19th-century Markets and Fairs as Imperial Economics

Dr. Aine Sheehan will present on “Economics of Empire: Markets and Fairs in 19th-century Ireland” on Friday 5th April at the Military History Archives, Cathal Brugha Barracks.

Dr.Sheehan makes the local global to explore connections between grassroots economics at markets and fairs, local politics and the wider imperial context, to shine new light on Ireland’s place within the British Empire of the 19th century and its everyday impact on Irish producers and consumers.

The talk and screening is free but spaces are limited and should be booked in advance on Eventbrite:https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/economics-of-empire-markets-fairs-in-19th-century-ireland-tickets-59379130578

Database of Irish Non Profits

This is a guest blog from Benefacts.ie’s MD Patricia Quinn.

There’s no tag on the Irish Economy for “nonprofit” or even “charity” – maybe a symptom of the almost total lack of data until now on the organisations that make up this sector in Ireland. Hopefully, this is about to change.

Since 2015, Benefacts has been drawing on a variety of open data sources to create a dataset of unprecedented currency, granularity and reach. The Database of Irish Nonprofits is derived from all of the files placed in the public domain by ~20,000 organisations that would be classified by by statisticians as “NPISH” – nonprofit institutions serving households. According to Eurostat:

“Non-profit institutions serving households, abbreviated as NPISH, make up an institutional sector in the context of national accounts consisting of non-profit institutions which are not mainly financed and controlled by government and which provide goods or services to households for free or at prices that are not economically significant. Examples include churches and religious societies, sports and other clubs, trade unions and political parties.

NPISH are private, non-market producers which are separate legal entities. Their main resources, apart from those derived from occasional sales, are derived from voluntary contributions in cash or in kind from households in their capacity as consumers, from payments made by general governments, and from property income.”

http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Glossary:Non-profit_institutions_serving_households_(NPISH) consulted on 08/08/2017

A simpler way to think of this set of organisations is: all those that are neither part of the private sector, nor part of government.

Database scope

Some are charities, some are not – either because they are explicitly excluded from the definition in law by the Charities Act, 2009, or because they haven’t got around to registering yet.

About half are incorporated, mostly under the Companies Act (as CLGs), although there are also hundreds of industrial, friendly or provident societies including trade unions, and a handful that were incorporated by statute, some of them – like some major voluntary hospitals – prior to the foundation of the State. There are also thousands of church or faith bodies, as well as sports, cultural and recreational clubs, societies and associations.

The number of ~20,000 includes all of those nonprofits that are registered with and required to return information to at least one national public authority – the Companies Registration Office, Revenue (for tax relief as charities, schools or sports bodies), the Charities Regulator, the Library of the Houses of the Oireachtas. Many thousands more are not included on national registers but are governed by national bodies (for religion, sport etc) – hopefully for future inclusion in the Database.

Having identified its scope, Benefacts harvests data every day from multiple public sources, sometimes availing of open data files and – for financial and governance data – extracting it manually from financial statements and other regulatory filings. Benefacts doesn’t ‘scrape’ other peoples’ websites, but we do add some additional information including a classification (following Eurostat norms), the URL of each nonprofit, and information about compliance with some voluntary codes. This model, which is co-funded by government and philanthropies, means that there’s no effort required of any nonprofit to be included.

Accessing the Database of Irish Nonprofits

To see who’s in the Database, have a look at the open datasets generated by Benefacts from the data derived from these public sources.  This is updated every day on data.gov.ie. The list is sortable by

  • Registered name(s)
  • Benefacts classification
  • Address
  • Eircode
  • County
  • Name(s) of authorities by which the nonprofit is regulated
  • Regulatory number(s)
  • Link to each nonprofit’s listing on Benefacts.ie

A free public website – benefacts.ie – provides user-friendly access to extracts from the currently available data and public files on each listed nonprofit, there’s a public API that allows users to download the same information as a data feed, and a new customised service for institutional users to support governance, risk and compliance analysis (Benefacts Analytics). Users in government like the CSO, the Charities Regulator, IGEES analysts and internal auditors have had bespoke reports with more granular data extracted from financial statements (balance sheet, I&E, notes to the accounts), reflecting their particular requirements.

What does the data tell us?

Earlier in 2017, using the full population of available data, we published the first in an annual series of reports analysing the nonprofit sector in Ireland. We intended this as a billboard, drawing public attention to some of the main features of the sector, and starting to explode some myths.

The Irish nonprofit sector is hidden in plain view. It employs 150,000 people, and has an aggregate turnover of €11bn, only 18% of which is derived from government grants. Service fees from Government account for 31% of the sector’s revenues – mostly in the health and social services sub-sectors – but only 2,700 nonprofits rely on government funding of any kind. Remuneration data available for the first time in 2015 under FRS102 indicates that only 0.5% of people working in independent nonprofits – excluding those where salaries are pegged to governmental paygrades – receive annual remuneration of more than €70,000: this compares to 12.8% of people in the population at large.

This is all very interesting, but it is only scratching the surface. Since 2015, Benefacts has been harvesting extensive financial and governance data from the financial and constitutional documents of thousands of nonprofits, and socialising the data on various platforms.

The nonprofit sector will continue to be the Cindarella of the Irish economy until such time as the Database of Irish Nonprofits starts being used by economists who will put our dataset in the wider context. Where is Prince Charming?

Economist Role at Dublin Chamber

From the Chamber’s Aebhric McGibney:

Job Title:                     Economist

Reporting to:               Director of Public & International Affairs

Company:                    Dublin Chamber

Location:                     7 Clare St. Dublin 2

Role

Dublin Chamber is recruiting an Economist to work as part of the Chamber’s dedicated policy team.

The Economist will be responsible for the development and dissemination of accurate, timely reports and analyses.

Key Activities/Responsibilities

  • Research and policy development.
  • Prepare economic research and policy positions on issues of relevance to the Dublin business community.
  • Analyse and disseminate information on Dublin and the Irish economy.
  • Analyse public policy developments for their impact on Dublin and on business.
  • Draft key policy documents and reports.
  • Contribute to the research agenda of the department, including servicing policy taskforces.
  • Prepare member-driven submissions to Government and contribute to Dublin Chamber’s work on policy briefs which enhance its reputation as a thought-leader on policy research.

Competencies & Qualifications

  • Honours degree in economics or closely related discipline. A relevant post graduate qualification is an advantage.
  • Thorough understanding of economic theory and policy, and current economic issues.
  • Familiarity with economic data sources and other information.
  • Excellent numerical analysis and report writing skills.
  • Strong interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to communicate succinctly and utilise a range of communication methods as appropriate.
  • Excellent organisational skills.
  • Ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines
  • Strong IT skills
  • Ability to work in team environment

This challenging and rewarding role requires building close professional relationship with senior leaders in business, research institutions and the public sector.

The ideal candidate will have 5 year’s relevant experience. This is a full time permanent contract, with salary commensurate with experience. Applicants should send a CV and cover letter to aebhric@dublinchamber.ie by 5pm Friday 28th July.

Director of the Parliamentary Budget Office Houses of the Oireachtas

This is a very important job, directing something many people including me have called for for years. The particulars for the role are here. The PBO will be a key part of the new budgetary framework for the state and the Director role is obviously vital to achieving sound fiscal policy. You can apply for the job here.

From the ad:

The Houses of the Oireachtas Service is the independent civil service agency which supports the running of both Houses of the Oireachtas (Dáil and Seanad Éireann) and provides administrative services on behalf of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.

The establishment of the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) is a key strategic priority for the Oireachtas in the context of the current Parliamentary Reform Agenda.

The Director will drive the establishment and shape the role of the PBO in consultation with members and other stakeholders. S/he will develop and manage the service capacity of the PBO, will set the strategic vision, provide leadership and deliver objectives.

The successful candidate will have:
• an understanding of fiscal governance requirements and the Irish budgetary process, including key constraints on budgetary policy which applies to general government revenue and expenditure;
• the ability to set the strategic direction and vision for the work of the Parliamentary Budget Office, having regard to the external environment, including the international, EU, and broader public policy and political context;
• a proven track record of significant achievement at a senior level that demonstrates leadership, management and interpersonal skills required for this role.

IMF Special Issues Papers Seminar

The Annual IMF Article IV mission to Ireland is taking place for the first two weeks of May. The IMF Special Issues Papers seminar will be hosted at the new Central Bank HQ, North Wall Quay.

The seminar takes place on Monday May 8th from 10am, Heaney Room, 7th Floor, Central Bank of Ireland, NWQ.

For access and security arrangements can you please let internationalrelations@centralbank.ie know if you intend to come.

 

Call for papers: 5th Annual NERI Labour Market Conference

Maynooth University
Friday, 12 May 2017

The fifth annual NERI Labour Market Conference will be held on Friday 12th May in association with Maynooth University’s Department of Applied Social Studies, the Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting and the Department of Sociology. The conference will run from 10:00am-16.00pm and will include research papers on various aspects of the Irish labour market and Irish labour market policy.

The NERI Labour Market Conference is intended to provide a forum for the presentation of research papers on labour market issues (North and South) and is held in May each year. Presentations from researchers, academics, and labour market practitioners are invited for this forthcoming conference. Those interested should submit a title and brief abstract (max 400 words) to tom.mcdonnell@nerinstitute.net

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

• Employment and Unemployment
• Precariousness and Low Pay
• Earnings and Labour Costs
• Productivity and Human Capital
• Labour Market Participation, Demographics and Labour Supply
• Labour Market Institutions (Minimum wages and collective bargaining)
• Labour Market Transitions, Migration, Age and Gender
• Pensions and Pensions Policy

Registration

The conference is open to all who are interested and is free to attend. However, you must register your intention to attend the conference by contacting info@nerinstitute.net

Key Dates
Submission Deadline:
31 March 2017
Registration Deadline:
5 May 2017

Notification of Acceptance:
14 April 2017

Conference Date:
12 May 2017
Contact: tom.mcdonnell@nerinstitute.net

Miriam Hederman O’Brien Research Prize 2017

The Miriam Hederman O’Brien Prize is awarded by the Foundation for Fiscal Studies (http://www.fiscal.ie). The prize was launched in 2013 and you now have an opportunity to nominate candidates for the 2017 prize.

The purpose of the prize is to recognise outstanding contributors to matters relating to fiscal, economic and social policy. The winner will be awarded a prize of €1,000 together with a commemorative Gold Medal.

Nominations are invited for work completed during 2016 that has added to the public knowledge or understanding in areas such as taxation, public expenditure and other related fiscal policy topics.

Details of the prize, entry criteria and submission details are contained here. You can nominate your own work or work by others.

The closing date for nominations is 30 April 2017.

Regional Studies Association Annual Conference

The Annual RSA conference is on in Trinity College, Dublin this year from the 4th to the 7th of June. The programme looks fascinating. Harvard’s Ricardo Hausmann is among the keynote speakers.

Given the extended discussions being had across Ireland on housing policy, on spatial modeling and on ‘balanced regional development’, it promises to be a good conference.

Irish higher education, post Brexit

Two interesting think pieces in the Irish Times today. One by TCD’s Brian Lucey on the challenges and opportunities facing Ireland’s Higher Education sector after Brexit, and another by UCC’s Phillip O’Kane on creating a single International University of Ireland made of the best bits of the higher education landscape. 

The Deparment of Finance and the ESRI have a briefing paper modeling the impact of Brexit on the Irish economy. Their takeaway:

the level of Irish output is permanently below what it otherwise would have been in the absence of BREXIT.

‘Nuff said.

The fatal flaw of the populist approach

The world is awash with populists. From Ireland’s independents to President Duterte of the Philippines, from Germany’s anti-immigrant AfD party to Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria, from Ukip and Jeremy Corbyn in Britain to Donald Trump in the US, populists are on the rise. And we’re not talking just a few random demagogues here, though personality does go a long way. (Trump-related Pulp Fiction pun intended, by the way.)

We are seeing a rise in populist parties getting and holding onto power in several European countries including Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Ireland and Switzerland. Iceland is about to elect the Pirate Party (no really) to power. The French Front National may well take power in France, riding a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment there.

Populists come from both sides of the political spectrum: Greece’s Syriza party and Spain’s Podemos party consider themselves of the left, while Germany’s AfD and France’s Front National are on the far right.

So it’s a problem. Old, established, centrist parties have lost their grip on power – spectacularly so in Greece – while newer parties are standing mostly on a basis of what they are not – Corbyn is not a Blairite, Marine Le Pen is not Nicolas Sarkozy, and so forth. The 32nd Dáil contains 19 TDs who are nominally ‘independent’, with 12 more in left or far-left groupings. Ireland does not produce far-right TDs that often, though it does produce some very right-wing policies from time to time.

Continue reading “The fatal flaw of the populist approach”

A dynamic model of financial balances for the United Kingdom

[Attention conservation notice: Rampant self-promotion]

Irish economy readers might be interested in this work. Together with colleagues at the Bank of England we’ve built a model of financial balances for the United Kingdom. The basic question we’re trying to answer is: how can large open economies deal with persistent imbalances now and into the future? This is the first model of its kind for the UK and something we hope to build on in the future. We summarise the findings in this Bank Underground blog.

 

The Nobel Factor

Tomorrow we will know the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics. This is not a ‘true’ Nobel, coming some 50 years after Alfred Nobel established the original prizes in physics, medicine, chemistry, literature, and peace. The Swedish Central Bank established the Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in the late 1960s as a way to counter what it saw as the virulent spread of social democracy across Nordic countries in particular.

The Nobel Factor, a new book by Avner Offer and Gabriel Söderberg, traces the development of the Nobel Prize in economics, which grants authority and ‘Nobel magic’ to economics above other social sciences, and ensures laureates are listened to on every subject. Economics itself is seen as being more scientific, more worthy of the ears of the powerful, as a result of the Nobel prize. The impact of neoclassical economics, the dominant form of economics which emphasises market based interactions above all others on policy makers through teaching and research, is assured because of the Nobel prize.

Offer and Söderberg begin their book with what may well be the best combined explanation, intellectual history, and critique of neoclassical economics and its policy variants I’ve ever read. From there we have a discussion of the social and economic context for the creation of the prize in economic sciences, and an extended discussion of the conflict between free market and social democratic values in the Nordic states in particular. There’s a really interesting series of chapters tracing the evolution of European politics and the individual awards and their subject areas. There’s a great chapter focusing on Assar Lindbeck, a forceful personality and someone who shaped the Prize. 

The story gets a little more complicated once the Prize itself evolves, because it’s not a simple case of rewarding only those who espouse ‘markets are great’ approaches, like Friedman and Hayek. For example in Chapter 7, we learn a lot about empiricists, experimentalists, econometricians and behaviouralists who won the Prize because of their rejection of equilibrium approaches to economics. In Chapter 10, the failure of economics to understand, model, or respond to the growing threats posed by unfettered global capital markets gets a very thorough treatment.

Overall I found the book riveting in that it is written in a deep and scholarly way. I buy the ‘Social Democracy vs Markets’ argument about the genesis of the economics Nobel in the 1960s, but I’m not sure the evolution of the Prize is as clear cut as it could be, after awards to people like Oliver Williamson and Lin Ostrom and Vernon Smith.

The book concludes on a hopeful note. The authors write on page 278:

“To recapture validity, economics has to come down to the ground of argument, evidence, and counterargument, supported by reason and an open mind. In the quest for valid knowledge, for those of Enlightenment disposition, it is well to ignore black boxes, the magic of prizes, and the lure of immutable laws”.

I couldn’t agree more. As intellectual, social, and political history, the Nobel Factor is well worth your time getting stuck into.

My wish for tomorrow’s Prize: Duncan Foley for his work on Public Goods and General Equilibrium, and Charles Manski for his work on just about everything else.

The box below should display the Nobel citation tomorrow around lunchtime.

Three Monday Morning Brexit-Speech Thoughts

Three thoughts after reading the UK Prime Minister’s Brexit speech.

  1. This is the opening salvo of a negotiation. Everything needs to be understood (and therefore, deflated) in this context.
  2. In different places in the speech, Mrs May is talking about restricting immigration *and* having unrestricted free trade. This is a nonsense, and it won’t work. Her description of the process also completely underestimates the negotiating power of the EU. For example, Mrs May said she wants to give “British companies the maximum freedom to trade and operate in the single market”, but not at the expense of allowing free movement of workers for these companies or accepting the power of the European Court of Justice. Best of luck with that.
  3. Beyond rallying the troops a bit, and giving a timeline, there’s little in the speech for Ireland, news-wise, apart from what seems like a very firm decision to negotiate as a United Kingdom–meaning our friends up North and in Scotland are in a bit of trouble as there will likely be fewer border-related concessions for them in the context of a ‘hard’ Brexit.

How much of Ireland’s “fiscal space” will climate inaction consume?

Here’s a guest post on the very important potential fiscal costs of climate mitigation by the IIEA’s Joseph Curtin. 

***

The basic imperative to reduce emissions is easily understood. From March 2015 to July 2016, in each successive month the previous highest global temperature for that month was broken. July 2016 was the warmest of any month on record in the period of historic measurement. Given this record goes back roughly 160 years, the odds of this occurring without man’s input in the form of greenhouse gas emissions is infinitesimally small.

Reducing emissions is a political challenge that is difficult to grapple with, in Ireland as in many other countries. In welcome developments, we now have a Government Department with “Climate Action” in its title, and the newly established citizens’ assembly was given the goal of exploring “how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change”.fig1.png

But on the ground there are few examples of “action” and “leadership” to draw upon. There has been no plan to reduce emissions since the previous strategy expired 4 years ago. As we can see from the EPA’s latest inventory report, since the end of the recession in 2011 Irish emissions have more or less flat lined. In fact emissions will probably increased in 2015 (although EPA data have not yet been published) and are projected to continue increasing in the years ahead.

Continue reading “How much of Ireland’s “fiscal space” will climate inaction consume?”

The New Yorker on how Apple created Ireland’s real, and less real, economies

For readers who want a good summary of what’s going on with Apple, the EU Commission, etc., Adam Davidson of the New Yorker has a nice piece putting the decision in its historical and political context. From the piece:

Is the Ireland of the real Apple—the physical place with people doing things that produce profit—going to dominate, or will it be the Ireland of tax-free fictions and arbitraging loopholes in a complicated global economy?

Ireland’s economic transformation in the course of the past thirty-five years was remarkable in many ways. Up until the early nineteen-eighties, Ireland’s income per person was one of the lowest in Europe, right alongside Greece’s. Unemployment was well above sixteen per cent for much of the nineteen-eighties. The country’s income began to hurtle upward after 1995. Dell, Intel, and Microsoft joined Apple in Ireland. Large pharmaceutical firms also came, and now more than half of Irish exports are pharmaceuticals. At first, these big firms were excited to find people with advanced degrees willing to work at a fraction of what American, French, or German workers are paid. By the early two-thousands, Ireland’s per-capita gross domestic product was higher than that of the U.S. or the U.K., and fully a hundred and thirty per cent of the European average. For the first time in Ireland’s history, the country experienced net immigration. Alongside the new economy of high-tech and pharmaceutical companies, Ireland continued to develop its agricultural businesses, especially food manufacturing. Ireland is now a major exporter of snack foods and dairy products. For the first few decades, this growth seemed to have been based on something beautiful and right: the Irish had always been highly educated, clever, and hardworking, and they were now earning what they deserved.

Brexit Flu?

The latest exchequer returns are in, and are a bit down relative to trend and to target month-on-month. From the release:

July 2016 Outturn
July 2016 Target Excess/Shortfall (€m) Excess/Shortfall (%)
Income tax 1519 1522 -3 -0.20%
VAT 1766 1830 -61 -3.30%
Corp. Tax 116 139 -23 -16.50%
Excise 482 507 -25 -5%
Stamps 114 111 3 2.30%
Capital Gains 14 8 6 67.40%
Capital Acquisitions 19 17 2 13.80%
Customs 26 29 -4 -13%
Levies 0 0 0 0.00%
LPT 21 23 -2 -6.60%
Unallocated 9 0 9 0.00%

The two numbers everyone will focus on are the 13% drop in customs taxes and the 16% drop in corporation tax.

In terms of money in the door up to July, the State is still up 8.5% on last year, so we shouldn’t be too worried about the supply of sweeties come Budget day just yet. The other important thing to note is just how volatile these data are–they bounce around a lot, and you can read very little into one month’s data. So please, before everyone runs off saying Brexit is killing the Irish economy, it isn’t. Or perhaps more accurately, it isn’t just yet.

Another interesting piece of data shows Irish consumers are a bit put off but unlikely to develop Brexit flu from contact with their nearest neighbour.

While UK PMI data is nose-bleed inducing, the recently-released KBC consumer sentiment index shows that Irish consumer sentiment declined in July, but the scale of the drop was relatively modest when measured beside its UK equivalent, as the chart below shows.

csijul16d02So what do we see? We see a bit of concern, and bit of a wobble, but that’s all, up to now. Hold fire on the pronouncements of doom for a few more months at least.

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