Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Getting paid for creative work: US Video; F*ck You. Pay Me

Speaker at the March 2011 San Francisco, CreativeMornings ( was Mike Monteiro, Design Director, and co-founder of Mule Design Studio (

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ireland's unfair society of insiders and outsiders

Ireland is no longer a society mainly marked by the division between rich and poor but it is an unjust society of insiders and outsiders.

The insiders can be multimillionaire lawyers and public staff with premium pay, pensions and job security, while the outsiders, without the support of powerful vested interests, are on their own.

In Ireland today, the vested interests are part of the machine politics system; from traditional trade unions on the Left to their counterparts on the Right representing wealthy medical consultants and lawyers, they make common conservative cause in opposing reform and change.

The main culprits of the cataclysmic dénouement have got gilt-edged meal-tickets for life and David Begg, the general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, who was a director of the Central Bank from 1995 to 2010, like the bankers, rejects any personal responsibility for the banking crash.

As for the employers' body IBEC, we said last February that it may seem strange that given the ostensibly pious aspirations for reform of both the "the country and the economy," that IBEC director general, Danny McCoy, would avoid the issues of reform of the protected private sector which imposes more cost burdens on business than for example commercial rates.

What is striking is that some people are outraged by perceived unfairness when it's seen from afar but not so when it's close by.

In the Financial Times today, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, executive board member of the European Central Bank argues that Ireland should share the pain of the banking crash.

This has prompted a thread on the Irish Economy blog, which I have responded to.

I would agree that Bini Smaghi's general tone is akin to a red rag to a bull but I return to an old refrain on we seeing what suits us.

The Irish Examiner in an editorial today hits out at the Allied Irish Banks' signal that it would be “reasonably generous” on severance packages. The newspaper says figures based on up to eight weeks pay per year’s service, plus statutory redundancy, were bandied about yesterday:

“One of the most provocative things about our economic collapse is the inequity of it all. Some people seem unaffected yet others struggle to survive.

Figures like those suggested at AIB are unheard of in most of the economy. They are even more bizarre when you consider that the bank depends on taxpayer bailouts for funding. Payments on this level would add to the sense of injustice simmering right across this society as they are the exception rather that the rule. A similar argument can be made about semi-state staff expecting windfalls if those companies are privatised.

AIB staff from the boardroom to the cash counter may not like to hear it but sooner or later the Government is going to have to take a stand on creating a more equitable society and this is as good an issue as any. It is not about punishing bank employees but about redressing some of the terrible wrongs in this country.”

In contrast with the United States, the largely invisible unemployed in conservative Ireland  and the issue of the development of a credible jobs strategy, evoke tepid reaction compared with the heat generated on burning bondholders.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Facts, Ireland and the Euro

Aengus Fanning, the editor, has an article in today’s Sunday Independent: ‘We need leaders who will ignore the eurobabble and just say no’
In my (no doubt ignorant) opinion, we should be threatening to kick the table over and leave the eurozone while remaining in the EU, joining Britain in an Atlantic alliance that will still have the clout to maintain access to the single market.

There’s no hope of that happening — we’re too inherently Anglophobic for that. It is 38 years since I listened to government officials in Brussels telling me that our future lay with the deutschmark, and that our curse was the link with sterling.

It is surely strange that, after all these years, the perfidious Brits are still our biggest trading partners.”

Interesting argument expect for the strange fact: exports to the Eurozone in 2010 at 38% of total exports (goods + services) are double the level to the UK.

In the Irish Independent in Sept 2010, celebrity economist David McWilliams, used false export data to also argue against the euro.

He wrote:
"The most damning statistic of our entire euro venture is that from 1990-2000 when we had our own currency and we devalued in 1993 to get competitive, Irish exports grew by 360%. Between 2000 and 2009 with our overvalued new euro currency, Irish exports grew by 0.3%. That says it all really and yes, that figure is 0.3%, not 30%!"

Absolutely wrong!!

We at Finfacts take facts seriously and it's very important when commenting on economic trends and policy.

There is the simple support for an argument by citing relevant facts. There is alternatively the selective use of facts to support a position and there was a classic example of both in the Irish Independent.

In 2000, tradeable goods and services exports were €102bn; in 2009 they were valued at €144bn - yes, an increase of 41%! McWilliams said 0.3%!

There was a 10% devaluation in 1993. So that is a fact but it is not credible to claim that an export boom depended on a small scale currency revaluation while ignoring a key fact that with 1% of Europe's population, we were attracting 25% of US greenfield investment. Besides, a paper published by the Central Bank in 2005 shows that the trend of exports from Irish-owned firms in the period 1990-2002, hardly changed. Have a look at a chart here which shows the true facts.

Intel, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and a raft of world-class pharmaceutical companies triggered the export boom not the Minister for Finance Bertie Ahern who was left with no choice but to agree to a market-forced devaluation in 1993.

We need leaders who will ignore the eurobabble and just say no

Ireland and leaving the Euro: 10 questions for pub-stool economists