Monday, January 18, 2021

Populist elite resentment and contempt in age of instability

An occupational therapist (right) became a US Capitol insurrectionist, Jan 6, 2021

In April 1932, Franklin D Roosevelt, governor of New York and presidential election candidate, in a radio address said: “These unhappy times call for the building of plans that rest upon the forgotten, that build from the bottom up and not from the top down, that put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”

Friday, January 08, 2021

Optimism vs. Pessimism: "You've never had it so good"

The first chart here is from JP Morgan, the American bank, and the second is from Bank of America. The spacing of increments on the x-axis varies because of missing data. Asia accounted for about three-fourths of global output (measured in gross domestic product) from the start of the common era. By 1860 it had been overtaken by the industrial revolution in Europe and America. The western economies peaked at about 1950 when they accounted for four-fifths of global output.

Our African ancestors had to be pessimists to survive and in modern times people tend to be more optimistic about their own lives than that of their society or country. However, pessimism is widespread in particular in Europe and the United States despite the stunning advances in the material standard of living and well-being in rich countries, and in recent decades many regions of the world.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Key indicators and Ireland's non-Covid economic challenges into 2021

Ruchir Sharma, the chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley Investment Management and the author of “The Ten Rules of Successful Nations,” wrote in The New York Times this December, "After World War II, only two major emerging economies managed to grow faster than 5% for five decades in a row and to rise from poverty into the ranks of developed economies. One was Taiwan, the other South Korea. They kept advancing up the industrial ladder by investing more heavily in research and development than did any of their rivals among emerging economies. Now they are among the research leaders of the developed economic world as well."

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Ireland is most profitable foreign country for US multinationals

Ireland with a population of 5m was the most profitable foreign country for US multinationals in 2018 as measured by net income of majority-owned affiliates (MOFAs), followed by the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis' (BEA) final net income data for 2018 issued this year, show top rankings for countries that engage in tax haven activities and pure tax-havens. The top 7 — which are called The Big Seven Corporate Tax Havens— are Ireland $217bn; The Netherlands $211bn; Luxembourg $147bn; Singapore $96bn; Bermuda $85bn; Switzerland $83bn and The Cayman Islands about $65bn ( it's in a BEA category 'United Kingdom Islands, Caribbean' comprising the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands).

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Ireland's Éamon de Valera and the taboo of illegitimacy

De Valera with his mother in USA 1919/20

Éamon de Valera (1882-1975) was Ireland's leading politician of the 20th century and he was in office as head of government and president for 35 years in the period 1932-1973. The politician who was instrumental in triggering a shameful civil war in 1922 had a miserable childhood and according to some experts exhibited Asperger Syndrome traits, where genius is coupled with poor social skills.

De Valera had many people helping him over the decades to find documentation to prove that his mother had been married when he was born in New York City in October 1882. None were found.

It was ironic that in the year of his retirement in 1973 de Valera's political party Fianna Fáil which he had founded in 1926, was replaced by a Fine Gael-Labour coalition and Richie Ryan, the minister of finance, gave the first official recognition to "illegitimate" children and their mothers by introducing an Unmarried Mothers' Allowance.

In 1972/1973 Mary McGee, a brave women from Cork, challenged the ban on the importation of contraceptives at the High Court and she won in the Supreme Court in 1973. It would take about 20 years of political tomfoolery to finally get to a sane system for access to contraception.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

44% of US workers in low-paid jobs with median hourly pay of $10

Pre-Covid, 44% of private-sector US workers (122m excluding government, agriculture and self-employed) were in low-paid jobs with a median hourly pay of just over $10. Meanwhile, this September a measure of the quality of life showed that the United States, Brazil and Hungary were the only countries in the Social Progress Index where people are worse off than when the index began in 2011.

“The data paint an alarming picture of the state of our nation, and we hope it will be a call to action,” Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor and the chair of the advisory panel for the Social Progress Index, told The New York Times. “It’s like we’re a developing country.”

The United States has a ranking of 28 of 163 countries and it follows Cyprus and Greece. The top 4 countries based on 50 dimensions have female leaders and Ireland has the 12th ranking.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Irish Conflict: An American tourist's view of the "so-called" Civil War

Ireland's Via Dolorosa in the Freeman's Journal: It depicts a woman [Hibernia, a representation of Ireland], prostrate with grief following the death of Michael Collins, the leader of the Provisional Government, in August 1922. She is hugging a broken column (a traditional symbol for a life cut short) with the name "Michael Collins" on it; in the background, other broken columns are featured with the names of Arthur Griffith, Robert Emmett, [Thomas] Davis, [Charles Stewart] Parnell, Daniel O'Connell and Owen Roe O'Neill on them. Courtesy National Library of Ireland.

The December 13, 1922 issue of The New York Times has a story titled "The Irish Conflict: An American Tourist's View of the So-called Civil War." It was exactly one week since the formal start of Saorstát Éireann / The Irish Free State.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Covid-19 Deaths in Rich Countries: Belgium, US and UK lead in per capita rankings

An analysis published on October 22 shows that among 12 rich country members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Belgium by far has the highest Covid-19 death rate, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom. The US has a higher mortality rate than many of its peer countries, the coronavirus being the third-leading cause of death in 2020, behind only heart disease and cancer. Among other OECD countries, only Belgium has a Covid ranking as the third-highest cause of death. Covid ranks fourth in France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, but much lower in Germany and Austria, where it ranks 17th and 18th respectively.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Cognitive dissonance and the flawed American democracy

Why does Donald Trump's electoral base continue the cult-like devotion to a corrupt, cruel, narcissistic and racist individual who failed in responding to the pandemic and even recommended bleach as a remedy; is a pathological liar; a failed businessman who had a history of not paying agreed prices to contractors; who views personal taxes as for the little people, and massive tax fraud as a reflection of his high intelligence; who calls citizens who join the military suckers and losers, while being an apologist for Russian dictator Vladamir Putin?

Sixty years before Trump won the presidency on a minority vote, the cultish phenomenon was explained — Trump's racism has won the support of the Religious Right but his advocacy of legalised discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual workers, was rejected by the Supreme Court last June. However, the followers not only bond around racism and homophobia, but a significant number also reject democratic norms.

Trump pardons criminal friends; like a tinpot dictator he calls for the jailing of his political opponents, and as the image on top shows, his devotees ape the Romans in the Colosseum in ancient times baying for blood with their yelling "lock her up," about Hillary Clinton.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Retooling Ireland's economic engine - look to Denmark & Netherlands

Ireland's indigenous exporting sector is small while about 67% of Danish goods exports are from domestic firms, as are 80% of services exports, led by Maersk which has been the biggest global container ship operator since 1996.

The National Economic Plan to be published in November 2020 will follow the Budget 2021 announcement on October 13, 2020, and is unlikely to signal a retooling of Ireland's current economic engine — typically the long term is for aspirations and while the year 2020 was the endpoint for many past reports with rosy prognostications, it inevitably became their graveyard.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Irish economy grew by a mere 1.5% in 2019


The Irish economy grew a mere 1.5% in 2019 according to data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) based on Modified GNI* (Gross National Income) at constant prices, rising by €3bn to €202bn in the year.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Donald J Trump: Racist president of White America

Satire from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

Donald J Trump's first appearance in The New York Times was on the front page on October 16, 1973. The 27-year-old and his father Fred C. Trump were accused of being racists by the United States government. The younger Trump categorically denied the charge. It was a typical Trump lie and as president, he has racked up more than 20,000 false statements or claims according to The Washington Post.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Irish Politics — Tittle-tattle and soap opera

June 27, 2020: Micheál Martin, following his election as taoiseach (prime minister), meets President Michael D Higgins (r) at Áras an Uachtaráin, Dublin.

Kathy Sheridan, the Irish Times columnist, puts the so-called Golfgate firestorm in perspective stating facts that counter those who falsely blame the current Irish government or tar all the parliamentary representatives of the two biggest coalition parties for breaking national Covid-19 rules by attending a dinner following a golfing event in County Galway on August 19, 2020.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Economic consequences of the Pandemic Depression

Compare the performance of selected global stock indexes, bond ETFs, currencies and commodities from The Wall Street Journal for 2020, updated on Aug 12, 2020 at 5:50 pm ET. A chart of the losers is at the bottom of the page.

Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, American economists, in their 2009 book, 'This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly,' said that the good news from their historical study of eight centuries of international financial crises was that they all ended. They noted that each time, the experts have chimed, “this time is different” — claiming that the old rules of valuation no longer apply and that the new situation bears little similarity to past disasters.

This time is different while early confidence of V-shaped recoveries is waning.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Top global 2500 R&D firms- 4 Irish include 2 banks

The 2019 edition of the EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard rankings of the top 2,500 business research and development spenders in the world range from the top-ranked Alphabet — the parent company of Google — at €18.3bn to both Japanese and Chinese companies at ranks 2,499 and 2,500 with spending of €30.7m each. Ireland has 4 entries including 2 banks and another 22 mainly American firms that are technically "Irish" as they have headquarters in Ireland for tax avoidance purposes — this process is called a tax inversion. The total on the chart above should be 26 for Ireland (22 redomiciled companies and 4 Irish firms) as Dublin-based Pentair changed its headquarters to London when in 2017 it spun-out a new firm in Dublin, named nVent.

Amazon would have been in the first place had its annual report given a figure for R&D alone. Recode, the tech news service has reported that FactSet — a data service — estimated in 2018 that Amazon’s “technology and content” were its R&D expenditure, which in 2017 was at $22.6bn, 41% more than in 2016; $28.8bn in 2018, up 27.6% on 2017, and $37.3bn in 2019, up 24.6% on 2018.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Entrepreneurship falls as reliance on high growth firms rises

European startups survival rate

Jan Hoekman, a Data Scientist, estimated the survival rates of European startup firms: After the first year 58% of startups are left, second 41%, 5th 22%, 10th 12.5%.
In Britain, fewer than 4% of startups have 10 or more employees after their first decade.

Reliable data from the United States show a secular decline in employer business startups in the last 40 years. However, the ratio of the small number of mainly young, High Growth Firms (HGF), including high tech, that account for significant job creation, began to fall after 2000 in both the US and other advanced countries.

Friday, July 17, 2020

The economic rise of the Western World

BC/AD (Before Christ/Anno Domini or 'Year of Our Lord') was adopted 500 years after the beginning of the millennium. The use of BCE/CE (Before the Common or Current Era/Common or Current Era) was first used in German in the 17th century and in English in the 18th. The latter designations have become more common in recent decades, not because of political correctness but in a global context, religious neutrality is appropriate.

The economic rise of the Western World dates from the 11th century CE. It was a slow, but persistent, process of advancement in science, education, printing and shipping technology. It also had its negatives including slavery and genocide of indigenous populations. However, it's striking that despite colonial plunder some of the European countries with a Mediterranean coastline, in particular Spain, had poor economic outcomes for much of the last millennium.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Ireland still struggling with Leprechaun economics

In 2016 when Ireland reported that gross domestic product (GDP) had grown by 26% in 2015 Paul Krugman, the New York Times economics columnist, called the claim Leprechaun economics.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Slavery and myth of American exceptionalism

In 1501-1867 an estimated 12.5m Africans were forced to travel to the Americas

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart:
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!

William Shakespeare (1564-1616), 'Merchant of Venice'

The term American exceptionalism dates from an article in the Communist Party USA's 'Daily Worker' newspaper in January 1929. The newspaper reported that Communist International was acutely aware of "American exceptionalism" and this affected "the whole tactical line of the CI as applied to America." In May 1929, Jay Lovestone (1897-1990) [born Jacob Liebstein in modern-day Belarus], the US communist chief, visited Moscow to explain to Stalin why the American proletariat was not yet ready for revolution. The "man of steel" had no time for Marxist exceptionalism and Lovestone was ousted from his position.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Irish material standard of living per capita below EU-27 average in 2019

Ireland Actual consumption per capita

A proxy for per capita Irish material standard of living based on household consumption of public and private goods and services, released by Eurostat on Thursday, shows that in 2019 Ireland again trailed Italy and was 3% below the EU-27 average.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

China, US and EU top global economies and share similar size

Global GDP

China, the US and the EU are the top global economies and despite the exit of the UK from the European Union, the bloc is similar in economic size to the other two giants.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Covid-19: Irish Times cites J P Morgan research rejected by senior executive

Covid_19 benefit of lockdowns

On June 2,
Reuters reported for a second week that Covid-19 infections had risen in the United States, "Several southern US states reported sharp increases in Covid-19 infections, with Alabama, South Carolina and Virginia all seeing new cases rise 35% or more in the week ended May 31 compared with the prior week, according to a Reuters analysis."

Nationally, US infections had fallen for a fifth straight week.

Monday, June 01, 2020

Albert Camus' La Peste / The Plague and enduring pandemics

Albert Camus (1913-1960), the French Algerian philosopher, writer, journalist and playwright, had his book La Peste / The Plague published in 1947 (French version). It is set in Oran, a Mediterranean port city in northwest Algeria.

Oran as a port city has a history of plague outbreaks with the last incidence of bubonic plague (see below) in 2003.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Dutch food innovation lessons for Ireland


On December 6, 2019, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (left) opened Unilever’s new global Foods Innovation Centre on the campus of Wageningen University, the leading global agri-food research hub. Unilever invested €85m in the new centre, named ‘Hive’ for its location amidst leading academic research centres, startups and external partners. From Hive, Unilever said it would lead its global foods innovation programs for brands like Knorr, Hellmann’s, The Vegetarian Butcher and Calvė. Areas of research include: plant-based ingredients and meat alternatives, efficient crops, sustainable food packaging and nutritious foods. The consumer goods giant said the energy-neutral Foods Innovation Centre, was rated “Outstanding” by the Dutch BREEAM assessment body for environmental performance, putting it among the most sustainable multifunctional buildings in the world.

Rising global population coupled with climate change, present enormous challenges. According to a 2019 United Nations report, since the pre-industrial period (1850-1900), the land surface air temperature has risen nearly twice as much as the global average temperature.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Germany benefits from Euro but would also have thrived with D-Mark

Germany benefits from the euro in common with other member countries and it would pay a hefty price if the Euro System collapsed.

In 2012 the German finance ministry carried out a breakup analysis according to the Der Spiegel magazine and found that the breakup costs and the re-introduction of the D-Mark would lead to an up to 10% fall in GDP in the first year. Unemployment would rise again to its record high of over 5m in 2005.