The political aftermath of financial crises.


November 23rd, 2015


The Eurozone crisis: a “consensus narrative”


November 21st, 2015

Courtesy of VoxEU, here.

Review of budget oversight by parliament: Ireland


November 15th, 2015

Worth a read by readers of this blog (.pdf).

Key lessons:

Budget oversight by the Irish parliamentary chambers is under-developed by international standards.

Reforms mooted include:

  • Ex ante parliamentary input to medium-term fiscal planning;
  • Ex ante parliamentary input on budget priorities;
  • Early publication of full budgetary information and legislative proposals;
  • Timely consideration of the Estimates of Expenditure;
  • Performance Dialogue with joint committees in early year;
  • Re-introduce “Pre-Budget Estimates” showing “no policy change” expenditure baselines;
  • Establish an Irish Parliamentary Budget Office to support parliamentary engagement and budget scrutiny;
  • Continuing Professional Development of parliamentarians and officials;
  • “Performance hearings” with joint committees in early part of the year (February-March);
  • Power for joint committees to recommend changes to performance information;
  • Systematic review of existing performance metrics;
  • Estimates Performance Reports;
  • Promotion of IrelandStat as an authoritative portal for public performance;
  • Linkages to higher level strategies and articulation of a “National Performance Framework”;
  • Establishment of a “National Performance Quality Panel”;
  • Role for Irish Parliamentary Budget Office in supporting performance scrutiny;
  • Selective Audit of Performance Information by the Office of the Comptroller & Auditor General in reports to the Public Accounts Committee and other committees.

Well worth going through this, it is a wealth of constructive suggestions.

Ireland : Lessons from Its Recovery from the Bank-Sovereign Loop


November 14th, 2015

The proceedings of this CBI/CEPR/IMF conference, held in January 2015, are now available here.

ECONTALKS–UCC School of Economics Public Talks series 2015-16


November 9th, 2015

Second event: International and regional competitiveness of the Irish economy

  • Date and Venue: Wed 11th Nov 2015 7.00-8.30pm
  • Venue: West Wing 5 (Main quad)
  • Speakers: Eleanor Doyle and Justin Doran

The School of Economics, UCC is launching a series of public talks in 2015-16. The talks are aimed at the general public. They are non-technical (and non-political), informative, at times provocative and even entertaining. The talks showcase the range of research and expertise in the School of Economics, UCC, and engage the public on issues that are both topical and of widespread interest. In our first year, we highlight issues around the economics of sustainability; from the sustainability of Irish public finances and the economic recovery, to public policy issues in the areas of health insurance, sport, science and innovation, education and climate change.

The talks are free and open to all.  More details here.

Suggested hashtag for these events: #ECONTALKSUCC

A recording of the first event held just before Budget 2016 with contributions from Seamus Coffey and Eoin O’Leary is available here.

Aviation conferences and meetings in November


October 30th, 2015

The 2015 meeting of the European Aviation Conference (EAC) will take place this year in Cranfield University on November 19th and 20th. Academics, business and industry figures will debate whether the momentum behind airline liberalisation over past decades is now spent, as some evidence suggests.

The conference programme may be inspected and a booking made on the conference website.

Preceding the EAC will be the 2nd COST Workshop on Air Transport, Regional Development, Airport Hubs & Connectivity, which will take place at the University of West London (17 November) and Cranfield University (18 November). The program for the Workshop is available on the German Aviation Research Society (GARS) website where, as always, aviation-research-related information is updated continuously; see

8th Annual Economics and Psychology Conference ESRI Dublin


October 28th, 2015
8th Annual Economics and Psychology Conference ESRI Dublin 

The eight annual one day conference on Economics and Psychology will be held on November 27th at the ESRI in Dublin. The purpose of these sessions is to develop the link between Economics, Psychology and cognate disciplines in Ireland. A special theme of these events is the implications of behavioural economics for public policy. Please sign up here to attend. There is no registration fee. Our keynote speakers are: Alan Sanfey, one of the world’s leading experts on fairness and social decision making; Stefan Hunt, who will speak about behavioural economics and financial regulation; and Pelle Hansen, who will discuss ongoing work on behavioural science and policy in Denmark.

At the last event in November 2014 we agreed to develop a broader network to meet more regularly to discuss work at the intersection of economics, psychology and policy. This has had three meet-ups so far and a fourth will take place on November 9th. Anyone interested in this area is welcome to attend. A website with more details and a mailing list to sign up to is available here. There are currently over 100 people signed up to the network and the events have been, at least in my view, very lively and interesting. There are several more planned for throughout 2016 and we welcome suggestions.


830am to 9am: Registration

9.15am to 940am: Cathal Fitzgerald (DCU) “I Groupthink Therefore We Are: Detecting Behavioural Convergence in Leaders Before the Economic Crisis”.

9.40am to 1005am: Michael Daly (Stirling and UCD) “Childhood Self-Control and Smoking Throughout Life”.

1005am to 1030am: Victoria Taranu (Universiteit Hasselt ) “The implications of nudging in reducing residential energy demand and its potential for the EPC”.

1030am to 11am: Coffee

11am to 1125am: Leonhard Lades (Stirling) “Present bias and everyday self-control failures: A Day Reconstruction Study”.

1125am to 1150pm: David Comerford (Stirling). “The role of agency in preferences”.

1150pm to 1215pm: Irene Mosca and Cathal McCRory (TCD): “Personality and Wealth Accumulation Among Older Couples: Do Dispositional Characteristics Pay Dividends?”.

1215pm to 1pm: Alan Sanfey (Radbood). “Social motivations in decision-making: Insights from Decision Neuroscience”.

1pm to 2pm: LUNCH

2pm to 240pm: Pete Lunn (ESRI). “Pricelab: experiments for consumer policy”

240pm to 320pm: Stefan Hunt (FCA). “Applying behavioural insights to regulation: lessons from consumer financial protection”.

320pm to 350pm Coffee

350pm to 430pm: Pelle G Hansen  (Roskilde University). “Applying behavioural science in Denmark: progress and lessons”.

430 to 5pm Discussion

Debating Austerity: Professor Simon Wren-Lewis at the Royal Irish Academy


October 23rd, 2015

The Royal Irish Academy Social Sciences Committee in association with the UCD College of Social  Sciences and Law will be holding a conference on the topic Debating Austerity on October 29-30.  The Keynote Lecture and conference will be held at the RIA building at 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2.

The Keynote Lecture will be given by Professor Simon Wren-Lewis of Oxford University at 6pm, Thursday October 29 (lecture details below).  The lecture will be chaired by Patrick Honohan, Governor, Central Bank of Ireland.

This will be followed on Friday, October 30 by a full day of sessions debating the experience of austerity in Ireland from a variety of perspectives.

Further information on the conference and registration details are available here.   The admission price for the Keynote Lecture on Thursday evening is €5; admission to Friday’s conference is free.

Keynote Lecture: How to Avoid Austerity


Austerity may be defined as a large fiscal contraction that causes a substantial increase in unemployment. If the government has a budget deficit that is unsustainable, or a debt level that is too high, it is sometimes suggested that austerity is inevitable. For an economy with a flexible exchange rate and debt in its own currency, which includes the Eurozone as a whole, this is simply false. Fiscal contraction can always be delayed until monetary policy can offset the deflationary impact of any fiscal contraction. Unfortunately this is not true for a member of a currency union that requires a greater fiscal contraction than the union as a whole. Even in this case, however, a sharp and deep fiscal contraction will be an inefficient waste of resources. As the macroeconomic theory behind these propositions is simple and widely accepted, the interesting question about the current global austerity is why it has happened.

Simon Wren-Lewis is currently Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, having previously been a professor in the Economics Department at Oxford.   He is also an Emeritus Fellow of Merton College.   In September 2015 he was appointed to the British Labour Party’s Economic Advisory Committee.

Geary Institute Workshop on Well-Being and Economic Conditions


October 22nd, 2015

The Geary Institute is hosting a half-day workshop to look at changes in well-being in Ireland over the last 10 to 15 years. The specific aim is to consider a wide range of possible outcomes including physical and mental health as well as subjective well-being. Moreover we want to draw on a range of approaches from epidemiology, psychological medicine and the social sciences as well as different types of data. The event will be held in the UCD Geary Institute on Tuesday November 17th from 1130pm to 4pm. A light lunch would be provided.  This is is likely to be a full event so please RSVP to to register attendance (there is no fee) and also let us know if you subsequently cannot make it.

Co-organisers: Kevin Denny (UCD) and Liam Delaney (Stirling University)


1130pm to 1150pm: Registration

11.50pm – 1200pm: Introduction and Aims

1200pm – 1230pm: Brendan Walsh (UCD): “Reflections on Economic Conditions and Well-being in Ireland”.

1230pm – 1.00pm: Paul Corcoran (UCC) “Impact of Austerity and Recession on Suicide and Self-Harm in Ireland”.

1.00pm-130pm: Lunch

130pm – 2pm: Kevin Denny (UCD): “Self-reported health in good times and in bad: Ireland in the 21st century”.

2pm – 230pm: Eithne Sexton (TCD) – “Subjective wellbeing at older ages in Ireland 2009-2013: Predictors of change over time”.

230pm – 3pm: Cecily Kelleher (UCD): “Impact of the Economic Climate on Health Status during the first two decades of the 21st Century in the Republic of Ireland: Findings from the Lifeways Cross-Generation Cohort study of a Thousand Families”.

3pm – 330pm: Michael Hogan (NUIG):  “Engaging with Citizens in the Design of Well-being Measures and Policies:  Systems Thinking and the Public Participation Network”.

330 – 4pm: Discussion

Philip Lane named new Central Bank Governor


October 20th, 2015

Many congratulations to Philip who has been named as the new Governor of the Central Bank.

I assume this means that his blogging activities will be curtailed, and so it seems appropriate that he be publicly thanked for setting up this blog, in December 2008. Whether it made a contribution to public debate during the crisis is for others to judge — I think it did. But it also gave a platform to many Irish academics who otherwise would not have had a public voice, by dramatically lowering the cost of engaging in public debate. It helped bring us out of our academic comfort zones and engage with issues outside our research specialisms. In my case blogging even led to a couple of serious research projects, using history to shed light on the present. Finally, the blog provided a model for other group blogs in Eurozone crisis countries.

So, many thanks Philip and best of luck in the new job.

Philip Lane Appointed Governor of the Central Bank


October 20th, 2015

Congratulations to Philip, and good luck in his important new role.

Virtual Issue on Financial Crisis: Free collection of articles from Economic Policy


October 20th, 2015

Free until 31 December to celebrate 30 years of Economic Policy:


Virtual Issue: The Financial Crisis

We’ve pulled together a collection of articles reflecting on the range of analysis on the Global Financial and Eurozone crises appearing in Economic Policy over the last 5 years. This virtual issue focuses on one of the most acute contemporary challenges to economic policy and how the journal has contributed to our understanding of the European experience.

Cyprus: from boom to bail-in
Alexander Michaelides (2014) 29 (80): 639-689

The Greek debt restructuring: an autopsy
Jeromin Zettelmeyer, Christoph Trebesch, Mitu Gulati (2013) 28 (75): 513-563

External imbalances in the eurozone
Ruo Chen, Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, Thierry Tressel (2013) 28 (73): 101-142

The eurozone crisis: how banks and sovereigns came to be joined at the hip
Ashoka Mody, Damiano Sandri (2012) 27 (70): 199-230

From Great Depression to Great Credit Crisis: similarities, differences and lessons
Miguel Almunia, Agustín Bénétrix, Barry Eichengreen, Kevin H. O’Rourke, Gisela Rua (2010) 25 (62): 219-265

Lessons from a collapse of a financial system
Sigridur Benediktsdottir, Jon Danielsson, Gylfi Zoega (2011) 26 (66): 183-235

The great retrenchment: international capital flows during the global financial crisis
Gian-Maria Milesi-Ferretti, Cédric Tille (2011) 26 (66): 289-346

Recapitalization, credit and liquidity
Mike Mariathasan, Ouarda Merrouche (2012) 27 (72): 603-646

Systemic risk, sovereign yields and bank exposures in the euro crisis
Niccolò Battistini, Marco Pagano, Saverio Simonelli (2014) 29 (78): 203-251

Financial crises: lessons from history for today
Selin Sayek, Fatma Taskin (2014) 29 (79): 447-493

Banking crisis management in the EU: an early assessment
Jean Pisani-Ferry, André Sapir Econ Policy (2010) 25 (62): 341-373

This virtual issue is part of a broader celebration of Economic Policy’s 30th anniversary, which also includes the publication of Thirty Years of Economic Policy: Inspiration for Debate. Thirty Years of Economic Policy situates the Journal within a long view of its influence on economic-policy thinking, bringing together a selection of highly influential articles from the first 30 years of Economic Policy, which analyse some of the key global economic-policy challenges of our time within five broad areas: monetary and exchange rate policy; fiscal policy; European integration; unemployment and labour markets; and market regulation. Thirty Years of Economic Policy reflects on the major contribution that the Journal has made to economic-policy debate since its launch in 1985, and provides students, researchers and policy professionals a ‘reader’ of the progress we have made in understanding these key issues.

October 19, 1987: “Black Monday”


October 18th, 2015

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the “Black Monday” crash:  summary of that event here.

A dangerous union for small countries


October 18th, 2015

Here are three papers I have read recently.

1. Reinhart and Trebesch on the way that external debts can hollow out local democracies. No need to elaborate on this I think.

2. Avdjiev, McCauley and Shin on cross-border banking: well worth a read for people not familiar with this stuff. They are talking about complicated transactions, but as we know in Ireland, much simpler transactions (banks borrowing overseas) can have dangerous consequences.

3. Athanasios Orphanides on the highly politicised nature of crisis decision-making in the Eurozone.

From 3, and from everything that we have observed during this crisis, from Ireland in 2010 to Greece in 2015, I infer that a small country is much more vulnerable inside the Eurozone than outside, if it gets into trouble. Outside, you will deal with the IMF on its own, and they have a standard policy template: debts will be written down, currencies will be devalued, and yes, there will also be austerity. Inside the Eurozone creditor countries will sit alongside the IMF at the table and you may find that neither of the first two policies will be feasible, which will make the austerity far more harmful than it would otherwise be, both economically and politically.

From 2, I infer that a small country needs to watch its banks like a hawk, especially if it is inside the Eurozone, because (from 1, and 3, and from what we have experienced since 2010) the political consequences of not doing so are just too damaging.

And from 1 and 3, I infer that government debts are something that small countries inside the Eurozone also need to be very concerned about. Especially in a monetary union without a banking union, like ours.*

So I find myself in agreement with Colm McCarthy. As was the case 15 years ago, we need to worry about the possible real exchange rate consequences of expansionary fiscal policy at this point in the cycle. And to be fair to the Irish economics profession, lots of people did worry about that then. But the main concern for me is no longer about economics, but about the risks to our Republic’s democracy. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.


*What is a banking union? If Arizona elects a bunch of communists or survivalists to run the state, and the state budget explodes as a result, local banks will still be backed up by the Fed. My money will still be safe. I will still be able to withdraw it if I choose. This is what a banking union looks like, and don’t let anyone in Brussels or Frankfurt tell you any different.


Economic Policy Panel, October 2015


October 16th, 2015

Papers are available here.

Economic impossibilities for our grandchildren?: Keynes Lecture by Kevin O’Rourke


October 16th, 2015

Kevin’s recent Keynes Lecture at the British Academy can be viewed here.

Angus Deaton wins 2015 Economics Nobel Prize


October 12th, 2015

A very good choice in my opinion.  Though in some ways a pity it was not on a joint ticket with Tony Atkinson.

Here is link to his personal web page

Deaton has written extensively on consumer demand systems, taxation, health, welfare, poverty, well-being, econometric methodology, the list is very long.

There is a good discussion of his contributions at and

Note that Deaton is due to speak in Ireland soon, along with our own Cormac O Grada on the topic of “Modern Plagues: Lessons Learned from the Ebola Crisis”.

More details here

Sports Sunday; DEW; Talking Point


October 11th, 2015

It seems that not everyone enjoys the massive media coverage allocated to the rugby and football events.  Lifted from the comments, Sarah Carey writes:


I think sports should be on at the end of the news for a minute, and Saturday or Sunday afternoons for all-Irelands and perhaps the semi’s. Instead it has (through marketing – its an economics thing) come to dominate the media to the point where it’s not something men take an interest in after work, but a constant mainstream time and space occupying event. It used to be sufficient to shout for your county during Championship season and your country on the rare occasion we won anything (Ole!) but now it’s CONSTANT and even women ;-) are expected to be able to converse about a wide variety of sports AS IF IT MATTERED. And as if the nobility attached to PLAYING sports is earned simply by watching it, on a telly, on Tuesday nights and Wednesday nights, and all weekend, and all the golf opens, and horse racing (I mean, if you’re not betting on a horse at Cheltenham WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU) and as for F1 PLEASE/ cars going around and around? and I’m sorry. Rugby is a good sport, but you know it’s not a widespread country sport. It’s a posh boy sport. And it’s getting very dangerous with them all going around built like tanks and no son of mine will play it.
Hockey, there’s a grand sport. Gentlemanly and understated and no fuss and grandiosity. And only the odd injury if you put your head in the wrong place.
As for cycling, with ye going around in packs on Sunday blocking up the roads in that ridiculous gear instead of lazing in bed. Or out golfing. What happened to golf? The men could do their bonding and blabbing in awful clothes out of sight of the rest of us.
And all of it, even GAA, which really is noble, all about the money money money.
I’m going to set up a radio station which guarantees NEVER to have sport on it.

Right, got that off my chest!

As for compelling viewing on Sunday afternoons, you really can’t beat Pride and Prejudice. Or a good Agatha Christie. Something soothing to the nerves.

Sarah will be recording the Talking Point show at the DEW on Friday: 1pm in the library room at the Hodson Bay and everyone welcome to pile in and watch. Colm McC, Karl and Lorcan Sirr on panel.

The DEW programme is available here.

Future Funding of Higher Education Conference: Presentations Now Available


October 5th, 2015

A conference on the Future Funding of Higher Education in Ireland was held in Maynooth University on Wednesday last. It was a very good day, with excellent speakers and great interaction between the audience and the speakers.

The presentations have now been posted online, and are available here.

Call for papers: annual conference of the Economic and Social History Society of Ireland


October 3rd, 2015

The 2015 annual conference of the Economic and Social History Society of Ireland will take place on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 November 2015 at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick.

Submissions can be on any areas of business, economic, financial and social history, but submissions addressing the conference theme ‘Exploring Everyday Lives’ are particularly encouraged.

Submission deadline is 15 October 2015.

Download the call for papers here.


The society’s web site is

Bailed Out! in Dun Laoghaire


October 3rd, 2015

Just been to see Bailed Out!, the new play from Colin Murphy and Fishamble, which ends its run at the Pavilion in Dun Laoghaire on Sunday. It may go around the country later on.

Well worth a visit, and a break from the rugby.

Profile of Olivier Blanchard; More on IMF and Irish Bailout


October 2nd, 2015

The Washington Post carries an extensive profile of Olivier Blanchard, now of PIIE after his period as IMF economic counsellor – here.

The section on the Irish bailout is interesting:


The one place European leaders were anxious for a bank rescue, however, was in Ireland, where by fall 2008 banks were already reeling from losses after the bursting of a giant real estate bubble. The Irish government had nationalized one big bank and bailed out several others, but the cost proved so high that two years later the government itself was on the verge of defaulting on its own debts and turned to the international community for help.

The IMF had convinced Irish officials that, as part of any rescue package, those who had lent money to the banks should be forced to share in the pain. But Jean-Claude Trichet, head of the European Central Bank and a key player in any rescue plan, was adamant that there be no “haircuts” for bank creditors.

Trichet’s motivation was not surprising. The biggest creditors of the bankrupt Irish banks were French and German banks that themselves could go under if forced to recognize such losses, requiring costly and unpopular bailouts from their own governments. He also feared that any debt restructuring, as it is politely called, might make it difficult and more expensive for other European banks to borrow. Trichet went so far as to threaten to cut all central-bank lending to Irish banks if their debts were restructured, the equivalent of a death sentence for the Irish banking system.

With no other options, Ireland agreed to guarantee all of its banks’ debts, paying for it with a $67 billion international loan package whose harsh terms would drive the Irish economy into a deep recession and saddle a generation of Irish taxpayers with the full cost of repayment.

Strauss-Kahn, desperate for the Fund to play a visible role in the crisis, agreed to go along with the terms of the bailout. In rationalizing its participation, the Fund was forced to issue what Blanchard and his colleagues knew were unrealistically optimistic predictions about the quick recovery of the Irish economy. It would not be the only time the Fund would buckle to political pressure from European governments that are among its largest shareholders.

“We were in a difficult position calling attention to the fact that the European banking system may have been insolvent,” Strauss-Kahn said in an interview from Morocco. “It was not our job to cause bank runs. Olivier’s intellectual authority on that matter was particularly helpful, if not totally successful.”

Garret FitzGerald Lecture and Autumn School


October 1st, 2015

UCD College of Social Sciences and Law will host the Garret FitzGerald Lecture and Autumn School on Monday 19th October, in the UCD Sutherland School of Law. The daytime School (from midday) will focus on the significance of the social sciences. The evening Lecture will be delivered by Professor Cass R Sunstein,Harvard Law School, on the theme ‘Is Behavioural Science Compatible with Democracy?’. More details and bookings here.

‘The Financial Crisis in Ireland and Government Revenues’


September 30th, 2015

The Miriam Hederman O’Brien Prize on behalf of the Foundation for Fiscal Studies was awarded to Diarmaid Smyth and Rónán Hickey for this paper.

Economic and Social Review: Autumn 2015 Issue


September 29th, 2015

Vol 46, No 3, Autumn (2015)

Table of Contents


Blowing the Bubble: The Global Funding of the Irish Credit Boom PDF
Mary M. Everett 339-365
Outsourcing Foreign Services and the Internet: Evidence from Firm Level Data PDF
Holger Görg, Aoife Hanley, Ingrid Ott 367-387
A Reduced-form Equation for the Unemployment Rate Estimated from a Panel of Nineteen OECD Countries PDF
Dimitris Hatzinikolaou, Konstantina Girtzimani, Christos Mousafiris 389-397
Are Classroom Internet Use and Academic Performance Higher after Government Broadband Subsidies to Primary Schools? PDF
Marie Hyland, Richard Layte, Seán Lyons, Selina McCoy, Mary Silles 399-428

Policy Section Articles

Wages and Ireland’s International Competitiveness PDF
Rory O’Farrell 429-458
A Needs and Resources Assessment of Fiscal Equalisation in the Irish Local Government System PDF
Gerard Turley, Darragh Flannery, Stephen McNena 459-484


IMF WEO/GFSR Analytical Chapters


September 29th, 2015

The Autumn 2015 analytical chapters are:


Chapter 2. Where Are Commodity Exporters Headed? Output Growth in the Aftermath of the Commodity Boom

Chapter 3. Exchange Rates and Trade Flows: Disconnected?


Chapter 2: Market Liquidity—Resilient or Fleeting?

Chapter 3: Corporate Leverage in Emerging Markets—A Concern?



Compositional shifts in the labour market


September 25th, 2015

While this is specific to the UK, similar issues may arise in the analysis of the Irish labour market:  speech by Ben Broadbent here.

A Strategy for Resolving Europe’s Problem Loans


September 25th, 2015

IMF report here.

NERI: Quarterly Reports


September 25th, 2015

Quarterly Economic Facts here.


Quarterly Economic Observer here.

Corporate debt in emerging economies: A threat to financial stability?


September 17th, 2015

New CIEPR report here.