Future Funding of Higher Education Conference: Presentations Now Available


October 5th, 2015

A conference on the Future Funding of Higher Education in Ireland was held in Maynooth University on Wednesday last. It was a very good day, with excellent speakers and great interaction between the audience and the speakers.

The presentations have now been posted online, and are available here.

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


October 3rd, 2015

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 www.eshsi.org

Bailed Out! in Dun Laoghaire


October 3rd, 2015

Just been to see Bailed Out!, the new play from Colin Murphy and Fishamble, which ends its run at the Pavilion in Dun Laoghaire on Sunday. It may go around the country later on.

Well worth a visit, and a break from the rugby.

Profile of Olivier Blanchard; More on IMF and Irish Bailout


October 2nd, 2015

The Washington Post carries an extensive profile of Olivier Blanchard, now of PIIE after his period as IMF economic counsellor – here.

The section on the Irish bailout is interesting:


The one place European leaders were anxious for a bank rescue, however, was in Ireland, where by fall 2008 banks were already reeling from losses after the bursting of a giant real estate bubble. The Irish government had nationalized one big bank and bailed out several others, but the cost proved so high that two years later the government itself was on the verge of defaulting on its own debts and turned to the international community for help.

The IMF had convinced Irish officials that, as part of any rescue package, those who had lent money to the banks should be forced to share in the pain. But Jean-Claude Trichet, head of the European Central Bank and a key player in any rescue plan, was adamant that there be no “haircuts” for bank creditors.

Trichet’s motivation was not surprising. The biggest creditors of the bankrupt Irish banks were French and German banks that themselves could go under if forced to recognize such losses, requiring costly and unpopular bailouts from their own governments. He also feared that any debt restructuring, as it is politely called, might make it difficult and more expensive for other European banks to borrow. Trichet went so far as to threaten to cut all central-bank lending to Irish banks if their debts were restructured, the equivalent of a death sentence for the Irish banking system.

With no other options, Ireland agreed to guarantee all of its banks’ debts, paying for it with a $67 billion international loan package whose harsh terms would drive the Irish economy into a deep recession and saddle a generation of Irish taxpayers with the full cost of repayment.

Strauss-Kahn, desperate for the Fund to play a visible role in the crisis, agreed to go along with the terms of the bailout. In rationalizing its participation, the Fund was forced to issue what Blanchard and his colleagues knew were unrealistically optimistic predictions about the quick recovery of the Irish economy. It would not be the only time the Fund would buckle to political pressure from European governments that are among its largest shareholders.

“We were in a difficult position calling attention to the fact that the European banking system may have been insolvent,” Strauss-Kahn said in an interview from Morocco. “It was not our job to cause bank runs. Olivier’s intellectual authority on that matter was particularly helpful, if not totally successful.”

Garret FitzGerald Lecture and Autumn School


October 1st, 2015

UCD College of Social Sciences and Law will host the Garret FitzGerald Lecture and Autumn School on Monday 19th October, in the UCD Sutherland School of Law. The daytime School (from midday) will focus on the significance of the social sciences. The evening Lecture will be delivered by Professor Cass R Sunstein,Harvard Law School, on the theme ‘Is Behavioural Science Compatible with Democracy?’. More details and bookings here.

‘The Financial Crisis in Ireland and Government Revenues’


September 30th, 2015

The Miriam Hederman O’Brien Prize on behalf of the Foundation for Fiscal Studies was awarded to Diarmaid Smyth and Rónán Hickey for this paper.

Economic and Social Review: Autumn 2015 Issue


September 29th, 2015

Vol 46, No 3, Autumn (2015)

Table of Contents


Blowing the Bubble: The Global Funding of the Irish Credit Boom PDF
Mary M. Everett 339-365
Outsourcing Foreign Services and the Internet: Evidence from Firm Level Data PDF
Holger Görg, Aoife Hanley, Ingrid Ott 367-387
A Reduced-form Equation for the Unemployment Rate Estimated from a Panel of Nineteen OECD Countries PDF
Dimitris Hatzinikolaou, Konstantina Girtzimani, Christos Mousafiris 389-397
Are Classroom Internet Use and Academic Performance Higher after Government Broadband Subsidies to Primary Schools? PDF
Marie Hyland, Richard Layte, Seán Lyons, Selina McCoy, Mary Silles 399-428

Policy Section Articles

Wages and Ireland’s International Competitiveness PDF
Rory O’Farrell 429-458
A Needs and Resources Assessment of Fiscal Equalisation in the Irish Local Government System PDF
Gerard Turley, Darragh Flannery, Stephen McNena 459-484


IMF WEO/GFSR Analytical Chapters


September 29th, 2015

The Autumn 2015 analytical chapters are:


Chapter 2. Where Are Commodity Exporters Headed? Output Growth in the Aftermath of the Commodity Boom

Chapter 3. Exchange Rates and Trade Flows: Disconnected?


Chapter 2: Market Liquidity—Resilient or Fleeting?

Chapter 3: Corporate Leverage in Emerging Markets—A Concern?



Compositional shifts in the labour market


September 25th, 2015

While this is specific to the UK, similar issues may arise in the analysis of the Irish labour market:  speech by Ben Broadbent here.

A Strategy for Resolving Europe’s Problem Loans


September 25th, 2015

IMF report here.

NERI: Quarterly Reports


September 25th, 2015

Quarterly Economic Facts here.


Quarterly Economic Observer here.

Corporate debt in emerging economies: A threat to financial stability?


September 17th, 2015

New CIEPR report here.

ECB to publish TARGET balances


September 17th, 2015

Details here.

New York Times: A Migration Juggernaut is Headed for Europe


September 16th, 2015

Eduardo Porter, one of the most highly respected economic analysts in the US media, has an interesting, thoughtful new article on European immigration pressures. He argues that European economies and societies need to prepare for large-scale immigration from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. These regions are close to Europe, are notably poor by world standards, and have a forecast population increase of three billion in coming decades, on top of the large increases which have already occurred in the recent past. Porter argues that attempts to stop completely this migration pressure will not succeed, and instead Europe should try to adjust to an inevitable large inflow.

The fiscal impact of financial sector support during the crisis


September 16th, 2015

ECB bulletin article – here.

OECD Economic Survey: Ireland


September 15th, 2015


The State of the House Price Cycle in the Euro Area


September 15th, 2015

ECB bulletin article here.

Bailed Out!


September 15th, 2015

The new Fishamble play by Colin Murphy is on during the Festival – details here.


BPEA Fall 2015: Papers on Portugal and Greece


September 11th, 2015

Ricardo Reis assesses adjustment in Portugal;  there is also an array of papers on the Greek crisis.

Papers here.

Update:   The discussion slides by Kevin O’Rourke for the Reis paper are available here.

Dublin Economics Workshop Conference – Final Call


September 9th, 2015

The Dublin Economics Workshop will hold its annual economic policy conference at the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone on October 16th and 17th next. Some slots are still available and proposals in any area of economic policy are welcome. They should be forwarded as soon as possible to colm.mccarthy@ucd.ie.

Programme and booking details will be circulated shortly.

The Dublin Economics Workshop is kindly sponsored by Dublin Chamber of Commerce.

Fiscal Tightening and Economic Growth


September 9th, 2015

A detailed analysis of cross-country covariation patterns is available in the PIIE report by Paolo Mauro and Jan Zilinsky here.

The Eurozone Crisis: A Consensus View of the Causes and a Few Possible Solutions


September 8th, 2015

There is a new VOXEU ebook with contributions on this topic – here.  (My contribution is on “International financial flows and the Eurozone crisis”.)

The Fiscal Council has a vacancy for an economist


September 3rd, 2015

The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council has a vacancy for an economist, details are here. Closing date is the 16th of September.

Review of Leaving Certificate Economics


September 2nd, 2015

Drs Aedin Doris, Kevin Denny and I wrote a response to the consultation paper on the review of leaving cert economics for the Irish Economic Association.

The consultation paper is here (.pdf). The response is here (.pdf). 

Save the Date: September 30 Conference on Higher Education Funding in Maynooth


September 1st, 2015

On Wednesday, September 30, we are holding a one-day conference on ‘Higher Education Funding: Drawing on the International Experience’ in Maynooth.

The context for this conference is the debate on how to fund higher education in Ireland. In 2014, the Minister for Education established an Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education, and the motivation for the conference is to inform the discussion about the choice of funding options available; we have a particular interest in the interaction between funding mechanisms and differential access to higher education along socioeconomic lines.

International speakers include Sara Goldrick-Rab of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who has written extensively on the issue of higher education funding in the US; Claire Crawford of Warwick University and the IFS, who has written several detailed analyses of the UK system; and Bruce Chapman of the Australian National University, whose name is particularly associated with income-contingent student loans, both in terms of his academic research and his role as policy advisor to many governments.

Local speakers include Rory O’Donnell of NESC and Delma Byrne of Maynooth University.

The conference will be open to all. I’ll post further details here in the coming weeks.

Update: Full details are now available here.

Controlling the Health budget: Annual budget implementation in the public health area


August 28th, 2015

IFAC have a new analytical note on this topic: here.

Insider or Outsider? Bloomberg article on Honohan succession


August 28th, 2015

There is a brief article in Bloomberg Business today about the search for a new Irish Central Bank governor.

“Ireland is about to deliver evidence on whether, nearly two years after regaining its economic sovereignty, much has really changed. ……   Noonan’s dilemma now is whether to move back to the pre-crisis mode of finding a governor from inside the civil service, or repeat the Honohan recipe and appoint another outsider.”

The Paddy Power betting odds are discussed. As a financial economist, I am forbidden by the Efficient Market Theory from making gambling bets, but perhaps some of the labour/macro economists might want to take a punt.

I had an earlier post on the strategic issues around this appointment. The recent China-related volatility in financial markets is the latest difficult policy problem confronting monetary authorities in Europe and globally. Ireland should appoint someone as governor who can serve both domestically and also contribute to ECB council deliberations.

Since some readers will know some of the people mentioned personally, I blocked the comments feature.


China: Growth and Debt (Geneva Report on Deleveraging)


August 25th, 2015

The China section in the 2014 Geneva Report provides some guidance in relation to the current debate – here.

See also NYT article here.

Don’t blame German banks for the Irish economic crisis


August 18th, 2015

Derek Scally writes here.

Brexit and Ireland


August 9th, 2015

The election of the majority Conservative government in May meant that a referendum to decide whether Britain remains part of the EU became inevitable. A commitment to an “in-out” referendum on EU membership was provided in the May Queen’s Speech and it will likely go ahead in 2016 (or 2017 at the latest). Opinion polls show a split electorate. Risk aversion and other status quo factors should work in favour of the “stay” side. Bookies odds reflect this with at least one popular bookmaker placing the odds of a “leave” result at 3-1. In any case while the likeliest outcome at present is that Britain will remain in the EU, it is still a strong possibility they will leave and worth discussing in terms of implications for Britain and other countries. Germane to the title of this blog the implications for the Irish economy broadly are worth discussing.

In the draft national risk assessment published by the Taoiseach’s office earlier this year, Brexit is mentioned as follows:

“Following the general election in May, the British Government is likely to make proposals both on how the functioning of the EU could be improved and on how specific UK concerns about EU membership could be addressed, with the possibility of a UK referendum on EU membership. A fundamental change to the role of the UK in the EU, or a period of continuing uncertainty regarding the UK’s relationship with the EU, could present significant challenges for the EU as a whole and for Ireland in particular, especially in terms of (i) pursuit of Ireland’s objectives as a Member State as the UK is an important ally within the EU on negotiations on issues of mutual concern such as trade and the deepening of the single market; 24 (ii) bilateral relations with the UK, including the significant economic and trading relationship; and (iii) the impact on Northern Ireland issues and North/South relations.”

A number of questions come to mind in the prospect of Britain leaving the EU. I raise these purely for discussion and they are not ordered by any degree of likelihood or priority. In the event of a “leave” vote a number of alternative configurations might result including various forms of trade deal with the UK and EU members. (See here for one attempt to answer some of the economic questions below; Davy’s also released a piece on economic effects; NTMA piece on economic effects here; Alan Matthews on the implications for Irish agri-food).

a) What are the implications for border arrangements between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland?

b) What are the implications for the status of UK citizens living in the Republic Ireland?

c) What are the implications for Irish citizens living in the United Kingdom?

d) Will the uncertainty surrounding the referendum affect currency volatility?

e) How will the uncertainty surrounding the referendum impact on FDI into Ireland? Does the prospect of a Brexit make Ireland a safer destination for some types of companies relative to the UK? In a “leave” scenario would Ireland be more attractive a destination than the UK for non-EU companies looking for access to the EU market?

f) How would a Brexit influence trade between Ireland and the rest of the EU?

g) What implications would Brexit have for the Scottish political situation and potential knock-on effects to the Irish economy?

h) What implications would it have for support for the EU in Ireland?

i) How would a “leave” result influence the Northern Irish economy?

j) Would a “leave” result limit mobility of Irish people to the UK?

k) What implications would a “leave” result have for wider political movements in Europe?

The small amount of publicly available analysis so far suggests the answer to most of the economic questions is that it would have a negative impact on the Irish economy largely coming through trade disruption. But it seems clear there is a lot of uncertainty in what a leave scenario would look like. As reported widely in the media there are now various groups in Ireland looking at these questions including in various state agencies and the Central Bank. It will be interesting to see this debate unfold.