Seminars, Today and Tomorrow

Two interesting events at the ESRI:

ESRI Seminar: “Macro-Prudential Policy and Credit: the Right Question but the Wrong Answer
Speaker: Ray Barrell (Brunel)
Venue: The ESRI, Whitaker Square, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2
Date: 18/06/2012
Time: 4 pm

Joint ESRI/IIIS TCD Lecture “Globalisation, Growth Strategies and the Financial Crisis
Speaker: Arvind Virmani
Venue: The ESRI, Whitaker Square, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2
Date: 19/06/2012
Time: 4 pm

10 replies on “Seminars, Today and Tomorrow”

In no way should this be interpreted as seeking to impugn the integrity or professionalism of those presenting or organising these seminars/lectures – or of ESRI staff, But the ESRI, as a policy research institution, has seriously damaged its credibility. It has demonstrated, beyond any reasonable doubt, that research which might question the beliefs and prejudices of governing politicians and policy-makers is either not conducted, or, if conducted, is performed under internal constraints on access to relevant data that should be available – and, most certainly, is not allowed to see the light of day.

The Indo today provides a superficial assessment of the reputational damage:

But the damage is much greater than this. The public relies – and has been encouraged (by the Institute itself, successive governments and the media) to rely – on the ESRI to provide impartial objective assessments of economic and social policy- and to explore policy options. There is no other body in Ireland to perform these functions.

It has been shown that the public, which funds, either directly or indirectly, most of its activities, can no longer rely on the ESRI to provide this public service. The faith of the public in the ESRI will not be restored until there is a comprehensive, ideally external, investigation of the role, functions and funding of the ESRI

Me thinks Ray Barrell lives withen a flawed intellectual construct.

Human BTUs have been a unimportant factor in growth for a long long time.
Spain , Italy etc are merely being denied the spice.
(For example Italian Gasoline consumption has halved since the mid 1990s)

Ageing Germany seems to be hanging in there simply because its oil ration has not been cut dramatically yet.

Spanish kids are retiring at 18 because there is not enough BTUs to waste as most service and manufacturing jobs recycled these energy units into product.

At these energy levels we need a period of deglobalisation where Human networks draw on the internal energy of a nation states boundaries and trade with other closed political constructs on that basis.
This will maximise the return as the spice is just too scarce to waste on loose ineffiecent Holy Roman Empire type operations that have no connection with the local village.

This will reduce Finance arbitrage role in extracting a pound of flesh for a negative holistic return.

Globalisation needs energy – if its not available why would you want to globalise ? – the costs of maintaining a absurd system with stretched supply lines tend to be high and also exceedingly vulnerable as these lines can be cut at any time.
Countries need to rebuild internal redundencey and capital as the rarefied air of global free trade is just too poisonous.

However the powers that be will keep trying to restart this failed model until they cannot.

The Irish economic disaster started with one house–Leinster House. Since 1999 David McWilliams was screaming on every TV show and in every newspaper that there was a massive property bubble, the house is on fire , please somebody help ,help help.
The Irish commercial property market is an organised cartel. Guess what the ESRI’s response was?.



Country Report No. 12/144: Spain: Oversight and Supervision of Financial Market Infrastructures Technical Note

* Country Report No. 12/139: Spain: IAIS Insurance Core Principles: Detailed Assessment of Observance

* Country Report No. 12/141: Spain: The Reform of Spanish Savings Banks Technical Notes

* Country Report No. 12/145: Spain: Safety Net, Bank Resolution, and Crisis Management Framework – Technical Note

* Country Report No. 12/143: Spain: IOSCO Objectives and Principles of Securities Regulation – Detailed Assessment Implementation

* Country Report No. 12/142: Spain: Basel Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision – Detailed Assessment of Compliance Report

The ESRI’s QEC is out:
Normally a downloadable summary would be available, but it seems all we deserve this time is the cryptic press release. From it we get:
“In this Commentary we maintain the view that a fiscal stimulus is needed in Europe to overcome the current stagnation. However, attempts to domestically stimulate the Irish economy should be avoided. In a small open economy such as Ireland much of the impact goes directly on imports and does not lead to sustained growth. In order to grow, the Irish economy needs competitiveness gains and export growth. We note that any personal debt write-down has implications for the taxpayer through reduced bank profits or a reduced future sale value for the banks. Finally, evidence from the Household Budget Survey shows that any boost to consumption from a reduction in the savings rate may not be as great as previously thought.”

I presume the ‘competitiveness gains’ have something to do with reducing the cost base of the economy. It would be interesting to find out if they have some bright ideas on this. Or, perhaps, not, since many of the bodies funding or commissioning research work are the major contributors to the excessively high cost base. However, one such body has commissioned work to try and pass some of the responsibility elsewhere:

And, of course, we get the CYA diclaimer:
“The ESRI is an independent research institute. The Institute does not take policy positions and the views expressed in ESRI publications are those of the authors. All ESRI reports are peer-reviewed prior to publication.”

It appears that the media caravan, with its temporary focus on the treatment of the Tol et al working paper, has moved on – much to the great relief, I would expect, of the ESRI. But what was revealed in this episode should not be forgotten. It cries out to be thouroughly explored and investigated, because it goes right to the heart of the failures in policy-making and regulation that landed Ireland in this mess – and whose continuance are preventing a sustainable recovery.

The ESRI’s disclaimer, quoted at the end of the comment above, captures the essence of the problem. The ESRI is not expected, nor is it required, to take policy positions. Governments will always have competing and conflicting policy objectives – and various challenges (most unanticipated) will arise continuously. The primary role of the ESRI – in the absence of sustained and effective policy research across a broad front in the universities – is to evaluate government policy objectives, to conduct research on how these might best be achieved, to attempt to quantify the trade-offs and the distributional impacts of various options and to make some recommendations.

This does not mean it is taking a policy position. It is simply assembling relevant research, conducting additional research as required and making some recommendations. Governing politicians and policy-makers are perfectly free to ignore these recommendations, but at least the public and media will be able to observe any discrepancies between the advice offered and subsequent policy actions – and to form their judgements. This is a key element of democratic governance.

Governments, of course, – and this is true everywhere – will not welcome policy recommenedations that run counter to their beliefs, prejudices or political calculations and manoeuverings. But there will always be a conflict between governments’ demand for policy-based evidence and the supply of evidence-based policy in the public interest. So a public-funded policy research institute has to have strength and conviction to uphold the public interest.

But, unfortunately, the ESRI fails on all counts. It fails most seriously by exposing individual researchers (or groups of researchers) to full responsibility for any views expressed in perr-reviewed publications. If research has been conducted in accordance with the Institute’s procedures and is approved for publication, then the Institute should stand fully behind it. It is a gross dereliction of its institutional duties to its staff. It almost guarantees that staff will avoid conducting research whose results might not be welcome to government. And the Institute fails the public, who are u;tmately funding most of its activities, becasue it is the public interest to conduct policy research without fear or favour. The fact that much funding is provided by public or semi-state sector bodies whose interests frequently conflict with the broader public interest merely excerbates the problem.

This has gone on for far too long. There is a pressing requirement for a comprehesive (ideally external) investigation of the role, functions and funding of the ESRI.

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