Job ad: Economics NUI Galway

Economics at NUI Galway is currently recruiting for two fixed-term positions:

  • Lecturer (Economics)
  • Lecturer (Macroeconomics/Finance)

Details and applications via:

  • The closing date is 23rd November 2018.
Economic history Social conditions

Call for papers: annual conference of the Economic and Social History Society of Ireland

The 2015 annual conference of the Economic and Social History Society of Ireland will take place on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 November 2015 at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick.

Submissions can be on any areas of business, economic, financial and social history, but submissions addressing the conference theme ‘Exploring Everyday Lives’ are particularly encouraged.

Submission deadline is 15 October 2015.

Download the call for papers here.


The society’s web site is

Art Banking Crisis

Fishamble’s “Guaranteed!” by Colin Murphy on national tour

via Gavin Kostick in comments, earlier

Fishamble’s production of ‘Guaranteed!’ by Colin Murphy is back on national tour, starting at Kilkenomics this Friday. First panel discussion includes Bill Black and Dan Ariely.

Economic history

Annual Conference of the Economic and Social History Society of Ireland Nov 22nd/23rd 2013

The Annual Conference of the Economic and Social History Society of Ireland is being held in NUI Galway on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd of November, convened by Niall Ó Ciosáin and Caitríona Clear.

Registration/booking information and the conference programe are available at:

The Society’s main web page is here.

Economic history

Call for papers: Economic and Social History Society of Ireland conference 2013

The annual Conference of the Economic and Social History Society of Ireland 2013 will take place in NUI Galway, on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd November. Cormac Ó Gráda will give the Connell Memorial Lecture. The deadline for paper proposals is 31st July.

Details of the call for papers downloadable from

Economic history

Irish Quantitative History Workshop 2013

The annual Irish Quantitative History group meeting will take place in TCD, in the IIIS seminar room, 6th Floor, Arts Building, on Friday 25th January 2013, 2pm-6 pm.

  • Peter Solar (Free University Brussels), ‘Market Integration between Ireland and Britain: Timing, Causes and Consequences’

  • Frank Barry (Trinity College Dublin), ‘A Firm-Level Database on Manufacturing Industry in Protectionist-Era Ireland’

  • Richard McMahon (University of Edinburgh), ‘Homicide and Irish migration in late nineteenth-century San Francisco’

  • Aidan Kane (NUI Galway), ‘Exploring 17th century credit networks in the Irish Staple database’

  • Charles Read (University of Cambridge), ‘The Repeal Year: A Quantitative Reassessment’

  • As numbers are limited, please email if you intend to go along, and/or if you wish to be added to the IQH group mailing list. The workshop page (hosted by the Centre for Economic History at QUB) is here. The convenor of IQH is Eoin McLaughlin (University of Edinburgh).

    Political economy

    New issue of Administration

    A new issue of the journal Administration is now available. Full details here. Some of the articles are available to non-subscribers:

    Competition policy Political economy Regulation Social conditions Uncategorized

    New issue/re-launch of journal Administration available

    A new issue of the journal Administration is out today.

    To mark the journal’s ‘re-launch’, this issue is available in full for free online here.

    As many readers will know, Administration is published by the Institute of Public Administration, and has been a key locus for research-led debate on economic development, and of course on wider developments in the public sector and society, since 1953.

    The current issue includes prefatory articles from the incoming editor Muiris MacCarthaigh, who `sets out his stall’, and from Tony McNamara, who has edited Administration since 1989. These will be of interest no doubt to a wide readership and to various contributor bases, (e.g., from academic, practitioner and civil society perspectives).

    As the contents indicate, the focus of this issue is on public sector reform, with an opening piece by Brendan Howlin TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. I guess that Ministers historically have been uneven in how or whether they contribute to debate at this level; perhaps this is a good cue to them, and to politicians more generally, to get their quills out.

    Notes from the Editors:

    • “Renewing public administration research and practice” by Muiris MacCarthaigh
    • “A final word” by Tony McNamara


    • “Reform of the public service” by Brendan Howlin, TD
    • “Progress and pitfalls in public service reform and performance management in Ireland” by Mary Lee Rhodes & Richard Boyle
    • “Regulating everything: From mega- to meta-regulation” by Colin Scott
    • “Trust and public administration” by Geert Bouckaert
    • “The reform of public administration in Northern Ireland: a squandered opportunity?” by Colin Knox


    • Third report of the Organisational Review Programme
    • The challenge of change: Putting patients before providers

    Art Media Unemployment

    Data journalism handbook

    Via the excellent Flowing data, an interesting free guidebook: the Data Journalism Handbook.

    Worth a look, including for the link to a rather good interactive data visualisation from the New York Times of 2009 “The Jobless Rate for People Like You“.

    Higher education Knowledge economy Political economy

    Research Prioritisation Report

    According to an Irish Times story by Dick Ahlstrom and Fiona Reddan the government has approved the report of the Research Prioritisation Steering Group in identifying 14 priority areas for state-funded research. The report itself is here.

    One might hope (though probably in vain) that this would prompt some wider debate. For example, might at least some policy makers be even slightly concerned to question:

    • the merits or otherwise of an increasingly centralised model of state planning for innovation,
    • the continued privileging of scientific and technological knowledge which current policy advances,
    • the extent to which the relentless shift towards commercialisable state-funded research is in conflict with a core original rationale for this policy: namely the provision of public goods—those which are by definition not commercialisable (current policy can look a lot like socialising the costs, while privatising the benefits), and:
    • the further opportunities for rent-seeking, by both industry and academics, this sort of exercise creates and embeds, and relatedly, the high political value thereby assigned to demonstrating (by innovators, no less!) compliance with hierarchy, obedience to instructions and the uncritical acceptance of a consensus policy, aka ‘groupthink’?

    Fiscal Policy Political economy

    The fiscal compact and referendum mechanisms in Ireland

    The Minister for Transport, Mr Varadkar, in commenting on whether a referendum will be necessary for Ireland to sign up to the fiscal compact is reported to have made the commonplace point that

    There’s only one reason why you have a referendum and that’s where there is a requirement to change the constitution.

    Em, not quite.

    Apart from a political view that a referendum might be desirable in any event, there is a particular mechanism in the Constitution of Ireland for holding a referendum, even when a measure does not require constitutional amendment. This is set out in Articles 27 and 47, whereby one-third of the Dáil and a majority of the Seanad could petition the President to decline to sign and promulgate a Bill “on the ground that the Bill contains a proposal of such national importance that the will of the people thereon ought to be ascertained.”

    The detailed provisions of Article 27 envisage that if such a petition were successful, the will of the people could be ascertained either by referendum (in which at least one-third of those on the register would have to vote “no” in order to veto, by virtue of Article 47) or, in effect, by a general election.

    I guess the fiscal compact itself may not in fact be a Bill, but presumably the detailed fiscal provisions of the agreement will have at least that legal form. Apart from whether the required numbers of TDs and Senators would line-up for the petition which Article 27 envisages, whether or not this mechanism will be applicable seems to me, as a non-lawyer, to turn on whether the Bill in question is a “Money Bill”. Money Bills appear to me to exempt from Article 27 (reading back to Articles 23 and 22) but I may be mis-reading that, so perhaps we might get some legally informed views in comments.

    Banking Crisis Inequality

    United Left Alliance convention

    My invitation to the above event at the week-end being unaccountably delayed, it’s interesting to see the Irish Times relaying the views of colleague Professor Terrence McDonough (IT do note correct spelling please.) here.

    In summary:

    “He said the country should default on its debt, leave the euro, build a single public bank, provide a jobs guarantee for all workers and nationalise the Corrib gas field.”

    Prices Regulation

    NCC report on costs of doing business in Ireland

    The National Competitiveness Council has just published the Costs of Doing Business in Ireland Report 2011.

    You can download it from here.

    Fiscal Policy

    The CSO’s detailed public finance data

    The CSO publishes annually, as part of the National Income and Expenditure document, detailed tables related to the public finances, which are of particular interest in the context of the current urgent focus on fiscal policy, to the extent perhaps of providing a more useful starting point for multi-year fiscal plans than the traditional exchequer and budgetary formats, which are not fit for that purpose. Some details and links to data on all this follow.


    Political reform: the puzzling argument for reducing the size of Dáil Éireann

    A recurrent proposal in the ongoing debate about institutional reform in Ireland is that the number of members of Dáil Éireann be reduced from the current level of 166.  Perhaps this particular proposal receives prominence because it’s relatively easily understood, and is seen by some as a satisfyingly visible response to widespread alienation from politicians and politics as practised in Ireland. It receives additional and weighty support from the most recent (and much more wide-ranging) article in the Irish Times series on political and economic renewal, by UCD Professor David Farrell which you can read here.

    While appreciating that it’s perhaps unfair to evaluate any one such proposal in isolation from the broader set of ideas with which it’s typically linked, I’m genuinely puzzled as to why it seems to have such immediate resonance and support, beyond the generalised antipathy towards elected politicians, an antipathy which some of them seem willing to enable, by competing to support a culling of their present –and future–numbers.

    Let me explain why I think the reasoning behind this sort of proposal is problematic, with a nod towards a little naive economics argument towards the end.


    Innovation policy: the Cinderella of the current debate?

    The immediacy and scale of the interrelated public finance and financial system crises have naturally – and rightly -generated the vast bulk of comment and economically informed analysis to date. I wondered whether this reflects an implicit collective judgement that the third part of the government’s soi-disant strategy, namely that related to the role of innovation securing long term economic progress is at best uncontroversial or at worst irrelevant? I seem to recall most reviews of the government’s “Smart Economy” policy document evidencing general scepticism and disappointment that this focus for policy action was, to put it mildly, misplaced in the eye of the fiscal and financial storms by then well underway.

    I would argue the need for more critical analysis to be focussed on this area—understandably more so if and when we’re a little surer we’re not going bankrupt tomorrow, and/or have to ritually abase ourselves before the IMF—but nevertheless at some stage.

    My concern is that the policy machine keeps working, explicitly rationalising more government expenditure and significant institutional policy shifts (without much apparent economic oversight), by ritually linking of such policies to economic growth.

    For example, Science Foundation Ireland today announced the allocation of €24m in respect of five new “Strategic Research Clusters”. There’s a broad debate to be had here, but one wonders whether this (by now unremarkable type of initiative) prompts the question for example whether innovation policy here, is or could become, merely a Trojan horse for old-style ‘picking winners’ industrial policy, particularly at a time when there are no apparent limits to the scale and scope of government intervention which in other contexts is now deemed acceptable.

    Much more specifically, is there any concern that the renewed emphasis on commercialisability (and thus at least partial private capture) of outcomes of publicly funded research on the part of the policy makers is in unacknowledged tension with the original public good rationales for the ramping up of publicly funded R&D?

    I was prompted in part to raise this kite by Nicholas Craft’s VOX post of July 2008 on ‘learning to love creative destruction’ which concludes in part:

    Politicians find it attractive to wax lyrical in support of the “knowledge economy” and rush to adopt targets for R&D spending and participation in tertiary education. This “happy clappy” approach to addressing Europe’s productivity growth shortfall keeps them in the comfort zone. More progress would be made if the dark side of productivity improvement implied by creative destruction – exit of established producers and re-deployment of labour – were accepted and facilitated.