Major Honour for Kevin O’Rourke

Many congratulations to Kevin O’Rourke on being the first Irish-based recipient of the prestigious European Research Council Advanced Investigator Grant for a project to research the inter-relationships between trade, trade policy and the Great Depression: you can find out more details here.

21 replies on “Major Honour for Kevin O’Rourke”

Congratulations. It must be one of the pieces of research most cited by notable economists in the last year. Can we say that the community of academic economists is currently punching above its weight?

Comhgairdgeas, Kevin O’Rourke. It’s great to see Irish economists being recognised internationally like this. Perhaps this is yet another sign of the renaissance in Irish economic thought mentioned by other contributors.

Yes, congratulations. The competitiveness of this award and the rigour by which it is assessed means that only the absolute elite across any discipline are considered. It is a stunning achievement and recognition of a top scholar.

@Philip Lane
“Professor O’Rourke’s five year research project…”

I hope it’s as exciting and eventful as this research project of similar length:
“… the crew of the starship Enterprise and its five-year mission “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

It would be tragic though if there was no one else to take up the baton on
a co-oordinated once-off national wage reduction agreement. Even though it should have been done a year ago it is still possible.

“The Government should announce that all public sector wages, which it controls, be cut by x%, where x is determined by real exchange rate considerations. It should strongly suggest that all private sector wages be cut by the same amount. Ideally we would all jump together, and so the wage cuts would come into effect simultaneously on a given date. St Brigid’s Day would seem appropriate.”

When country’s were on the Gold Standard exchange rates were fixed.
It is now proved that:
“The more wages fell, the less output declined.” And the less output declined the lower unemployment was.

In The Netherlands, wages fell 14% but output – and hence employment – fell 10%. In France wages ROSE 1%, and output and – hence employment -fell 26%. Many historians blame the resulting deep divisions (sound familiar?) for contributing to France’s defeat in 1940.

A national wage reduction agreement is imperative.

Congratulations indeed to Professor O’Rourke.

Thank the Lord it wasn’t Morgan Kelly.

Does the 1.4 million euros count as a service export for Ireland?

Regarding the call for a national wage reduction by Paul Itixsdotayee, I have one question. If wages are to be cut by x%, where x is determined by real exchange rate considerations, will the reverse occur when the exchange rates move the other way?

Let’s suppose that wages are indeed cut by x%, in line with the rise of the euro against the dollar and sterling in recent years.

What happens if the euro subsequently falls against the dollar and sterling? While no one can predict, this is quite possible in the next few years, as clearly both are currently under-valued against the euro.

Will there then be calls for a national wage increase?

There seems to be a growing recognition across the entire EU region on the subject that is Ireland and it’s economy. People came here to study Ireland during the so-called ‘growth years’ of the boom. Now people are interested in Ireland for a very different reason.

While some of the most recent analysis of Ireland and her problems from one quarter or another has been well meaning. One also wonders how shallow has it been? It is important perhaps that some serious research is undertaken.

I assume that Kevin’s research will take a wider sweep than simply looking at Ireland – but nonetheless, I think it is increasing evidence that Europe as a region is waking up to Ireland again – in a positive way. I mean, taking serious stock of suggestions, observations and the general point of view of Irish economists.

This is the one area where I do believe, the argument is good for Ireland ‘punching above it’s weight’.

Because the problems of Ireland, Greece and Iceland have been so sudden, so great and so confusing, it is no bad thing at all, that economists from those countries should be given some platform from which the rest of Europe can listen some bit.

This doesn’t take away from the fact either, there are other ‘regions’ and sub-regions of the EU area that still deserve much observation and analysis. Take the new Eastern block members for instance. But what this research award for Kevin O’Rourke certainly does, is it ascerts the simple truth that Ireland may be worthy of some study too.

It is not like this 51-st state of the US, on the west coast of Europe which can take care of itself and can do it’s own thing.

The true-est thing about the economic collapse in Ireland – during the Celtic Tiger we felt close to the United States moreso than anything else. Europe was something far off in the distance, in terms of integration with it, from an economic point of view.

(Is that why we took so little attention of concerns and indeed, actual warnings, expressed by leading Irish economists, when Ireland entered into the Euro-zone in 2002 . . . was that another case of . . . go ‘cut their throats’ type of policy)

It is funny, that following the economic collapse in Ireland, it is the United States now which seems more distant, and Europe seems much closer.

The research grant to Kevin O’Rourke is simply another indication of that (new) reality we are living in.

One other quick observation.

It is funny, Michael O’Leary of Ryanair sort of predicted this would happen. During the Lisbon Treaty debates, O’Leary’s line was simple. Support the Treaty, if for no better reason that to short-circuit the political process here at home in Ireland.

One thing we can count on, is the prospect of the Irish government screw-ing things up. Why not aim for closer and better integration in the European region?

Much deserved from the quality of your research as noted on blog postings on this site.

I hope that you continue to clarify much of the bunkum that passes for economic commentary.

I note that there is an implication that trade is somehow involved in ?causing or prolonging? the Great Depression.

Hmmm. You may have a choice between the truth and academic economic research. Are we sure they picked the right target? It may distract you and keep you quiet……. so maybe they did? Keep away from implicating crooked banking if you want more grants of this nature is my advice!


It’s tremendous to get such a multi-year grant to further research a subject you are so enthused about.

Maybe you will be able to share notes with Ben Bernanke if he gets the boot in coming weeks!

There is always something new to discover and myths to be debunked.

The enduring myth that there was a public buying frenzy of stocks does not tally with the fact that only about 2% of Americans were direct stockholders.

As to trade, it’s also interesting that Britain going off the gold standard had more an impact on the enfeebled US financial sector than on trade.

The 15 year gap between 1929 and 1944 and the bitter experience, was amazing in the change in the US from a country obsessed with the Allies paying back war debt with the knock-on impact on Germany to pay reparations, to visionaries devising a multilateral economic support system for the world.

As we well know, leadership or the lack of it, continues to count.

@ Brian O’ Hanlon

I expect being Irish had zero impact on the grant award.

We do tend to extrapolate from the impact of the diaspora in the US, to believing that European and others should be aware of Ireland.

Just think how much attention Irish people give to Europe’s small countries.

@ Kevin O’Rourke

Well done Kevin! Credit where credit is due.

5 years is neat, and for the five after that – a comparison of the Great One with the first half of the Irish One – rem that the new commissioner for research/innovation in the EU has a €50 billion budget – and her name is Maire. has just slashed the odds on a member of this blog getting the Nobel in the next 20 years. Eat your hearts out Chicago (-;

Wages should reflect market conditions. At the moment unemployment is high and rising. By lowering them, employment and output increase. If the Euro does fall then we will become more competitive, more productive and wages will naturally rise. We need to make pices in Lidl Dublin much closer to prices in Lidl Berlin so that the actual standard of living is affected as little as possible.

You never had any reservations about NAMA and it is secretive, doomed to fail and opposed by the overwhelming number of academic economists.
I never thought I’d say this but where’s your optimism?

@Paul Iticsdotayee.

“You never had any reservations about NAMA and it is secretive, doomed to fail and opposed by the overwhelming number of academic economists.”

Actually, I’ve rarely commented on NAMA, other than occasionally to say that, if the economy grows by 4% to 5% in the next decade, as ESRI predict, then that will improve the outlook for NAMA. I generally keep out of the NAMA debate (easily verified by reading through all the NAMA threads), as I’m out of my depth on the issues involved in it.

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