The Economic Recovery is Most Visible in the Labour Market

Today’s Irish Times has my two cents on Ireland’s economic recovery here


15 replies on “The Economic Recovery is Most Visible in the Labour Market”

Nice to see house price increases spun as a good news story for a change. Oh, wait…

“Those who argued that the tax increases and spending cuts introduced over the past six years to restore order to the public finances would prove counterproductive have been proved wrong”

IMO….. that is the “punchline”. Well done Alan…. saying it as it is.

@Alan Ahearne

A positive take on the present situation.

Minor point:

Debt/GNP at ~140%, including an unconscionably odious 40% of the cost of the EZ banking crisis, will not go away any time soon; nor will the interest payments.

Don’t suppose your pals in the IMF (well done btw) have any exocets lying around that might budge the ECB(undesbanke) into redressing the gross injustice meted out to the Irish Citizenry by the Financial System and its local overlords?

Isn’t the argument that the economy picks up when consumers can see rising incomes an argument for doing all the austerity in one go?

fyi – Steve Keen

Considering Economics? Consider Kingston

If you know any UK student who is considering doing economics at University, please refer them to this blog post. This Thursday, you’ll find out your A-Level results. Whatever they are, if you are considering doing an economics degree, then I want you to consider doing it at Kingston University. At first glance, that’s something you wouldn’t do if you had a choice, because Kingston rates well down the list in the Guardian League Table. Why choose Kingston—which is at the bottom of the Guardian’s list—if, for example, your A-level results would get you into Oxford, which is at the top? A clue as to why can be found in The Guardian itself—not in the League Table, but in a recent column by The Guardian’s senior economics commentator Aditya Chakrabortty, entitled “Uni­ver­sity eco­nom­ics teach­ing isn’t an edu­ca­tion: it’s a £9,000 lobotomy“. –

@ DO’D: A £9,000 lobotomy? “Certainly sir/madam, and would that be with, or without, anaesthesia?”

Sean Ó Riain’s recent safari in search of the mythical Celtic Tiger* – which is/was actually nothing more that an artfully lipsticked pig, methodically describes the Orish political/sociological/bureaucratic Mindset and the ‘en-stitutions’ that such mindsets, acting in concert (which is actually kinda oxymoronic) create and maintain. Is there something Freudian in the Orish Psychic Mindset about ‘silos’: being tall, thick, stiff and all? Just curious. Anyhows, universities (and a few other such places) are nicely populated with many such mindsets and hence abide.

*’The Rise and Fall of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger: liberalism, boom and bust.’

Its a serious scholarly text. I would have serious reservations about some of the stuff he discusses and explains – . But some other time. If you do purchase it, then I would advise you start with chapters 5 + 6: then stop. Now get a copy of William Kingston’s ‘Interrogating Irish Policies’. Read the relevant essays for context. Then resume Ó Riain. Chapters 1 thru 4 are tough going, though again some parallel readings are advised (Peadar Kirby’s ‘Celtic Tiger in Collapse: explaining the weakness of the Irish model.’, 2nd ed. and Greta Krippner’s ‘Capitalizing on Crisis: the political origins of the rise of finance.’

Is it any wonder The Lady wondered about economist’s eyesights – seems they forgot to go to SpecSavers for those reading specs! Not that it would have made a blind bit of difference. The Orish Mindset abides!

@Brian Woods Snr

I’m slow to buy ‘books’ on Ireland’s recent bout of [*****] – appreciated the tips ….

I view Power, Context & Time as key variables ….

A recent paper:Why Isn’t Europe More Keynesian?

14/07/2014 by Seán Ó Riain

‘Despite the appearance of foostering among policy-makers, the most striking features of European policy during the Great Recession have been its narrowness and consistency. Alongside measures to support the financial sector, the resolute policy focus has been on managing the debt crisis through fiscal consolidation. Despite ongoing debates about the self-defeating nature of ‘austerity’ at the European level, EU elites have resisted what they see as the siren call of Keynesianism.

The Oirish Mindset? I’m having a good day – some other day! In the interim check out Peter Mair …

Here’s how you wage a propaganda war. Watch an learn The word goes out from Denis O’Brien: “today’s message is no to any restoration of public-sector pay cuts. Hammer it, boys.” And so we get

Public sector employees are €8 an hour better off
Labour’s public sector pay hikes to be bankrolled by a property boom again and
Are pay rises only for the public sector? (an unbelievably mendacious article by noted genius, Marc Coleman) and
Private sector left behind to restore public sector pay and
With debt still rising, pay hike talks are unnerving (from our own Colm McCarthy) and
First rule of government? You should never let a good crisis 
go to waste (from our own Ronan Lyons calling for “reform” of the public sector) and
Beyond the ’emergency’, there’s 
no vision for life in normal times (in which Fionnan Sheehan call for sacking public-sector workers and reducing “punitive” taxation rates) and The €2bn cost of reversing all public sector pay cuts (renaissance man Fionnan Sheehan again) and Mandarins tuck into ‘Munchies’ 
at meetings… while Enda and his ministers shop in Lidl for tea and biscuits

then this for good measure:
Scrooge universities refuse to pay small firms on time.

All of that from ONE edition of the Sunday Independent. ONE. Nary a column inch (outside of Gene Kerrigan’s weekly column) devoted to anything like a dissenting view. And this has been going on for YEARS with every other media outlet echoing the Independent line.

You want to know what Ireland’s problem is? You want to know what needs “reform”? How about media ownership rules for starters?


You put an awful lot of stock in “an analysis” (the analysis is described in no more detail than that) of CSO figures by noted anti-PS propagandist Daniel McConnell. But I’m not surprised: you are also an anti-PS propagandist and the fact that you cite this “analysis” (in a paper full of such “analyses” that all hammer the same point, the hammering of which is, of course, the only raison d’être for the “analyses”) proves it.

This analysis is so sloppy and sloppily presented that it’s impossible to determine what, exactly, was compared, whether the different composition of the public sector (more highly-trained professionals) was taken into account or even whether the PS pensions levy was taken into account.

For example, the article says this:

In 2009, the first reduction to pay was a pension levy imposed on public sector workers, worth an average of 7.5pc. The second was a pay cut on a sliding scale, dependent on salary size, but worth an average of 6.5pc.

The impact of these measures caused a €40 drop in the average weekly earnings and a €1.30 drop in the hourly earnings of public servants in 2010.

The pensions levy didn’t cause any drops in “weekly earnings” if by “weekly earnings” one means gross pay. It caused a substantial drop in net earnings, however. So is it being taken into account, as it should be, or not? The rest of it is similarly sloppy and I question the math: €40/week seems awfully small for those two measures.

Never mind the overall assumption that there ought be no gap between public and private sector. Not that the government should be a model employer. Rather: if the private sector is running a bunch of sweatshops, then the government should be the biggest sweatshop of them all.

Also never mind that a great many positions in the public sector have no equivalents with the private sector. Or that a very large number of private sector workers are working in retail, which also has no equivalent in the public sector.

So this article just unreliable, ideological claptrap. It doesn’t say much in your favour, DOCM, that you apparently think that policy ought to be altered on its basis.

@ Ernie

What matters is the affordability of state services. It is essential that this criterion be respected as otherwise we will soon be back where we started. In previous crises, this fundamental question has been circumvented and there is a good chance that this will happen again.

I hold no brief for the Sindo. What interests me, and, no doubt, many others is the interplay of the forces represented by the assorted vested interests and seeing how these play out, notably within trade unions supposedly representing all workers irrespective of whether their employment is in the public or the private sector.

There is any amount of data to demonstrate that the gap between the public and the private sector in Ireland is too wide e.g. the OECD review of pension arrangements.

The distinction between public and private is largely artificial if one considers the fact that that there are many employments common to both. What should apply are the same conditions of employment as determined between employer and employee representatives. This is largely missing currently in the public sector as the recruitment ban demonstrates.

We will see how this plays out e.g. the other main item of news; the bounce in the fortunes of the Labour Party under its new leader.


It always amuses me how those who so clearly represent vested interests love to talk about “vested interests,” by which they mean “people other than myself.” In this case, your interest is in a race to the bottom: a reduction in overall labour costs (and a reduction in the amount of wealth that accrues to labour) led by the public sector. How else to explain that the alleged gap (I say “alleged” because I’ve never seen any evidence that controlled for all variables; what’s the equivalent of a judge or a firefighter in the private sector?) is always to be bridged by reducing the pay and conditions of some rather than working to raise the pay and conditions of others? How else to explain that the people making the argument are, to a person, entirely hostile to the very idea of trade unionism? How else to square this eternally recurring argument with the fact of widespread wealth inequality (and please don’t tell me that the divide between rich and poor coincides with the divide between the public and private sectors)?

Or, to put it another way: I think we have an idea who you represent.

The way this argument goes:

“Isn’t it a scandal that some people have inadequate X? In that case, clearly, the only thing to be done is to make sure that nobody has adequate X.”

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