Kenmare Conference Programme

The programme for the Dublin Economics Workshop 2011 Economic Policy conference, to be held in Kenmare, County Kerry, October 14-16, is as follows:

Friday October 14th.

18.00 Understanding the Irish Banking Crisis

Dermot O’Leary (Goodbody Stockbrokers), Don Walshe (UCC): Debt De-leveraging, the Banks and Economic Recovery

Cathal Hanley, Andrew Rae (Competition Authority): Competition, Financial Stability and the Irish Banking Crisis

Pat Farrell (Irish Banking Federation): Building a New Banking Architecture

Saturday October 15th.

10.00 Competition Policy I

Patrick Keating (IBEC): Now or Never for Competition Policy

Paul Gorecki (ESRI): Competition Policy: Cycles, Partnership and the EU/IMF Rescue.

Pat McCloughlan (PMCA Consulting): The Coming of Age of Irish Competition Policy

11.30 Competition Policy II

Pat Massey (Compecon): What has Irish Competition Policy Achieved?

David McFadden, John Evans (Competition Authority): What Happened to Competition Policy?

Vincent Power (A & L Goodbody): Reflections on Twenty Years of Competition Policy in Ireland.

18.00 Macroeconomic Adjustment in Ireland and Europe

Pat Leahy (Sunday Business Post): Irish Elections and Economic Policy

Ajai Chopra (International Monetary Fund): Strengthening the Financial Stability Framework of the Euro Area

Sunday October 16th.

10.00 Reforming Pensions Policy

David Blake (Cass Business School), John Cotter (UCD), Kevin Dowd (Cass Business School): Lessons on Defined Benefit Pension Schemes

Alan Barrett (TCD. ESRI) and Irene Mosca (TCD): The State Pension Age and the Recession: Which Matters Most for Expected Retirement Ages?

Donal de Buitlear, Don Thornhill: A Transforming Approach to Pension Reform

11.45 Micro Policy

Michael Collins (TCD), Adam Larragy ( Univ of London): Implementing a Site Value Tax for Ireland

Liam Delaney (University of Stirling): Behavioural Economics and Irish Policy: Insights from International Experience

13.00 Conference concludes.

Bookings: Contact

This year’s conference is kindly sponsored by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.

16 replies on “Kenmare Conference Programme”

When is the Kenmare Conference likely to be in the mental space where it can move on from the Irish Banking Crisis and into perhaps a relationship with a new partner ?

Kenmare is a narrow hungry bitter place with a facade of civility – it is a appropriate place for a Irish economic discussion.

11.30 Competition Policy II

Pat Massey (Compecon): What has Irish Competition Policy Achieved?

David McFadden, John Evans (Competition Authority): What Happened to Competition Policy?

Answers to the above questions on the back of an envelope to the IFA please.

why so much on competion policy, worthy though it is? Wheres the views on education, on entrepenurshiop, on how ireland goes forward?

“Understanding the Irish banking crisis”

4 years in, “And still the gazed and still the wonder grew”. .

Maybe this lecture could be delivered by one of the recently unemployed SNA’s.

They could prepare for their lecture by reading, “The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report”. or better know as… Final Report Of The National Commission On The Causes Of The Financial And Economic Crisis In The United States”

We conclude this financial crisis was avoidable

We conclude widespread failures in financial regulation and supervision proved devastating to the stability of the nations financial markets

We conclude that dramatic failures of corporate governance and risk management at many systemically important financial institutions were a key cause of this crisis

We conclude a combination of excessive borrowing, risky investments, and lack of transparency put the financial system on a collision course

We conclude the government was ill prepared for the crisis and its inconsistent response added to the uncertainty and panic in financial markets

We conclude there was a systemic breakdown in accountability and ethics

We conclude collapsing mortgage-lending standards and the mortgage securitization lit and spread the flame of of contagion and crisis

We conclude that over-the-counter derivatives contributed significantly to this crisis

We conclude the failures of credit rating agencies were essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction.

We can guess that the IMF is due in town around then with the Chopper on the list of speakers.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the discussion of competition policy extends to considering how normal it is for the government, employers, and unions to bargain over a common national wage increase.

Ah… Kenmare, fond memories, love to attend, but, as a member of the hard pressed SME sector can’t afford the luxury.

18.00 Understanding the Irish Banking Crisis

“When too big to fail fails ”
followed by
“The end of “sure it’ll be grand” “

I notice that some commenters are not impressed with the scope and content of this programme. But it should be noted that economists who address issues of economic policy are compelled to operate in ever decreasing circles – and this is the case particularly in Ireland.

One thing, however, needs to be put to bed initially. The argument is often floated that, despite the large number of practising economists in Ireland – both academic and other, very few economists have the track record, knowledge or competence to engage in the public policy arena and that this restricts the scope and depth of the public discourse. This is nonsense. Every aspect of economic behaviour is governed, constrained, a response to, or influenced by some aspect or other of public policy. For goodness sake, it was an economic historian who first knifed through the BS being spouted widely about the innocuous nature of Ireland’s double bubble. If there are those who claim to practise this discipline and are incapable of offering an insight on some aspect or other of public policy then they are not economists.

The reasons for these ever decreasing circles lie elsewhere. Some are easily identified. Most non-academic economists are constrained by the terms of their employment from engaging efffectively in the public discourse (they some may appear here or elsewhere under pseudonyms). And when they do they have to be extremely careful not to damage the interests of their employers. The obverse is that their interventions may be crafted to advance the interests of their employers – and unfortunately, and, perhaps, unfairly, have to be discounted as a result.

But the academic economists and those engaged in economic research in allegedly ‘independent’ bodies are often contrained, conflicted and compromised by the nature of their funding and the research grants they secure.

All this restricts the number of public policy issues that may be addressed and the manner in which they are addressed. Rather than a decreasing circle it is more a tightening noose.

But the decreasing circles also reflect problems with the discipline itself. Macroeconomics has ended up being tethered on very narrow microtheoretic foundations and these foundations have proved to be seriously inadequate and insecure. And this reflects more deep-seated problems with microeconomics. Despite considerable developments in behavioural, evolutionary, psychological (you name the branch) economics, much of micro-level economic policy is derived from the very narrow canon of neoclassical microeconomic theory. There is limited engagement with the economics of public choice, the nature of transactions in various sectors, different regulatory institutions and procedures or the requirement for the adversarial representation of the collective interests of final consumers.

In addition the mathematicisation of economics at all levels has conferred the aura of a science when in reality it is a discipline that strives to use the scientific method as much as possible but which remains grounded in political economy.

When one takes all this into account – and in particular the extent to which the government machine dominates and constrains the public policy debate – the Kenmare programme looks almost bold and adventurous.

The banking, fiscal and pension stuff is almost a given – and the first two have been flogged to death, but the scope for digging into the micro substrata is extremely constrained. And so we get not one, but two, sessions on competition policy, but no mention of semi-states, privatisation, economic regulation or consumer protection and collective representation (some of which are big ticket items on the EU/IMF menu). Can’t talk about these, you see; these sensitive topics are being addressed at a very high level behind closed doors and a fait accompli will emerge eventually. And no focus on the major infrastructure and utility sectors where Ireland retains considerable sovereignty to effect reforms.

Welcome to economics in Ireland.

Somebody better mention that remote issue of unemployment this year, even over a jar, because Dan O’Brien may be keeping score again:

Colm, you better get a spake in yourself on pensions to give an input from the shellacked private sector as all the ‘experts’ cannot even pretend to ‘feel the pain.’ Dónal de Buitléir did have a few years in AIB but he wasn’t exactly infantry.

As for the ‘kindly’ sponsorship of the DCC, wonder hat that’s for?

An analysis of SME claims of credit contraction and its impact might be helpful. I know it is fashionable to parade the SMEs as exaggerating but just this morning I had a company cancel a deal because they couldn’t raise 36k from their bank (a ‘pillar’) despite provisional approval two weeks back. That’s a pain in the head for me that I have to transmit onto another creditor, and so on. Credit tightening is hurting employment.

@Michael H, The Alchemists.

Surely you don’t expect Irish economists to talk about pressing issues in the real economy where government retains some sovereignty to advance sensible reforms? Most of them can’t or won’t. All their talk is about the ‘big picture’ stuff where Ireland has lost any vestige of economic sovereignty. The latter is much safer and gives the impression of being engaged in the public debate. The former is, just, dangerous.

In any event Kenmare is only a gabfest and a knees up. It has no impact on policy formation. Colm McCarthy is the only economist who, deservedly, has a reputation and ability to speak (some) truth to power. (I suspect some punches have to be pulled because it’s a bit like the scene in the movie “A Few Good Men” where the character played by Jack Nicholson takes on the one played by Tom Cruise: “You want the truth”, “Yeah”, “You can’t handle the truth”.)

I would be surprised if anything Colm were to say at Kenmare hasn’t already been communicated to the Grand Panjandrums in private – and in characteristically clear and unambiguous terms.

@ Paul Hunt

It’s striking how conservative the society is from left to right.

Fianna Fáil and the Catholic Church have been neutered by their hubris but what else has changed?

Despite the changes underway in the global economy, the real prospect of unemployment remaining high for many years and the poor prospects for Generation Limbo, there is little appetite for change for change in Ireland.

This is all pretty tame stuff for comfortable middle age people.


I wouldn’t say conservative – in the best sense this means conserving what is perceived to be good and of value and making modest, measured changes when change is required. What is good and and of value, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. Many of us see the need for more deep-seated reform.

Irish society is retentive; it holds tightly to the good and the bad.

Btw, an interesting take on youth unemployment by The Economist (not usually a home for bleeding heart liberals):

What never ceases to amaze me is the number and variety of employment-creating whizzo schemes that surface or are proposed when the economy is in the doldrums and unemployment is high. The causal relation between productive economic activity and increased employment always seems to surprise people, but they never absorb the lesson. If you’ve blown your ability to borrow to invest in activities that will boost future economic performance all you can do is invest what you can in unemployed human capital and drive economic efficiency and productivity across the board to raise disposable incomes and boost economic activity.

And don’t be so hard on those who go to Kenmare 🙂

@ Michael

There is a Baby Boom so in 5 years time we will need zillions of overpaid Primary Teachers – highest paid in the World – OECD. Unemployment worry solved…………….

@ Colm McCarthy,

Thanks for the advertisement Colm. I noticed in an email this evening that the Feasta Debt Crisis conference on the 22/23rd September in Dublin, has Professor Charles Goodhart in the line up. It’s an event spread over two half days, and I am very disappointed that the date in September won’t work out for me. I won’t get to hear Goodhart, having enjoyed his lectures at the LSE by podcast several times over the past year or two. Anyhow, I just said I’d mention it in case anyone else here might make it to Dublin at that time. Perhaps a couple of young students etc, may find it affordable to attend the event. It’s on in Merrion Square. BOH.

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