Muiris MacCarthaigh on Budget 2018

Guest post below from Muiris MacCarthaigh from Queen’s University Belfast:

Budget 2018 and a tale of two Departments

The budget to be published this Tuesday will be the first since 2010 to be prepared and delivered by a single Minister, Paschal Donohoe T.D., who holds both Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform portfolios.

As will be widely remembered by readers of this blog, following the 2011 general election the Department of Finance was essentially split in two, with that Department retaining control over taxation and reform of the financial services sector. (Indeed for a while consideration was given to renaming it the Department of Finance and Taxation). The ‘spending’ side of the Department was removed and combined with public service reform and industrial relations into the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER).  As well as providing for a significant reallocation of central government functions, and an organizational focus for administrative reform, DPER served the useful political purpose of allowing the Labour Party hold another central government portfolio.  This also gave it co-equal status with Fine Gael at the Economic Management Council or ‘War Cabinet’.

What is not widely appreciated is the enormity of the task faced by officials in the Department of Finance over the pre and post-election period to prepare for and then execute the process of creating the new Deparment, all in a matter of weeks. When beginning the research for my recently published book on DPER over the 2011-16 period, the sheer scale of this undertaking quickly stood out.  Led by a small group of officials, it involved trawling the Irish statute book for all primary and secondary legislation concerning the responsibilities of the Minister for Finance in law from 1922 onwards (as well as some pre-1922 treasury-related functions), before that Department could be disaggregated into two.

The range of responsibilities for which the Minister for Finance had a legal responsibility included such diverse issues as provisions for compensation applications arising from property damage during the 1921-23 Independence and Civil War period, to consenting on borrowings for capital investment for commercial state enterprises. All told, it resulted in a process involving the transfer of over 4000 specific legal functions originally assigned to the Minister of Finance.

In respect of Budgets, a number of interviewees for my study identified how the institutional split between revenue-raising and expenditure functions had created a useful ‘buffering’ effect on demands for increased expenditure by line Departments. Prior to DPER’s existence, the relevant section in the Department of Finance assessed new expenditure proposals from a line Department, and the merits of raising taxation or other forms of revenue to support the measure were also considered in that same Department. With the decoupling, appeals to DPER for extra resources fell largely on deaf ears as the Department and its Minister had no say in taxation matters.

The quality of engagements between DPER and other Departments were also deemed to have taken a step change by virtue of the economic evaluations provided for them by the IGEES.  Additionally, the strong relationship between Ministers Howlin and Noonan were consistently referred to as being vital to the Irish crisis response, including budgetary coherence, and by proxy to the stability of the government as a whole.

At the launch of my book, Minister Donohoe identified that the Taoiseach had been keen to maintain the two Departments when announcing his Cabinet following his election in June. Whether this was to preserve the integrity of DPER’s reform agenda, to place coordination of fiscal and budgetary policy in one Minister, or to avoid accusations of a return to pre-crisis arrangements for government departments is hard to say. As is how long DPER will continue to operate as a separate Deparment .The economic crisis may be a decade old, but its effects on budgetary policy and the organisation of Irish government continue to be felt.

Dr Muiris MacCarthaigh is Senior Lecturer in Politics and Public Administration at Queen’s University Belfast. His new book, Public Sector Reform in Ireland: Countering Crisis, has just been published by Palgrave.

Irish Postgraduate and Early Career Conference 2018

From 2001 to 2013, we held eleven workshops in Ireland for postgraduate and early career researchers. They started as exclusively aimed at Irish-based researchers and eventually morphed into international events. The events were run mostly by PhD students in the Universities, including events hosted by UCD, TCD, Limerick, Maynooth, Cork, and Galway. In Scotland, 8 universities combine on PhD training and host an annual event for PhD students. Such events provide students and researchers an opportunity to discuss their work outside their own institution and meet other researchers and faculty.

To restart this effort, we will host a full-day event in Dublin on January 19th. The event is aimed at PhD students and early career researchers across the Irish universities. A full call for papers with details of submissions will be released soon. The event will take the form of thematic sessions with ideally at least some faculty discussant input at each session, along with keynote talks, and engagement with policy and industry. We welcome submissions from PhD students and early career researchers in institutions on the island of Ireland.

I would welcome suggestions from students, researchers, and faculty about how to make this a feature of the Irish research environment. Some questions include whether it should be a student-run event in future years, links to the Irish Economics Association, venues, format of sessions, whether it should be restricted to national institutions, whether there should be job-market aspects etc., I hope revamping these sessions will also create an opportunity to discuss collaboration on advanced training in Economics across the country.

Map of Economic Thought in Dublin

Following up from the previous post, here is a first version of a map of the history of economics in Dublin.  The purpose of this map is to stimulate discussion and appreciation of the history of economic thought in Dublin. Some of the figures, including Edgeworth, Geary, Cairnes and Bastable, made intellectual contributions that are important internationally, and many of the economists featured were key figures in national policy debates.  It is intended as a public discussion tool and not itself as a primary academic source and draws in detail from excellent source material below, in particular the Boylan et al, 2011, Murphy 1984 and Murphy and Prendergast 2000 books that are worth reading for anyone with an interest in Irish history, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. It is also a work-in-progress and I will update frequently. It is based on a similar project conducted by Professor Ian Preston at University College London. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctp100/Walks/EconWalks.htm Doireann O’Brien provided detailed assistance with locating sources and developing the map and associated resources. Comments or suggestions can be sent to liam.delaney@ucd.ie

Bibliography

Barrington, Richard. “History of SSISI.” The Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland. Web.

Boland, Rosita. “Sophie Bryant, Mathematician and Pioneer of Education for Women.” The Irish Times. 23 Aug. 2016. Web.

Boylan, Thomas. Political Economy and Colonial Ireland: The Propagation and Ideological Functions of Economic Discourse in the Nineteenth Century. London and New York: Routledge, 1992. Print.

Boylan, Thomas A., Renee Prendergast, and John D. Turner. A History of Irish Economic Thought. London: Routledge, 2011. Print.

“British Academy Scholarship.” British Academy Scholarship. Oxford University Press. Web.

Callinan, Frank. “Thomas Michael Kettle: An Enduring Legacy.” The Irish Times. 16 May 2016. Web.

Cullen, Clara, Mary E. Daly, and Orla Feely. The Building of the State: Science and Engineering with Government on Merrion Street. Dublin: U College Dublin, 2011. Print.

“The Economic and Social Research Institute.” ESRI – The Economic and Social Research Institute. Web.

Fanning, Bryan. Histories of the Irish Future. London: Bloomsbury Academic, an Imprint of Bloomsbury Plc, 2015. Print.

“Faulkner, George.” Dublin Music Trade. Ed. Barra Boydell and Catherine Ferris. The Music Libraries Trust, The Society for Musicology in Ireland. Web. 22 June 2017.

Granville, David. “Sophie Bryant (part 1).” Irish Democrat Archive : Features. Connolly Association, C/o RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JD, 10 Dec. 2008. Web.

Harbison, Peter. “Royal Irish Academy.” The Encyclopedia of Ireland. Ed. Brian Lalor. New Haven: Yale UP, 2003. 948-49. Print.

“Houses of the Oireachtas – Where It Began!” Houses of the Oireachtas. Houses of the Oireachtas. Web.

“Identity Statement for Professor James Meenan.” UCD Archives. Winter 1992. Web.

M, M. J. “Professor Patrick Lynch.” The Irish Times. 3 Dec. 2001. Web.

McCabe, Brian. “Building of the Month – Department of Industry and Commerce.” Archive: Buildings of Ireland: National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Nov. 2012. Web.

Murphy, Antoin E. Economists and the Irish Economy: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day. Blackrock: Irish Academic in Association with Hermathena, 1984. Print.

Murphy, Antoin E.; Prendergast, Renee “Contributions to the History of Economic Thought-Essays in Honour of R.D.C. Black”
Taylor and Francis, 2000.

Nolan, Mark C. “Keynes’ View on Self-sufficiency.” The Irish Times. 7 Aug. 2012. Web.

O’Connor, J. J., and E. F. Robertson. “Robert Charles Geary.” MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive. School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland. Web.

“Online Catalogue.” Library of Congress. Web. 22 June 2017.

“Online Library of Liberty.” Online Library of Liberty. Liberty Fund, 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 22 June 2017.

“Oxford DNB Resources.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. David Cannadine. Oxford University Press, 2014-2017.

Preston, Ian. “Women, Economics and UCL in the Late 19th Century.” Women, Economics and UCL in the Late 19th Century. 20 May 2015. Web.

Scott, William Robert. Francis Hutcheson: His Life, Teaching and Position in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge, 1900. Print.

 

London Economics History

Professor Ian Preston at UCL has produced various resources on the history of Economics in London, including a wonderful map of 16 walking tours. His website contains a lot of information about the development of Economics throughout the centuries and is a terrific resource.

There are quite a few Irish connections, not least JE Cairnes and FY Edgeworth. A particularly interesting connection is the presence of Dublin-born Sophie Bryant in the first class of women to take part in co-educational university education. Sophie Bryant was an interesting person with several achievements and was awarded an honorary doctorate by TCD shortly after they had started to award degrees to women. She was profiled recently by the Irish Times.

Stimulated by Ian’s work, I am putting together a resource for Dublin and will do a walking tour on Sunday July 16th (sign-up page here). Will post further details in the next few weeks. A working version of our Dublin map is available but not ready for public distribution. If there are any particularly eager people who might be willing to look at it and comment, I would welcome emails.

10th Annual Irish Economics and Psychology Conference

We will host the 10th annual Irish economics and psychology conference in UCD on Friday December 1st. Our keynote speakers will be Professor Don Ross (UCC) and Professor Jennifer Sheehy Skeffington (LSE). If you would like to present, please send an abstract to Liam.Delaney@ucd.ie Those who wish to register to attend can do so at this link. For the first time, we will also host an early career conference the day before aimed at PhD students and early stage researchers in other agencies. Abstracts can be submitted at this link.

On September 8th, we will launch the behavioural science and public policy stream at UCD Geary Institute with Professor Peter John of UCL as the keynote speaker. Details of the new group are available at this link and you can sign up to attend the event here. As well as the new MSc, there are various opportunities in the form of PhD studentships and we will be hiring researchers at all levels sporadically over the next few years. The mailing list for the Irish Behavioural Science and Policy Network is here and we have hosted several events over the last couple of years, including a recent one with Prof Cass Sunstein. We will host a July 11th event with Professor Dilip Soman of the University of Toronto Rotman School (details here).

Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century

In 2015 Anne Case and Angus Deaton wrote a paper documenting mortality increases among white middle-aged lower socio-economic status people in the United States. The paper attracted a lot of debate both in terms of its political implications and the complexities of the statistical analysis used to calculate the trends (see e.g. Gelman and Auerbach reply, Case and Deaton reply; Noah Smith summary of the debate).

Case and Deaton have recently released another working paper that increases the scope of their original work, including the addition of a wider set of comparison groups, including Ireland. The paper is available at this link. The key table that includes Ireland is below, showing the well-documented declines in mortality during this period, that were partly offset by increases in deaths from drugs, alcohol, and suicide. The late Brendan Walsh had an excellent paper that shows what lies beneath the suicide aspect of most of these trends for Ireland, in particular the competing roles of high but declining rates of alcohol consumption and initially low but then sharply increased rates of unemployment. Richard Layte and others have written about the patterns of mortality during the bulk of this period. The declines in mortality from heart disease among this age group really gives some pause for thought.

Cass Sunstein – New Directions in Behaviourally Informed Policy

The video of Professor Cass Sunstein’s recent talk “New Directions in Behaviourally Informed Policy” at UCD is available, along with links to papers and other reading, at this link. The event was hosted jointly by the UCD College of Social Science and UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy in conjunction with the Irish Behavioural Science and Policy Network. The talk is followed by a very wide-ranging Q+A and also includes a number of observations about this area of policy in Ireland.