: The Divide is a 2015 documentary, based on the The Spirit Level. I held a public screening and discussion of the film as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science in Belfast.

The Divide tells the story of seven individuals striving for a better life in the modern day US and UK, where the top 0.1 per cent owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 per cent. By plotting these tales together, we uncover how virtually every aspect of our lives is controlled by one factor: the size of the gap between rich and poor. This film tells the human story of the link between income inequality, status anxiety and a wide range of social and health inequalities. The arguments presented in The Spirit Level underpin some of the ideas presented in the film, although it is also about the sheer injustice of the situation, never mind the theory.

For those who haven't seen The Divide, it is now available in the documentaries section on Netflix if you have an account, as is it otherwise hard to find a viewing.

Friday, 11 November 2016

A spiral out of control: global real estate funds, rental crisis & government policy

Rory Hearne: The Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney, indicated yesterday that he is not going to introduce rent regulation/certainty as it might deter the ‘supply’ of private rental accommodation. This shows that it is the new Irish landlords – the wealthy global real estate funds – that are influencing housing policy and not the needs of the hundreds of thousands of tenants facing spiraling rents and evictions.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Rising rents: a social and economic crisis

Rory Hearne: The Daft property website’s latest quarterly rental report shows rents rose nationwide by an average of 11.7 per cent in the last year. This is the highest recorded by the Daft.ie report since its series start in 2002. According to Daft.ie, Dublin rents are now 10% higher than their previous peak in 2008. The report is correct to state that “this is having a disastrous effect on social cohesion as well as on Irish competitiveness”.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Much Progress on Costly and Wasteful Tax Breaks but Radical Change is now Needed.

Paul Sweeney: There has been much progress in getting rid of the most wasteful and destructive tax breaks, but many remain. 

Indeed a radical approach to tax breaks must be taken by government because they are a fierce waste of money. The many references to “Value for Money” by the public service is empty and really should be used unless this issue is seriously addressed.

The issue is that many tax breaks suddenly arise, which were never planned, which cost a fortune and do nothing for the economy or society. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The Interesting Story on Irish People’s Health and Habits.

Paul Sweeney: Did you know that 23% of Irish people still smoke, in spite of the ultra clear evidence that it is deadly? More men (26%) than women (20%) smoke. 

60% of us eat crap ie snack foods other than fruit, daily? And 75% of us drink alcohol? However this level of drinking is only in the past year while 41% drink at least once a week.  

But 37% of drinkers state that they drink six or more standard drinks (binge drinking) on a typical drinking occasion. Having been at Jimmy Murphy’s poignant play “The Kings of the Kilburn High Road” in the Gaiety last night, which centres around drink and achievement or lack of it, this latter statistic strikes a cord.