The latest employment figures

“So, we hear Ireland is recovering”, a French friend said to me last night.

(Mind you, they said something similar in the summer of 2010. Our government has an incentive to sell the Irish good news story, and “Europe” has an incentive to buy it.)

So, here are the latest employment data, reporting the largest seasonally adjusted quarterly fall in employment in two years, and which surely deserve a thread of their own.

79 replies on “The latest employment figures”

Is is with statistics like this that you miss JTO’s unique analysis. 😉

Quit sulking John – your country needs you !

I am going to use Bayes theorem to try to analyse this and work out

Probability(we are fucked given these unemployment figures)

A simple bayes transformation gives this equivalent to:

Probability(we would see these unemployment figures given we are fucked) x Probability(we are fucked) / Probability(we would have these unempoyment figures)

I will now make the following assumptions (I am an Actuary!)

(i) Independent probabity we are fucked at any time is probably about 20/1 or 5% (tail event)

(ii) Probality we would see these employment figures (at least this bad) if we were fucked has to be at least 75%

(iii) Independent probabilty we would see these figures at any time is probably around 10/1 (not quite a tail event I would say but pretty bad if worst in 2 years!)

Plug the figures in to get:

Probaility we are fucked = 37.5%

Happy christmas to all and to all a good night.

If the squeeze at both ends continues (numbers in employment dropping and numbers unemployed increasing) something undoubtedly has to give. I wonder what that something might be? Probably several things: mortgage and loan repayments, consumer spending, economic growth, social cohesion, tax take*

*continue adding as they occur to you

Lets keep it simple.

46,000 increase in unemployed. Assuming each person spending on average 10,000 euro per annum (192 euro per week) in domestic economy previously = decrease of 460,000,000 euro in local spending.

Aside from the human tradegy of the context. Discuss relative to Government revenue and growth projections for 2012 and impact on the next Budget.

@PR Guy

Windows of all shops in city cenre will start to give as rocks begin to be thrown to them.

Shops in city centre will also begin to give free tvs etc as people walk through said broken windows and take stuff for free.

Radical policy change is needed.

Hope Govt is “getting it”. Current way is not working. Pressure building up in society. Labour will be decimated if this continues (will go almost as low as the Greens).
Hope that meeting with Osborne is about post Euro contingency planning and settling us back on the American-Anglo axis.

More whining. We had higher unemployment in the eighties and we pulled through then, didn’t we?

No, Ireland has agreed on a commitment to austerity with its European partners and we have decided (totally on our own) to help preserve the European financial sector by keeping our banking institutions financial commitments. There were always going to be consequences.

Now if a few more young people end up with the greatest gift of all (free time) who are we to complain?

In the end the reality for Ireland’s ageing and comfortably off political, journalistic and administrative class were clear. They had to take difficult decisions, and the difficult decision they chose was to keep doing what they were told. If Germany is willing to sacrifice the health of its lower paid for the Euro, and we see ourselves principally as Germany’s partners in the great Eurozone project, then by the new logic of “enhanced amorality competition” we have no choice but to do the same thing.

All of the other paths leads to debasing the most precious resource any man has, his money.

@ Actuary and PR Guy.

+1 on all counts.

Can’t wait to hear the latest from Blind Biddy.

It’s NUTS …………… what do they not understand?

These people talk about 250 euro a year as if it were nothing to anyone in the state.

That 5 Euro per week is a struggling family’s ‘bread budget’ for the week.

@Shay Begorrah

“Now if a few more young people end up with the greatest gift of all (free time) who are we to complain?”

Free time? Surely shome mishtake? You meant ‘free plane ticket’?

Let’s hear a ‘Ho ho ho’ for Christmas cheer.

Figures are terrible, imho true index of health of any economy is the unemployment rate, Q3 at 14.8%

The unadjusted unemployment rate increased from 13.9% to 14.8% over the year to Q3 2011. The male
unemployment rate was 17.6% and the female unemployment rate was 11.5% in the quarter, up from 16.8% and
10.2% respectively a year earlier. See tables 1a and 1b.”

The reality is worse than those figures. Many young people in education waiting for jobs when they leave.

Far more terrifying is the fact that many businesses are holding on by the skin of their fingers. 2012 should turn out to be far more devastating than anything seen in those figures.

Also in 2012 the banking/financial services industry should begin its overdue cull. Cutbacks in the public service will accelerate the downward fall.

In the retail and hospitality industries we should see endemic closures over 2012. Hotels, restaurants and tourism are especially vulnerable in a downturn peg to a high currency.

Interesting annual percentile change below, responses to Compact Treaty here:

Annual Change, Greece -0.8, Ireland -0.7, Netherlands -0.7 Figures are heading south.

Another disturbing aspect of the figures is that there continues to be inward migration of people to serve job vacancies in the multinationals because educational levels/language/IT skills are not available locally. So migration patterns might see those unemployment levels in worse light.

With the prospect of the compact being stopped in its tracks by referenda across EMZ, the limited and derisory changes proposed that ignore the debt crisis, I’m certain even the Merkozy know at this point, der euro ist fertig, the euro is finished!

We have the opportunity to leave the euro, clean up our act, devalue, bring down our costs, stimulate tourism, speak to the Chinese, Asia, get their tourists coming this way as well as to London.

Hopefully Laurel and Hardy today will get some KopOn and use any remaining smarts they have to listen the UK’s excellent Chancellor of the Exchequer and David Cameron PM to rescue Ireland from the jaws of doom beckoning from the eurozone 🙂

Ireland = Catastrophic investment choices * no control over its currency.

I sit and watch the all Ireland energy strategy & I want to cry.

Replacing Base load coal power with high value Gas even if burned in CCGTs as seems to be happening with Money point not operating to full capacity these last few years is a criminal waste of resourses with huge opportunity costs built long term into the system.
The situation up in N.I. is even worse ! – with minimal capital investment in thee most important of Utilities.
They like us wish to run down early 70s technology and replace it with a form of madness thanks to the help of the ESB so that the banks can go back to the normality of producing credit opium again , me thinks they are living in cloud cuckoo land.

JTO would have you believe that increasing your GDP by paying more for final energy improves your standard of living but obviously it does not.
Its just a GDP fetish.
If more & more of our money goes into keeping us warm, less and less money flows into service related jobs – its as simple as that in many ways.

Our energy strategy is not even suitable for a major Gas Exporter with Norway getting most of its electricity from highly capital intensive Hydro.

Its truely is pull your hair out time.


Not yet – they need the structure to continue ‘implementation’.

Too much ‘vested interest’ for the CS, of whatever grade, in the status quo so long as there is a ‘cold wind’ blowing outside.

For the record, I am not a ‘blame it all on the CS.’

ESB will be announcing 1000 job cuts in 2012 (700 VS + 300 non replacements) and a recrutiment freeze. So that’s no-more/less jobs in Financial Services, energy, public service, construction or retail. Leaving what, Google and a few technology/Pharma NMCs to employ a handfull of graduates. Farming/Agri-business might do ok. Tourism maybe.

sung to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel Mrs. Robinson

Where have you gone John the Optimist
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you
Ah woo hoo hoo

These are the most important statistics in the country, and I despair of the policy response so far. I’ll be honest and say I don’t miss JtO as much as other posters, but I do think a more robust rebate on labour market policies could be had on threads like this.

Despite the blatantly obvious lack of demand for jobs all policy recommendations remain fixated with activation measures to improve ‘supply’.

This obsession with supply side labour market policies is premised, whether it is made explicit or not, with a normative belief that the state cannot and should not get into any type of demand management.

However, in the midst of a deep recession it is the not the structure of skills that matters but the organisation of work.

bear in mind that these would be much worse if we didn’t have outward migration, of whatever level and of whatever initial nationality these outward migrants may have been.
Throughout the 90 years of Irish independence we have persistently failed to do the basic simple thing of provide opportunities for children. Listen carefully to some of the higher echelons of media, the civil service, and government… the if you engage in a debate about unemployment and migration sooner or later the wonders of Skype will appear, the implication being that because now we can Skype or children this makes it somehow okay, much better than when we had to rely upon an aero gram.
Politically the greatest Benefits and also the greatest curse we have ever had has been the existence of an integrated labour market with United Kingdom. Had we not had that at some stage the lid would have gone off the pot and we would have had a decent hard look at what it was we wanted our society to do

Two days late for a thread on the jobless is better late than never but it will hardly elicit the excitement and Googling for material that the likes of Merkel or Sarkozy would trigger.

I have the impression that the issue of unemployment generally gets a lot more attention from economists and the media in the US, in a relative sense, than it does in Ireland.

On the ‘good news story’ line it’s lapped up but in Aug 2010 when S&P warned of a possible downgrade, the NTMA went ballistic.

As applied during the boom, we believe our own propaganda.

So we have become ‘competitive’ on the basis of unit labour cost data that are not a reliable guide to competitiveness. Besides, outside of commodity markets, price is seldom the only factor in an export deal.

More incentives schemes in the absence of a change in mindset at policy level, will only be window dressing.

On training, who could have confidence that the planned successor to FÁS will be different from the behemoth of cronyism that that agency became.

Basically, day-to-day public expenses cannot be met by revenues (just 1 boring example of excess; there is a about 50% diff in the pay and expense of a Swedish MP and TD — independent TDs get over €200,000 in a special tax-free gift over a parliamentary term that was introduced in 1997 and so on) ; farming is ticking over with many farmers happy with the average public subsidy of 94% of income – – land sales are very low suggesting that the income is adequate/bearable; about 20 US pharma and medical devices firms are responsible for the majority of goods exports.

There are no new net jobs from FDI; spending on science since 2007 is about €10bn and strange as it may seem, after 60 years of public enterprise support, very little is known about companies. There is no data on survival rates and no longitudinal studies to inform decision making.

Compared with Iceland’s resources, Ireland’s is mainly hope.

The response so far to the disaster has been inadequate and Mr Market has wreaked havoc on the non-FDI part of the private sector while elsewhere despite the sense of victimhood, it has been largely business as usual.

The courts are brimming with cases; the DPP has slightly reduced fees and ditto for the health insurance system and the welfare it provides.

@ Aidan R

A return to domestic growth and recovery of construction given its linkages, would have the biggest impact.

So how would you boost domestic demand today?



If you want a good example of how evil (sorry for the hyperbole but I think it is appropriate) the influence of the CPA has become consider this. On January 1st a large number of Professors at Irish Universities will receive a pay increase of more than 6,000 euros. In some cases this will take their pay up to 146,000 euros. A lot of these people are engaged in ‘research’ which has the same status as gardening or knitting – a pleasant hobby if you are into that kind of thing (anyone for ethnology?).

If you want to know how crazy this state of affairs has become have a look at this job ad:

These figures are dismal. Not to plug my own work too much, but this chart in particular shows the incredible trend in the composition of the long-term unemployed, who now make up 56% of total unemployment:

Other worrying points are the strong downwards trend in the participation rate, now 60.4% v 61.2% a year ago (you need to graph it instead of looking at the release, it’s very cyclical), youth unemployment and the extended measures of unemployment which include underemployed and discouraged workers.

Do people think the wage rigidity emphasised by Krugman a few days ago is having a large impact on employment? My view is that it’s a factor but not a large one. What we have is an aggregate demand problem, plain and simple. Use of ALMPs and benefit reform will help, but only to a point.

@ Ahura,

Just scanned Foreword …”Between now and 2015, the ESRI expects GDP to grow at around 3% a year.”

OOOPs The ESRI do manage to get things wrong quite a bit, don’t they:)

Pretty soon the only visitor to Ireland will be someone by the name of Commissioner Ollie Rehn.

Along with those ESRI economists of course, only people working here will be teddy TD’s in Dáil Éireann 🙂

Ollie’ll be demanding we change the name, Ireland, to PollyannaMan.

I’m sure we can beat him back to agree to a more blindly optimistic compromise, RollieEuroFine.

Please make sure to include the ‘e’ above.

@ Michael H

Yes, agreed, a return to domestic growth and construction would have the biggest impact. Therefore, all of the focus on start-ups, export companies, activation and R/D will have minimal, if any impact on jobs. Ireland is not Germany whereby employment is driven by large export firms (which, of course, is the outcome of a historically politically organised market).

Ireland only sustains full employment when there is a boom in domestic demand. The public sector and construction sustained full employment in a male bread-earner labour market. Retail and domestic services, in a period of growth, since the 1990’s, compensated for the rapid increase in female participation rates. At least recognizing that full employment is only possible with an increase in domestic demand is a step in the right direction.

I would boost domestic demand by avoiding the austerity fetish pursued by the government. The entire fiscal adjustment should be designed to avoid further contraction in domestic demand. The opposite occurred. Therefore, anyone who is serious about solving the employment crisis cannot buy into the obsession with bringing down the budget deficit. It must be focused on increasing the growth side of debt-GNP ratio.

Secondly, I would immediately establish the strategic investment bank. Sean O’Rian and others have outlined the importance of this. Thirdly, I would get serious about industrial policy. This would include an insistence that the US MNC sector do their bit, like other European countries, by taking a public regarding role in the coordination of industrial strategies that links the domestic with the export sector.

Thus, we need to construct economic institutions to coordinate the market toward public end goals. In the end, it gets down to a question of whether the state should leave the allocation of existing economic resources to the market or politically direct them toward full employment. This, of course, is totally alien to anyone trained in market economics.

@ Aidan R

I don’t disagree with anything you say there but the fact is that we don’t have the option not to pursue deficit reduction (absent of sovereign default & currency change, etc). We have a large policy constraint that we have to work within, so the question then becomes how can we reduce the deficit in the most domestic demand/employment-friendly way?

Here’s one idea to boost jobs market, but its no good in the short term. Raise the fees on degree courses that will not equip students with the skills required for today’s market.

Other than that. Ireland will need some sort of default on bank debt, so that all the dead money put into a dead bank can be used elsewhere for a better return.


I think the first branch of the decision tree requires more thinking about – ie:

Would we be better off not pursuing deficit reduction and having to endure sovereign default and new currency (plus resulting euro chaos)


Would we be better off pursuing deficit reduciton with resulting constraints.

Once that is decide you can move on to how best to follow either policy. In practice we dont make the decision (maybe the referendum will but I doubt it).

So we are in a holding pattern for a few months until the first question is decided for us sometime in 2012 hopefully (the sooner the better). I wouldnt worry too much about part (ii) until we know more about part (i). Better spending time / resources planning for outcomes of (i).

Ireland is going through a world class bailout. I hear it all the time. Much stronger than Portugal or Greece. “And it’s only 14% unemployment “is the other leg of the argument.
14 football players from Williamstown’s football teams now live in Australia. Collateral damage

While the figures are undoubtedly very disappointing it should be noted that there were around 5,000 temporary field staff for Census 2011 who would have been picked up in Q2 and could account for about one-quarter of the drop in employment.

@ Actuary

Any policies that we can make now, within the deficit reduction constraints, would also be useful in the event of the nuclear option. If we do go down the road where deficit reduction is not as immediate a problem (probably beause the CBI is monetising our punt debt) then ALMPs, benefit reform, capital programmes will all be on the policy menu.

Sure, we’ll have more options in that event but with these figures I don’t see waiting as the right option. I completely agree that we need to have public debate on the alternative though, it looks like Noonan has kicked off the campaign.


i really do not think he is lying. Look what happen when G-PAP decided to go for a plebisicite. The Rulers of the EZ stepped in to say theat the vote would effectively be on staying in or exiting.

In any event, if the club of which you are a members states that you must adhere to a new set of rules then you must either i) adhere ii) seek to change or iii) leave. Since ii) is remote it is either i) or iii).

The car tax policey was a good start , this does not affect basic life support.
I hear they are looking for more money . taxing stationary cars – well I don’t disagree to be honest.
Could never figure out why every capital good except cars must be made to work efficiently.
Private Cars as opposed to taxis generally depreciate in driveways for the most part, but still you must give people a way out , a goal – not punish them every which way but loose.

They are looking for a change in the VRT thingy I hear.
Well technology has moved on since 2007 with many cars now in the sub 100 g per Kilometer category
So why don’t they create a new A range. (0 to 100g / km)
Maintain the 14% VRT for this new A type
16% VRT for the old A type cars / now new B type cars (100 – 120g /km)
20% VRT etc etc
and a higher perhaps 40% VRT for the Hummers of this world.
It would raise revenue for next year but not be a break of contract that the car tax thingy has become.

I suppose after-sight is useful. Two, possibly three years back, there were clear warnings about the difficulties of sustaining employments in this country. We cannot, and will not be able to resurrect ‘lost’ jobs. Its simply impossible, impossible. So when will this awful truth sink in? Never, it appears.

There are (in my bad guesstimate) approx 20,000 manual jobs immediately available in the rural hinterlands of this island. Min wage, backbreaking, hard grind, shitty jobs. That’s about it, except for the few tens or so that show up each week in the anorexic-like Appointments Sections of the Two-Euro Dreadfuls.

My own ‘operationalization’ of the chronic poor health of our economy; the slowly multiplying closures (brown paper, black plastic coverings in retail windows), weeds growing on the undersides of padlocked gates and sparse traffic flows in once thriving business parks/industrial estates. I do not need to read the CSO Spam. This is not recessionary, its a catastrophic Economic Regression. I suggest (nay implore) folk to engage in a meaningful manner with the dreadful future we are facing into.

And this is before the next energy shock tsunami comes ashore.


@ Johnny Foreigner Says:

“Cut public sector salaries by enough to allow the USC to be abolished.”

You could argue this on equality grounds, but you’re just taking money off Peter so Paul can consume, or more than likely pay down debt, instead. Is it really going to make an impact? I’d imagine it would require quite a large cut too, remember that taking, say, €500m off the public sector pay bill nets the Exchequer much less.

@ The Dork of Cork

Taxing car travel (outside of cities) is giving people another incentive not take a job. VRT, sure.


Compared with Iceland’s resources, Ireland’s is mainly hope.

Nope, Ireland has a great future if managed correctly. FDI and multi national corporate footprint belie that statement, their presence is a statement of belief.

We’ve a rather beautiful island with a deep cultural heritage and we’re an enterprising people who’ve made a huge contribution to development in other countries. We need to build on our educational system to put more emphasis on maths/science/technology. For example, neither students nor teachers at second level are given enough incentive to improve standards. Educational goals need reevaluation.

As first to cleanup from the euro mess, we have opportunity; but only if done properly.

@ Aidan R,

Secondly, I would immediately establish the strategic investment bank.

+1 But this is meaningless unless we properly wind down our banking sector and take its burden off our shoulders. A botched cleanup leaving a zombie banking sector held in suspended animation by our debt providers and debt extractors is not a fit state to be in.

We have opportunity in the coming collapse of the euro. The contagion argument that shorted and undermined our negotiating position is now over. The mess provides opportunity to cleanup as well as make matters worse.

Off topic, its rather a pity that more analytical academic research and focus is not being given to the methods, consequences, difficulties an opportunities provided by euro exit. Lots of what we get is the nutter, unimaginable disaster, ‘just don’t think about it’, armageddon nonsense.

Interesting to wonder why we’ve turned a blind eye to these matters and refuse to take off the blindfold.

I certainly don’t want to be in six months time looking back and saying, oh look, I told you so 🙂 Game over then, who cares ?

Works not over if you’re driving:

I am afraid if we are to maintain a Industrial society people must move into our city / town centres again.
This tax idea is just about squeezing more energy out of the system without penalizing people for past investments made on good trust such as the road tax thingy.

Whats stopping people moving is their Mortgages I am afraid – if I was running the CB ALL mortgage contracts would become null & void given the criminal credit conspiracies that Bill Black & others have talked about.
People can move wherever they like when Apartments are worth 10,000 a pop.
Creating a much more efficient society where people are close to their work , school , leisure etc.


Depends on what proportion of each amount you think will be spent or saved. Almost all the USC giveaway will be spent, whereas a decent chunk of the public sector salary cuts (if targeted at the middle/top) will simply lead to lower savings.

You are correct that large cuts are needed – 30% in higher education would bring us close to UK salaries, especially at the top. Let’s overlook the fact that we should be paying our academics half the UK salaries given (i) that they do half the work (ii) our country is broke.

@Eamonn Moran

“This may well be the best economics article I have ever read”

Excellent article indeed.

@ colm brazel,

I didn’t bother rereading that report. I linked it as a nod to glossy reports that promise nirvana but fail to deliver. Best to file under fiction.

I tend to look at the number of Full-time employed as a rough guide to a taxable base, though you need to take a guess at what %age of full-timers are already close to the breadline. Then I compare this to the deficit and quietly panic.

Large infrastructure projects that would have created many jobs, directly and indirectly were cancelled recently.
Meanwhile billions were paid over to bondholders of bankrupt banks who should at least share the burden when the bank goes bankrupt.
Doesn’t make sense.

@ Eamon
Dr. Stiglitz article is interesting and of course mentions that the banking weakness have obviuosly still not been solved. Also that in the U.S. the Fed tripling its balance sheet to bail out banks there has not improved their economy.
A point that is always interesting is that pre 19th century US it took 98 people to produce the food for 100 and now it takes just 2. So actually everyone there should be able to live well if they were orgainised properly.
The point on the housing bubble is one reason in explaining why they didn’t. The point here is the greed of the average home owner who ignored their loss of buying power in their wages due to the increase in the value of their home making them all rich. With homeowners making more than half the population it is easy to see how any regulation curbing home values was/is not popular.
This is very relevant to Ireland and makes Mr. Kennys – it wasn’t your fault – seem populist. Simple regulations to curb property speculation are need in Ireland to ensure this never happens again. A basic human right such as shelter shoud be as accesable and affordable as basic clothes and food are, especially in a country with as low a population density as Ireland. A public servant in a developing country in South America can buy a bungalow for 30,000US with their salaries.

@Seamus Coffey

“While the figures are undoubtedly very disappointing it should be noted that there were around 5,000 temporary field staff for Census 2011 who would have been picked up in Q2 and could account for about one-quarter of the drop in employment.”

The field staff who called to a family members (I am overseas) door told him she worked for the council and the field staff gig was a bit extra for her holidays. This particular family member was recently at the time unemployed having worked for 35 years of his 50 something lifespan and he had applied to get a temporary position in the field staff team. I would’nt be so sure that 5000 were picked up at all……

The problem about the strategic investment bank is the same problem as the way Nama is operating.

Losses in the Property and Banking sector need to socialised as much as possible in order to save the skins of as many vested interests as possible.

Finding ways prevent recognition of Property losses through government policy must be safeguarded.
The two Pillar banks are brought back to life, Socialisation of massive bank losses, current budget tax breaks for property investors and upward only rent agreements all prevail.
Bankruptcy legislation, an investment bank, bank lending and legislation on rental agreements to prevent business collapse are all long fingered or shafted.

Insiders must be protected. Society can take care of itself.

I heard on the radio yesterday that Charities employ 100,000 people in Ireland.
Thats the same number as the whole of FDI.

That is nuts.

I’d like to know the basis for the assertion that academics in Ireland do half the work of those in the UK. I am not aware of any reliable data that would speak to that. The vast majority of my colleagues work pretty hard as far as I can see. Funny how anonymous comments tend to be the most sweeping.
There probably are grounds for some cuts in pay in higher education, especially at the top (I can say that since it wouldn’t affect me). The danger of an across the board cut is that you would probably lose some very good scholars. Maybe that is the price one has to pay.

@Johnny Foreigner

I’m less confident that low-income households would spend the proceeds of any tax reduction. I suspect it would go to paying ESB bills on time and catching up on mortgage arrears. I’m not against public sector pay cuts at the upper middle and top, though I think your view on the workload of academics is way over the top. A debate for another day anyway.


The DG ECFIN report Philip linked to in the new thread forecasts 14.2% unemployment for 2012, revised up from 13.8%. Optimistic? Would this be a “success”?

@Kevin Denny

Pick a set of departments in the UK for your discipline. Go to their websites and count the publications of the academics in those departments. Then do the same for your discipline for the Irish universities. Once you’ve picked out all the fluff (asbtracts, letters to the editor, invited reviews, ‘reports’, publications in the comedy Irish journals) and counted original papers in international peer-reviewed journals I’ll be shocked if the Irish academics average half their UK peers.

Admittedly it won’t be as bad for the sciences as it will for the arts and humanities where, as far as I can tell, there are many departments who produce no peer reviewed papers in international journals at all. Ever.

The Troika is telling the Greek government to cut 173,000 public jobs. Last I saw, unemployment was 17.5% there in September (who knows what it is now?).

Is it a case of: “there but for the grace of God…” or is that where we are heading too?

Worth a read – I have grave doubts about Greece not defaulting before the end of Q1 2012:


“The point here is the greed of the average home owner who ignored their loss of buying power in their wages due to the increase in the value of their home making them all rich”

House price rises a substitute mechanism for falling wages as such. Makes sense that employers would spin that too. These days (and not just in Ireland), when ‘real’ income is still falling and house prices falling faster, I have noticed that employers have reverted to giving employees grandiose job titles in place of a pay rise! What a ruse. I was just talking to a “Senior Programme Manager” in a well known financial services company who is green behind the ears to say the least and didn’t know that such things as ‘programme communication plans’ even exist (I won’t bore you with the bullshit answer he gave about project dependencies and other such bread and butter subjects for project/programme managers). Ho hum. At least he was happy with his lovely job title and new business cards to pass out to his friends.

I wish I could find a magic answer for unemployment but I don’t have one. I fear it will all end up in another pointless war.

@ colm brazel

Nope, Ireland has a great future if managed correctly. FDI and multi national corporate footprint belie that statement, their presence is a statement of belief.

…if managed correctly

This is the biggest problem and it won’t be solved by self-congratulation.

Today the ESRI reports on the poor image of Ireland’s public service.

Last month Joan Burton gave an example of the problem with the bubble costs in the system with a decade of tough times ahead:

The social protection budget grew dramatically during the years of the Celtic tiger. In 2001 spending on social protection stood at €7.84 billion and the 2010 outturn stands at €21.35 billion. This is an increase of 272% which is way above the increase in inflation of around 30% during the same period. Spending on schemes, services and administration in 2011 is estimated at €20.62bn. Pensions and other supports for retired and older people accounts for almost 30% of overall expenditure at just over €6 billion. My Department will spend over €77 million in 2011 on the free travel scheme which will benefit over 700,000 people, some 520,000 of whom are aged over 66.

@ Aidan R

We already have an investment bank in all but name called the science budget but the evidence of failure does not matter to the politicians and vested interests.

Apart from some positive factors in the late 1980s compared with now, that have been referred to by Stephen Kinsella, the international labour market is also a few billion bigger and we have a small presence or none in key growth markets.

@colm brazel

During the bubble, meat processors were bringing staff from Brazil, (no eponymous connection), mainly boners. Irish workers just didn’t want the work. The construction carnival beckoned. Over time, the Irish didn’t even want the cheaper cuts of meat. Only ‘striploins’ and such like would do. The front quarters in both beef and sheep were of little saleable value to butchers. It got to the stage that the processors having begun importing carcasses from Brazil and Argentina, eventually ended up importing boxed cuts to cut down on staff. Now the tide has turned. These ‘dirty’ jobs are in demand, but there are fewer and the cheaper cuts of meat are all many can afford; hence the mincemeat price competition between the supermarkets. Emphasising science and technology only butters a few parsnips – thought I’d slip back to vegetarian mode for the squeamish. Butchers, bakers and candlestick makers are essential in any economy.

@michael h

There is no leather tannery in the country despite the volume of hides produced. And it it would be nigh on impossible to get planning permission for such an obvious industry. In Dublin it seems one can neither bury nor burn rubbish, so what hope for the siting of a tannery. Likewise wool is sent out – it isn’t first fashion grade wool but us still fit for a wide variety of uses in blends. Again the processing of wool on an industrial scale is unlikely to get planning permission within a timescale that is commercially reasonable. Once the traditional dirty industries are gone, they are gone for good.

@Johnny the foreigner

It is doubtful if any of the media will pick up on your story. Too close to the bone. As chief cheerleaders of several failed fantasies, from the Celtic Tiger to the Smart Economy, none of them are keen to highlight the obvious. The emperor has no clothes. How many professors and others are there in third level earning over one hundred thousand euro annually? A couple of thousand, less, more? It is an enormous privilege to be able to make your hobby your work. Whether the public purse should be so supportive is an entirely different matter, not one you will find raised in Ireland. Of course, how often is the reverse the case in third level – the work becomes a hobby? Does anyone really believe that one of the biggest if not the biggest indigenous success story, could have come out of ten thousand Smart Economy initiatives, I am talking about Ryanair, hopefully not.

The longer term solution to Ireland’s employment ills lies with much more privatisation of public sector services, but it is completely off the agenda as its contemplation is too upsetting.

@The Alchamest

The longer term solution to Ireland’s employment ills lies with much more privatisation of public sector services, but it is completely off the agenda as its contemplation is too upsetting.

That was slightly out of right field. Can we expect privatization to work as well as austerity has or will it be even better (in a Mayan calendar kind of way)?

Unless you mean that “employment” is an ill, in which case large scale privatization may well be the cure. Sometimes it feels like Quiggan’s <a href=””Zombie Economics was never published.

This 2010 article at Foreign Policy by the same John Quiggan deals with the privatization canard, though the treatment in the book is longer:,5

Repost, url corrected.

@The Alchamest

The longer term solution to Ireland’s employment ills lies with much more privatisation of public sector services, but it is completely off the agenda as its contemplation is too upsetting.

That was slightly out of right field. Can we expect privatization to work as well as austerity has or will it be even better (in a Mayan calendar kind of way)?

Unless you mean that “employment” itself is an ill, in which case large scale privatization may well be the cure. Sometimes it feels like Quiggan’s “Zombie Economics” was never published.

This 2010 article at Foreign Policy by the same John Quiggan deals with the privatization canard, though the treatment in the book is longer:,5

An article that the Chinese allowed to pass the censors:
American Privilege Rots an Empire from Within

From the article:
“Most of America’s well-to-do are corporate executives, doctors, lawyers, bankers and the like. Their rewards are tied to positions, not performance. Corporate managers are paid a lot more than average employees, even if they’re not worth it.”

Economy is about allocation of resources, is it at all possible that the way resources are being allocated is sub-optimal and disproportionately weighed towards people holding top positions in large organisations (both public and private)?

Reduce the wagemultiple for the people at the top and more people could be employed for the same total wage-cost.

“For example, one report said salaries for big U.S. company CEOs have jumped to 343 times the average pay for their own employees, up from 42 times in 1980.”

The example above implies that 300 people had to be laid-off to pay for the lifestyle of one CEO. That is based on the assumption that the average wage of the laid-off worker was equal to the average wage, assume that the laid-off were on less than the average wage and the number would increase.

& privatisations….. There have been some bad privatisations recently in Sweden: KKR & Triton owns Carema (privatised healthcare) and I’m not sure if a worse outcome has ever been the result in Sweden than when they got involved: Lay-off of healthcare-workers, increase management compensation, move the profits to tax-havens and surprise surprise: The quality of service provided in a manpower-intensive industry after lay-offs worsened. Can’t wait until the Economist writes about their success 😉

Eurostat data shows that in 2010 the Polish private sector hourly wage cost (including fringe) is €7 compared with €29 in Germany and €28 in Ireland.

UK hourly pay cost was €20 in both the public sector and private sectors.

German public pay was less than its private pay at €27.

Finland’s public and private hourly pay cots are both at €29.

Ireland’s public hourly pay is €34 – – 25% higher than the private sector and that was post the 2009 cuts.

No tirades please – – these are the facts.

@ Alchemist,

privatization of public services in my opinion would be a disaster. Its been a disaster in the US. We need efficient public service and follow best practice in the nordic countries. Look at the depletion of infrastructure and educational infrastructure in the USA Obama is trying to reverse, his policy on QE for banking failing.

@ Finfacts, agree with your critique of public service, but it needs to be made better.

@Eamon Moran,

Stiglitz is good at warning re the detroitification of US. Only in his second last paragraph does he vaguely state we need to fix the financial system. He is dismissive of the causes of the Great Depression.

Be warned any further reading of this post and you will be in danger of losing any fantasy glasses you may be wearing:

No women posting on this list….

“Public investments could be directed at improving the quality of life and real productivity—unlike the private-sector investments in financial innovations, which turned out to be more akin to financial weapons of mass destruction.”

“Rather, we have poured money into the banks, without restrictions, without

conditions, and without a vision of the kind of banking system we want and need.

We have, in a phrase, confused ends with means. A banking system is supposed to serve society, not the other way around.”

So, here’s the real problem largely ignored by Stiglitz though inferred above. Also, in the following Stiglitz speaks much more clearly on the toxic derivative threat, nb 2 major problems in this crisis; a) property bubble b)gambling of the financial industry through toxic derivatives and an unregulated financial system.

You’ll need coffee and a couple of hours to ponder the following:

Income distribution, the hoovering up of assets to the top 1%, the disappearing

middle class.

Elizabeth Warren: The disappearing middle class.


“The stock market crash was painful, wiping out the life savings of millions of people and leaving some deep in debt. After watching the devastation of such a borrowing binge, federal officials were determined to keep people from overindulging again. They took steps to keep interest rates high and discourage borrowing. So people didn’t borrow—and companies didn’t either.”

Glass Steagall in 1933 which set up the FDIC and banking reforms and the
dismantling of these reforms in the 70’s, the growing shadow banking system led to ‘Over The Counter’ Trading financial instruments, OTC’s, derivatives, the fraudulent abuse of this unregulated market culminating in toxic derivatives sold by Wall Street, swaps, bets, CDS hidden in a dark market, no tranparency, no accountability..

We need a new Glass Steagall not another eurobonds QEEU to pour money into disastrous hedge funds, stricken long term capital management, forex swaps, CDS and shadow banking financial services sucking life from productive investment.

The EMU currently is trying to prevent the banks from collapsing, banks stricken

under the weight of toxic debt and the gambling in the shadow banking sector. It won’t, its doomed to fail.

We need to leave the euro and be part of the cleanup. We’ve made enough of a mess. Don’t let those who created the mess, make it worse.

correction “He is dismissive of the causes of the Great Depression.” Should be, “He is dismissive of the causes of the Great Depression related to an unregulated financial services industry see links below”

What he means is that the surpluses workers create must not be used by them – don’t take any notice of that thrash.
A economy without Utilities is like a ecosystem without trees – sure you can get some basic level of biomass in the scrub but it does not amount to much.
Ryanair type operations are net energy negative because they do not give enough money to plane manufacturers to engage in R&D and if all workers worked under these wages & conditions there would neither be the time or money to go on Holidays.
THE 737 first flew in 1967 some 44 years ago – although there has been much improvements to the design it has not been dramatic.
Contrast this with the planes of 1923.

As I have said many times the RN of 1914 took one quarter of HM tax revenue – much of these funds went into improving designs and manufacturing processes – the private sector would not engage in such endeavors on such a large scale.
And this was supposedly the most free market / gold standard nation on the planet.
All Ryan air and its sisters ever did was slow down high speed train development by making air fares artifcally cheap.


“The example above implies that 300 people had to be laid-off to pay for the lifestyle of one CEO. ”

I was at a UK corporate drinks party not so long ago when an irate (recently made redundant – along with tens of others) ex-employee burst in with a sheet of paper on which he illustrated how many jobs could have been saved in the recent cuts had directors and senior managers numerous partners (i.e. wives and husbands of, not employed by the company) company cars, free petrol and other expensive perks/freebies been given up. Sadly, he didn’t make it as far as the CEO but the Head of IT got a good earful for about 20 seconds before the ex-employee was escorted from the building.

I say ‘sadly’ because I know this particular CEO is very much in favour of ‘one-pagers’ so I have no doubt he would have appreciated it 🙁

The latest QNHS reports 314,700 persons are ‘unemployed’
The latest Live Register total is 430,00.
During the unemployment crisis of the 1980s the CSO undertook a survey of those claiming on the LR which revealed large-scale irregularities.
Time for another such survey?

As for the discrepancy between the dole and household survey maybe my situation can explain some. Work with my father as a carpenter on a part time casual basis (from one to five days a week depending). Now I claim any days I am not working so am on the love register but am also employed so in the household survey I would be employed. Lots and lots of people on part time acount for nearly all the differences. I am sure there is some fraud but cag said not as much as the dept says

@colm brazel

Everyone is in favour of efficiency similar to everyone being in favour of good weather. But like good weather, there isn’t much of it about and what there is is usually transient.

The health service grew from forty odd thousand in the mid eighties to nearly 120000 in 2007. There is little point rehashing the tales, but efficient it is not. And the same country that produced the health service produced the rest of the system.

@michael h
The science budget as a long running investment bank. Good insight. In retrospect its operation is entirely in keeping with all else that went on during the bubble.

Ruinous Irish commercial lease law i.e. upward-only rent reviews tied to long leases, is the most anti tenant,anti-job commercial lease law in the world. Our government by endorsing this ruinous lease law copperfastened it for all commercial tenants and waisted hundreds of millions of it’s citizens money. No other eurozone country tolerates this feudal lease law.

This ruinous lease law incentivised the over-renting of tenants and massively inflated the valuation model for commercial property, which aided the oversupply of commercial property and the creation of the monster commercial property bubble. Reckless Irish banks lent tens of billions against these ruinous leases not against the properties. In valuing commercial property in all other eurozine countries ,the guiding principle is the quality of your property,whereas in Ireland it’s the quality of your tenant. Retail lease lenghts in Ireland are 35/25 years with no break clauses and 5 yearly ratchet upward-only rent reviews. In all other eurozone countries retail lease lengths are 3-10 years with break clauses and rents reviewed annually by changes in the CPI. If Ireland had regular eurozone commercial lease law it would have been nearly impossible to have had a commercial property bubble and crash.

In 2008 Grafton Street became the fifth highest rented street in the world. The retail sector is the largest private sector employer in the state with 250,000 jobs. Most commercial tenants are massively overrented and been bled dry by ruthless landlords. Tens of thousands of sustainable Irish businesses and jobs have been destroyed each year for the last four years. Commercial property is meant to be a service to enterprise ,trade and jobs, but withour unique lease law Ireland it destroys all three. Local Irish businesses are the most vulnerable with 100% exposure to the Irish economic crash.

On budget day the government announced a U-turn on its progam for government solemn pledge to ban upward-only rent reviews in existing commercial leases and condemned tens of thousands more sustainable Irish businesses and jobs to the scrap heap. This was a spectacular own goal and a cynical betrayal of the electorate and commercial tenants and their employees. This will hobble our economy with a two-tier commercial rental market and will destroy any chance of our economy or commercial property market recovering. This malign policy is a suicidal form of self sabotage.

The Irish government stands idly by and allows this carnage to continue. This is a self inflicted economic disaster. Can any serious economist support this absurd policy.

The dole is 188 a week plus rent supplement equating to 10Euros an hour.
This is for doing NOTHING.

Emigration or looking for a job for all these unskilled individuals to earn less than 10 Euros an hour after rent travel and working a forty hour week means UNEMPLOYMENT is a perfectly better option.


Long term unemployment steadily risisng , competition amongs esastern europeans in traditional paddy emigration centres or EIRE will leave this number in the high 400s for the next twenty years.

CURRENT CROKE PARK and DOLE will be gone by 2014 on a SF FF platform to get into power.


@ Marcus O’Raghailligh

No, the laugh is at the Government making the ‘Paddy Proletariat’ pay for private risk bond in the banks whilst attempting to convince the said people that it is in their best interests that this is done.

That ‘enough’ in the country believes this bollocks is the ‘laugh’ Marcus.

Do you ‘get it’ now? 😉

@John Corcoran

This is a self inflicted economic disaster

Thanks for that excellent post.

I don’t have the excellent level of detail you have in your post, but I have some broad brush strokes that can throw light on this.

The reason for the Alice In Wonderland situation you describe is our membership of the EMU. The Troika who presently finance our virtual IOU state, have dictated our banks must not be let fail. Our banks hold as part of their asset portfolio thousands of loans given to property developers the repayments for which give lifeblood to these toxic banks.

If these loans went dead through a firesale that liquidated the properties in question, both through a decontamination and removal/rewrite of those lease agreements you mention and a firesale of those properties, the banks would be hit with another dead zone of enormous loss.

In our Alice in Wonderland, the property bubble has not gone away, the laws and structures that created it, the institutional malaise, the crippling defects in inefficient public services, banking/financial property dependant economics, hasn’t gone away you know!

Its a big, gaping mouth waiting for more handouts, to kickstart BubbleNua.

Soon as we leave the euro and get back to traditional, commercial, trade based economics the better. Socialism for the banking sector and socialism for the property sector through the ruinous lease laws you describe, is a Berlin wall destroying growth and real productivity.

@ shay Begorrah 2:53pm

This 2010 article at Foreign Policy by the same John Quiggan deals with the privatization canard, though the treatment in the book is longer:

Thanks for that link. If the software here were better, the responses to your post and the subthread Alchemist etc you are writing to, would be gathered under one link, but there yego:

I agree with the Quiggan analysis, with one caveat, while he’s long on critique, he’s short on ‘what to do about it’. This creates problems eg, saying no to privatisation means that inefficiencies, incompetence, over supply, bad services, in the public sector, should not be dealt with; rather, we should throw more money at them, more personnel, build more crap services, pay higher salaries in the public service, dismantle the real economy and build EUSSR.

Surely the answer is quite simple. It is. Those who debunked Keynes in the early 70’s and since then, have been debunked by the ruinous state of global finance created by the mess they created:

So, here’s the answer:

We need a worldwide FTT Financial Trading Tax to take away the value of profits to be made in the casino of global stock market virtual speculation and redirect investment into productive enterprises and real business opportunity.

In a downturn, government needs to SPEND on the public service. It needs to develop good infrastructure in the field of health and education to secure the nations security of health and build skills for the future development of trade. It needs to SPEND/invest in science/R&D/infrastructure. It needs to SPEND on transport infrastructure/IT high speed broadband infrastructure. It needs to SPEND on sporting facilities for the young. It needs to SPEND on infrastructure investment that would attract tourism/sport from overseas. IT needs to TAX the rich to redistribute wealth pooling into toxic derivative/financial/stock market/tax dodging by them into non productive
areas; this taxation should go to lower income groups who will stimulate the real economy with their spending; the government needs to SPEND that tax on the above also.

All the above presumes though that spending is not wastefully spent as in the waste of public spending on high salaries in the public sector, the purpose of which is to make sure the status quo will not be changed, at least the part where there is a flagrant abuse of public money!

When the economy is firing on all cylinders, salaries/wages rising, costs rising, it needs to SAVE its money, not spend.

The above Keynesian economic views are proved by the massive black hole the world has got itself into.

I would go further than Keynes and tackle the problem of floating currencies that in themselves are a cause of speculative bubbles, dat enuf fer tday 🙂


Apologies for going off topic but I see Jesper has posted a comment on this thread and may be able to throw some light on Swedish/Scandinavian Banking developments.


I see there was a spectacular bank run by SwedBank depositors in Latvia on Monday apparently (according to the bank) based on misleading rumours about the Swedish owned banks exposure in Estonia.

This was followed on Wednesday by an announcement about significant and immediate job cuts in the Baltic (Estonian ?) division of SwedBank.

I wonder whether the Swedish Government has become more concerned than usual about SwedBank?


Once again apologies for going off topic but IMHO this might need watching as I understand a Danish Bank has also just had itś credit rating downgraded . 🙂


about Swedbank:

I’ve checked the finance-committee protocols from the parliament & there is no mention about any increased concern about Swedbank or even any indication that it was discussed. That probably means nothing as any information regarding the financial well-being of a company would not be available under the FOI. The financial regulator has in a newspaper interview said that he can’t see this situation as being a problem to handle for Swedbank. Link to interview (in Swedish)

The bank claims that the job cuts are the ones that had been flagged a couple of months ago. The Swedish union for the Swedish employees claim that they were not notified about these job cuts. Not sure if there was/is some misunderstanding between the bank and the union or if there is something more behind. Either way, the Swedish union isn’t happy.

The rumours led to a drop in shareprice and I think there might be some investigations in Sweden to verify if this was some attempt to manipulate the shareprice. Maybe if the rumour can be tracked it can be possible to verify its accuracy.

& for the history buffs:-)


Thank you for getting back so quickly about SwedBank. According to (Swedish owned) BBN it looks like SwedBank may have some idea where those rumours started.

There also was a serious problem with another (not Swedish owned) bank in Latvia recently which probably explains why thousands of Latvians panicked.

&for the history buffs:

After the great Northern War the (Russian) Governorate of Livonia and Estonia was Governed until the end of 18th Century by two Irish born (Roman Catholic) Governors on behalf of the Romanoff Czars and Czarinas. During the 18th Century Livonia and Estonia was a sort of a”retirement” home for former officers of the Irish Wild Geese who served in the Russian Imperial Army.:)

[…] thing I meant to mention when discussing Ireland is something Kevin O’Rourke pointed out: this is the second time in two years that Ireland has been declared a success story for austerity […]

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