An Bord Snip: Health

I’m opening this strand to facilitate more specialized discussion on the cuts in Health proposed by An Bord Snip, which total over €1.2 bn or 8% of the €15 billion currently spent through the HSE.

Cuts here include: staffing roll-back of over 6000; a tightening of the eligibility requirements for medical cards; increased co-payments for prescriptions and walk-ins to A&E; and some rationalization of agencies.

An Bord Snip: Social Welfare

I’m opening this strand to facilitate more specialized discussion on the cuts in Social Welfare proposed by An Bord Snip, which amount to €1.8 bn or 9% of the €18 billion currently spent in this area.

Among the proposed cuts are an overall roll-back in rates of 3% or 5% nominal; a 20% reduction in Child Benefit; and some changes in eligibility (double payments).

An Bord Snip Nua report

The two volumes can be found here: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

An initial glance through suggests that it’s all meat and little padding. It will be for others to frame the wider implications of what is being proposed.

There can be no doubt that the decisions that will be taken on public spending in the coming months will shape our society for a long time to come. Let the debate begin. And let’s get the balance of analysis and polemic right!

Update: OK, enough is enough. The volume of disparate comments — over a hundred now on this strand — tells me that some specialization is needed here, so I am opening five new strands to facilitate a more coherent discussion of sub-issues.

One strand, then, on each on the three biggest areas by spend (Social Welfare, Health, and Education) one on specific issues in the remainder and one on the strategic and structural aspects.

No doubt some contributors will also be drafting substantive posts on particular aspects, and on the overall implications of the report and reaction to it.

Another lap for hare

ESRI forecasts for 2010 allow me to update the internal/external balance plot first used  by Brendan Walsh and myself to describe the lengthy cycle 1975-2001. 

The first chart, with data up to 2006, shows the previous big counterclockwise cycle: first the balance of payments goes into deficit (1975-1979); then the correction begins and unemployment rises (1980-85), the balance of payments deficit contracts (1981-87) and moves into surplus (1991-93); finally unemployment comes down again (1993-2000).

Looks like the Irish hare is taking a shorter and sharper curve this time.  The balance of payments blow-out (2003-2008) has been much smaller in amplitude and shorter in duration than in the 1970s and 1980s.  The rise in unemployment (2007-2010) is much faster than in 1981-86.  Sooner or later we’ll get back to the bottom centre of the graph with low unemployment and zero balance of payments. 

The first chart shows data up to 2006, the second one joins the dots for 2007-2010 according the the ESRI forecasts published this morning.

Internal and external balance to 2010

(PS: For those who like two-dimensional business cycle graphs, there is a very nice one (plotting rate of change of GDP against its level) for the US in a recent issue of the New York Times. Wish I had a copy of their animation software!)

Amartya Sen in Dublin

Nobel Laureate in Economics Amartya Sen spoke to a capacity audience at TCD yesterday.  His theme was “On Global Confusion” and he ranged from credit default swaps to Adam Smith’s views on selfishness. Podcast is available here.

He also gave an interview to Cathal Mac Coille of Morning Ireland: the full podcast of that is here.