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Economic history EMU Political economy World Economy

Kevin O’Rourke on the eurozone crisis

Kevin O’Rourke delivered a hugely insightful talk on the crisis and the global situation at a conference in Dublin last week. His presentation is here.

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Fixing Financial Crises – Lessons from the Asian and Global Financial Crises

Andrew Sheng will address this topic at the IIEA next Monday – details here.

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Coordinated central bank action 
to address pressures in global money markets

The joint statement is here.

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Twilight of the Technocrats: Ireland, Italy, and Austerity

Here’s a long-ish opinion piece I wrote for Foreign Affairs.

Let’s define austerity as a sharper than expected drop in government expenditure and a sharper than expected increase in taxes by a government experiencing a large budget deficit. To date there have been about 21 billion euros in austerity measures enacted in Ireland, with about the same amount to come in the future, and not a single riot.

The scale of austerity in Ireland must give Foreign Affairs readers pause. At the scale of the United States economy, this is the equivalent of shutting down the US Department of Defense. Italy is facing into a period of austerity as well. What can they expect?

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Environment

Environment news roundup

With all eyes on the euro, the budget, the Middle East, some remarkable, smaller stories emerged.

Irish roads are now among the safest in the OECD. I guess the main reason is that much traffic has shifted to the new roads.

The 2010 Drinking Water Quality Report is out. Water quality is getting better, but slowly. Biological contamination is down and trihalomethanes (which result from improper chemical treatment) are down too.

Construct Ireland reports on an unpublished SEAI study (the leak is easily identified) that shows that building standards were not enforced. This is not surprising in itself, but the scale is. Sean O’Rourke’s interview with Gerry Wardell is worth a listen, and SEAI’s response is intriguing.

The EU is putting pressure on Ireland to hurry up with water charges. Ireland is obliged to fully recover the costs of water services. This implies an average charge of 500 euro per household per year, 5 times what is expected to be announced in next week’s budget.

The carbon tax is likely to go up. Initially, the carbon tax was tied to the ETS permit price, which has gone down. The market is least distorted when permit price and carbon tax are equal. Coal and peat, the fuels that emit most carbon dioxide, are still exempt from the carbon tax and there is no sign of the commencement order.

Dublin is considering a fire call-out charge. This would be wrong. Fire is an emergency. One should never hesitate to call for help.