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%.

Comments

comments

77 thoughts on “Some Very Positive Labour Market Numbers”

  1. No comments about strong employment growth; post not negative enough. Suggested revisions include whining about free markets, condemnation of politicians, predictions of euro collapse.

  2. This trend is very good news after 4 grim news.

    As for the actual numbers, the CSO has a problem with the main agriculture/fisheries/forestry total leading the employment sectors with a growth of 30% in jobs in 2013.

    This obviously doesn’t reflect reality but the adjustment of the weighting to account for Census 2011 has been completed in Q4 2013.

    Looking back at prior 2013 quarters, it appears that the numbers in agriculture etc. were understated and thus the additional 27,000 job in 2013.

    In the past the CSO has stated that despite the allocation among sectors, the overall estimate is correct with a margin of error of 9,000.

    The estimated fall in employment in the ICT (information, communications technology) is also curious.

    The 86,000 unemployed in public activation programmes shaves 4% off the unemployment rate.

  3. @PG
    It’s pathetic, I’ve given up posting economic news because it almost feels like bullying the doom-mongers at this stage. I don’t get the lust for negative news, it’s so misanthropic. I remember a previous post about the paucity of evidence for a link between the recession and suicide in Ireland – it almost felt like some posters would have been delighted to see such a link if it meant their own political prejudices were validated.

  4. Has there been any decent analysis done on the number of Irish people out of the labour force on disabilty?

    Just following on from TCD’s Prof John O’Hagan and his IT article in mid-week.

  5. The rise in employment is clearly very good news and the pick up in the labour force implies that net emigration slowed in 2013. Indeed net emigration has been much lower than generally anticipated a few years ago, with high emigration offset by substantial immigration.
    Average weekly earnings fell by 0.7% in 2013 ( albeit with a wide dispersion across sectors) which implies a large degree of slack in the labour market and the economy although the EU and Finance believes the output gap has all but disappeared.
    The employment gain is positive for aggregate household income and therefore consumption but households want to reduce debt so the outlook for spending is cloudy- net mortgage lending fell by €416mn in January, a record monthly decline.

  6. JF,
    the accepted wisdom on this site is “we are doomed, doomed I tell ya” so that every piece of good news is greeted with an even greater chorus of doom mongering from the nattering nabobs of negativiity.

    There can be only two outcomes. In about 3 years time, after another 150lk jobs, there will be another downturn and then the doom chorus will proclaim they were correct all along. Alternatively, half of them will turn bullish just at the top of the next cycle.

    Stronger Chicago PMI, better than expected housing data and rising consumer confidence in the US.

  7. Do current employment register figures, validate the QNHS unemployment figures. Does the divergence between the two remain the same?
    Why is the increase in employment not having a bigger impact on the income tax take?

    It is on the face of it very positive news, particularly the increase in employment in ‘older’ age groups.

  8. @MH
    re Agri forestry fishing.
    I am still suspicious that some of the fall in this sector in previous years, was influenced by deliberate spending cuts by Coillte, through clear felling and not replanting.
    Now that the Coillte slim down for sale is off the table, we may be seeing normal levels of employment in forestry.

  9. Emigration has been offset by immigration but the two streams are quite distinct from one another, given freedom of movement in the EU.

    A particular anomaly that distinguishes Ireland from the rest of Europe is the number of jobless households.

    https://www.esri.ie/news_events/latest_press_releases/work-and-poverty-in-irela/index.xml

    Stephen Kinsella had a commentary recently in the Indo which drew attention to other features of the Irish economy which distinguish it from the rest of the periphery.

    http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/stephen-kinsella/irelands-success-story-is-a-special-case-that-wont-be-easily-repeated-30038101.html

    In short, the statistics are confirming what can be empirically gauged by simple observation. Employment is increasing in certain sectors, the jobs are being filled to a considerable extent by immigrants in the MFIs, one in five of poorer households without any breadwinner is simply staying put and making do while many, skilled and unskilled – especially those previously employed in the construction sector – seek their fortune elsewhere, notably Canada and Australia. Even in the sectors of the economy where employment has not been impacted by the crisis are seeing the departure of skilled staff who see no prospect for a proper career notably because of the faulty nature of the cut-backs implemented in the public sector.

    P.S. The point made by Stephen Kinsella with regard to the fall in Irish borrowing costs can be disputed. The “hunt for yield” can hardly be the most credible explanation. They reduction is not so much a “reward” for repaying bondholders, to quote Regling, as a result of investors being unequivocally assured that they will be repaid i.e. the reputation that Ireland had prior to the crisis as a good credit risk is more than restored.

  10. The situation regarding ‘jobless households’ needs to be revisited in the light of the recent data, which suggest a fall in the proportion of such households.
    This statistic is also swollen by our fairly high rate of participation in third level education.

  11. @ Tull: “the accepted wisdom on this site is “we are doomed, doomed I tell ya” ”

    Is that so? What have you to say about the perma-Boomers – are they not just as ‘bad’?

    There are such things as economic ‘fundamentals’ – and if you attempt an objective analysis – matters are still very iffy on the economic front. Lets call it ‘marking time’. And for what its worth, the US economy is still parked in Sh*tsville: after how many years of massive monetary stimuli? That would be trillions of new money – well credit money.

    Any economic statistical estimates need to be handled with the same degree of care as a second-hand dog turd. If 100 folk who were paid 100 euro each per week are rendered unemployed, and 200 folk are re-employed at 50 euro each per week – that = an increase in employment, but no change in incomes – and THAT is the crucial point. The analogy (to property) is – its income, income, income!

    Lets wait until next September and see what the employment estimates are then – especially the proportion of the adult population (18-65) who are in full-time employments. That HAS to be over 60% – then you can crack the Bollinger!

    Want good advice? Keep a close watch on those crude oil prices: prognosis not good. If they settle into the $110 – $115 range, kiss goodbye to any ‘recovery’.

  12. @DOCM they are a sad joke a rather expensive one too,I mean really !
    From this morning eh is it any wonder there’s no JV candidates in Irl.they have all been chased into BK by a oul tax collected and a career civil servant,who are incompetent i doubt the pair them can even read a set drawings.Take the handcuffs off the Irish development community stop rewarding offshore yank vulture investors and grave dancers.
    http://www.nama.ie/?wpfb_dl=770

  13. @ Tull

    “the accepted wisdom on this site is “we are doomed, doomed I tell ya” so that every piece of good news is greeted with an even greater chorus of doom mongering from the nattering nabobs of negativiity.

    This guy is probably the worst . I think he may be bipolar.

    tullmcadoo Says:

    February 28th, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    “On the other side, there is no break up outcome that is good. There will be no agreed divorce with agreements on re-denomination and a buffer for the losers. It will be chaos of the type seen in 1914-18 & 39-45, hopefully without the genocide. There will be no European project and there would be no European Social MArket economy. There might even be no Champions League or even Eurovision.”

  14. @ JG

    I understand you frustration. But the idea of “taking the handcuffs off the Irish development community” after it has pitchforked the country into near bankruptcy is totally – repeat totally – unrealistic. If NAMA can make a “profit” and be wound up by 2020, this is the best we an hope for.

    As to the debate about “austerity”, how the argument that borrowing money to maintain those in guaranteed employment (including those outside the public sector in the euphemistically qualified “sheltered” sectors of the economy) in something close to the style to which they have become accustomed, can be described as such is beyond me (with all due respect to the citizens of Ballyhea).

  15. @ DOCM

    “The “hunt for yield” can hardly be the most credible explanation. The reduction is not so much a “reward” for repaying bondholders, to quote Regling, as a result of investors being unequivocally assured that they will be repaid i.e. the reputation that Ireland had prior to the crisis as a good credit risk is more than restored.”

    That Regling point is nuts. Surely the hunt for yield explains the spread compression given that Mario seems to have reduced the tail risk of a Euro breakup, perhaps at the cost of growth, in which case …..
    ….the spivs will be shorting Ireland again if conditions demand it

    How is anyone supposed to make money on bonds these days? I think that’s dangerous. Makes shorting tempting…

  16. @ Tull

    It doesn’t look great for the Euro, does it, if secular stagnation is the next course. Won’t be great for jobs either I imagine.

  17. Anyone know how jobs bridge is death with? Counted as an employed or unemployed? A jobs bridge employee is still a social welfare payment, right?

  18. @The ‘roight’ Gurrier

    “taking the handcuffs off the Irish development community”

    Somewhat difficult to take off that which has not been put on!

    p.s. don’t forget to wear the ‘Fig Leafs’ front and back in the parade; Mad Oul Jozie down_the_road will be looking out for you – now that she has her ‘letter of comfort’ and the ‘bus pass’ she is gone mad on the travel ….

    @all

    Wonderful newz!

  19. Almost a quarter of additional jobs in the economy in 2013 went to foreign nationals while the ratio in overall employment was at 15%.

    @ Joseph Ryan

    The CSO had a response over 18,000 households for the latest survey and I doubt that Coillte changes would matter.

    The number of self-employed persons increased by 33,400 or +11.5% to 324,500 — likely including the assumed surge in farm numbers but maybe former construction workers who were part time farmers are now treated as entrepreneurs.

    @ Johnny Foreigner

    The sky is falling folk can never be satisfied but through boom and bust, my experience is that it’s stupid to take most government announcements on economics issues at face value.

    It wasn’t an error that The Economist story covered here last week had a figure from IDA Ireland that supported foreign companies had a collective payroll of 270,000 – 109,000 too many.

  20. Just a pity we couldn’t have achieved some more reform, more quickly and more deeply. The recovery could have come earlier and had the potential to impact public finances more quickly and from a less seriously bad position.

    Ireland’s protected classes are still largely protected.

  21. @ Hugh Sheehy

    “The recovery could have come earlier and had the potential to impact public finances more quickly and from a less seriously bad position.”

    Draghi made his “whatever it takes” speech in 2012. Ireland needed it in 2009. France didn’t need it until 2012. Voila.

  22. @ John Foody,

    My understanding from reading the instructions for those who administer the QNHS is that although people classify into employment or unemployment the standard from the survey is that people on job-bridge should be regarded as employed.

    Important to regard the effect of it in context though. Job-bridge has c 7,500 people on it as of December. There are over 1.9m employed. Job-bridge only increased c 1,000 in the period from a total increase in employment of over 50,000.

    Tús and CE schemes also appear to be included in employment figures (although its not clear). Again though its 35,000 out of 1.9m and a very small number in the overall context. Other schemes are not included to my knowledge.

    Stock numbers for industry should be correct but its much harder to know where jobs being created or for whom. My suspicion is that the ag employment is re-classification from construction to farming. Anecdotally a lot of the job creation seems to be in accom and food and high value services.

  23. Currency depreciation in countries as different as Canada and China, both jockeying to strengthen their manufacturing sector, does not augur well for the US or the EU.

    The uncertainty surrounding the EU and Russia contesting the Ukrainian beauty contest may put a welcome damper on the Euro for the next couple of years. To avoid war civil or international it is likely that both the EU/US and Russia will share the “prize” which means three way (E-U-Ukr) agreement with the EU/US and Russia “lending’ or in reality losing Euro 40 bln or so between them. Trade which the EU wants free and open would kill the Ukraine in the same way it killed the GDR except the Ukrainians would not have jobs in West Germany or multi billions in social supports as well as infrastructure projects. Austerity would further inflame the tinderbox, if austerity is imposed on Ukraine the outcome is anybody’s guess.

    Merkel will be a major player in the outcome and I would put my money on a negotiated settlement with the Ukraine having preferential access to both Russian and EU markets along with discounted Russian gas and oodles of EU cash under the guise of loans. The US will not be a major player in the solution. That is not to say their PR machine will be idle. Europe is growing up at last.

  24. @John Foody
    Our political, positive spin meisters, would lean heavily toward putting anyone getting income from government on the Employed list.

    A contradiction would be welcome.

  25. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/controversies-have-undermined-shatter-says-wallace-1.1709765

    “ The credibility of the coalition Government is damaged as well,” he said on the Marian Finucane programme.
    “Because they said they were going to do things different. The people don’t actually thing they are doing anything different. They promised something different in the election and if they carried this on to the next election they are not really going to be able to say that they are different from the guys we had before.”
    Referring to public attitudes at the last election, Mr Wallace said: “There had been so much talk of people wanting new politics, they wanted transparency and they wanted accountability.
    “ They didn’t want things done in the old way. Fine Gael and Labour promised to be different. They are not any different. We had an election three years ago but nothing really changed. Things have gone on much as they always did.”

  26. @ Mickey Hickey

    It is difficult to see at this stage how the situation in the Ukraine will play out. I doubt if the outcome will be as positive as you suggest. The two lessons are (i) do not poke the Russian bear in the ribs and (ii) this is advisable because he is not a reliable dancing partner.

    The most likely outcome is that the situation will calm down into an uneasy stand-off that is economically enormously damaging – for the Ukraine that is – with a de facto annexation of the Crimea by Russia and a rupture of uncertain duration in “East-West” relations.

  27. @Mickey Hickey / DOCM
    seems to me like the Crimea is already gone to Russia. 60% Russian anyway.
    The eastern regions will go too, with a little carrot and stick from Russia.
    The EU, Pat Cox el al, had loads of talk but empty pockets, and have contributed to the mess.
    This is Putin’s chance to reclaim Kievan Rus, a historic chance and one he is unlikely to let slip.
    Geo politics has finally caught up with Merkel. People who stand in he middle of the road are most likely to get run over (Churchill, I think).
    The great gate to Eastern trade may be closed for some time.
    German attitude to the EU home market countries may become more, shall we say, understanding.

  28. @ Ger Brady/ John Foody

    The 86,000 unemployed in activation programs knocks 4% off the official unemployment rate.

    The numbers have risen by over 30,000 since early 2009.

    About 56,000 are counted as employed while the remainder are in education courses and many of them switch from the education allowance to normal dole at end May and then come off the Live Register in early September.

    As it’s planned to move more of the long-term unemployed to these programmes, it will further boost reported jobs.

    The management of these programmes has been regarded as weak in the past and last year the OECD recommended:

    Focus limited fiscal resources on policies empirically-proven to improve employability; this will require systematic evaluation of labour-market programmes through consistent tracking and randomised trials, followed by decisions to close down ineffective schemes while strengthening successful ones.

    Empircally-proven? That would be a change.

    One criticism was that participants could choose education courses that did not improve their employability.

    A study by the ESRI, published in 2011, showed that Irish return-to-work schemes for the unemployed, including FÁS programmes, were generally useless.

    Overall, the study found that those who were assisted by the State while unemployed were less likely to return to work than the average welfare recipient. 😯

  29. Colm McCarthy: Wishful thinking on heroic scale to believe we’ve reason to celebrate

    Colm McCarthy pours a bucket of icy-cold water on Noonan’s recent suggestion that self-financing tax cuts may happen later in the year; Ibec’s Danny McCoy’s call for a return to the halcyon days of social partnership, and reading too much into the jump in farm jobs.

    Colm McCarthy: Wishful thinking on heroic scale to believe we’ve reason to
    celebrate

    Cantillon in The Irish Times this week highlighted the return to jobs forecasts that are essentially plucked from the air.

    The Irish Hotels Federation promised 74,000 new jobs by 2020. To put that into context, the figure amounts to more than a third of the numbers it says are currently employed in the sector; the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland on the same day forecast over 30,000 new jobs in construction – a jump of more than 20% – on the back of a 30% increase in output in the construction sector by 2018.

    The Irish Wind Energy Association and industry giant Siemens last week produced a study showing that the sector had the potential to generate up to 35,000 jobs.

    [And then there was Bruton, hailing the 1,850 jobs that “will be created” by 122 high-potential start-up companies supported by Enterprise Ireland.

    Hang on. Yes, that’s right, “high potential start-up”. In other words, cutting-edge companies that could deliver on the 10-15 jobs per company target or even better it, but could just as likely fail altogether.” ]

    Bruton provided zero evidence on how previous forecasts materialised. There was nothing to support the number.

    It’s good that a mainstream media outlet is questioning this bullshit.

  30. @ MH

    Colm McCarthy is right to point out that there should be no belief in any false dawn. However, even if all that had, or has, been demonstrated is that the numbers in employment has stabilised, it would still be good news.

    The consequence of any bubble is to transfer large sums of money from the pockets of one sector of the population to to those of another, usually much smaller, sector. Getting the latter to gain sufficient confidence to start spending and investing again is a laudable endeavour. In fact, it seems to be happening as a product of the natural resilience of any capitalist economy.

    Luckily, the government is now limited in the amount of money that it can waste. The debate on the reform of the health service will be a useful pointer.

    http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/motoring/huge-waiting-lists-for-luxury-cars-as-orders-skyrocket-30015472.html

  31. @ JR

    The Crimea is messy.
    The majority indigenous population of Turkish-speaking Crimean Tatars was expelled by Stalin in 1944 and replaced by Russian settlers. Russians are now 58% of the population, Ukrainians 25% and Tatars 12%.
    Sounds a bit like Norn Irn.

    Even in the Eastern Ukraine while the cities are mostly Russian the countryside isn’t.

    Ukraine is bankrupt. The EU default of no default and austerity is not going to work.

  32. @ Ger/M.Hennigan

    Thanks for that. I suspected they were included, I just couldn’t find it clearly stated anywhere. It would seem like there’s an acceleration in the percentage of those in labour activation programs. It’d be interesting to see what the average percentage of labour activation programme ’employees’ are across the EU, and average success rate of labour activation programs…. Considering the government seem be fond of the – ‘unemployment below the EU average by the end of the year’. Which of course sounds a lot better than unemployment at just below 12% by the end of the year.

  33. @D*CM trolls relentlessly.

    Luckily, the government is now limited in the amount of money that it can waste. The debate on the reform of the health service will be a useful pointer.

    Except on banks of course. No limit there, for some reason.

    In fact, it seems to be happening as a product of the natural resilience of any capitalist economy.

    Dear God did the last five years just pass you by? That was the kind of resilience most people could do without.

    The possibly temporary end of our tailspin was at least natural I suppose, nothing was required except the aforementioned natural resilience of any capitalist economy (like Argentina’s for example), a 65 billion bailout of the financial sector, 26.5% youth unemployment, the resulting highest net emigration in Europe and the fourth highest debt to GDP in the EU thanks to the state having to pick up the slack of widespread unemployment.

    Given the effect on the Irish state and citizens so far of the natural resilience of the capitalist economy I think many would would have preferred some more unnatural help.

    I should throw in a Keynes quote but what is the point?

  34. @ DOCM

    ‘The consequence of any bubble is to transfer large sums of money from the pockets of one sector of the population to those of another, usually much smaller, sector. Getting the latter to gain sufficient confidence to start spending and investing again is a laudable endeavour. In fact, it seems to be happening as a product of the natural resilience of any capitalist economy.’

    Agree with the first sentence, but not sure about the investment bit. This is a very ancient problem.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumptuary_law

  35. “The Government should stay a million miles away from any new national partnership deal. Stick to its pay policy for its own employees and let private sector employers cut whatever deals they can afford”

    Which sector does Colm work in I wonder? It’s kind of hard to tell!

  36. @ Paul Quigley

    I just posted this link to today’s interview with the MOF on the other thread.

    http://www.rte.ie/radio1/this-week/programmes/2014/0302/507761-this-week-sunday-2-march-2014/

    I am not aware of such a division of labour, if you will pardon the pun, as adverted to by the MOF, in the responsibilities of two ministers, “guiding” an economy out of a situation of near disaster, in any other country facing a similar challenge. Maybe it is something new!

    As far as I am concerned, the less money misdirected tax money on the expenditure side, the better! The first question should always be; should the government be doing this? If no evidence based case exists, the answer should be no. A hard choice for any politician, especially when facing an election!

  37. @ Paul Quigley

    I should have added after the words “laudable endeavour” a qualifier that no moral judgement was involved. It is a fact of life that politicians, and successful surfers on the Celtic Tiger wave, see no contradiction, moral or otherwise, in being driven around in a large motor vehicle of, usually, German manufacture.

    P.S. The “sumptuary” approach has been tried in the past; without much success.

  38. And, feeling really grumpy this night,

    when I look at DOCM and his endless efforts to get Germany into military involvement, I do ask

    Who wants to be the last man to die for some silly imperialism of a baby killer swift boat captain John Kerry, whose basement is probably the “undisclosed location” where his protege (and what more : – ) Victoria Nuland was brought into this world

    joining the charge of the light brigade,

    and getting served up as tartar (raw meat) with some fine Heinz Ketchup, to the russian dogs of war, in Crimea?

    Any Irish volunteers?

  39. wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Kerry

    I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones

    Testimony before subcommittees of the U.S. Senate, April, 1971

    If you don’t believe…Saddam Hussein is a threat with nuclear weapons, then you shouldn’t vote for me.
    usatoday.com, February 11, 2003

    in Contrast :

    Quotes about Kerry[edit]

    This was very unpleasant and surprising for me. We talk to them, and we assume they are decent people, but he is lying and he knows that he is lying. This is sad.

    Vladimir Putin, as quoted in USA Today, (5 September 2013).

  40. @ DOCM 8.14pm
    Whatever the purchase of a luxury car is, investment in Ireland it ain’t. The sumptuary tax concept is not dead yet.

    ‘Therefore, collectively, expenditure on luxury goods and services (positional goods) is an economic loss, like competitive military spending (an arms race) — wherein each country must match the military expenditures of other countries in the arms race, or suffer a loss of relative military power. In the case of conspicuous consumption, taxes upon luxury goods diminish societal expenditures on high-status goods, by rendering them more expensive than non-positional goods. In this sense, luxury taxes can be seen as a form of market failure correcting Pigovian tax- with alleged negative deadweight loss they are a more efficient mechanism for raising revenue than ordinary ‘distorting’ labour or capital taxes’

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspicuous_consumption

  41. @ DOCM
    ‘The first question should always be; should the government be doing this? If no evidence based case exists, the answer should be no. A hard choice for any politician, especially when facing an election!’

    Why should it be no ? With respect, that’s an un-evidenced statement of neoliberal faith. Just because our politicians are flawed doesn’t mean we should swallow the Wall St snake oil. There are loads of questions in each case. e.g.

    Who decides what constitutes evidence ? Who has the controlling stake in the regulatory process ? How did they get that position ? What are the personal, family and business links between the private investor and the relevant political and institutional stakeholders ? How were the unions brought onside ? What are the implications for pensions ?

    Matt Copper has a good handle on Dublin’s Unfair City. Arranging for the privatising of basic utilities to grab monopoly super-profits is the name of the current global game. It will continue until it can’t.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Who-Really-Runs-Ireland-story/dp/1844881679

  42. @PQ
    The comments are entertaining.
    “By Mick O. Dwyer
    Format:Paperback
    The title of Matt Cooper’s book Who Really Runs Ireland? is a bit of a misnomer. The title suggests that there’s actually someone in charge: making decisions about where the country is heading, co-ordinating a strategic development for the good of all its citizens, and making sure things don’t stray far from the chosen path. All that good stuff guff. The truth is very different, and far scarier: there’s no one in charge. At all. Cooper traces everything back with short sharp anecdotal chapters, his easy style doling out facts and figures in a way that’s readable without being in the least bit stuffy. In parts the book is funny, unbelievable, depressing, and revealing. That said, there’s very little that’s new in the book, but what it does extremely well is take 20 years of ineptitude, scandal and greed and present it all in a tidy wee package of thrills, spills and farcical cock-ups. Ultimately though it’s all a bit sad because those who are supposed to have power, those who canvas for it and cherish it, have made it into something limp, lifeless and lacklustre – all that power without responsibility is nothing more than the craven indulgence of dishonorable cronies.

  43. @seafoid
    Stalin shifted the Tatars away from the coast in the same way that the US and Canadian Governments sent Americans and Canadians of Japanese descent to inland concentration camps.

    The Russian claim to the Crimea should not be underestimated, Russia lost 400,000 men in the 1856 Crimean war against Britain, France, Ottomans and Sardinians with the Austrian Empire weighing in at the end.

    Leo Tolstoy wrote Sketches from Sevastopol and the BBC produced a three episode series call The Crimean War Episode 1….
    Both good sources of conditions in the mid nineteenth century. It is said that the Crimean War planted the seeds that weakened the British aristocracy. Thousands of barrels of Russian blood was spilled on Crimean soil.

  44. @ francis

    What are you on about? This is the second time that you have attributed a view to me that I have never held, still less expounded; that of “endless efforts to get Germany into military involvement”.

    The point to which I was drawing attention is the rather obvious one of western – and especially German – dependence on supplies of Russian gas, a dependence compounded by the agreement to establish Nord Stream, including the involvement of a former German chancellor on its board and over the objections of numerous countries, notably Poland. This was based on the assumption that Russia under Putin is a reliable interlocutor operating within the accepted bounds of international law as set out in the UN charter. This was IMHO a major error of political appreciation, a view shared by many.

    The question now is not what the West will do militarily, almost certainly nothing, but what it will do economically to restore the situation to something approaching the status quo ante. This will certainly cause a deal of stress within the Alliance and the EU. And have possibly considerable economic consequences, including for Ireland.

  45. @ Mickey Hickey

    The Russian claim to the Crimea should not be underestimated.

    Let’s revert to permanent war with the biggest countries having the right to assert historical claims to the disadvantage of their neighbours.

    The Russian Empire seized the northern part of Manchuria in 1860, the ancestral homeland of the Quing Dynasty rulers.

    There could be opportunity for much score-settling – similar to on the auld sod and plantations.

  46. @Paul Quigley

    At a certain point in a long dialog when someone appears not to be willing to concede any ground you have to accept that they are intentionally wasting your time or that they are correct about every point of disagreement.

    Like racism or manifest destiny neoliberalism is a powerful mixture of affect and faith and appeals to reason or human empathy just will not work.

  47. @ Shay

    “D*CM trolls relentlessly.”
    There is no political alternative to secular stagnation

    Sure there isn’t.

    “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greater good of everyone.” (John Maynard Keynes)

    The kind of person who always insists
    on his way of seeing things
    can never learn anything from anyone.’ [Tao Te Ching, #24]

    J. K. Galbraith:“The conventional wisdom”gives way not so much to new ideas as to “the massive onslaught of circumstances with which it cannot contend”.

  48. @seafóid

    J. K. Galbraith:“The conventional wisdom”gives way not so much to new ideas as to “the massive onslaught of circumstances with which it cannot contend”.

    What is that onslaught going to be like though?

    I have the same feelings of alienation, despair, fear and nausea I had as the property bubble was clearly getting out of control in Ireland in 2006, or in the midst of the dotcom bubble (where are the profits from, exactly?). Everyone senses now that there is something unusual, damaging and unsustainable going on with the current Euro leadership’s agenda but nobody is saying “Stop”.

    Why not keep doing what we are doing and hope that the effects eventually change?

    I suppose it took the Soviets eight years to loose enthusiasm for farm collectivization, perhaps around 2018 the European Union will be so immiserated and dysfunctional that the neoliberals in charge will be forced to claim victory and stage a retreat to the boards of various banks and posts in industry funded think tanks.

  49. @ Shay

    I think neoliberalism will meet its Stalingrad in secular stagnation.
    They won’t have any access to petrol (growth) after that and they’ll have to resort to some ersatz replacement that won’t be good enough.
    And then the people will turn on them.

  50. @ Paul Quigley

    That is a lot of questions!

    I will try to respond in the following manner. First by remarking that the comment by Mick O’Dwyer, noted by Mickey Hickey above to Matt Cooper’s book, is one with which I and, I suspect, many people would identify. There is no one in charge (or, at least, there was not until the Troika arrived)!

    The question is whether or not there is any improvement in the situation since it left. I remarked some time ago that the manner in which the Dáil is doing its business, or rather the committees of that august establishment, is creating a new situation on the ground (cf in this respect the comments by Minister Varadkar in the RTE radio link I posted above). This is not in response to any Pauline conversion on the part of our political class but because shortage of money makes chasing where it goes an imperative (a situation that is most unlikely to change even in the medium to long term, as also noted by Colm McCarthy in his Sindo article).

    It may be naive of me but I think that there is a change under way and the debate on the introduction of a universal health system should help it along further. It is not exactly “evidence based” decision-making but it is a start. The real breakthrough will occur IMHO when politicians realise that it is politically desirable to spread the political responsibility by having Dáil committees examine budget proposals in detail – which is standard practice in well-run democracies – rather than continue with pulling political rabbits out of hats on budget day. Bringing home the bacon loses its political attraction when there is no bacon to bring home.

  51. DOCM,

    I looked a little bit, what you said when in this blog, and you were just frohlocking, when Merkel signed that Syria paper, “fall in line”, before the English parliament shut the war plans down.

    http://www.irisheconomy.ie/index.php/2013/09/04/paying-paul-and-robbing-no-one-an-eminent-domain-solution-for-underwater-mortgage-debt/

    But you did not formally ask for German military involvement, sooo here are my apologies to you.

    The north stream pipeline was built very intentionally directly from Russia to Germany to avoid anybody in between being able to play with the valves, like lovely Julia Timoshenkov, now back in power, did in the past, and a certain Polish Sikorksi mused about. We will not be drawn into their conflicts.

    For the same reason, we brought all Germans back from Transsylviana, Siebenbürgen, Wolga, etc.

    We are pretty confident that the Russian gas will continue to arrive here in full and on time, just like our market price payments arrive directly in their government coffers: – )

    And the crazies in Kiev, who wanted to force the Russian majorities in the Crimea and the eastern provinces to speak Ukrainian, just like before 1938 in the Sudetenland, can deal with the consequences of their actions by themselves.

  52. @ DOCM
    Mickey said:
    ‘Ultimately though it’s all a bit sad because those who are supposed to have power, those who canvas for it and cherish it, have made it into something limp, lifeless and lacklustre – all that power without responsebility is nothing more than the craven indulgence of dishonorable cronies.’

    Power without responsibility. I understand from your many lucid and informed political commentaries that you are agin’ it. So are most of us. No taxation without representation.

    My day job brings me into contact with lots of situations which should not happen. But we are where we are, as the saying goes. I am prepared to believe that the political culture is changing in the ways described by Leo Vradakar. The question is whether it will change fast enough to avert the collapse of political authority, because the current dispensation is highly vulnerable to negative shocks.

    You say: ‘There is no one in charge (or, at least, there was not until the Troika arrived)!’

    I accept that some of the more egregious ‘brown paper bag’ aspects of the local political culture are being constrained by external funders, but there are really serious issues around the probity of the EZ governance system. IMHO, the political heights are captured by the ‘financial services industry ‘. Bigger bags. That is just a larger version of the sort of capture which Matt Cooper describes locally, and it is equally incompatible with economic development or democracy.

    Who is in charge in Brussels ?

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Rise-Decline-Nations-Stagflation/dp/0300030797#reader_0300030797

  53. @ DOCM: “There is no one in charge …”

    Well, there is, but … Oh! Yeah! – ‘Looking out for themselves and their buddies.’ And as for that Varadkar chap – Nice chap. But would you buy a second-hand Cabinet from him? Nope!

    Why is the Universal Health Ins. thing being floated? Just follow the ‘money’ for the answer to that one. Anyone know the actual ID of the back-room boyze promoting this?

    Someone mention ‘petrol’? Crude oil use started in 1860. We are in the middle of the sixth doubling-time* interval (23 years @ 3% p/a, compounding). Never, ever, attempt to finesse an exponential function.

    * 1,2, 4, 8, 16 …. At the end of each doubling-time interval sum all the prior consumptions: above series sums to 31. In the next doubling-time interval we will consume 32 – aggregate total is now 63. And in the following doubling-time interval we consume an additional 64! That’s real ‘funny’, that is!

    Think real hard: What will be the economic effect of higher and higher transport-fuel costs for cars, trucks, planes, trains ships? Negligible? Yeah. But, but, but; economic theory asserts we will substitute. Yeah^2.

    @ pq: Thanks for giving Veblen that plug. His ‘Theory of the Leisure Class’ is kinda relevant to to-day’s political and financial chicanery.

  54. Talk about classic Irish Economy comments.

    Brilliant job market news and the usual suspects talk about Mick Wallace, Crimea, the eschaton of neoliberalism, and anything bar the fact that jobless people are getting into work.

  55. pg,

    you basically said it all in the very first comment here.

    Some see that as verification that turn around works, and are aware of the glass not full, detailed by Mike Hennigan.

    And the others are still hoping for disaster striking and the revolution coming,

    under the glorious leadership of Jürgen Habermas and Bernard-Henri Lévy

    storming the local Aldi store, the secret command and control centers of the German hegemonial invasion forces.

    Resistance is futile : – )

  56. @ Paul Quigley

    You raised an interesting question; who is in charge in Brussels?

    One could argue that no one is as the EU treaties delegate responsibility to “federal” authorities in Brussels (and other capitals home to EU institutions) in only a very limited number of areas e.g. the Commission in respect of competition and, of course, the ECB for the management of the euro. The member states are responsible for the implementation of the other federal prerogatives of the EU, notably with regard to the so called “four freedoms” i.e. the free movement of people, goods, services and capital. These prerogatives are exercised in common and the glue holding them together is respect for democracy and the rule of law.

    They do not include mutual defence guarantees which, for most European countries, is the purview of NATO and for all, the UN, but the glue is, or should be, the same.

    It is notably absent in the Russian approach to the current crisis relating to the Ukraine the outcome of which, like it or not, could have profound consequences for the world and, ipso facto, the European and Irish economy; and the prospects for employment.

    The inept parochialism of the Irish media is such that one is dependent on and, luckily, has, access to, wider international coverage.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/04/ukraine-crisis-west-not-prevaricate-financial-sanctions-russia

    The meeting of the European Council on Thursday should be interesting. Pessimism as to the response of the EU would be in order.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/angela-merkel-plays-central-role-in-russia-diplomacy-over-crimea-a-956834.html

  57. @ Paul Quigley

    On the other major point that you raise.

    “IMHO, the political heights are captured by the ‘financial services industry ‘. Bigger bags. That is just a larger version of the sort of capture which Matt Cooper describes locally, and it is equally incompatible with economic development or democracy.”

    On this point, I think that you are largely correct but I would hazard the view that the phenomenon is mainly attributable to the dependence of modern economies on a narrow range of basic raw materials, notably – diminishing -energy supplies and some other crucial raw materials, which provides the basis for speculative international financial flows. Gideon Rachman had an excellent commentary on the topic of Russia now being part of the capitalist financial game while still attempting to act as if it had remained the USSR.

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/cf1ec118-a099-11e3-8557-00144feab7de.html

  58. “On this point, I think that you are largely correct but I would hazard the view that the phenomenon is mainly attributable to the dependence of modern economies on a narrow range of basic raw materials, notably – diminishing -energy supplies and some other crucial raw materials, which provides the basis for speculative international financial flows.”

    Very poor, DOCM. Nothing to do with regulatory capture.
    How much do lobbyists spend in Brussels every year ?
    Why couldn’t the EU ban the nicotinoids that have wiped out so many bees in Europe ?

  59. docm

    “In 1800, there were none”. And what about the US, Switzerland,

    and when exactly made the UK the transition to democracy?

    the usual wolf blather,

    I mean we all (maynbe not ernie and shay) agree on motherhood and apple pie and the equity risk premium ,

    but we should still be diligent on the facts

  60. @ DOCM

    God knows where the Ukraine situation may lead. Putin doesn’t know and neither does Merkel, which is why she will be keeping her distance. As Steve Ludlum says, the price of energy is set at the petrol pumps each day. By the way, Dork footprints are regularly found at this location too 🙂

    ‘Instrumental to the Ukrainian citizens’ success so far is their vehement rejection of the tycoons and politicians’ self-interested culture of excess. The moral high ground has been gained by the ordinary Ukrainians, maybe for an instant only, certainly not everywhere at once. This is ground to which no tycoon anywhere can have any possible claim. The cynical Russians offer loans but with special favours for oligarchs. The equally cynical West offers hypocrisy and its own brand of TROIKA criminality.

    Ukrainians counter with a relentless insistence upon fairness and the end of corruption. Something is certain to come from this, honesty is dangerous to the tycoons on Wall Street and their bought-and-paid-for pets in Washington DC and the other world capitals as they look toward Kiev and tremble’

    http://www.economic-undertow.com/

  61. @ PQ: “Putin doesn’t know …”

    I strongly doubt this. They do play chess in Russia? I would guess that his advisors have been contemplating such a move for some time. Anyhows, Crimea was a legal part of ‘Russia’ until 1954.

    And as for western Europe. They seem to acknowledge which end of the pipe their gas comes out of 😎 We need to be mindful of this also.

    Take a look at the manner in which Gazprom intends to re-route its supplies to western Europe – they will by-pass the centre of Ukraine and go thru Belarus and Crimea.

    The Russians can ‘afford’ the cost their ethnic cousins in the East, but the others in the West can be tossed into the EU’s lap.

  62. I asked in the other thread but I wonder if anyone has information on the median wage and levels of underemployment over the last few years?

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