Thursday, February 21, 2019

Top Swiss bank says tax evasion not crime in Switzerland after huge French fine

Who Owns the Wealth in Tax Havens? Macro Evidence and Implications for Global Inequality Annette Alstadsæter (Norwegian University of Life Sciences) Niels Johannesen (CEBI, University of Copenhagen) Gabriel Zucman (UC Berkeley and NBER) December 27, 2017

After a French court had heard that UBS, the biggest Swiss bank, had engaged in “James Bond”-like tactics to illegally solicit French clients and help launder more than €10bn, a judge on Wednesday imposed a €3.7bn fine and ordered the bank to pay €800m in damages following a guilty verdict of aiding tax evasion. Five of six ex-bankers were convicted and given suspended jail sentences together with combined fines of €950,000.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Tale of Two Cities: Dublin ranked worst for traffic jams, best for expats

Dublin, the Irish capital, has this week been ranked among the worst cities in the world (ex-Asia) for traffic jams while being one of the most “liveable” European cities for expatriates.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Irish workers most productive in world or same as Italians?

This week the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) issued data which showed that Ireland had the highest GDP (gross domestic product) per hour worked in 2017 of 38 mainly rich country economies.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Brexit: David Cameron's flawed referendum of 2016

Updated: The 1975 British referendum on membership of the then European Economic Community (EEC) was a concession by Harold Wilson, the Labour prime minister, to the Left of his party and the trade unions. Despite a 67/33% loss in the referendum, the Labour Left had withdrawal from the EEC in the Labour general election manifesto of 1983.

In 2013 David Cameron, Conservative prime minister, promised another referendum on membership of the European Union that had grown from 9 members in 1975 to 28 members by then (Croatia joined on July 1, 2013). Cameron wanted to placate the Right of his party and to stem the growing support for the anti-EU/immigration UK Independence Party (Ukip).

David Cameron said in his 2013 speech promising a referendum:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Poor wage growth in rich world despite jobs recovery

Despite jobs recovering to pre-Great Recession levels or higher, wage growth has been near-stagnation levels in several countries with workers down the economic pyramid taking much of the pain.

Real wages in the period 1999-2017 have almost tripled in the emerging and developing countries of the G20 (Group of Twenty comprising 19 countries + the European Union), while in advanced G20 countries they have increased by a much lower total of 9%. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Ireland's global social, economic, business rankings 2019

According to the World Bank, only 13 countries out of 101 middle-income countries in 1960 grew to high-income status over the period 1960-2010.

The World Bank currently defines high-income economies are those with a GNI (Gross National Income) per capita of $12,056 or more.

The 13 high-income countries were — Equatorial Guinea; Greece; Hong Kong, China; Ireland; Israel; Japan; Mauritius; Portugal; Puerto Rico; Republic of Korea (South Korea); Singapore; Spain; and Taiwan.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Brexit lessons for Britain from 30 months and 30 years

The UK’s former Permanent Representative to the EU (ambassador), Sir Ivan Rogers, gave a speech on Brexit on 12 December, 2018, at the invitation of the University of Liverpool’s Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place.

In the picture above Sir Ivan (r) leaves an EU Summit with David Cameron, British prime minister, on 28 of June 2016 — 5 days after the Brexit referendum vote.

Rogers resigned in January 2017 and in an email to staff at the British mission in Brussels reported in the media, he expressed frustration with the Brexit process.

He noted that negotiating experience is in “short supply” in the UK government and said civil servants didn’t know the government’s goals. He expressed hope that his colleagues would “continue to challenge ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking and that you will never be afraid to speak the truth to those in power”, according to the reports.

Monday, December 10, 2018

US vs China Tech War raising risk of Thucydides Trap? Part 2

The agreement at the December 1 presidential dinner meeting of the US and China following the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, to freeze further moves on tariffs during a 90-day period when the two countries would seek agreement on trade and other issues, was followed with typical Trumpian exaggeration and confusion. Then mid-week American prosecutorial overreach highlighted the tech war between the two giant economies as the US seeks to contain the emergence of China as a global technology power.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

EU GDP per capita outpaced UK and US in 2000-2018

Andrew Sentance, who was a member of the Bank of England’s (BoE) interest-rate setting committee in 2006-2011, this week posted on Twitter the first chart here, showing that in the period 1972-2017, average GDP per capita of the G7 (Group of Seven industrialised nations) was highest in Japan, followed by the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany, Canada, France and Italy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Brexit, Keynes and facts that don't change

Facts don’t change and there is no evidence that John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) ever wrote or said "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Neither is the quote "If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts," attributed to Albert Einstein (1879-1955), authentic.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The United States has a trade surplus with China - Part 1

Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, meets with Henry Kissinger, former US secretary of state, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Nov. 8, 2018. The 95-year old Kissinger, who first visited China in 1971 to pave the way for the rapprochement between the US and China, is likely the most admired American in the former Middle Kingdom. (Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)

Reality Check: The United States has a trade surplus with China, which maybe surprising as a trade war exists between the two countries — official data distorts the real trading situation, which ignore sales by majority-owned US multinational affiliates in China.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Rupert Murdoch and the poisoning of American politics

Rupert Murdoch, the Australian immigrant, who founded the US cable industry’s conservative firebrand network in 1996, on Tuesday this week was given the award of ‘legend’ in New York by the American Australian Association, which had been founded by his father Sir Keith Murdoch in 1948.

"I believe in the good purpose of life, in the beauty of the universe, and the high destiny of man,” the 87-year old who had big successes in extending the family media empire to both Britain and the United States, said in quoting the words of his father. “I believe in the power and the spirit and triumph of the good in heart, " he added.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Ireland among low-voting nations in Europe

Michael D. Higgins was re-elected on Saturday as President of Ireland to a second 7-year term. In the election, 40% of the voting age population voted while the turnout of registered voters was 44%. President Higgins’ vote was 22.5% of the voting age population (VAP) based on the CSO’s (Central Statistics Office) estimate in 2018 of the 18+ population.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Similar economic structures fuel Ireland’s high Brexit risk

Despite the gulf in the sizes of the economies of the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, they have similar economic structures — in particular, a high reliance on foreign direct investment (FDI) — which raises the Brexit risk for the Irish economy.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Trump's rallies evoke spectacle of public lynchings in America

This week The New York Times in a major investigation revealed that the Trump family led by Fred Trump (1905-1999) was a criminal enterprise which had engaged in “instances of outright fraud” in evading taxes on the transfer of assets to his children. Also this week, Donald Trump with a history of sexual abuse of women and the most overtly racist president since Woodrow Wilson, was in Mississippi, in the Deep South, for a rally where the white family crowd, some with children, cheered the vile mockery of Prof Christine Blasey Ford, who has alleged that a drunken Bret Kavanaugh, the new Supreme Court Justice, had tried to rape her when they were both teenagers. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Dublin to run out of rezoned residential land in 4 years — Part 3

Dublin will run out of rezoned residential land in 4 years according to an official of the Dublin City Council.

The city of Paris is divided into twenty arrondissements municipaux — administrative districts. The area is 105 km2 (kilometres) and with a population of 2.2m, it has a density of about 21,000 people per km2 — one of the highest in Europe. The area of the city of Dublin is 115 km² and the 2018 population is about 565,000The density is 4,910 inhabitants per km².

France's capital city is the core of the Paris Region called Île-de-France with an area of 12,011 km2 where about 12m people live. Its population density in 2018 was 1,019 per km2. The area of County Dublin is 921 km² and its population in 2016 was 1,345,402, giving a density of 1,461 per km².

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Trinity College Dublin and its Innovation District dream

Desktop users click image for original size

Trinity College, Dublin (TCD), founded in 1592, has announced an aspiration for a “new Innovation District, with a new university campus at its heart” that would be ”a vital step in enabling Dublin to be ranked as a top 20 global city for innovation.”   

We aim to make Ireland the tech capital of Europe and we have many of the ingredients to succeed,” Leo Varadkar, the taoiseach (prime minister), wrote in a July 2018 promotional brochure on the aspiration. “The evidence is all around us as we see so many high tech companies located here.”

Friday, September 14, 2018

Shortage of STEM graduates a myth in Europe and US

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and because of the importance of innovation for growth in a modern economy the term that was coined by the US National Science Foundation, has become a buzzword in many countries.

The high tech sector has been crying wolf for many years about the shortage of STEM graduates but there is no shortage and the motivation is to have a big pool that would enable it to select the cream.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Epic failure of global war on drugs under lead of US

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in its ‘World Drug Report 2018’ published in June 2018, reports that 275m people worldwide — roughly 5.6% of the global population aged 15–64 years — used drugs at least once during 2016. Cannabis which comes in 3 forms (marijuana from dried flowers and leaves; hashish made from the resin [a secreted gum] of the cannabis plant and hash oil, the most potent) accounted for illicit use by 70% of the drug-taking population.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Irish jobs top 2007 bubble peak as rural villages in peril

Last week data on jobs in the Irish economy showed that total employment in June 2018 had exceeded the peak property bubble total of 2.252m in September 2007, by almost 3,000 people. Meanwhile, an announcement by An Post, the state postal service, that it proposed closing 159 rural post offices in 25 of the 26 counties, raised fears that many villages would face a slow death. The service said its remaining 960 post offices would benefit from "investment and consolidation."

Last November the Government approved €30m of State funding to protect the future of the postal network. 

Also last week, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reported that the number of immigrants to the State in the year to April 2018 was estimated to have risen by 6.7% from 84,600 to 90,300 while the number of emigrants fell over the same period, from 64,800 to 56,300 (-13.1%) resulting in net Irish inward migration in 2018 of 34,000 — the highest level of net inward migration since 2008.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

No Utopia but are Nordic countries happiness superpowers?

Top 10, World Happiness Report, Better Life Index and Social Progress Index 

Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), the English lawyer, scholar, writer, member of parliament and chancellor in the reign of Henry VIII, who died by public execution, was the first person to write of a 'utopia', a word used to describe a perfect imaginary world. According to the British Library, More's book, 'Utopia' imagines a complex, self-contained community set on an island, in which people share a common culture and way of life. He coined the word 'utopia' from the Greek ou-topos meaning 'no place' or 'nowhere.'

Nordic countries in particular, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, are often cited for their quality of life, material standard of living, strong economies, work-life balance, high entrepreneurship, education, low inequality, transparency and high participation in politics coupled with low levels of corruption.

Friday, August 24, 2018

German import demand supports 5m jobs in European Union

Chancellor Angela Merkel met Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez in Andalusia, Spain, August 11, 2018
Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

This week the Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, published an estimate for Germany's current account surplus in 2018 while Ifo economists separately reported on research which shows that countries with high current account surpluses like Germany are not responsible for unemployment in other countries. Earlier this year, work by Prognos AG, a Swiss consultancy, estimated that German demand — dominated by intermediate inputs for industrial sector — sustain almost 5m jobs in the European Union (EU).

Germany had 159 country trade surpluses in 2017; EU world’s top exporter

The German current account* is expected to fall to 7.8% of annual economic output this year following a 7.9% rate in 2017. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Pessimism & Ignorance: The world of common people has never been better

The widespread ignorance about the great social and economic advances in the world coupled with misinformation on domestic trends, can trigger discontent when optimism is warranted — the question of whether the glass is seen as half-full or half-empty in deciding whether you're an optimist or pessimist, may depend on genes and William Shakespeare (1564–1616), the great English dramatist, has Hamlet, prince of Denmark, saying "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

However, ignorance is not bliss whatever the view of the proverbial glass maybe.

Even in a decade in the European Union road deaths in 2016 at about 26,000 were down 40%; in the US, according to FBI data, the violent crime rate fell 48% between 1993 and 2016. Using Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) data, the rate fell 74% during that time span. In Dublin City, home ownership rose from 26% of households in 1946 compared with 61% outside the large cities, to 60% in 2016, down from over 70% in 2000, according to the Central Statistics Office.

In 1956 as the 6 founding states of what would become the European Economic Community were negotiating the terms of what they called a 'common market' (cited in Article 2 of the Treaty of Rome 1957),' Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, two of Germany's leading philosophers, who were members of the Frankfurt School, began their own debate on producing a contemporary version of the 1848 'Communist Manifesto' which had been written by their compatriots, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Adorno commented, as his wife Gretel recorded, "We do not live in a revolutionary situation, and actually things are worse than ever. The horror is that for the first time we live in a world in which we can no longer imagine a better one." See: 'Towards a New Manifesto?'— 62 years later it's still possible to imagine a better world.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Global city housing crisis and costly planning restrictions

BBC report August 15, 2018: How housing has divided the young 

I have discussed the impact of planning restrictions on property prices in the past (here for example) but while some, of course, are necessary, there is seldom an estimate of the cost — in 2015 Jason Furman, President Obama's chief economic adviser, cited a cost of 50% or more on a typical house in US urban areas; London School of Economics (LSE) research has estimated “that restrictive planning policies inflate the price of office space in the West End (of London) by about 800%. A square foot there is twice as expensive as in midtown Manhattan.” This year research published by the Reserve Bank of Australia estimated that that zoning restrictions raise detached house prices by 73% of marginal costs in Sydney.