Some Very Positive Labour Market Numbers

The results of the Quarter 4 2013 National Household Survey are available here.
The year-on-year increase in the numbers at work of 3.3% is all the more remarkable in view of the continuing decline in public sector employment.
The overall unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) fell from 12.7% to 12.1%, and the long-term rate from 8.2% to 7.2%.

The future of the euro

I have a piece on the subject in the most recent issue of Finance and Development, available here.

Production lags being what they are, I wrote the article in mid-December. Since then, Wolfgang Münchau has declared the Eurozone policy debate over (and not in a  good way); the German Constitutional Court has issued a ruling on OMT that is potentially much less benign than is commonly assumed; and Italy has installed its third non-elected Prime Minister in a row, with a notorious multiplier denier as Finance Minister thrown in for good measure. None of this has cheered me up.

University rankings, 2014

Always a controversial topic, the latest university rankings by QS have been published. More details here. The aim is to identify the top 200, meaning something of an abrupt stop once they get to 200. (I feel the need to put a disclaimer here that I post this not because I stand over the ranking’s exact methodology, but rather rankings such as these are used by both prospective students and policymakers, hence they are important.)

Of interest to this readership, the ranking of Economics Departments in Europe is here. Trinity features in the 51-100 cohort and UCD in the 100-150. (Digression: nice to see a popular ranking recognise the bounds of uncertainty, although this may not be the best way to do it.) Six of the top seven Economics departments in Europe are British, with one each from Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and France also in the top dozen.

9th-level Ireland has a handy table of Ireland’s top ranking departments across all disciplines from 2011 to 2014. Four departments (all in TCD) are in the top 50 in their discipline. A further 18 are in the 51-100 group (including three law departments).

Class divides and European integration, yet again

This morning’s Eurointelligence briefing put me on to this article in Les Echos, which in turn led me to this Ipsos opinion poll. It contains several sobering findings, notably with respect to foreigners. But the finding that struck me most — since this is something I have been writing about for years now — is that a majority of French working class voters now want to leave the Euro. Indeed, only 34% of French workers think that EU membership is a good thing.

Isn’t it amazing how short run blips in various economic indicators can lead powerful people to assume that all is well with the EMU project? It is slow moving variables — long term unemployment, gradual shifts in public opinion, and so on — that pose the greatest threat to the Euro’s survival. If the far right does as well as people now seem to think it will in the European elections, this will presumably be presented in the media as a “shock” to the system, but has it not been obvious since 2010 at the latest that something like this was likely, given Eurozone macroeconomic policies? And has it not been obvious for years that actually existing EMU is harming the broader European project?

Europe’s political leaders should remember what Ernest Hemingway said about bankruptcy.

The Eiffel group: for a Euro community


I dare say it will strike most people as pie in the sky, but it makes sense that people who want to preserve the Euro start formulating proposals such as this. Two reasonable conditions attaching to any such proposal seem to me to be that: (a) entry to any such community be decided by popular referenda in each country; and (b) that there be some sort of Connecticut compromise in place so that the rights of small states are protected.

Effective Tax Rates

The issue of effective tax rates, especially for the corporate income tax, rightfully continues to attract a lot of attention.  The front page of The Irish Times features a story by Carl O’Brien which is based on a recent paper produced by Prof. Jim Stewart.  The paper argues that:

“data from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis gives a more accurate estimate of effective tax rates for US subsidiaries operating in Ireland and elsewhere. This data shows that for 2011, US subsidiaries operating in Ireland have the lowest effective tax rate in the EU at 2.2%.”

The paper provides a useful critique of the World Bank/pwc report on effective tax rates but to argue that the BEA data tells us anything about effective tax rates in Ireland is wide of the mark.

For Ireland, the BEA data indicate that, in 2011, US companies here had $144 billion of net income and paid an affective tax rate of 2.2 per cent.  The low effective tax is correct but it wasn’t achieved in Ireland.

There is nothing close to $144 billion of US MNC profits in Ireland.  Such massive profit figures do not appear in the statistics produced by either the CSO or the Revenue Commissioners.  The gap between GDP and GNP is large but it is not that large. 

The post continues below the fold. Apologies for the length.

Continue reading “Effective Tax Rates”

Irish Economy Conference Slides and Recordings

Sincere thanks to Geary’s Mark Hargaden who processed the recordings from last week’s conference. For each speaker there is an audio recording synchronised with the slide show. There is a separate link to slides only, for those who do not want to listen. Unfortunately, due to a technical hitch, we did not secure an audio recording from Paul Gorecki, but we do have his slides.

Here is the link, with recordings/slides linked to the programme.

We can see the evolution of the conference over the last three years from this site as well, with previous years linked here and here.

Economics and Finance Teaching Before and After the Crisis

Brian Lucey and I conducted a survey of all university teachers of economics and finance in December 2013. A presentation of our findings is here (.pdf). Brian’s thoughts are here.

The main results from the sample of respondents are:

  • Teaching has not changed much in response to the crisis.
  • Attitudes to newer, or more critical material appear mixed at best.
  • Respondents emphasised the need for broader contextualisation and increased mathematical competence.We find it hard to see how to reconcile these findings.