Supply Curves Explained

Numberless ‘experts’ have misunderstood the government’s mortgage deposit subsidy. It’s all about the supply elasticity, as Michael Noonan helpfully explained to the Irish Examiner on Tuesday.

“The economists are saying we should have concentrated on the supply side. When there’s a demand for something, it leads to increased supply. If we can give deposits to people there will be an increased supply. The [building] industry will move to supply the extra demand.

To give you an example: When it was done previously, the first [car] scrappage scheme was introduced by Ruairi Quinn back in the 1990s. The theory then was the motor-car business was on the flat of its back — no cars being sold. So, with the scrappage scheme, people were given money and that money expressed itself in demand for new cars and a lot of new cars were sold. So, when there is demand backed by cash, supply responds and that’s the theory of it.”

So you whistle up some guy in Germany and he ships over 100,000 houses, at yesterday’s price.

Why didn’t I think of this ? Does Philip Lane read the Examiner?

Ireland ranks poorly in Western Europe in latest WEF competitiveness report

The World Economic Forum (WEF) have released their global competitiveness report. Ireland ranked 23rd, which was one of the lowest in Western Europe. Eleven other countries in Western Europe were ranked higher: Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, UK, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, France and Austria.


Inadequate supply of infrastructure was identified as by far the biggest deficiency, and the most problematic factor for doing business. In light of the upcoming budget it’s probably worth noting that all European countries who scored better than Ireland have a higher tax to GDP ratio. Revenue as a percentage of national income is higher in all these countries, which can be probably be taken as a measure of state capacity.

The full report can be read here, and the full listings here.

League of Ireland in the Spotlight

League of Ireland soccer has been in the spotlight recently. Last week, Dundalk arguably achieved the finest result in the league’s near 100 year history, beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 1 – 0 in Group D of the Europa League. (A comparison of the potential financial return of this to date and that of success in domestic competition can be found here).

Moments after the full-time whistle RTE’s PrimeTime (coincidentally) broadcast an interesting report on changes to the structure of underage soccer in Ireland, and the possible implications this will have for both League of Ireland and schoolboy clubs.

International journal Soccer and Society in conjunction with Routledge/Taylor & Francis Online has also commenced publishing a special edition of the journal which focuses on the League of Ireland. The special edition addresses economic, historic and social aspects of the sport in Ireland. The collection of published papers to date can be accessed here .

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.

Central Bank presentations at the DEW

Four presentations from Central Bank economists were made at the recent Dublin Economics Workshop, reflecting a range of research activity on the commercial real estate, enterprise credit and interbank markets. Paper titles and a brief description below.

Eoin O’Brien and Maria Woods: “Applying a macroprudential risk analysis to Irish commercial  real estate prices”

Research focuses on Irish commercial real estate market and presents a range of indicators that can be used to assess the sustainability of prices and enhance the Central Bank of Ireland’s existing macroprudential risk assessments of this sector.  Developing analytical tools to identify real estate risks, among other areas, is a priority for policy makers focused on mitigating systemic risk.  To complement traditional statistical indicators of price misalignment such as the deviation of the price-to-rent ratio from its historical average, two reduced form models are specified drawing on the property literature and long-run Irish data (1985Q1 to 2013Q4) to approximate a fundamental price series.  Periods where actual prices deviate from this fundamental series can be identified over the sample.  Non-linear methods suggest that the relationship between price changes and estimated misalignments may vary over the property cycle.

James Carroll, Paul Mooney (Dept of Finance) and Conor O’Toole: “Irish SME Investment in Economic Recovery”. Link (p73).

An in-depth look at the types of SME engaging in investment during the economic recovery, along with the financing sources behind said investment. Key findings:

  • The share of SMEs investing has increased steadily since 2012, and currently about a third of SMEs are investing on a six-monthly basis.
  • Younger firms, controlling for other firm characteristics, invest more. Improvements in profitability and turnover are important drivers of investment.
  • SME investment responds to regional  economic conditions, as measured by the unemployment rate.
  • Smaller, younger, non-exporting firms, who are likely more reliant on local household spending, respond most to domestic conditions.
  • Investment is mainly financed through internal funds, and there is no evident increase in the external financing share since early 2013.

James Carroll and Fergal McCann: “Cross-country comparisons of SME borrowing costs”

This research provides a methodology to strip out borrower- and bank-related factors which may form part of the explanation for cross-country interest rate differentials. Using the case of UK and Irish lending by Irish-owned banks, the research suggests that, of a 240 basis point (bps) difference in raw average borrowing costs, about 100-150 bps is not explained by bank- and borrower-level characteristics and can therefore be attributed to market-level factors such as bank competition, collateral enforceability and the aggregate outlook for default probabilities. Earlier research from the two authors shows that across Europe, such aggregate factors are indeed associated with higher enterprise borrowing costs.

Paul Lyons and Terry O’Malley: “Monitoring Ireland’s payments system using Target II”

  • Research provides a description of Ireland’s component of the Eurosystem’s large value payment system (TARGET2-IE).
  • TARGET2-IE forms an important part of the Bank’s analytical toolkit in that it can be used to examine the degree of interconnectedness between banks in Ireland; to develop indicators for systemic risk monitoring; to map Ireland’s payment networks to provide a source for measuring price and quantities in the short term interbank loan market involving Irish banks.
  • Early research results identify differences between the interbank and customer payments networks with the customer payment network displaying a small number of highly connected banks in addition to a large number of isolated banks.