Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Ireland's social, economic and business deficits in 2020

NASA astronaut Terry Virts captured this Earth observation of Ireland, United Kingdom and Scandinavia on a moonlit night under an amazing and ever-changing aurora, on Feb. 6, 2015. Terry is a flight engineer on the International Space Station with Expedition 42. Image Credit: NASA

Ireland is a high-cost economy but unlike Denmark, which is a global innovation leader with a high ratio of exporters, a high-level of entrepreneurship and high employer startup activity, indicators suggest Ireland is below average in several areas among the 25 rich countries in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) area.

Following 2015, the year of Leprechaun Economics, when Ireland's GDP (gross domestic product) jumped 26%, a Modified Gross National Income was produced by stripping out 3 big multinational tax distortions from the National Accounts. However, there remain distortions from massive tax avoidance, and in particular in international indicators.

Government ministers and the media typically use distorted data when the fantasy is better than the reality — journalists should know better!  

People should understand the difference between entrepôt activity of multinationals firms (particularly in services), which has a limited economic impact, and for example the important sector like food production with significant economic linkages.

Government data show that in 2017, Irish-owned exporters had direct expenditure (wages, materials and services) of €25bn in the economy compared with FDI firm spending of €21bn.

Ireland in 2020 

There were over 64,478 new Irish housing completions in the 7-year period 2012-2018 but the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has estimated that the population would grow by about 64,000 people annually in both 2018 and 2019.

Last September there were 2.327m people employed in the Irish economy — up by 94,000 since the end of 2007. However, the overall population has grown by over 430,000 since then, according to the CSO.

Policymakers struggle with health and housing challenges at a time when public debt is at a ratio of over 100% of realistic economic output value.

However, neither of the two big political parties have the appetite or imagination to enact radical land and medical sector reforms.

The widespread delusion that tax avoidance polluted data are real, has engendered false hope. Ireland will have no veto on international corporate tax reform and the notion that persistent underperformance by the indigenous exporting sector doesn't matter, is foolish — inward foreign direct investment (FDI) is a feature of modern economies but as multinational firms do most of their research and development (R&D) in their home countries (in US over 80%), being an entrepĂ´t for high capitalised manufacturing firms but no significant R&D while in services relying on mainly administration and call centre functions, is not a viable long-term strategy.

Prof Patrick Honohan, the then governor of the Central Bank, said in a lecture in 2014, "the reliance on foreign-owned firms has lasted a long time. Irish-owned companies have grown and prospered over the past half-century, and the most pessimistic of prognostications have not materialised. Nevertheless, this systemic dependence on foreign capital and know-how has skewed Irish development. In the interests of robust diversification, most Irish economists observers would hope for a greater convergence towards normality in this aspect of Irish economic development, with a stronger emergence of innovative Irish companies alongside those steered from abroad."

In 2018 there were 210,000 full-time permanent staff in foreign-owned exporting firms and 187,000 in indigenous exporting firms — indigenous tradeable exports in 2018 were valued at €25bn and total exports were valued at €393bn. I have estimated that about €200bn of the total value was fake! SEE here.

Ireland has had a positive environment for business for many decades as successive governments sought to make the country an attractive location for foreign direct investment (FDI), besides the offer of low tax rates. During the general election campaign in early 2011, Enda Kenny, later taoiseach/ prime minister, stressed the aspiration that by 2016 the country would be "the best small country in the world in which to do business."

Kenny added, “I firmly believe that by 2016, Ireland can become the best small country in the world in which to do business, the best country in which to raise a family and the best country in which to grow old with dignity and respect.”

There was also an aspiration "to transform Ireland into the Digital Capital of Europe." — after the property crash Kenny's predecessor Brian Cowen had an aspiration to develop a European Silicon Valley in Ireland. Nikata Khrushchev, the Soviet leader, had also similar half-baked notions after a 1959 visit to an IBM facility in San Jose, California.

We head into 2020 and Ireland is not "the best small country in the world in which to do business."

US FDI into Ireland and Irish investment in America — facts and myths

Minimum corporate tax rate to imperil Ireland's FDI model

Ireland’s Faustian Bargain with hyper- globalization

The fiction in Irish Times Top 1000 2019 leading companies

Few Irish firms in FT 1000 & Inc. 5000 Europe lists of fastest-growing companies

Irish Government as alchemists in innovation game

Irish workers most productive in world or same as Italians?

Irish Gross National Income (GNI) per capita in 2018 was at €51,000 compared with the Modified *GNI of  €40,000 (adjustments for aviation leasing, depreciation of multinational phantom intellectual capital [IP] and in respect of foreign firms typically American, that become Irish for tax purposes).

The UN used the higher value (by 27%) in their 2019 Human Development Index for Ireland.

I use red below to flag distortions.

Social Rankings 

Human Development Index 2019

Ireland is ranked 3th of 189 countries.

Norway is in the lead followed by Switzerland (2); Ireland (3), Germany and  Hong Kong (4), Australia and Iceland (6); Sweden (8); Singapore (9) and the Netherlands (10).

The main HDI index is based on just 3 “basic aspects of human development — leading a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and enjoying a decent standard of living.”

The typical birth life expectancy in rich countries is in the range of 81-83 years. The United States is an outlier at 79.

Of the 3 indicators, the one with significant differences among advanced countries is the Gross National Income per capita and Ireland's is not reliable.

A ceiling of GNI per capita of $75,000 is applied. 

The key factor in Ireland's 3rd ranking was the price-adjusted (Purchasing Power Parities) Gross National Income (GNI) per capita based on 2011 international dollars of $55,660. The US GNI per capita was $56,000. 

Ireland's Gross National Income per capita in 2018 was 41% above the UK, 19% above Germany; 13% Denmark and 11% the Netherlands.  

The headline GNI is distorted by multinational tax avoidance measures (see above).

A realistic GNI per capita would be similar or below the UK level.

Hong Kong's top-ranking also doesn't make sense. The average GNI per capita is distorted by the wealthy while the former British colony has one of the highest housing unaffordability levels in the world.

Crazy economics have fuelled Hong Kong's protests — a median income indicator would present a different reality.

The UN states that between 1980 and 2017 post-tax incomes grew close to 40% for the poorest 80% of the European population, compared with more than 180% for the top 0.001%.

Between 1980 and 2017 the share of post-tax national income received by the top 10% rose from 21% to 25% in Northern Europe, while the share received by the bottom 40% fell from 24% to 22%.

The average pretax income of the top 10% in the United States was about 11 times higher than that of the bottom 40% in 1980 and 27 times higher in 2017, while in Europe the ratio rose from 10 to 12. 

Between 1981 and 2017 the average top corporate tax rate in the European Union fell from about 50% to 25%, while the average value-added tax (VAT) rate rose from about 18% to more than 21%.

In the United Nations report, David Coady of the International Monetary Fund comments: "While the redistributive impact of direct income taxes and transfers in European countries is large, so is the variation in the extent of fiscal redistribution across countries. Euromod data for 28 EU countries in 2016 show that the social welfare impact of redistributive fiscal policy (the extent of fiscal redistribution) is highest (above 35%) in Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, Estonia and Finland and lowest (below 13%) in Greece, Hungary, Slovakia and Cyprus."

The United Nations report also notes that, "In August 2016 the European Commission determined that the effective corporate tax rate Apple paid was 0.005% in fiscal year 2014, thanks to a special tax regime in Ireland, where profits from sales across Europe could be recorded. In 2015 an estimated 40% of the profits of multinational firms globally were attributed to no- or low-tax jurisdictions. In some low-tax jurisdictions, too, government revenues have increased as tax rates have fallen." 

World Happiness Report 2019

The World Happiness Report is a survey of the state of global happiness and it ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants.

Finland, Denmark and Norway lead.

Finfacts: No Utopia but are Nordic countries happiness superpowers?

Ireland is at rank 16 behind Luxembourg and the United Kingdom and ahead of Germany, Belgium and the United States. Italy is at 47 and Japan at 54.

The rankings of World Happiness Report 2019 use data that come from the Gallup World Poll (for more information see the Gallup World Poll methodology). The rankings are based on answers to the main life evaluation question asked in the poll. 

Social Justice Index 2019

The German Bertelsmann Stiftung think-tank produces the Social Justice Index (SJI) which includes 41 countries.

The index focus is on Poverty Prevention (triple weight), Equitable Education (double weight), Labour Market (double weight), Social Inclusion and Non-Discrimination (normal weight), Intergenerational Justice (normal weight) and Health (normal weight).

Ireland has the 13th rank thanks to a top rank for fiscal redistribution and the positive labour market.

This year’s Social Justice Index is headed by Iceland, Norway (2), Denmark (3), Finland (4) and Sweden (5), five countries from northern Europe. The report says that the "success registered among Nordic countries is broad-based, as Iceland, Finland, Norway and Denmark are among the top 10 in the dimensions of poverty prevention, equitable education, social inclusion and non-discrimination, and intergenerational justice."

The report says on Ireland that “the incidence of homelessness is on the rise in the country’s principal cities and towns. The virtual cessation of residential construction after the 2008 crash combined with a recovery in house prices and rents since 2013 have made affordable housing increasingly difficult to obtain, especially in the Dublin area. Irish policymakers are increasingly failing to secure outcomes that are intergenerationally just. The country’s score on this dimension of 5.04 (rank: 29) shows only a minor improvement over the peak of the global financial crisis."

It adds:

“While government policy is supportive of research and innovation by indigenous firms, the most striking success of Irish industrial policy has been in attracting foreign-owned firms in high-tech sectors to Ireland.  This lack of direct investment undermines the innovation dexterity necessary to maintain high employment in a modern economy. Finally, a truly broad-based intergenerationally just strategy requires the sustainable management of natural resources and preservation of a country’s vital ecological habitats. However, Ireland shows major weaknesses in this respect as well. A low 9.1% of energy consumed by end users (e.g., households and industry) comes from renewable sources (rank: 33). While this share has tripled since SJI 2009, it nonetheless falls among the bottom ten countries in our sample. Although per capita greenhouse gas emissions have similarly improved compared to the SJI 2011 — falling to 12.64 metric tons — since SJI 2016 greenhouse gas emissions have not been further reduced and Ireland remains among the ten largest emitters (33rd place). The country experts note that the 'agricultural sector (dairy farming in particular) produces almost half of the country’s carbon emissions.'”

Social Progress Index 2019

The Social Progress Index rather "than emphasizing traditional measurements of success like income and investment,  we measure 51 social and environmental indicators to create a clearer picture of what life is really like for everyday people.

The index doesn’t measure people’s happiness or life satisfaction, focusing instead on actual life outcomes in areas from shelter and nutrition to rights and education. This exclusive focus on measurable outcomes makes the index a useful policy tool that tracks changes in society over time."

Ireland has a first-tier 14th ranking behind Australia and the United Kingdom ahead of France and Luxembourg.

However, the poor Irish occupational pension coverage of about 1 in 3 of private-sector workers, is not covered in the methodology.   

OECD's Better Life Index

OECD, the think-tank for the governments of 36 mainly rich countries, says the Better Life Index allows people to compare well-being across countries, based on 11 topics that have been identified as essential, in the areas of material living conditions and quality of life."

In addition, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development includes 4 other countries, resulting in 40 countries in the Index.

The OECD doesn't provide a league table and Ireland's average ranking is at about 18.

The Index shows that in terms of voting Nordic countries do much better than Ireland in civic participation.

Euro Health Consumer Index 2018 published in 2019

In 2018 Switzerland overtook the Netherlands which is the only country which has consistently been among the top three in the total ranking of any European Index the Health Consumer Powerhouse since 2005.

Norway (3) is followed by Denmark (4), Belgium (5), Finland (6), Luxembourg (7), Sweden (8), Austria (9) and Iceland (10).

According to the Index which tracks 46 indicators, "Switzerland has for a long time had a reputation for having an excellent, although expensive, healthcare system, and it therefore comes as no surprise that rewarding clinical excellence results in a prominent position in the EHCI."

The 2018 report says, "It is inherently cheaper to run a healthcare system without waiting lists than having waiting lists! Contrary to popular belief, not least among healthcare politicians, waiting lists do not save money – they cost money! Healthcare is basically a process industry. As any professional manager from such an industry would know, smooth procedures with a minimum of pause or interruption is key to keeping costs low!...If countries with limited means can achieve virtual absence of waiting lists – what excuse can there be for countries such as Ireland, the UK, Sweden or Norway to keep having waiting list problems?"  

Ireland has a 22nd position in the ranking of 35 country systems. It was behind Italy and Slovenia and ahead of Montenegro and Croatia.

National higher education rankings 2019

Universitas 21, a network of research-intensive universities, was founded in 1997 at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

In the the annual rankings of national systems of higher education, from all continents, institutions in 50 countries are evaluated across 24 indicators. "The measures are standardised for population size. Countries are ranked overall and on each of four modules: Resources, policy Environment, Connectivity and Output. Within each measure, the highest achieving country is given a score of 100 and scores for other countries are expressed as a percentage of this highest score."

An overall ranking is derived using a weight of 40% for Output and 20 per cent for each of the other three modules.

The top 10 countries, in rank order, are the United States (1), Switzerland (2), the United Kingdom (3), Sweden (4), Denmark (5), Canada (6), Singapore (7), Australia (8), Finland (9) and the Netherlands (10).

Ireland got a 19th ranking, behind France and Israel and ahead of Japan and Taiwan.

City rankings quality of life

These rankings tend to favour mid-size cities rather than big metropolitan areas.

In the Mercer rankings of 231 cities, it said that "European cities continue to have the highest quality of living in the world, with Vienna (1), Zürich (2) and Munich (3) not only ranking first, second and third in Europe, but also globally. As many as 13 of the world’s top 20 spots were taken by European cities."

Vancouver and Auckland were also (3) followed by Düsseldorf (6), Frankfurt (7), Copenhagen (8), Geneva (9) and Basel (10).

The major European capitals of Berlin (13), Paris (39) and London (41) remained static in the 2019 rankings, while Madrid (46) rose three places and Rome (56) climbed one. Minsk (188), Tirana (175) and St. Petersburg (174) remained the lowest ranking cities in Europe this year, while Sarajevo (156) rose three places due to a fall in reported crime.

The safest city in Europe was Luxembourg (1), followed by Basel, Bern, Helsinki and Zürich in joint second. Moscow (200) and St. Petersburg (197) were Europe’s least safe cities this year. The biggest fallers in Western Europe between 2005 and 2019 were Brussels (47), due to recent terrorist attacks, and Athens (102), reflecting its slow recovery from economic and political upheaval following the global financial crisis.

Dublin ranked in 33rd place.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked 140 cities in its liveable city index.

Vienna again was No. 1  just ahead of Melbourne (2), Sydney (3), Osaka (4), Calgary (5), Vancouver (6), Toronto and Tokyo (7), Copenhagen (9) and Adelaide (10).

Dublin had a 37th ranking.  

The EIU also ranked the 60 safest cities in the world and Tokyo was no. 1. Dublin wasn't included.

The research used 57 indicators covering digital security, health security, infrastructure security and personal security.

Economic and Business Rankings

World Bank’s ‘Doing Business 2020’

Doing Business’ is the most comprehensive annual report on business regulation reforms and ease of doing business in 190 countries.

The World Bank says that "more than half of the economies in the top-20 cohort are from the OECD high-income group; however, the top-20 list also includes four economies from East Asia and the Pacific, two from Europe and Central Asia, as well as one from the Middle East and North Africa and one from Sub-Saharan Africa. Conversely, most economies (12) in the bottom 20 are from the Sub-Saharan Africa region."

The bank looks at 12 areas of business activity in 190 economies (see chart below).

An entrepreneur in a low-income economy typically spends about 50.0% of income per capita to launch a company, compared to just 4.2% for an entrepreneur in a high-income economy.

The World Bank notes that, "Since 2003/04, the 20 best-performing economies have carried out a total of 464 regulatory changes, suggesting that even the gold standard setters have room to improve their business climates. More than half of the economies in the top-20 cohort are from the OECD high-income group; however, the top-20 list also includes four economies from East Asia and the Pacific, two from Europe and Central Asia, as well as one from the Middle East and North Africa and one from Sub-Saharan Africa. Conversely, most economies (12) in the bottom 20 are from the Sub-Saharan Africa region."

The Bank acknowledges that it does not directly track bribery and corruption, but it notes that, "inefficient regulation tends to go hand in hand with rent-seeking. There are ample opportunities for corruption in economies where excessive red tape and extensive interactions between private sector actors and regulatory agencies are necessary to get things done."  

Ireland is at 24 (down from 23 the previous year, a 17th rank in 2018 and an 8th rank in 2008), behind the United Arab Emirates and North Macedonia, and ahead of Kazakistan, Iceland and Austria.

World Economic Forum Competitiveness Index 2019

The World Economic Forum says in the Global Competitiveness Report 2019 that persistent weaknesses in the drivers of productivity growth, highlighted by the current report, are among the principal culprits of the lacklustre performance and frailty of the global economy over the past decade. While advanced economies perform consistently better than the rest of the world, but overall, they still fall 30 points short of the frontier. Singapore, the best performer overall, still falls 15 points short of the ideal

Besides Singapore, among the other Asian countries in the top 10, are Hong Kong at (3) and Japan at (4). 

The WEF says that the United States at (2 overall) is the leader in Europe and North America. Despite dropping one position it remains an innovation powerhouse, ranking 1st for business dynamism and 2nd for innovation capability. The Netherlands (4), Switzerland (5), Germany (7), Sweden (8), the United Kingdom (9) and Denmark (10) all feature in the top 10. The region’s most improved country is Croatia (63).

The WEF says the rankings of 141 countries are the product of an aggregation of 103 individual indicators, derived from a combination of data from international organizations as well as from the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey. Indicators are organized into 12 ‘pillars’: Institutions; Infrastructure; ICT adoption; Macroeconomic stability; Health; Skills; Product market; Labour market; Financial system; Market size; Business dynamism; and Innovation capability.

Ireland is at 24, down from 23 last year, behind Belgium and Spain and ahead of the United Arab Emirates and Iceland. 

IMD Swiss Business School 2019

The top five most competitive economies according to the IMD World Competitiveness Rankings 2019 of 63 countries are Singapore followed by Hong Kong (2), USA (3), Switzerland (4) and the United Arab Emirates (5).

Ireland is at (7) overall ranking with (6) for Economic performance; (11) for Government efficiency; (3) for Business efficiency and (23) for infrastructure.

Caution is required here as noted above, including Business efficiency.

IMD uses 333 criteria — List of all criteria

The US leads the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2019 followed by Singapore (2), Sweden (3), Denmark (4), and Switzerland (5).

Ireland is at (19) with Germany and New Zealand ahead and Iceland behind.

Best Countries Rankings 2019

The Best Countries rankings evaluate 80 countries across 24 rankings drawn from a survey of more than 21,000 global citizens. It is produced by US News and World Report magazine in partnership with Y&R's brand strategy firm, BAV Group, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Switzerland (1), Japan (2), Canada (3), Germany (4), United Kingdom (5), Sweden (6), Australia (7), United States (8), Norway (9) and France (10) are in the top 10.

Ireland is at (21) with Luxembourg and Spain ahead and South Korea and the United Arab Emirates behind.

There are 65 attributes based on surveys and are weighted based on 2017 GDP per capita at purchasing power parity (PPP).

The Entrepreneurship subranking has Japan (1), Germany (2), USA (3),  Switzerland  (4), United Kingdom (5), Canada (6), Sweden (7), South Korea (8), Australia (9), Singapore (10).

Ireland is at (21) with Luxembourg and United Emirates ahead and Italy and Russia behind.

Forbes’ Best Countries for Business 2019

This ranking in December 2018 is a compendium of other reports (Freedom House, Heritage Foundation, Property Rights Alliance, United Nations, Transparency International, World Bank Group, Aon, Marsh & McLennan and World Economic Forum) and it has focused on factors such as property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape, investor protection and stock market performance. The last one was dropped in the December 2017 rankings.

Despite the Brexit chaos, the United Kingdom was ranked (1) for 2019, as it was in 2018, followed by Sweden (2); Hong Kong, China (3); Netherlands (4); New Zealand (5); Canada (6); Denmark (7); Singapore (8); Australia (9) and Switzerland (10). Full list

Ireland slipped from 8th ranking last year to the 11th position — the 2020 report will be issued in late December 2019.

Global Innovation Index 2019

The Global Innovation Index is the result of a collaboration between Cornell University of the United States, INSEAD, the French business school, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as co-publishers.

Global Rankings

  1. Switzerland 
  2. Sweden
  3. USA 
  4. The Netherlands
  5. The United Kingdom
  6. Finland
  7. Denmark
  8. Singapore
  9. Germany 
  10. Israel
Ireland got a 12th ranking of 129 countries. However, this position results from multinational firm tax avoidance.
 
The report says that in the top 20, a notable move is South Korea, which edges closer to the top 10. Most notably, China continues its upward rise, moving to (14 up from the 17 in 2018), and firmly establishes itself as one of the innovation leaders. In the top 25, Hong Kong (China) (13), Canada (17), Iceland (20), and Belgium (23) all move up, gaining between one and three spots each. Ireland (12), Japan (15), Luxembourg (18), Australia (22), and New Zealand (25) move down, while France (16), Norway (19), Austria (21), and Estonia (24) remain stable.

The 2019 report says:

"Ireland remains 1st in the world in ICT services exports and FDI net outflows, and 2nd in  Computer software spending. In Creative outputs, Ireland improves in Intangible assets (8th, up by 4), but decreases in Creative goods and services (59th, down by 11), and Online creativity (24th, down by 2). Some of the areas responsible for the decreases are National feature films (21st) and Creative goods exports (40th). In contrast, progress is observed in Industrial designs by origin (59th, up by 9)."

1) Most of the IP (intellectual property) payments do not reflect research activities in Ireland. Some are transferred tax-free to shell companies while since 2015, several US companies led by Apple have redesignated Ireland as a source for IP, which shifted it from tax havens such as Bermuda;

2) About 50% of Irish annual services exports are fake — think of Google and Facebook booking one-third of their global revenues and Microsoft booking a quarter.

3) Ireland having a net foreign direct investment (FDI) to the rest of the world is a significant anomaly — giant US companies like Medtronic, Allergan and Accenture became “Irish” by transferring their headquarters to Ireland to reduce their tax payments — Accenture told us two years ago that it was never American as it was a spin-out by Arthur Andersen, to become a Bermudan company in 2001, before the US accountancy firm crashed. The consultancy firm moved its headquarters to Ireland in 2009 as Bermuda invoked tax-dodging! The large FDI outflows from Ireland are a fiction.

4) As for “global R&D companies” in November 2015, Catherine Mann, the then chief economist of the OECD, said in Dublin that Ireland will have to sell itself as more than just a low-tax destination in the new era of global tax transparency. She also highlighted the poor links between the FDI sector and the rest of the economy, with Ireland having one of the lowest EU spends on R&D (research and development), despite housing some of the most innovative firms in the world.

"Global capital has come into Ireland...but somehow it hasn't translated into Irish-owned firms," said Dr. Mann. "The patents are here, but they're not being linked into the domestic economy, not being levered up by domestic firms or married to domestic workers."

5) Patent applications remain low although the patent reforms and cuts in fees in Europe have spurred some activity.

In 2018 the top filer at 39 applications with the World Intellectual Property Organisation for global Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patents, was Eaton Intelligent Power Limited, an American company that is Irish (redomiciled) for tax purposes. 

Economist Intelligence Unit’s Inclusive Internet Index: Measuring Success 2019

"The Inclusive Internet Index, commissioned by Facebook and conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit, returns for its third year. Expanded to cover 100 countries, up from 86 in 2018, the index provides a rigorous benchmark of national-level Internet inclusion across four categories: Availability, Affordability, Relevance and Readiness. This year’s index, which covers 94% of the world’s population, is published alongside the Value of the Internet Survey, which polled 5,069 respondents from 99 countries, to gauge perceptions on how Internet use affects people’s lives and livelihoods. This executive summary presents the index and survey highlights." 

Countries are evaluated based on over 50 indicators organized around four major categories:

  • Availability, which captures the quality of breadth of the infrastructure available for internet access, including network availability, access points for landline and mobile connections, and the basic electricity infrastructure needed to support internet connectivity in urban and rural areas.
  • Affordability, which measures the cost of Internet access relative to income, the competitive environment for wireless and broadband operators and the measures taken to decrease costs and promote access.
  • Relevance, which looks at the availability of Internet content in the local language(s) and the value of being connected to get access to relevant services like news, entertainment, health advice and business and financial information.
  • Readiness, which examines the capacity to take advantage of accessing the Internet, including the level of literacy, educational attainment, cultural acceptance, privacy and security, and trust in the sources of online information.

Each country is assigned a score for each of the four categories, as well as an overall index score.

Sweden (1), Singapore (2), the US (3), Denmark (4) and the United Kingdom had the  highest overall index scores. Canada (6), Finland (6), Spain (8), South Korea (9) and France (10) complete the top 10.

Ireland is at 21st behind Russia and Italy, and ahead of Austria and Taiwan.

Full rankings list 

European Innovation Scorecard 2019

The European Commission said in June 2019, that the "EU’s performance has surpassed the United States for the first time and has a considerable lead over Brazil, India, Russia, and South Africa. However, China is catching up at 3 times the EU's innovation performance growth rate and Canada, Australia, Japan, maintain a performance lead over the EU. 

Within the EU, innovation performance increased in 25 countries since 2011. Sweden is the 2019 EU innovation leader, followed by Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands. Lithuania, Greece, Latvia, Malta, the United Kingdom, Estonia, and the Netherlands are the fastest growing innovators."

The Commission said Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland (mainly foreign firms), Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom are Strong Innovators with performance above or close to the EU average.

The 2019 index was published in June 2019.

The Ireland profile cites "Ireland scores high on various economic indicators. GDP per capita, the
value-added share of foreign-controlled enterprises, FDI net inflows, and top R&D spending enterprises per 10m population are well above the EU average. However, the turnover share of large enterprises and enterprise births are below the EU average."

Again, the data are polluted by tax avoidance strategies.

Business (foreign and indigenous) has one of the lowest levels of funding of university research in the EU.

According to Irish official data, the majority of foreign-controlled exporters do not have any R&D spending while the lack of separate innovation data on the small indigenous exporting sector that would reveal the actual reality, is a disservice to it.

Global Financial Centres Index

The twenty-sixth edition of the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI 26) was published in September 2019. It has evaluations of future competitiveness and rankings for 104 major financial centres across the world. 

New York is on top extending its lead over London (2) to 17 points. They are followed by Hong Kong (3), Singapore (4), Shanghai (5), Tokyo (6), Beijing (7), Dubai (8), Shenzhen (9) and Sydney (10).

Zürich leads Mainland Europe at (14) followed by Frankfurt (15), Paris (17), Luxembourg (25), Geneva (26), Edinburgh (29), Amsterdam (37) and Dublin (38).  

The new FinTech index, published for the first time alongside the GFCI, is dominated by Chinese centres taking five of the top seven places in the index, led by Beijing and Shanghai. New York, London, Singapore, San Francisco, and Chicago also feature in the top ten for FinTech.

Dublin had a rank of 15 in March 2007, 13 in September 2008, and 23 in September 2009.

In 2013 in the aftermath of the property crash, Dublin's International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) fell to a 56th rank in a sample of 80 cities.

The methodology is on Page 43 of the report.