Comments Policy

We are debating a tighter comments policy to cut down on irrelevant comments and also offensive comments. Comments?

174 replies on “Comments Policy”

i think an improved commenting system would be the better option. One that allows replies.

It would certainly save wear-and-tear on my mouse’s scroll-wheel. Commenters should ask themselves what purpose it serves to keep churning out the same old gripes in every thread, regardless of topic. But several regulars don’t ask themselves that, or else they think being pig-headed is a virtue.

A good idea.
a) A limit perhaps to the number of comments that are allowed by anyone per 24h . Yes, Dork, im looking at you.
b) persistent irrelevant comment no matter how ‘justified’ should attract censure. Yes John Corcoran, im looking at you, and btw I think your doing a good job on UORR but not the same post every thread regardless
c) Ad hom, shirt-trailing, dirt digging, the economic comment equivalent of ‘yer daddy was a blueshirt’ raking of the past should not be tolerated. This is NOT to say that calling attention to past decisions or views should be banned , but a recognition that people make mistakes/change views and minds/can evolve is different
d) a ‘pause’ or ‘preview’ facility to allow commenters to look at their comment like on the ‘pin would be useful

Aye, we could do without the same copied and pasted paragraphs in every topic regardless of the subject matter.


I agree 1000% on the Dork, but I strongly disagee with your reference to my comments.
Our country has been destroyed by the greatest property crash in the history of mankind. I have been a lonely voice trying to outline the effect of the flawed property valuation model,the auctioneers/surveyors advertising revenues effect on the broadsheet media property propaganda, and our ruinous commercial lease law which has been organised by a cartel.

All these three items combined to destroy our economy–and continue to prevent any chance of a recovery. We will not be silent.

I profoundly disagree with your ignorant comments concerning me. I employ 50 people and have never lived off the state purse. The economioc terrorists who destroyed our economy are stll in control. I am sixty years of age this month.
We will ot be silent.
Less of your intellectual/academic arrogance and more real world comments please. Most of you and your arrogant academic colleagues never raised a finger during the property bubble. Also I attach my own name to my comments. I am not hiding or afraid of any damage done to my reputation etc etc.

John Corcoran
M.Sc.Economics London School of Economics and Political Science.

A lot of the best stuff, esp. links to additional sources, are in the comments.

Perhaps a “two strikes and you’re out” policy might be the best approach?

The core strength of the site are its official contributors because they enjoy standing. There is a need to balance the limited time official contributors have for moderation against the benefit of the comments. It should not be a chore for official contributors to contribute.

Generally, I think that message boards should be run as a dictatorship and not a creative commons. Therefore, I think that it should merit a “strike” if somebody questions the editorial policy or the moderation policy.

The moderator should be treated like a ref in rugby – it isn’t up for debate whether he is wrong or if he is right. He should not waste his time explaining himself. The official contributors should agree between themselves that none of them will get into wishy washy debates on moderation to appease the unwashed.

The approach whereby certain contributors disable comments on their posts is also a good idea. If contributors do not like dealing with comments then they should not have to.

Whereas disagreement with moderation should merit a strike, disagreement with ideas generally should not merit a strike. It is very stimulating when one spots something one disagrees with, and it is great to be able to test others’ ideas and to have one’s own ideas tested in turn. I think it is a good bull-pen for students and academics alike in this regard, especially as our schools teach students to learn by rote and regurgitate rather than to question.

With that said, trolling in the sense of fighting your point just for the sake of fighting and engaging in repetition or disingenuous argument should be banned (whether intentional or not). This is subjective so dictatorial style moderation is required. Hopefully it will not affect the wit and arresting style of some of the writers. However, that is a risk that most be taken in the interest of saving time and keeping the board alive.

My desire for an edit function remains unrequited…

Jeeze John. Hold on there. I agree with your sentiments on UORR but the comment above is EXACTLY the kind of thing I suspect many of us feel is what is problematic. Put a post up (the site hosts guest posters) and then we can have a debate on the problem. But attacking people, groups, flailing around no matter how irate one feels, posting the same thing in each and every thread, that devalues your argument.

Good idea – Quality is far better than quantity on the comments front

Everyone is entitled to to their opinion – but usually that doesn’t imply that other people have to listen – unfortunately when it comes to comments you kinda have to read at least part of the drivel.

Constant irrelevant and/or repetitive commenting by some makes the comments section less usable or readable for everybody else so that the only comments I actually read are the first few if even any more.

Ideally a reader, as opposed to a moderator, would be able to block the comments of some people so that they could read the rest of the comments undisturbed but if that’s not possible then I’d say much harsher moderating would be better (this post exempted of course – in fact, no- if this post is crap – don’t post it)

I’m 100% for it. There should also be a character limit on these comments – a lot of people around here are writing entire books instead of comments (see above for examples). If people really have a lot to say they can just start their own blogs and link to their blogs.

@ Philip

possibly if anyone makes up more than 10% of the total comments, they should have a restriction placed on them. We all know of certain occasions where individual commentors will have 7-8 out of 25-30 total comments.

Also re copy and paste – fine if you’re copying and pasting from a research piece or an article, but i’ve seen incredibly generic information c&p’d from Wiki. No need for that, post a link if you really want.

@ John Corc

i agree with the comments above – you make a truly excellent point about the rental regime, and in a well written and argued way. But when you stick it on 5 or 6 completely different threads, you actually make people think you’re some kook rather than someone who is adding significant value to the debate. Pick and choose your battles sir.

@Bond.Eoin Bond

Professor Neil Crosby’s online response to this Irish Independent letter “Bubble values” 29th February 2012

“The analysis may be simplistic but unfortunately it is not flawed. Banks ask valuers to tell them what the market value/exchange price is at a point in time and then lend vast amounts over time based on that simple number. The surveyor gives them that simple number and do not think it is their job to tell the banks that the question they have been asked is stupid on its own and what they should have asked for is the underlying value. It was obvious in 2005 and 2006 that prices in the property market were higher than could be sustained by any rational cash flow analysis. But in a culture that rewards individuals for short term performance rather than longer term perspective, it was in neither the bankers’ nor the valuers’ interests to stop it. I cannot see anything in what the UK regulatory authorities have proposed that makes me think they understand the role of property valuation in driving asset bubbles and will prevent it all happening again sometime in the 2020s.”

Neil Crosby
Professor of Real Estate and Planning
University of Reading

You will note there was no comment from any of our leading Irish academics or Professors of soft landing on this Indo letter.
The leading UK property academic took the time to defend my opinion against the Irish vested interest groups. Also note no mention of UORRs.

I assume you are not commercial landlords/auctioneers–why hide?

The attraction of this site for me (a non-expert) are the contributions and links from the profession. Lengthy comment threads are rarely interesting.

The big thing which is missing is a deeper engagement between the principal contributors.

I would support a word limit on comments other than those from ‘front page’ contributors to the site.

Keep up the great work. You are very clever, some day you may be promoted to Professor.

I agree. But the “owners” should also have responsibilities IMHO.

I don’t know if Herman is looking at me but I have had comments removed very recently by a very high profile “owner”. The comments were possibly written in a style which he found offensive but I suspect that it was because he saw some validity in my criticism of his proposals that caused him to censor me.

I was reaffirmed in that opinion when next day he launched a scathing and not very witty lambast against a journalist for making similar points to mine on the VB show. He closed that thread off from any further comments so as to “protect” the journalist. She subsequently tweeted that she wanted the thread opened to comment but he did not respond. Instead he has since twice again done the same trick of opening a thread and immediately closing it to comment.

So I suggest that the code should also include a clause banning this sort of abuse of priviledge and should allow a right of appeal when comments are deleted.

Of course the owners are entitled to run the show whatever way they want.

I’ve already made a decision not to post on any Karl Whelan postings because he deleted a fair comment by me.

I simply won’t post on anything he puts up there as, frankly, I don’t know who else has been deleted. The guy has since moved up a gear and posts his own comments but blocking everyone else’s right to comment. He’s since relented but I believe is counting the number of paragraphs people are allowed to write.

I know you guys have been having long paragraphs of late, don’t think we in the technical censorship group, have not noticed 🙂

Sure the rubbishometer ‘deconnometre’ runs high at times in politics and on blogs. People move fast and write fast and don’t have time for rewrites.

People have a right to be critical of both people and their views. But I’ve always been extremely wary of the ‘thought police’ and their methods, Orwellian, or not.

I’ve respect both for rubbish comments and thoughtful comments. Both categories show engagement with the subject matter on particular levels the writer is prepared to put out there and stand behind.

It is open for other contributors through right of reply to contradict, disagree, counter, the ‘precious views’ of every contributor. People can debase the value of their own point of view in many ways including poor commenting; so there is a penalty to be paid by poor commenting already.

I’ve been personally vilified and also personally vilified others; at times, growing respect for views different to my own, distilling my own ideas and learning from others. I’ve also lost respect for views whose authors I expected more from. That’s life.

No doubt there are narrow minded gombeens out there who experience full control of their surroundings in other spheres of life, but who wince at having their precious third rate views dismantled in public.

Perhaps they’ve been in the classroom too long where rebuttal is frowned upon.

No doubt I’m way beyond the number of words they’d like me to say already on this 🙂

This blog is not for teenagers considering where to go on a Saturday night. Contributors do read the subject matter at hand. Contributors appear to me to all be extremely well read, erudite, concerned and intelligent people some more impassioned re the subject matter than others.

Both readers and writers are informed enough to handle the good, the bad, the ugly blog crap that arises. They don’t need to be handheld by the ‘thought police’. I’ve often found pearls of information in the most unlikely Krap.

Extremely informed people like myself are put off by censorship preferring the open scientific method of empirical analysis challenging views to test their veracity.

If you want to censor the blog, let me know, I’m outa there, folks. I’ll look to better and more reliable sources of information elsewhere and leave to its well policed, mind control, polite cheer leader, dead cocoon of censorship bubbles.

Next we’ll be appointing technocrats to run the country and abolishing the Dail. Can’t believe this discussion is taking place on a UCD alma mater academic site where academic freedom should be bottomline. I do tend to be idealistic but I must have spent too much time abroad 🙂 Or perhaps this is symptomatic of the low level of analytic critique in Ireland. Certain censorship I often equate with teenage immaturity.

UhhU Krap, will this post be deleted, will yours, what else has 🙂

From what I see of this blog, I think its comments section is relatively well-behaved, and no change is needed. I would be particularly sorry to see thin-skinned authors like Karl Whelan using such a policy to block “anonymous” (after a while, a blogger’s nom de plume becomes their identity in that community) comments that criticise their arguments on the grounds that such comments damage their academic “reputation”. As far as I am concerned, anyone who literally professes to know what they are talking about should be prepared to either answer such criticism constructively or, if they do not want to take the time to answer it, leave it to stand and let readers make up their own mind. By all means delete comments that are irrelevant or comprise only insults and offensive remarks, but let focussed argument remain, no matter how incorrect it seems.

I read the crooked timber guidelines and liked it.

An overhaul might help some of the less frequent quality posters in the right hand column to make more regular contributions, eg Aedin Doris, Frances Ruane, Cormac O’Grada – I’m sure many have plenty to offer.

I value comments which:

Address specfic theoretical/legal/technical/political issues in a generous of spirit manner.

Show a depth of knowledge/experience in the subject to hand.

Show conceptual/ideological depth in larger frameworks – particularly non-orthodox frameworks.

Offer a cultural reading larger than but not separate to economics alone.

Offer links to resources beyond what I read in the papers/on wikipedia – though these can be valuable too.

Have passion but not crankiness.

I find myself tiring of:

I see you are talking about X when the real issue is Y type formulations.

Unpleasant, rather than robust and conviction based, disputes.

The tricky bit is that some of the commentators I find most valuable can also be the most difficult – a bit of understanding on both sides might help.

Whatever changes could usefully be framed in a positive rather than negative light. What do the organisers of this site which to see in the comments section and how best can this be enouraged – what are the principles?

Not sure whether I qualify as poacher or gamekeeper on this.

@ Brian Woods II

+ 1

Didn’t know you were being deleted as well.

Perhaps other commentators should be notified if anyone has been deleted ?

This amounts to remaining comments representing a false mindwash.. Has this been happening frequently?

Brian Woods there always writes terrific posts even though I can’t always though 95% I agree with him… hear he’s been deleted as well…WOW..say hello to EUSSR-IE

Length of comments. Number/frequency of comments by one poster (as long as it doesn’t stop reasonable exchanges/discussion between parties as they argue their case). Reasonable relevance. Sounds sensible.

Oh yeah…. and no spinning.

…. but please don’t take the ‘fun’ out of the site. Some entries and exchanges can be quite entertaining.

I read most of the threads and contribute fairly irrregularly. I might therefore have most to gain from somebody spending time restricting comments. However, I think the any benefit gained from comment restrictions would be outweighed by the censorship suspicisions that some would have (rightly or wrongly).

I just dont see that many crazy comments – there are a few but they hardly destroy threads in my opinion.

Head over to other parts of the blogosphere and you will see ridiculous comment threads.

I hate registering or any of that nonsense so if that type of thing came in my contribution would immediately go to zero (not that anyone would care)

@ Colm


Has Karl e-mailed you as he has me complaining about I waste his precious time making him delete posts and send e-mails!

I will make a simple suggestion (and forgive me for trolling with 3 comments nearly in a row):

When you press the submit button, why not go to a preview page with a simple question on top “can you re-read your comment and rewrite if neccessary to ensure as far as possible that it will not cause offence to other posters”

Asking people that will change some behaviour – I guarantee it!

@Colm Brazel
+ I
I am already banned from Namawinelake. I wear it as a badge of honour.
Where ignorance is bliss it’s a folly to be wise.

This is my first comment on this site ever. Most of the people who leave comments are nuts and devalue the articles posted by regular contributors.
There needs to be some research into the effects the economic collapse has had on certain personality types causing them to become bitter and twisted. It appears to me that a large group of people have become obsessed with blame, conspiracy and hatred whilst any rational person would come to this blog to read an assessment of where we are now and how can we move forward. Indeed it may be better to disable comments altogether if the low level of debate continues.

Posts should be deleted, snipped or disemvowled as and when the people tasked with maintain it see fit.

A note should be replace it to indicate deletion, snipping or disemvowelment.

Abusive posters should not be engaged with – simply deleted.

Anyone responding to abusive posters should have their posts deleted

Ban no one.

Allow the use of a “report post” button

Allow the use of a preview button.

Allow the use of an ignore button.

Allow the use of a time limited edit function – posts are editable up to 15 minutes after posting, then become permanent.

Anyone who disagrees with these policies should be simply presented with the following links:
And told to work away at building their own audience for their views.

Have a “Guest Post” on the first Friday of every month for a poster – those who have engaged and enriched the audience get selected.

The site should be moderated vigilantly.

The moderator must not be an author.

With a functioning moderated system, blog posts have to be engaged with by the author.

Ban a few head-the-balls. If people want to use IE as a platform then they will be incentivised to keep their comments within the bounds.

The ‘pin lost critical mass due to TUG’s behaviour. It would be a shame to see lose critical mass too.

In fairness, I am guessing most people other than lay-contributors do not read the comments. Therefore, only really egregious behaviour causes problems.

BTW – I hope KW does not come on here to defend himself. As Nigel Owens once said, “This is not soccer”.

@ Colm

i believe you accused Prof Whelan of only taking positions on the Fiscal Compact/promissory note in order to get a cushy state gig – i’d be a bit snippy with your comments if i was in the same situation.


I had stated that suggestions that “we could simply tear up 31bn of PNs, that Central Banks going bust harms no one, that we should have held on to the printed ELA money and bought gold instead of burning it when it was repaid” etc. etc. were in second medal position to “deposit selling moments”. The good Prof fairly took the ‘ump at that, was he right to be so snippy?

Have read the blog since it started. I never commented but always used to read the comments in the beginning. They were fantastic, well thought out and well written pieces. They haven’t been like that for a long time. I would certainly support a very very very strict comment policy. If a comment isnt directly relevant to the topic it should be deleted. If its a relevant response to a previous comment it should still be deleted. Only comments directly related to the post should be kept.

Some website have an approved commentator function. Only comments by “starred” commenter are visible at first. You can click view all to see all the comments if you want. A commenter who adds to the debate is “starred” by an admin and all of his comments are from then on automatically shown from then on. If they respond to a non-starred comment that comment is “promoted” eg visible. Takes some admin work but certainly improves the behaviour. A separate comment forum for off-topic conversation is an easier idea to implement. A “whitenoise” space.


I notice Stephen Kinsella and others refer to the oasis that supposedly is the Crooked Timber blog. Well I’m not so sure. I recently referred readers to comments that appeared on CT and the language was utterly shameful. Suffice it to say that I have not seen anything remotely approaching that level of abuse appearing here over the past number of years. If the ‘owners’ want to wed themselves to the sort of low standards which sometimes appear on CT then belt away but expect a marked fall in standards as a result. Be careful for what you wish for.

A basic preview capability before hitting the send button would in my view eliminate some of the dross but too much of a heavy handed approach and the site will morph into an online version of the ‘Frontline’ and all a bit ‘nice’ if you get my drift. We’ve seen very clearly how far ‘nice’ negotiation tactics have got us in relation to bond holders and bank debt. Lets not go there.


as a noted biographer, like yourself, of “deposit selling moments”, I have no problems at all with your comment… 😀

I’m fully in support of changes, the CT policy is sensible. It used to be the case that the comments section here contained as much, if not more, interesting discussion and links than the posts themselves. It hasn’t been that way in a long time and it turns away people who want to have an intelligent discussion.

As a matter of personal preference, if there’s a way to block people who capitalise words certain within their sentences for emphasis then please do it. If you need caps lock to make your point then your writing (or point) obviously isn’t well-made. *ends rant*

“Most of the people who leave comments are nuts and devalue the articles posted by regular contributors”

Some of the stuff that comes from the back of the class is superb. The USP of the site is the mix of Brahmin and Shudra contributions.

Perhaps the observation of basic courtesy would be better than going over to Disqus. The occasional ad hom stuff doesn’t belong here.

And an edit button would be lovely.

Whatever dudes –
I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but I was completly right about the superioty of credit deposits over sovergin debt in the eurosystem well before it became a accepted fact on this wildly fantastically conservative blog.
E Bond and the rest may write fantastic tales of this & that but in the main they were dead wrong about pretty much everything.
Some people might also find it strange that catastrophically failed PD leaning economists get to write pieces with the air of absurd intellectual gravitas without being put into the blog stocks repeatedly.
Others might ask why economists defend the Basle system of banking when it is clearly at the heart of the leverage / malinvestment crisis.
If yee guys want to keep your jobs while the country gets subsumed into the euro blob well thats just sad.
You should be all banging the tables of the oireachtas rather then “giving considered opinion” and acting like delicate flowers.
This is much more then a housing crisis or a employment crisis – this is a political coup d’etat using the mechanism of the euros flaws as a battering ram against once semi sovergin units.
Its as clear as mud.
I hope yee all get big fat pensions for the work you have done here.

In general, the more moderation the better. Link brief posting guidelines to main page.

Bad posters drive out good. Posts and posters should be pruned. The decisions are subjective so that the moderator will have to decide casewise if the post or poster adds to or takes away from the site.

Value destroying posters will migrate to a new host once banned. Reward good posters by inviting them to guest author topics (as Paul Hunt did).

Now that Richard Tol has migrated to a warmer climate, is there another environmental economist who could contribute?


No comment policy will be perfect, but a clear one will help moderators and posters I think.


I think there are loads of good suggestions here, but you should all be aware that we operate IrishEconomy with no budget, no staff, no moderators, etc. So any suggestions have to be couched in those terms. That said keep them coming.

@Stephen Kinsella

“you should all be aware that we operate IrishEconomy with no budget, no staff, no moderators, etc”

Did you ever think of selling the blog to Murdoch? He paid $580 million for Myspace in 2005 and is very bad with internet investments.


It’s Phillip’s blog, maybe an IPO to fundraise for Trinity’s economics department?

But then the blog would end up behind a paywall.

I wonder what willingness to pay for the blog would actually be?

@ Philip Lane

I’m with “mickeynaas”. I’ve been visiting for about 3 years and have only posted comment on about as many occasions before now.

The blog may have become a victim of it’s own success in some regards.

The basis of discussion should be derived from unbiased economic logic/reason. Too often flatulent/hysterical opinions are posted.

Suggestions (in ascending order):
1. Maybe you could introduce a thumbs up/thumbs down flag so that the cream rises to the top and the grit sinks to the bottom….this would benefit those of us who are here to read informed opinion.
2. A better idea would be to require that contributors create profiles so that a contributor reputation rating is maintained – based on average comment rating. That would moderate standards for everyone.
3. The best idea would be to organise a pub night, so that we can name and shame the offenders (and of course buy a pint for those who have contributed meaningfully and have been very generous with their time on this site over the years).

@Stephen K

FTAlphaville were contemplating that, problem is it is tricky to entice people to give some of their time over to a discussion, but much more so to try to charge them for doing so.

If you sell some adverts you might get a different crowd.

Ok, no where else to put this….


My personal view is that the quality of comment is pretty good and that a more restrictive policy may encourage “you should be reported” sorts of interactions which are unlikely to add much value. Even with some poor quality comments, just “living with it” may be the best solution.

If you are having a pub night, I think we will also want t-shirts and mugs…

There appears to be no space for people who disagree with pretty much all of the financial scripture (except for the one bit where Jesus does not turn the other Cheek).
Even people who repeatedly quote scripture – they are very selective in their quotes making a mockery of their “beliefs”
For instance in the private money system of the Euro no Irish economy references that I can see refers to the primary flaw in Peels Bank Act.
M1 is cash , its just displayed as digits on your account.
A less criminal private money system would mean all of the M1 would be displayed on the CBs balance sheet with term loans a real risk.
But these obvious – very simple proper banking practise is simply not discussed on this blog as it would displease the masters i suppose.

Ditto for a Governmental money system – a much higher ratio of goverment debt relative to mortgages on commercial banks books as prevailed prior to the pre Basel days is needed although now without a massive devaluation.
This is simple stuff and yet not really discussed at length.
Its all very strange don’t you think ?

@ Stephen

I wouldn’t mind chipping in some Euros for an upgrade .
I do the same for 2 other websites.

@ Peter

“The basis of discussion should be derived from unbiased economic logic/reason.”

Subject to 50g of unicorn horn

Anonymous abuse is what weakens specialist blogs more than anything else. Baseball rule would be good – three strikes and you are out.

Anonymous spinning is another problem but it would be a shame to discourage anonymous comments altogether. Identified contributors/commenters are rarely a problem.

@ Stephen

I would have thought that if the blog needs funding there’s enough quality information floating around that could be turned into insight documents which could be available for sale – such as the Irish Economy .ie guide to the Irish economy or the Irish guide to the bailout or euro crisis or economic recovery or Irish economic history. For the woman on the 46A. A bit of marketing and away you go.

A policy banning profanities and ad hominem attacks seems reasonable, even overdue, but whether it can be given practical expression is a moot issue.

Yet, one that avoids intolerance and does the least harm to texts is pretty much what currently exists. There now! Why change it?

I think the comments work reasonably well here.

Some people may be trolls, some may be long winded, some may be boring, or repetitive or offensive, or uninformed.

But overall, I think this blog works better than most I have visited on the web. There is a solid enough core of good contributors -a little community of committed folk, that make it work reasonably well.

While I’d prefer to live in a world without Dorks, I wouldn’t be in a rush to start censoring this place (not unless things got significantly worse). Censorship is not innately wrong, but I don’t think it’s needed here.

I would like to see a better organisation of comments. Many comments here are simply responses to other comments, rather than dealing with the thread topic (many topic threads are only a few lines anyway -so seemingly this is the intention). If commenters could respond to the comments of others and have their comments associated with the previous one, then that would be visually much easier to follow and also allow people to choose which topics they’re interested in. Currently, everything is lumped into one gigantic stream which can be confusing, and largely of no interest to the reader. I would much rather the energies of the site’s organisers directed to achieving such an upgrade, rather than trying to moderate everyone’s comments.

Believe me, after a few days of moderating hundreds of comments, you will want to drop this task anyway.

PS. I do not understand what the problem is with having anonymous posters. This is a repeated gripe by many on this blog. While some people have academic jobs that permit them to spout off about any topic they might choose -most people in economics do not enjoy that luxury. Anonymity is the only way for them to participate.

Anonymity is the single biggest problem. If people had to attach their real names, almost all abuse would cease. However, I would police anonymity strictly rather than prohibit it. For example, if an anonymous commenter sought to personally abuse a named person, or allege for example criminal or unethical behaviour, I would require the commenter to give up his/her anonymity on pain of exclusion.

I am not sure what can, practically, be done about repetition and irrelevance, but I would urge the site operators to admonish offenders, and to exclude the recalcitrant. It’s your site – don’t let them ruin it.

Finally, have a length limit. Want to write an article ? Write one. Commenting is a different genre.

Firstly I have not found the level of noise on the Irish Economy overpowering and it does not compare badly with other political and economics blogs. Complaints about having to scroll past too much seem like looking for trouble where there is none.

@G Sullivan

The big thing which is missing is a deeper engagement between the principal contributors.

For me this is the sites principle weakness, that the authors of posts are not engaged with the discussion (Steve Kinsella and Kevin O’Rourke, honourable mentions). However we all have jobs to do, this is voluntary work and perhaps in the small family of Irish economists the adults do not want to fight in front of the children (though I think Ireland would have benefited from more public argument in the last ten years and a divorce between the camps so we could choose a parent and get a barring order for the other one).

As for trying to model IE on the “Crooked Timber”, apart from the neat way they highlight replies from blog contributors, I give a resounding no.

CT is good entertainment but not a good way to arrive at a synthesis, the blog contributors are terrific but after a while the discussions there feels like reading the transcript of a dinner party full of top flight graduates out to impress their former head of department with their with and mastery of argument. The Irish Economy provides a more interesting and useful resource substantially because it is less mannered and more eclectic.

So until there is a better technological solution (threads with folding comments for posters who are judged to have gone off topic) perhaps it might be best if the blogs contributors gave more warnings and then deleted posts (or moved them to a vast meta thread?).

Perhaps ban people who go off topic on a thread about cutting down on off topic comments? 🙂

“Anonymity is the single biggest problem. If people had to attach their real names, almost all abuse would cease.”

The implication is that abuse drives the site. It doesn’t. Stephen collins in the IT uses his real name and is very aggressive. Anonymity is neither here nor there.
I find the blog to be civil for the vast majority of posts. If it ain’t broke just tinker around the edges.

I rarely post due to a general ignorance of the topics under discussion, but for what its worth:

most of the ‘irrelevant’ comments are generally conversations between people. This could probably be improved with changes to the blogs format (ie reply to specific comments rather than the OP) This could also provide some decent comedy

Most of the problems highlighted would probably be undermined by the poster actually engaging the comments section as Stephen Kinsella does

Maybe offer guest posts to other non economist academics. For example with the compact coming up, it might be useful to hear the input of a historian or political scientist (preferably specialising in the area) Though I guess this really has very little to do with the OP

And finally, are there no female economists in the country?

@ Fergus

re anonymity: most of the principles on here know who i am, i simply remain anonymous cos im not super keen for my employer to know, and its also easier for me to comment on whats happening in the market with some degree of ‘protection’.

In this insular, navel gazing society we need the full spectrum of comments, even those that discomfort us. John Corcoran’s comments were first class and deserve to be cross posted. Dork of Cork is in a class of his own and has no equeal, without him this would be a poorer place.

As me blessed sainted mother used to say “Sure there’s all kinds in the world we just have to learn how to deal with them, god help us.”. The bane of her life today might be buying twenty tonnes of pig feed next week. Her best advice was to judge people on balance taking into account both the good and the bad.

I find it all very interesting including the comments that are pulled. the threads that are closed and the articles that are not open to comment.
The tone and tenor is quite civilised on balance. Some comments are as good as can be found on any comment section of quality newspapers/magazines/blogs.

The find function in browsers (particularly Chrome) is a great time saver although I am a skimmer myself.

Keep up the good work.

No need for radicalism to entice what Gavin Kostick quaintly termed ‘quality posters’ and of course personal attacks shouldn’t be tolerated.

Putting issues like university budgets, academic pay and the like offlimits would be a throwback to the age of doffing caps and kissing bishops’ rings.

Some common rules and somtime a more modern content package would be in order.

There was a thread a few weeks ago on Germany that was full of vitriol and ignorance.

This type of input shouldn’t be tolerated

We all know whats going on here.
Things are obviously getting too hot politically so a reasonable degree of censorship is needed to get the Euro boys over the last hurdle.

Can’t have reality intruding onto this debate can we ? I like everyone else can remember those job posters.

If people keep repeating what I consider untruths about our monetory system Dorks will continue to repeat counterfactuals.
If it gets boring don’t blame me – I did not start it.
Karl for example will never explain why a 42 to 1 leverage system was considered safe under Basel and its different risk liabilties that when it came to it were never destoyed.
I am afraid yee are picking on the wrong Dorkish comments
So be it.

@ Shay Begorrah
@ zhou_enlai

Re off topic comments and new technology. There is a problem re antiquated software to do with limitations in the software causing a problem for the content users. I’ve proposed the free in the past. It provides for the especially useful feature of collapsible threads, editing/reviewing draft posts. is especially difficult to follow threads that get joined to other threads and tangents.

So you can skip down to the threads you are really interested in and avoid threads where perhaps bananas are being thrown.

It doesn’t have yellow/red card features but moderators can choose whatever vanilla policy they like.

Review here: .

I think more moderation of the comments would be a good idea, but obviously not by any of the diarists as that makes a mockery of free speech. I think the diarists need a lot more moderation as well – e.g. Karl Whelan’s recent diary on Laura Noonan was full of inappropriate language and should have been deleted immediately.

Who would be the best person to moderate the site?

Johnny F
Clearly we need Sean Sherlock to step in here…or Eddie Hobbs. Both have expressed concerns about the inderwoogie lately….or maybe you?
Less trolls, less multi para comments, less ad homs… That’s all that’s needed


A word limit and a zero tolerance for ad homs (including the diaries) would be a good start.

I don’t think there should be a strict policy about straying off topic – that’s the nature of blogs. It would be much less of a concern if the comments could be nested and there was an explode option.

It is a difficult one in theory.

If posters, even after a thread like this is put up, continue to believe they are right to print huge opinion pieces unrelated to the topic thread then I honestly don’t know how to proceed.

I was at least hoping a number of the frequenters would be able, in the cold light of day, to at least hold their hands up and say “yes, I have been guilty of going heavily off-topic in the future”.

Michael Hennigan – Finfacts Says:
March 6th, 2012 at 3:31 pm
No need for radicalism to entice what Gavin Kostick quaintly termed ‘quality posters’ and of course personal attacks shouldn’t be tolerated.

Putting issues like university budgets, academic pay and the like offlimits would be a throwback to the age of doffing caps and kissing bishops’ rings.


‘There was a thread a few weeks ago on Germany that was full of vitriol and ignorance. ‘

No need to go to Germany for that type of sentiment – some here are still ‘talking’ the Civil War. 🙂

Is that off topic?

@Johnny foreigner
There is on the S. Kinsella thingies – but perhaps he does not like me (privately mewling)
In a response to Irish Debates post of a Brian Lucey video in the blog discussion below this I referred to a stupid comment that Brian Lucey made about how the Irish don’t know how to build things , just talk.
Well he does not know what happened in Verolme dockyards – where they built far better ships with patient Dutch training then what the Koreans began to build at the time but people who were trained to build real things rather then bankers were spit out to gain a profit via the slave arbitrage regeime we live under otherwise known as free trade. – I declared the lack of real industry in Ireland or in Glasgow was simply a monetory phenomena ($ reserve expansion) and nothing to do with our Gaelic Gene pool.
This was wiped from the Internet ether.
Censorship is already here baby – we cannot criticize our betters – even if they make stupid statements.

It really does say something about certain segments of Irish society that they are so willing to attack isolated characters and opinions, ie Dork Of C, at the first inclination that their own position might be under threat.

Its missing the point to think that a couple of individuals are destroying otherwise insightful threads. The best comments sections always have a high level of engagment from the poster. If thats not feasible due to workload then thats understandable, but the comments wont improve without it.

@Rob S

If posters, even after a thread like this is put up, continue to believe they are right to print huge opinion pieces unrelated to the topic thread then I honestly don’t know how to proceed.

You do not think that a problem with Irish economics and politics might be that the set of acceptable topic threads, the things we are allowed to politely discuss, avoids critical areas of policy either because they are politically out of favour or an essential element of the establishment analysis?

If I was compiling a list of problems in public debate that Ireland suffered from coming up to our little part of the global financial crisis one of them would not have been “People looked at the bigger picture too much.”

@ Bond 12:10

Re “i believe you accused Prof Whelan of only taking positions on the Fiscal Compact/promissory note in order to get a cushy state gig – i’d be a bit snippy with your comments if i was in the same situation.”

Nope, my critique of KW went a lot further than that. I did suggest his views would not hinder preferment by Fine Gael. He did take unctuous exception to that; but note I’m not privy to his motives, his conscience belongs to himself.

It is a fact that there is a consanguinity between KW and the LB/FG position on one particular point I did find particular exception with; that is, to do with a proposal to defer PN repayments. I did recently point out that such a proposal in the Valencia region led to a ratings downgrade and did not hold water with the markets.

To be fair, I’ve frequently also praised KW for his work on the PN’s. But there again I did take issue on technical points to do with his views on ELA and referred to docs from ECB that form my own understanding; so comment was never of the banana variety you are suggesting.

I did say his proposal to defer PN repayments was immature. His subsequent thought police approach to comments confirms me in that view.

But he’s redeemable and may grow up someday 🙂 But he may not and we may be having a McCarthyism moment….or it may be I need to go find a better blog with higher values and more interesting comment and information.

Bottomline, my view is we should be taking unilateral action on the PN’s withdrawing from the euro if this odious, unconscionable debt is forced upon us.

Re technical discussions it is a fact that the vast majority of cases to do with debt negotiation occur
only in the last few hours on the steps of the court.

It isn’t helpful to give to the IMF or Troika or ECB a get out of jail card with, we’ll payup for IBRC, just extend the mortgage, defer the PN’s; especially, from the vantage point of an economy in freefall because of debt.

Anyhow, my views shouldn’t be taken that seriously; or, maybe they should ! Time will tell, folks! Back tomorrow to see if the kindergarten cops have deleted my comments.

@Shay Begorrah

A good idea might be to have an explicit limit on the number of diaries that can be published on a particular topic. There are way too many diaries that are just a rehash of the same issues around the national debt and the banking system. These are diaries about accounting rather than economics.

Perhaps if we had a lot more diaries from experts in microeconomic issues? For example, I’d like to see more about health insurance markets, payments to doctors, reforming the social welfare system and privatisation.

He that Shall not be Named (Prof Lane’s colleage to boot) is automatically censored. He is apparently CandyMan (looks it too 🙂 ) and Shall Not Be Spoken Of.

@Shay Begorrah

“You do not think that a problem with Irish economics and politics might be that the set of acceptable topic threads, the things we are allowed to politely discuss, avoids critical areas of policy either because they are politically out of favour or an essential element of the establishment analysis?”

I think the forum can’t survive in its current capacity if people rinse and repeat (read :Spam) then same points over and over again, often in polemic form.

A free for all doesn’t work. At least not in my opinion.

“If I was compiling a list of problems in public debate that Ireland suffered from coming up to our little part of the global financial crisis one of them would not have been “People looked at the bigger picture too much.””

Well I think that is an extremely positive interpretation of some of the contributions on here and thats all I’ll say.

@ Dork, I like you just fine when your comments have anything whatsoever to do with the thread I’m posting on. That’s why some of your posts stay, and others go, and no other reason. We’ve debated this back and forth in the backchannels.

@Colm, there’s a lot going in your comment there, most of it directed personally at Karl, and needlessly so. If this isn’t trolling someone I don’t know what is.

@Colm Brazel – I defend to the death your right to indulge in gross ad hominems, to use smileys, especially in contributions you expect to be taken seriously, and to abuse those who run the site.

(Imagine being so thin-skinned as to take offence at the suggestion that one’s views were formed in expectation of advancement, rather than on the facts as one saw them?)

If, for example, someone were to call you a one-note, loudmouthed boor, you would surely extend them the courtesy of defending their right to hold that opinion.

You might, however, ponder as to whether such frankness is what this forum is intended or hoped to be a home for?

Now, can we get back on topic?

A length restriction is valid if you allow links. If it’s that important someone can say it on wordpress for free and show the link.
To me poetry and emotion in the argument is very very important. I don’t expect more than a handful to agree, but they exist and they read

@Bond Eoin Bond
Interesting news…where would a delay put us with the rating agencies?

Yeh, but you would kinda miss JTO.

@ CP

its a possitive. The p-notes are not “rated”, so this would not be a default in the broader sense of the word. As long as a restructure was eventually agreed, they’d view it as a positive for debt sustainability.

There is a sort of authoritarian streak starting to exert itself on this blog and it is not healthy. If the blog is to become for academics only then just announce that. It will become a much more barren landscape.

I have noticed two posts by Karl Whelan over the last two to three weeks where “No comments” were allowed. One of the “posts” was a simple put-down of journalist Laura Noonan who’s opinion I happened to agree with. She was commenting on PN’s which Karl knows a lot about, but which topic he does not ‘own’ as the payment on these PM”s effects everyone in the country, not just Karl.

@ kevin denny
This is not the first time you have endorsed censorship over open debate. It makes me wonder what is so precious about views that warrant such protection.

I don’t regard any professor on this site as having knowledge that warrants other contributors being censored. Though I suppose that is what the title ‘professor’ is meant to convey. That said, it is the sort of attitude that gave rise to the very need for this site in the first instance i.e economic collapse caused by ‘experts’ who could not be questioned and/or critcised because they were by brighter than ordinary people. Patrick Honohan, who used to comment and post here has proved that professors are indeed fallible since becoming governor.

Also, the comments above on John Corcoran remind me of the offensive comments that Bertie made. They are not too dissimilar from comments aimed at David McWilliams and later Professor Morgan Kelly because they were repeating uncomfortable truths behind the economic collapse. They barely disguised contempt, just stops short of saying “we agree with a lot of what you are saying, now would you ever shut up’. Uncomfortable truths surely have a place on this site? If not, it will be aufwiedersehen! Already, I have to go to Brian Lucy and Cormac Lucy blogs to see what they are saying. Constantin has never commented here and that is another blog that has to be visited daily. The list is getting longer.

Perhaps you are correct – but you do agree it was a stupid statement – any handyman will tell you about the crap spare parts coming out of China as they did come out of Korea once upon a time.
Perhaps the Ford and Dunlop plants were a joke but we do occasionally get things right – some of those boats are still on the high seas.

The expansion of industry outwards post war from America , Europe and then beyond to Asia was a $ reserve bubble phenomena – its quite clear to Dorks at least.

In a society which ostracises and silences practically all forms of heterodox dissent …. and as a believer in the real benefits of the cut and thrust of critical argumentative discourse …..

…. this is probably one of the few areas where I advocate ‘light touch regulation’ …. a heavy hand would probably destroy the emerging much more inter-disciplinary form of political economy following the Aesthetic Turn in Irish Economics …. and lets be honest about it ….

…. who can claim to be wise at the mo?

Maybe we could have an additional question on the ballot paper for the Compact 1st amendment type clause inserted into the constitution. That’s bound to confuse them.


I await the wording, and timing, on the Fiscal Corset …. at first glance an irrelevant attack and also highly offensive to poor oul Keynes not to mention poor oul Marx … is making a person’s ideas unconstitutional constitutional? not to mention all those poor whales who will be sacrificed to deliver all the requisite whalebone to fit out all those corsets for half a billion euro-serfs …

@johnny foreigner

Problem with a word limit is that, occasionally, you might come across a post that is very strident, opinionated, and requires either no response or a lengthy one in order to explain arguments. A word limit then makes it easy for the thread starter to use the blog as a medium to broadcast strong opinions without too much opposition.

If you start reading a comment which goes on too long considering its merits, surely it is easy enough to skip the rest of it.

@The abused

Lots of talk about abuse, but I struggle to recall very much of it. There have been occasions when individuals’ personal motives have been questioned in a way which suggests they are deliberately spinning or trying to mislead. Granted this must be irritating and should be discouraged(except on the odd occasion when, who knows, it might be a bit true). depersonalisation should be the aim if you have to go there.

Some stuff though is clearly going to be irritating and will likely be ignored by most readers.

There is a tendency in Ireland for robust criticism to be interpreted as abuse. It is not a trait that has done the country any favours. Is that happening to some extent? Where exactly is all the abuse? Is there perhaps more an element of feeling obliged to defend a post from comments that take a different view – and that that is annoying if you don’t have the spare time?

Would second the comments above about occasional school-masterly authoritarianism. Many threads seem to be ‘closed’ while vibrant discussions are still underway – it does have a high handed air of censorship about it – although the fact someone may get fed up moderating a discussion they thought was going to head in one direction but goes on and on in another also has to be considered.

And just on a less introspective note, stock markets may (note, may) be rolling off a very tired top today. Lots of comparatively expensive hedging been done last few weeks as risk assets drifted higher and low volatility ‘should’ have made hedging much cheaper. If so, then the mood music for funding discussions might become a bit less laid back. Would be ironic if this topic dominating the blog given the international context, were to turn out to be a classic complacency indicator 😉

Perhaps its a measure of the success of this blog? Like you-know-what attracts flies!!!

Any restriction, other than to prohibit personal assualts, is regrettable. Your damned if you restrict, you will be demented if you leave things as is.

Suck something and see what it tastes like. Alternatively you might wish to commission individual contributions, based on the relevance of their comments in response to posts by the principals.

I am a bit shocked to learn that comments are regularly deleted. Of course I agree with the policy if they are just vitriolic personal attacks on the author; but if they are simply a good put-down of a flaw in reasoning then they shouldn’t be deleted or the author shouldn’t blog if he has a thin skin.

I believe in the Socratic method, i.e. the purpose of entering into any discussion or debate is to be relieved of ignorance. A wise man once pointed out to me that if I was walking up O’Connell Street towards the Parnell Monument thinking I was heading for Grafton Street, and someone pointed out to me that I was going in the wrong direction, then I would thank them. Equally, if someone points out a flaw in your reasoning or logic then you should thank them. I have learned a lot reading this blog and have changed my mind on several issues.

I enjoy good writing, good grammar, and precision in language and I believe we should all aim for this. If I spot an egregious grammatical error then, if I have the time, I’ll draw attention to it in (what I hope is) a humorous manner. No offence is intended to anyone.

I support Dork’s right to post as there can sometimes be nuggets of wisdom in the posts. Some of the points he makes on the car dependency and oil dependency in Ireland, due to low urban density, are very valid and will come back to bite many of us with families who need two cars to function.

Finally, what I would like to see most of all on this blog is an informed discussion of what it would mean if Ireland had to leave the EURO. I’ve read the full gamut of opinions from David McWilliams who says, in effect, it would give us a fresh start, to others (e.g. Michael Hennigan) who say it would be very detrimental for the country. I can’t make up my mind and I would like to see a thread on this at some stage.

As regards relevance/irrelevance – surely what could be lost would be the ability to express how most minds actually work; ie; an oscillation between the general and the particular, the micro & macrocosmic, etc.
I mean, for instance, the constant relation we make between the specifics of our experience & observation with the larger understanding/panorama we all to some degreee possess, and which, combined, makes up the corpus of meaning we make of the world.

I’m referring to some very sharp, clear-eyed contribution I’ve read here in particular, that cast light on particular issues of the topic in hand, usually with the aid that the contributors own larger angle & scope enable him/her to make.
I don’t include anything I post up here myself, as I fully admit I am unqualified to add anything more than slight remarks and comments of relative (in the sense of limited) usefulness.

I think that it is almost impossible to restrict comments usefully (apart from easy things to prohibit like personal abuse, etc) without introducing some level of subjectivity in the policing-process.
Perhaps a list of guidelines that people could familarise themselves with & remind themselves of when they post (and perhaps be reminded of if they transgress) ?

Coming to this a little late.
Regulating this site will tax someones time and effort.
It works grand at the moment???

If you guys can come up with a clear and simple moderating policy, put all comments in a queue and let a small number of volunteers clear the queue. I so volunteer. Obviously, that means I can never comment, which won’t be a big loss. Any others want to volunteer?

I’d like a ‘like’ button, childish I know but it might be a bit of Craic 🙂 How about Real Names, threads within threads, like namawinelake and a registration process that proves the commenters email address? Also how about an ability to click on a name which brings you to all the comments made by that person.

@ Yields or Bust

I’d be interested in seeing just what it is on Crooked timber that upsets you so. CT is a model of restrained commentary in comparison to most places.
Threading of comments would be a value-adding exercise. It might usefully combined with up- or down-voting which could find expression in various ways (either only showing – without expanding the thread – comments with significant upvoting, or ‘greying out’ vote swith significant downvotes etcetc.)

There’s a lot of talk about ad hominem attacks by commenters. I would suggest that you look first at one or two of your authors before lecturing the rest of us. One recent departure from these shores has long used this blog to pursue personal vendettas against perceived ‘opponents’ in Irish public life.

Once you can figure out what the Dork is talking about (and separate out the individual issues he often jumbles up in a paragraph) then I find his comments worthwhile. His comment downpost on the Verolme shipyards, for example, is dead on. That this makes free-marketeers uncomfortable is neither here nor there.

@ The Dork of Cork

“Some people might also find it strange that catastrophically failed PD leaning economists get to write pieces with the air of absurd intellectual gravitas without being put into the blog stocks repeatedly.”

How very, very true. It seems that harsh treatment in the form of austerity is for the population at large, but the cheerleaders of this are delicate flowers.

@ Michael Hennigan – Finfacts

“Putting issues like university budgets, academic pay and the like offlimits would be a throwback to the age of doffing caps and kissing bishops’ rings”

Certain topics seem to be impossible to hold a civil discussion on – anything to do with climate change, the public sector etc. attract diehard ideologues who repeat the same damned talking points every time, no matter how often disproved.

Oh, and a preview button/stage or editing facility. Only my first paragraph above was for ‘Yields or Bust’.

Oddly enough on the NWL blog, despite the fact that many of the posts and comments are on the micro level and involve real money to real people, only five commenters have been barred in two years and about 20 comments from non-barred people have been deleted in the past year when over 9,000 comments in total were posted. There is no editing whatsoever of comments on the NWL blog, if a word or phrase is inappropriate the whole comment is deleted, though in practically all cases, the commenter is informed with a copy of their comment which they can edit and resubmit.

Most people understand that you can’t accuse named individuals and companies of criminality, negligence,fraud and malfeasance without supporting evidence and that has been behind most problem comments.

There’s also a behavioral problem that some people experience call “perseveration” – not “preservation”. Perseveration is where an individual repeats the same physical action over and over, and if such individuals need an outlet, then WGU’s recommendation of starting their own forum might be worth pursuing instead.

Commenters sometimes don’t realise that there is not the time to custom moderate multiple problem comments and if commenters don’t get that message, then after a warning they should be blocked. It doesn’t stop some of them coming back under different aliases though….

99.9% of people understand the rules are for everyone and help preserve a forum where different perspectives are encouraged. For whatever reason, I think there is more of an edge to some comments on IE which is odd – why should public v private sector or general macro economic issues be any more problematic than the developer v banker v ordinary citizen debates you get at NWL? They shouldn’t be but for some reason they are.

Firstly you should choose a new theme and install it from: Maybe zbench? You can filter them by some parameters.
Later add some social plugins (in the same link just the “plugins” tab),
enable threaded comments in Settings> Discussion Settings. It would be easier for people to reply.

If you need more help send me an email 🙂

On the opening page of that knotty late text Worstward Ho [Beckett] set out, succinctly and famously, his negative aesthetic: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

New York Review of Books

The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume II: 1941–1956
edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn, and Lois More Overbeck
Cambridge University Press, 791 pp., $50.00

Begs the question – Who decides on ‘relevance’?

For example, I find The Owl and the Pussycat [Edward Lear of Nonsense Rhyme fame] highly relevant to any substantive discussion of The Fiscal Corset – in a soft postmodernist sense of course. Yet others might not agree – as is their right. And following Beckett, we see progress as we might now refer to Positive Aesthetics Turns and Negative Aesthetic Turns … just a thought [I’ll skip ‘rigor’ for the mo!]

@Jagdip Singh

Excellent site–keep up the propaganda–and your buddy who_shot_the_tiger
NAMAWINELAKE February 15th


Who-Shot -The -Tiger

“one paragraph says it all. He states we will become Zimbabwe(without the sun) if we legislate retrospectively for short term political gain”. “If it happens there will ne nobody left in employment in the country to turn out the lights–no matter what the retailers say”

SF ca
The blog on the rent review question and the excellent comments by all may be the most important issue that has ever been addressed on the site.
We are where we are,but we are discussing a new government policy,which could lead to the total collapse of the Irish economy and Irish society.
We all need to make contact with senior figures in the Fine Gael party and try to explain the consequencies of the proposed rent review legislation.

Because the Mortgages stuck on the asset side of banks are merely a vehicle for the crime – we all know this deep down.
Your posts are therefore tertiary to the bigger game that is being played.
So they were only the crime vehicle – interesting on a forensic level but they still do not explain why ?
I remember Karl asking me why I don’t take time understanding the intricacies of double accounting money as if those Pyramids constructed had real value of sorts – they don’t , they merely exist to facilitate credit crimes – they are a artifact of credit – they hold no wealth by themselves as they require constant energy inputs.
You can have a lower intensity crime wave such as pre 1987 times or a higher intensity war with Tanks rather then warhorses that is the eurosystem.

So mortgages have no value – indeed may have a negative value – what happens to the little bit of token asset money remaining that was not loaned out then ? – it has no intrinsic value either but remains a token recognized as a medium of exchange.
All remaining wealth will flow into this unit.
I remember you banned me from making this comment.

I think when you don’t believe other peoples interpretation of Holy monetory scripture – thats when you become a Jehovah.
Shunned / hunted from the doors of civilised folk.
Stoned even if you say in the end there can be only one – Gold or the $

@Robert I don’t recall any previous advocacy by me of censorship. But I don’t see why people should be allowed publish irrelevancies, abuse or pornography for that matter. If you call that censorship, fine.
Freedom of speech is a privilege and one that is regularly abused by various cranks on this site. That has a bad effect on others who use it. It is only by chance that I saw your comment since I wouldn’t normally scroll down through 100 comments. A blog should be a civilized conversation not a bedlam-type babble. That’s why regulation is necessary.
On a practical note, restricting comments to some finite length ( & perhaps a limited number of comments per person) would be a good idea. Brevity is the soul of wit.

The only use I see for this site is it’s informational value which is very good .The comments section is now dominated by largely irrational people who have a beef against some aspect of society.

One feature that might help some of us would be a thumbs up and thumbs down, sortable on thumbs up, total activity (+ & -), latest and last.

Replies to individual comments noted as number of replies and clickable but normally hidden.

A tip jar or donation button linked to a credit card could be useful. There has to be a cost and as economists it is your duty to capture whatever revenue is offered. If the funding supports it then features can be added.

Some suggestions:

Marginal Revolution allows commenters reply to other comments, not just the original article. So instead of comments being a series of jumbled up conversations (as they are here), you can follow a single conversation at a time.

The comments section on the Economist website makes it even easier for the casual reader by collapsing conversation threads after two replies. If you are really interested in the conversation going on between two or more commentators, you can expand it. If you think the conversation is utterly irrelevent to the topic at hand, it won’t clutter up too much of the page.

Mickey Hickey Says:
March 6th, 2012 at 10:37 pm

‘A tip jar or donation button linked to a credit card could be useful.’

Credit card…………are you nuts???????? 🙂

Tip jar ….. yes please. Voluntary? Off course. Cheques, postal orders, Debit Card and transfers to an account – no credit cards as you only encourage profligate spending.

What if we all tip 5 or 10 Euro annual and employ someone to do the IT graft for the ‘heads’?

We’d be doing our bit!


I posted the following on the thread relating to blogging et al steming from an article in the Irish Times. My comment was dated 24/2/2012 at 4.44pm – I’m not entirely sure what the latest CT thread was but as I noted comment 64 wasn’t exactly what one was led to believe appeared on such a revered site. I may have picked a bad hair day for the CT but it was bad, believe me.

“@Aidan R

Just to note on the most recent post on CT there are currently 84 comments and scanning down through them I’d estimate c50 are written by anonymous posters and the language used in comment 64 is particularly charming.

Not exactly the CT you describe above?”

Don’t control the comments.
Most are sensible enough. We live in outrageous times – its hard to find anything offensive in a blog when our children’ futures have been ransomed to the bond market. Compared to that crim everything’s a trifle

I can’t say I’ve noticed it recently but I did point out a year or two ago that the anonymous commentators here were always more upbeat about the economy. I have to then agree with Colm McCarthy about anonymous spinning being a problem on this site (whether its deliberate spinning is open to question I suppose). This does a disservice to those non-economits who do come here to weigh a cross-section of economic opinion

I have from time to time been guilty of ad-hominem argument on this site but I make no apology. It is neccessary and justified sometimes, especially in a society as deferential as this.( Study after study in the US has proved that the average voter would know nothing at all about politics if negative campaign ads were banned).

Some economists are elevated to celebrity status by the media and/ or by their prominent work for government. Their arguments then carry weight, not justified by the arguments themselves. It is necessary then to question the pedastal from which these people make their proclamations in order to engage with them at all. This was brought home to me when I heard a speech given by a Labour left-winger against the coalition quoting Colm McCarthy on some issue, in a way that indicated MCCarthy’s opinion was definitive. This is detrimental to democracy. Even Colm McCarthy himself I’m sure, would concede that that the speaker must have misunderstood everything he had said in his lifetime, but still felt obliged to quote him.

If anything shows the effect of banning negative comment it was the explosion in Gerry Adams/Martin McGuimness popularity as the peace process was concluded. The media and rival politicians stopped all negative comment on the SF leaders , even the normal polical knockabout abuse, and these two were sanitised of their past to a whole generation of young people.

I am not comparing the failings of economists to SF, but I think we have to admit the neccessity for robust debate in a democracy.

It is particularly innapropriate for this site to suggest censorship of criticism of economists , on the very day Fintan O’Toole has pointed out that the Fiscal Compact is basically neo-liberalism outlawing Keynesianism.

A tighter comments policy to cut down on irrelevant comments and also offensive comments. Yes please

I confess, I do go off on rants.

I am convinced that Socialism is at the core of our predicament.

I detest the banking cabal. They will end as denizens of the eighth level of Hell.

Government is basically stupid people doing stupid things for all the wrong reasons, all the time. Nothing good has come out of government so far this century. Nothing good will emerge except by pure chance.

We need to adopt Austrian School economic principles.

I think that John Maynard Keynes has proved to be more damaging to humanity than Hitler.

But all I ever seem to see here is technical naval gazing parading as commentary. Not one of the experts seem to me to have a pigs notion as to what to to do to SAVE Ireland.

We need action, based on the principles of personal liberty, rule of law but not rule by judges, sound money, limited government and free markets.

However these ideas grate on the teeth of the collectivists, Keynesians and Marxians that occupy the higher echelons of our tenured academia, government apartments and trades union headquarters. The professors and pundits of the left who fawn over the likes of Krugman, Skidelsky, Reinhart/Rogoff etc.

I say these guys are wrong. They are not just wrong, but completely wrong and constitute a Nobel laurel bedecked deadly threat to the welfare of mankind. These people influence the idiot politician and together the two fall easily for the blandishments of the banker.

I post only irregularly and never seem to get any feedback. I suppose this is due to my complete “lack of standing”.

The fact that half the contributers simply ignore or sneer at contributions such as mine reflect not so much on my inability to convince others through argument but rather that the obvious truths espoused have no purchase with people so blinded by their education that it is as if a wall has been erected around their minds.

It is difficult to debate with someone who’s initial position is diametrically opposite to ones own and who may hold one in disdain due to one’s “lack of standing”. This, despite the fact that the whole intellectual edifice around which his “standing” has been built has collapsed ignominiously.

I welcome some of the suggestions put up to help this blog improve.

@Robert Glynn
We are social animals hence we gravitate to socialist structures. ‘Tis human nature.

Democracy, Communism, Capitalism, Socialism, Unions, Professional Associations are some of the ways we structure our societies.

We came straight from the tribe/clan to British feudalism to a service economy. The Austrian school of economics has a lot of sociopathy in it. Marx via Lenin and Stalin brought Russia out of feudalism in 1917 to an advanced, industrialised, weaponised country whose army chased the German armed forces back across the northern Europen plains at a speed that Frightened the Americans and the British.

Keynes saved America from Communism when Roosevelt implemented Keynesian ideas to revive the American economy during the Great Depression.
If an economist is not familiar with the works of Smith, Keynes and Marx then he is not an economist. I say he because I cannot imagine the women economists missing out on those three.

I have seen first hand that Communism works, socialism works, capitalism works, democracy works, dictatorship works. Each country arrives at a way of arranging their systems to their satisfaction. They also tear things apart when they have outlived their usefulness. It has ever been thus.

People get what they want through the ballot box and nowhere is this more true than right here in Ireland. The problem is us but hardship will improve our judgement over time.

There is no great overarching conspiracy out there that cannot be addressed at the ballot box. Try not to get upset, get involved in politics.

i enjoy people with views diametrically opposed to my own. There is nothing I like better than talking to die hard American Republicans when they go off on an anti Obama, anti everything rant. I am talking the true believers, not the ones who are amenable to other view points.

A”Junk Comment Contributor” facility which allowed you to filter out useless commentators would be valuable. Possibly also a requirement that commentators would be professionally qualified to make comments?

@ Robert

“I confess, I do go off on rants.”

And how.

@ Philip/Steven

this thread is probably a pretty good example of how things tend to go just a tad off topic on occasion.

“Hmm, a comment moderation policy you say? How about considering Keynes to be worse than Hitler?”.

As always, adherence to Godwins Law is one of the few constants left in the universe.

My final meta-comment on comments’ policy is influenced by the observation that recently when two threads opened on job creation (action plan for jobs and some R&D innovation tale), the number of comments proportionate to comments on threads dealing with Germany, Greece, promissory notes, and so forth were noticeably low.

Personally i thought it reflected a disengaged attitude towards a key issue facing the country’s attempts at recovery. Is there some practical mens for making sure key government economic policies get as much coverage as some bloke writing yet another opinion piece in the FT on the contents of Merkel’s handbag?

@ Alchemist

People may take the view that the current governement is pretty helpless with regard to the unemployment situation.

@ Paul

thats possibly true, but i would argue that many people would prefer to point fingers at nefarious, foreign banking cabals, dealing in black and white “unfairness”, rather than examining the much more mundane, but reasonably complex, task of reforming the structural flaws inherent in our economy. Its much easier to blame Goldman Sachs then to admit that maybe we weren’t quite as smart as we thought we were.


You should be less inclined to us the Royal ‘we’ when refering to the vast majority of folk. The vast majority of people were and are simply clueless when it comes to property valuation and therefore relying on the banks or financial service types for advice in relation to said market was their crime.

Yes indeed it is easier to blame GS and the Banks simply because it’s true. They were not terribly smart lending money to Irish banks who in turn subsequently lent it to consumers on properties with net rental yields less than 1% and still hope against hope of getting their money back. All the while the same banks during this period insisted on flooding the market with product nobody wanted. You’re correct this was not smart at all, and I for one am not trying to deny it – but the mundane task, as you describe it, is to fix this structural disaster.

My opinion, as you well know, is the manner in which we (the Govt and the wider authorities) have gone about this fix is completely wrong (NAMA for instance) – thus far I and others have been proven to be correct. The current policies are not smart or even close to it and thankfully this site has heighlighted many of these policy (fix) weaknesses.

@ YoB

there was a thread a few weeks back, dealing with an EU document titled “Macro-economic imbalances within the EU”. It essentially details whats wrong with the EZ and what needs to be fixed. Nothing sexy, just fixed of macroeconomic flaws or stresses in each country. I predicted there would be a poor take up of it in terms of comments. 11 comments later, i am proven correct. At least the Dork had some opinions to express on it. Like i said, people love to bitch, often correctly, about how banks messed up on the housing market and lending to Ireland in the past, and then move that onto the default vs leave the eurozone debates. Not nearly as many seem to want to discuss the boring task of how we should actually fix the economy going forward.

@Antoin B.

“Possibly also a requirement that commentators would be professionally qualified to make comments?”

Nothing better illustrates the need for a forum of criticism of Irish economists by non-professionals than the above comment. There is no shame and no realistion that had there been a forum like this economists might have had to deal with the robust commentators , say, from who were making much more sense on the bubble from 2006 than the smug professionals who kept talking about a soft landing.

‘The soft landing’ theory was not a mistake that should be forgotten and forgiven as HermannCaint suggests but an idndication of fundamental flaws in the way Irish economists think. The ‘soft landing’ stuff must be repaeted ad nauseam until such time as there is genuine self-criticism in the profession and a genuine changing of the theories that led to the ‘soft landing’ bunkum.

Most of the students of the academics on this site are too young to remember the abysmal failure to warn of the bubble, and are easily taken in by vague attempts to pretend to have been a dissident in the crucial time period. When richard Tol left this site , there was a subtext that he was part of some underground that had fought against powerful forces, when of course , nothing could be further from the truth.

It is not only politicians who spin, and it is not only politicians who need criticism from the ordinary voters.

‘Economics’, not being a science but merely a platform for gathering and analysing data against accepted or fashionable principles and hypotheses and really providing little or no value to the ‘real world’ should be given the status it deserves – that of being somewhat academically interesting but largely irrelevant body of suspect knowledge filled with hindsight but devoid of foresight.
On that basis, this site is interesting if only to observe the multitude of data interpretations and the subsequent longwinded discussions leading absolutely nowhere and quite often good for a laugh – but little else.

I see from

“The aim of this website is to provide commentary and information about the Irish economy”

as well as

“And thanks for contributing. Your contributions and the debates that they provoke make the site for more informative than it would be if it were comment-free and, of course, more fun.”

I think a lot of issues raised in this discussion could be addressed by modernising the software used.

‘Ignore poster’ functionality would be helpful (as suggested earlier by AntoinB), but also ‘highlight poster’. Improvements that can be delivered through software obviously have advantages in a site with limited moderator time.


“I have seen first hand that Communism works, socialism works, capitalism works, democracy works, dictatorship works.”

They can’t all work Mickey. The idea that Austrians exhibit “sociopathy” is a new one on me. As compared to reigns of terror or mass extermination?. I see the Austrians as humanitarians. At least they value the rule of law as a real protection for the individual. Our current masters see legalities as optional, the law as a tool for oppression. How else would something as odious as the bank bailout be contrived.

As for Keynes saving America from communism, I find this an amusing idea. If anything the Depression was worsened and prolonged by the misguided policies of Roosevelt. If anyone advanced the cause of the communists during the thirties it was him. By prolonging the depression he herded desperate people towards the light of the utopian myth that is communism..

What eventually brought the US economy out of depression was war. And the US economy has never reverted to a “normal” economy since that time.

As to how a so called feudal society such as Russia could have emerged as a military superpower, it seems obvious to me. Simply expropriate all property, enslave the population, force industrialization through terror, dislocation and mass murder. Please remember that the Russian peasant was not motivated by fear of the Nazis in nineteen thirty, he was motivated by fear of his own government. It is a glib notion that Russia was improved by communism. Market capitalism would have eventually elevated the living standards of the Russians as it did for everyone else. Russia would be a far greater country today were it not for their unfortunate experience with the communists. Indeed we would all have had freer and more prosperous societies were it not for communism and its insidious bedfellow Keynesianism.

Our incumbent elite that supports the Keynesian world view is not prepared to permit the development of a free market economy with a sound monetary system. This would upset the status quo and divest the tenured ones of their cushy positions. The dictatorship of the consumer, something that special interests fear and loathe as it means they will have to get out and work for a living, will be resisted at any cost.

Getting back on subject.. a conversation is difficult to have on this site. It would be good if somehow a thread could be isolated within parentheses and expanded or collapsed by the reader.


I looked at the thread you refer to and cannot see your comment – anyhow I believe your comment above. You say

“Not nearly as many seem to want to discuss the boring task of how we should actually fix the economy going forward..”

As I noted above the problem with the economy and its crystal clear from the thread and the report you refer is the size of debt particularly the private sector debt.

I have made many suggestions as to how to ‘fix’ this issue – none of them being fair, as so many here believe is warranted – it ain’t. But a fix nontheless is within our grasp but sadly Govt report after Govt report does not want to own up to the real issue here and that being a flawed valuation model which gave rise to a flawed mortgage model. Its quite clear that time simply won’t fix this issue. Debt is either paid off or written off. Its not complicated. I don’t need a EU scorecard to tell me that.

If you’re listening to Liveline at the moment you’ll quickly realise that hoards of families simply don’t have the means to repay these daft mortgage debts so to next solution is to write them off and the financiers of the banks pay and yes that includes deposit holders pay. We need a mass write off of mortgage debt ASAP – no other policy will make the sort of dent into the problems facing the country other than tackling this problem. ALL and I mean ALL other issues come secondary to this problem.

In General my instinct is not to censor. If you feel someones opinion is idiotic you can skip it. No one forces us to read every post. If you feel the necessity that’s your problem. However if you wanted to put in a % of posts limit then it seems fair enough on grounds of wanting diverse opinions. How about thumbs up thumbs down like they have in the oh and my kingdom for the ability to edit my own posts.

@ Philip,

My firm and considered advice, is not to make hasty decisions now about anything, but instead to try out an interim solution. The problem to date with the Irish economy blog – is that it becomes too time inefficient for both the contributors and the moderators. I mean, in the course of a seven day week only, there may be submitted 10 to 20 separate blog entries by the various economists who are part of this group blog.

That is, 10 to 20 separate comment threads, for any 7 to 14 day time period. That is far too much, to try and manage from a moderator point of view – and far too much to manage from a comment contributor point of view. Karl Whelan has already began to twig this fault in the current set up of the Irish economy blog – and has recently began to submit his own blog entries to the site – while turning off the comment thread feature entirely. I see nothing wrong with this at all. Also, Stephen Kinsella only allows the comment thread to remain active for as long as it is productive.

What I would recommend that the Irish economy blog site does, for a trial period of a month say, is to allow the normal separate blog entries to be submitted by the economists, with the comment threads turned off. But leave only one blog entry open with comments, and allow everyone who visits the site, to submit their comments to that comment thread only. Then close that comment thread after a period of seven days, and open another one.

My recommendation also, would be to have the comment thread that is open, to be a retrospective general blog entry, which is basically a Friday ‘comment all’ on the previous week’s Irish Economy blog entries. In other words, one blog entry with one open comment thread is published by Philip Lane on every Friday, and it remains open for seven days, until the following Friday. It is a general blog entry, and it allows visitors to pass comment on every subject under discussion for the last week.

The one condition from a point of view of the comment-er, is that at the top of each comment, they simply write the subject of the comment. That is, if the comment is about Fiscal policy referendum, one simply writes that at the top of the comment. If the comment is about the innovation report, one writes that subject at the top of the comment. I think this system would be easier for moderators and visitors alike, as it would enable everyone to engage in some sort of two way conversation, without having to jump between ten different comment threads.

What happens if you have ten new blog entries each week, and ten different comment threads, is very soon the debate and discussion becomes a bit pointless, because it gets scattered too much, between different comment threads. Just my opinion. I am a busy student at the moment, and my word budget would be about 100 words per week to the Irish economy blog, which would be submitted in one comment at most I think. I don’t think, most weeks, I would even be able to manage that much.

I don’t bother any longer with the Irish economy blog, because I don’t have time in a week to follow ten different comment threads. I think, the approach I suggest above, which is like a ‘letters to the editor’ section in a daily newspaper – is worth a try-out, for a month maybe – just to see how it works out for visitors and moderators alike. I think, that very soon, it would become very obvious who are the folk, who are submitting twenty, thirty, forty and fifty separate comments per week to this site. That is the same as submitting 50 separate ‘letters to the editor’, and expecting them all to appear in the printed newspaper. Which is nonsense really. And anyone I know, would very soon, stop reading that newspaper altogether. BOH.

@ Philip,

Another quick thing.

Based on the system, that I describe above – if one wished – and one had not participated in the discussion at Irish Economy blog for several weeks, as often happens to me these days – and one wished to ‘catch up’ as it were – then based on the system, that I described above – all one would have to do is to go back to ‘last weeks’ (closed comment thread), and print it out and read it. Or go back to the comment thread (also closed) from two weeks ago, or a month ago, and also scan down through that, for things of interest, by contributors that one likes to read.

In this manner, it would be easier for infrequent visitors to the Irish Economy blog site, to remain part of the discussion – even if, one’s involvement was only marginal – because one may be able to ‘catch up’ quickly, with recent visitor contributions. The discussions would be easy to find, in the week single comment thread. The problem with the Irish Economy blog site at the moment, is that it takes me too much work nowadays to scan back over older comment threads, to bring myself back up to speed with the discussion here – and to be honest, it is no longer worth my effort.

So basically, a lot of folk such as myself, who may visit infrequently to the Irish Economy site, are basically blocked out of the discussion – because we suffer too much from a disadvantage to the more frequent visitors – who visit daily, and are always up to the minute in the latest discussion and where it is at. Regards, BOH.

@ All,

A few folk above have mentioned the issue of the ‘anonymous’ contributions to the Irish Economy blog site. I mean, if someone sends a letter to a newspaper editor, and it is published, it goes down as ‘anonymous’ and no more. The problem with this Irish Economy blog format, is that folk are allows to visit here, engage in discussion, and basically rambled around with this fake faux identity mask on all of the time. I could not envisage a situation again, in any newspaper sort of ‘letters to the editor’ system, where someone could submit letters constantly using that faux identity handle, and keep getting their letters published in the newspaper, with that identity handle all of the time.

Maybe contributors, who are not willing or able for whatever reason to offer comment using their real identity, ought to have that identity watered down to simply ‘anonymous’ and no more than that. I would not dignify those regular visitors who come here so often, every day, every week, using these faux identity handles for years, and years, and years. Until eventually, this faux identity becomes like a real life identity, or status. This is totally unacceptable in my opinion. If someone wants to make a regular contribution as Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous, and publish a comment that is fine. But that is all they get, and no more. Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous.

They should not in my opinion, get to lurk around in the background shadows, posing as experts all of the time, and using this fake mask. It is not what academic economics thinking and development is all about. If we behaved like that in the real world, what would universities by like? What would happen, if I opened up a real dissertation in a library in UCD economics shelf, and looks at the citation list – and it said, all of these nonsense faux identities – instead of Roubini, Krugman, McCarthy, Whelan, Kelly, etc, etc. You could burn the whole stack of dissertations, if they did not have citations with real identities. Because the dissertations would not be worth the paper they are written on. BOH.

I’ve worked as moderator on a number of online sites, these are my thoughts

1) It is important to avoid getting into an adversarial situation with posters: too much debate about moderation is a sign of failing

2) Some posters here post quite whacky off topic stuff, 2 or 3 frequent offenders come to mind: their contributions need to be trimmed (also community health services should be alerted)

3) Functional enhancements to the commenting facility that allow a) Nested threads/replies b) voting to promote popular comments – would be nice

4) At times it would be helpful if blog contributors ensured that there was a “general thread” open on the front page – this is especially true of developments in financial markets – upon which people would like to comment. So either a totally general thread, or perhaps one for the Eurocrisis

Overall though I’m broadly in approval of the current moderation policy : i.e. hugely radical change not required

@ Brian O’Hanlon

“Karl Whelan has already began to twig this fault in the current set up of the Irish economy blog – and has recently began to submit his own blog entries to the site – while turning off the comment thread feature entirely. I see nothing wrong with this at all. ”

I disagree!

These comment-less posts are simply essays or opinions, communicated to a target audience, who are allowed to read, but not comment. Imagine, having a conversation with someone but they are not allowed to talk? Speak when you are spoken to! Worse that that, speak when I allow you to speak. Smacks of arrogance does it not?


You know the pressures to conform and toe the party line that exist in Ireland. I would rather read an uninhibited rant than comments carefully couched to curry favour or ensure personal career survival. Anonymity does not exist on the internet, print five words the CIA, FBI and Homeland Security find interesting and you may or may not have your phone tapped, mail intercepted and every keystroke archived as long as you live. It can be done effortlessly and cheaply once the initial investment is made. I am not suggesting that the Irish Gov’t has made that investment, which means each investigation would be costly and not engaged in frivolously.

I would be surprised if Karl Whelan and Philip Lane when socialising in some circles are not being told they should join polite society and to distance themselves from the rabble on their Blog. I am mildly surprised it has gone on this long and I put it down to Academic exceptionalism and guts.

I see little difficulty in sorting out the wheat from the chaff, particularly since the chaff gives us an idea as to where people stand.

Thanks Bundesboy.

I see he is still the fine stalwart plain talker afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.

Let’s be very clear about what KW did. He is very v v v v sensitive on Promo Notes, nervous that the likes of Peter Mathews interpreting him as saying they can be torn up when at best they might be restructured with no net gain to Ireland. Peter repeated his claim on the VB show, citing KW as support for this view. Laura Noonan pointed out how it was ridiculous to suggest that Ireland could willy nilly write off CBI obligations; after all won’t everybody want a piece of that? Sheer common sense.

Karl blew a fuse and in a late night rant on this blog launched a silly and unwitty lambast against Laura. In the morning he realised his ghastly rant was a major blunder; he recanted the rant as far as would reasonably be non spottable and then closed off to further comment, moya to protect Laura. Laura immediately rejected the gallant gesture on her twitter but KW persisted in protecting her, Sir Launcelot was a wimp by comparison.

He has since launched two further “no comment threads” to create the impression that this is simply a change of style. Pathetic.

This comment will surely be deleted for the academic politburo will circle around KW. Maybe some will have a chance to view this before the suffocating North Korean style censorship is applied.

The advantage of this or any site is the ability of the reader to respond. Once censorship is introduced it becomes a forum for, the economists in this case, to communicate with each other, thus perpetuating the consensus view. I would have expected much more humility from the economists who despite endless papers and high renumeration failed to make any vital contribution to preventing the crash. The whistleblower or contrarian may be annoying, repetitive, or boring but we should consider that they may be right. If we silence them, we are in danger of repeating the mistakes of the past which have brought us to this abyss. Often the blogger may appear mad/crazy/kooky but we should remember that the crowd laughed in the kings court when the child shouted “The Emperor has no clothes” .
All those Kooks, economists and kooky economists out there should read this extract of If by Rudyard Kipling –
” If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;….

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;”….

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

@ Mickey Hickey

Regarding the warm embrace of FG and Labour. I would be more than surprised if Karl and Philip are not being politely told that Irelands recovery and efforts to re enter bond markets (debt markets) are not being helped by some of the more robust debate on here with people wearing their hearts on their sleeve. Politicians always use the tools they are most familiar with which is misinformation. Policy usually flows from what is deigned to be politically expedient and least damaging to the party.

Now, how would a polite request for ‘helpful’ censorship be couched? Maybe, “that it is high time for them to don the green jersey”? Karl’s work on the PN’s has put him in the eye of a government storm. Philip is equally influential, respected and sought after. Regardless, of what happens now or in the future and despite what I have said about creeping censorship. I think they have both been of some service to the country.

Trolls ruined my blog so I’m all for zero tolerance.
A blog isn’t a forum for free speech: it’s a room into which the poster invites guests for a chat. If the guest is rude or simply derails the conversation with boring irrelevant speeches he can be asked to leave.

I’m not against pseudonyms as a matter of principle especially on this site where people in sensitive jobs can make excellent contributions. BEB and PR Guy are two examples.

But No. 1 rule, really for commenters rather than moderators is Krugman’s 3″ rule.

Honestly lads, and BOH, BW and OMG Colm Brazel, Yes I’m looking at you..people will read your comments more if they are shorter. If you break the 3″ rule I’m not reading. (I’m sure I’ve broken it on occasion, but rarely).

Pithy one liners get the gold stars 🙂


This sounds awfully like the blog gardai will be hard at work with their measuring tapes – if you’re in for a penny you’re in for a pound. There’s no obligation to read if you don’t want to and equally if somebody writes something (provding the language is within the accepted bounds of decency) that touchs a nerve well so be it. We’ve become overly inoculated by PC and to my mind it ultimately hides the truth.


The single best piece of managerial advice I received many moons ago was to listen to all arguments and all sides of the debate because sometimes the supposed village idiot is in fact the brightest star.

It’s time for the FG/Labour thought police–Ignorence is good–War is Peace—David McWilliams is Stupid–

Mickey Hickey writes,

I would be surprised if Karl Whelan and Philip Lane when socialising in some circles are not being told they should join polite society and to distance themselves from the rabble on their Blog. I am mildly surprised it has gone on this long and I put it down to Academic exceptionalism and guts.

Mickey, I sincerely doubt if Mr. Whelan, Mr. Lane, or any other contributor to the Irish Economy blog is that likely to be swayed in any particular direction, by anyone, in social circles or anything else.

That is one of the character features, that I can understand about the academic economists who created the Irish Economy blog. They are not going to be persuaded up or down, by anyone. They make up their own minds. The reason, they hold this notion of making up their own minds, so highly, is because they have developed their own minds, by training and by learning. The difficulties for many of the rest of us in the world, is that we don’t receive the same opportunities to develop our minds – or do not use the opportunities that we are given to do so (I need to hold my hand up for the later unfortunately).

The one big problem that Mr. Whelan, Mr. Lane and others will have though, is that they are getting older each year, and need to have a life – outside of moderating a web site, whatever it is. I believe, that Mr. Whelan and Mr. Lane, should be entitled to have a life, and be entitled to do so – without, ourselves, in some way, trying to read something into it, that isn’t there. I.e. That they had to un-wind from an unsustainable position of providing the free labour, to moderate a very complex website, while putting their lives temporarily on hold.

In short, I wouldn’t blame Mr. Whelan and Mr. Lane, if they had to shut down the entire website tomorrow – and say, the end of the road. We’re not doing this anymore. But it wouldn’t mean that they were forced to do so by anyone, and we shouldn’t unfairly read something into it. But whatever, Mr. Lane and Mr. Whelan do do, I would ask them like Mr. Brian Cowen, who announces a cabinet re-shuffle – and we hope that he would have been radical, and not do something by half measures – I would request that Mr. Whelan and Mr. Lane, do do something radical and different, and not by half measures in this instance. Use this watershed as an opportunity to radically change policy here for a significant period of six months to a year. I mean, radically change it. And then change it back later, if it doesn’t feel right or whatever.

Lastly, I would like to make a comment about anonymity. Take for instance, this supposed famous calculation error that Mr. Brian Lucey supposedly made at one stage. But at least he did so, without being anonymous. At least he did so, in a way that half of the readers here, could make him accountable. Isn’t this what we are always asking for, from representatives and public figures anyhow? And nothing more. I ask the question, would we prefer if Mr. Lucey had been Mr. Anonymous Something instead, and that in a way, would make his errors and mistakes more acceptable to us? Is that in fact, what has happened in the state in Ireland – that awful errors and mistakes, we may find less objection-able – because we have created so many identity filters, and layers of responsibility, or accountability, to the degree where the individual responsible is now no longer visible?

Regards, BOH.

@ Sarah Carey,

Here is a pithy one-liner: More and more, we seem to expect less and less of ourselves and others. Isn’t that the problem?

That is, imagine that Mr. Brian Lucey’s response to making a calculation error was . . . . I wish someone had said something to me about it earlier. I would have been able to do something about it.


How nice to see the poison has reached the academia as well. har har- Ivory tower! –

@ Sarah Carey

Yes to the 3″ rule. While the Dork’s comments are rewarding if you make an effort to dig for the gold nuggets in there, just a couple of entries above this one is a prime example of a lot of wasted space to say nothing of interest at all.

Re: Letters to the editor.

I wrote above about the ‘Letters to the Editor’, analogy for the management of contributions to the Irish Economy blog site. Here is an example, of something related to that. Recently, I completed by first (and possibly last), academic economics paper, which you can refer to here.

But what I wish to draw you attention to, is if you scroll to the end of that document, under ‘Millstein, Ira’, you will see a citation that I used in the paper, to a letter which Mr. Millstein wrote to the New York Times, and it was published on February 23rd 2011. It was only a letter to the editor, entitled The Stock Market and Everyday Americans, but I felt that it was good enough, that I could use it as a citation in my paper. Millstein, is very famous in the United States anyhow, as a Yale Law professor. But the little letter was amongst one of the published items by him, that I could reference. BOH.

I count 7 commentators above condemning ad hominem comments. True ad hominem is a logical fallacy, but it is often neccessary to point to individuals vested interests, and can save ploughing through a lot of tedious verbiage knowing for example to take Peter Sutherlands cotrbutions to economic debate with a large pinch of salt.
What more potent argument is there in favour of a good ad hom than Ms Rice-Davies famous put down of Lord Astor “Well he would say that wouldn’t he..”

@Sarah Carey
“I think I’ve posted this before. Something we should all keep in mind”

To emphasize the cartoons point I have to point out, Sarah that you were not the first one to post that particular link – Yes someone is wrong on the internet – does that mean you copied someone elses point – twice? Maybe a stricter policy on plagiarism is needed!

@ Sarah

There was a young gal from Carolina
Whose blog posts were always one liner
When asked why so brief
She answered with grief
Any more would need someone to mind her


You’re welcome 🙂


🙂 I’ll have to go write one about a gal from Meath. Seethe is the most obvious rhyme.

Tbh, we all need our heads examined.

@Colm Brazel
Having spent a lot of time abroad I agree with you that it changes one’s viewpoint. The Irish who have not ventured out tend to be over sensitive and every bit as concerned about face as the Chinese. A lot of them also suffer from centre of the world syndrome, unable to step back and look at the international picture. We are a little row boat in a sea of super tankers. It behooves us to think intelligently and manoeuvre nimbly.

@David O’Donnell

…. this is probably one of the few areas where I advocate ‘light touch regulation’ …. a heavy hand would probably destroy the emerging much more inter-disciplinary form of political economy following the Aesthetic Turn in Irish Economics …. and lets be honest about it ….

Right on David

@ sarah

There was a young gal from Meath
Who faced with long blogposts did seethe
She set 3 inches her limit
Asked other bloggers to trim it
Now I find that hard to believe

@ Robert Glynn

They can’t all work Mickey. The idea that Austrians exhibit “sociopathy” is a new one on me. As compared to reigns of terror or mass extermination?. I see the Austrians as humanitarians. At least they value the rule of law as a real protection for the individual.

The so-called Austrians are the armed wing of Randism. “Sociopaths” is therefore much too kind a word to describe them.

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