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.

Monday, May 04, 2020

Argentina's grim record of economic failures and debt defaults

In February 2020, Pope Francis, a native of Argentina, gave strong support to debt renegotiation at a Vatican seminar on debt owed by poor countries. Pope Francis greets Kristalina Georgieva, IMF managing director, as Martín Guzmán, the Argentinian economy minister, looks on. Ms Georgieva will likely be more forgiving by extending the payment time periods on IMF debt, than the Gnomes of Zürich and elsewhere!

"Argentina has suffered a long history of booms, busts and failed economic reform. The nation has defaulted on its debt eight times, suffered hyperinflation twice, and gone through multiple balance of payments crises as well as 20 IMF-supported economic programmes in 60 years."

Friday, May 01, 2020

Pandemics: Forgotten vaccine hero saved millions of lives

Dr Anthony Fauci (born 1940), the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, enters the Press Briefing Room of the White House on April 13, 2020, as a member of White House Coronavirus Task Force. In April 2005, Dr Fauci paid tribute to Dr Maurice Hilleman (1919-2005) after the latter's death.
"Maurice literally changed the world with his extraordinary contributions in numerous disciplines: virology, epidemiology, immunology, cancer research, and, especially, vaccine research and development.
Maurice was perhaps the single most influential public health figure of the 20th century, if one considers the millions of lives saved and the countless people who were spared suffering because of his work. Over the course of his career, Maurice and his colleagues developed more than 40 vaccines. Of the 14 vaccines currently recommended in the United States, Maurice developed eight."

On the morning of April 17, 1957, microbiologist Maurice Hilleman was in his office at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, in Maryland, north of Washington DC, when he saw amidst other foreign news a short report from Hong Kong on Page 3 of his copy of The New York Times.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Grim Irish economic challenges from Covid-19 pandemic

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA shared this nighttime image of Dublin on March 17, 2017, writing, "Happy #StPatricksDay - Spectacular #Dublin, Ireland captured by @thom_astro from @Space_Station. Enjoy the #StPatricksFest Parade down there!" Image Credit: ESA/NASA

Paschal Donohoe, finance minister, yesterday revealed the scale of the economic devastation in Ireland wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Half of ventilators in world's acute hospitals made in Ireland?

Racks of ventilators at Hamilton AG's factory in Switzerland

World medical ventilator demand during the Covid-19 emergency is about 10 times what's available and there's a scramble by countries to get supplies but sophisticated machines require 650 to 700 components and manufacturers around the world, including in China, are struggling to get supplies from about 100 companies, mainly in Asia.

Friday, April 10, 2020

An Organised Hypocrisy: Dutch relent in Covid-19 Eurozone funding

Christine Lagarde, ECB president, signs a Euro note.

Eurogroup finance ministers agreed on Thursday April 9th to present an emergency rescue package in response to the coronavirus crisis, to the heads of government of the 19-country Eurozone for approval. However long-term funding for economic recovery has not been agreed.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Italy's coronavirus battle amidst 50-years long economic crisis

Italy has a history of high debt but it had an economic miracle in the period 1950-1970 with an average annual growth rate level with West Germany's. It ended with a national labour strike and in 1971 the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) noted that "The index of production showed no increase whatsoever in the course of 1970." The succeeding 50 years have been characterised by double-digit inflation and interest rates, persistent budget deficits and low growth both before and after the launch of the Euro.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Asia Covid-19: Lessons learned from past epidemics and high income helps

Kuala Lumpur: Coronavirus data for March 30th show that Japan (including the Diamond Princess cruise ship) with a population of 127m is just behind Ireland (population 5m) with 2,578 infections and 64 deaths; South Korea with a population of 52m has 9,661 and 158 deaths; Taiwan with a population of 23m has 298 and 3 deaths; Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China) with a population of 7.4m has 642 and 4 deaths; Singapore with a population of 5.7m has 844 and 3 deaths.

The health per capita spending as shown in the chart above (Taiwan's spending is $2,700) highlights how low the level is in several Asian countries.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Socialism for the rich: America's $532bn bailout of big companies

The top executives of most of America's biggest corporations are adept at dodging taxes, overpaying themselves, and buying back shares that they are invested in themselves rather than building rainy day funds. The Federal government and Federal Reserve are the backstops in the mythical land of free markets while the genesis of commercial pharmaceutical and tech innovations are often in public laboratories or institutions.

Fortune magazine noted last August that more than half of all share buybacks were funded by debt.

According to a January 2020 article in the Harvard Business Review, "in 2018, only 43% of companies in the S&P 500 Index recorded any R&D expenses, with just 38 companies accounting for 75% of the R&D spending of all 500 companies....The 465 companies in the S&P 500 Index in January 2019 that were publicly listed in 2009-2018 spent $4.3tn on buybacks, equal to 52% of net income, and another $3.3tn on dividends — an additional 39% of net income. In 2018 alone, even with after-tax profits at record levels because of the Republican tax cuts, buybacks by S&P 500 companies reached an astounding 68% of net income, with dividends absorbing another 41%."

Monday, March 16, 2020

Coronavirus - COVID-19: China "Sick Man" of Asia? US of Developed World?  

Get latest data Coronavirus Tracking Data from Johns Hopkins University

Data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus database on March 16, 2020, show a fatality rate of 3.86%. However, this is not a reliable metric as the denominator is influenced by a recent spike in numbers while the numbers of people with the virus, not confirmed or showing no symptoms, are unknown.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Irish land racket and Dublin housing crisis

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and the Land Development Agency lodged planning application for 597 new homes at Shanganagh, Co Dublin, in Jan 2020.

The price of land is a key driver of housing prices and there has been a debate in Ireland and Great Britain for more than a century on the injustice of landowners near urban centres making huge gains at the cost of other country residents, without lifting a finger. Dermot Desmond, the prominent Irish businessman, raised this issue in an interesting opinion article in the Irish Times this month.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Zombie unicorns and struggling tech startups in Ireland and Singapore

This year's FT 1000 ranking of European companies that achieved the highest compound annual growth rate in revenue between 2015 and 2018, released in March, has 259 entrants comprising 189 technology firms together with fintech and e-commerce.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Nordic countries lead social mobility- Ireland and Korea among rich laggards

Kim family characters in 'Parasite' searching for Wi-FI signals from dingy flat in Seoul

'Parasite' the Best Picture winner at the 92nd Academy Awards this month, has shone a bright light on the grim social divisions and poor social mobility in South Korea.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Irish employer entrepreneurship remains on respirator

OECD: Business economy excluding holding companies

In 2017 Ireland had the second-lowest rate of employer firm births among the mainly rich country members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Friday, February 14, 2020

Irish economic growth data remain unreliable

Trump likely doesn't know about the growing US drugs trade deficit with Ireland!

Following the report in 2016 that Ireland's GDP (gross domestic product) had jumped 26% in 2015, a Modified Gross National Income (GNI*) was produced that eliminated distortions caused by 1) redomiciled companies: mainly American firms that became Irish for tax purposes 2) depreciation of foreign-owned intellectual property (IP) and 3) depreciation of aviation leasing assets.

Monday, February 10, 2020

A radical Irish government would have to hike taxes

OECD data — ignore Luxembourg in this chart as over 40% of its labour force live beyond its borders — click image for bigger scale

The prospect of the first leftist government in Ireland since 1922 is exciting for supporters of Sinn Féin after its surge in support in the Irish general election that was held at the weekend. However, to be radical in the key areas of both housing and health, it would have to raise taxes more than it has provided for in its election manifesto.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Irish Housing Facts: Portugal has highest dwellings per 1,000 inhabitants

There are almost as many people renting in Ireland (24.9% with 14.3% subsidised) as those who have home mortgages (26%) — while 45.5% of owner-occupiers have no loans on their properties according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). 3.6% are unknown.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Ireland is already a socialist state!

With the exception of Spain and Sweden, which have ruling socialist parties with minority governments, Europe hasn't been a very welcoming place for left of centre parties in the past decade.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Confederacy of dunces: Worst Irish governments since 1922

Michael McDowell, a founder of the Progressive Democrats (PD) in 1985, affixes a poster to a pole in Ranelagh, South Dublin, during the 2002 general election campaign. The message on the poster was that the PDs were needed to ensure good governance. However, the PDs had already made a Faustian bargain with Fianna Fáil and they had gone along with the delusion that tax cuts would create a permanent prosperity while ignoring the risks of the property bubble. They also had to turn a blind eye to Bertie Ahern's dodgy personal finances and the bizarre explanations for funds in his personal bank accounts. In the 2007 general election, the PDs lost 7 of its 8 Dáil Éireann seats including McDowell's.

With just two years to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Irish Free State which became the Republic of Ireland in 1949, by next week Ireland will have held 31 general elections beginning on June 16, 1922 — 12 days after the first general election, the shameful Civil War would begin.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

State of Irish high tech and biotech 2020

The state is not easy to discern because of the dearth of data, delusion and distortion.

For the third time in 14 years, an Irish government has published another plan to turn Ireland into a "world-class" knowledge economy, despite falsely claiming that the economy is among the most innovative in the world.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The shameful stain of an Irish Civil War

Dublin Castle, the seat of Norman/English and later British rule from 1204-1922 was handed over to the Irish on January 16, 1922 by Lord FitzAlan-Howard, the last Viceroy of Ireland. Michael Collins, the 31-year old chairman of the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State, is pictured 'bouncing’ out through the Chief Secretary’s door after the handover. Collins is preceded by Kevin O'Higgins, who had been appointed Minister for Economic Affairs in the previous week. The new government issued a statement which said, ‘"The Members of the Provisional Government received the surrender of Dublin Castle at 1.45 pm today. It is now in the hands of the Irish nation." A unit of the Royal Corps of Engineers remained at the castle until August 1922. (Image courtesy of the National Library of Ireland)

The controversy this month about a proposed official commemoration for members of the British era Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) police forces who lost their lives in the Irish War of Independence of 1919-1921, is a foretaste of the upcoming centenary commemorations of the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922 and the shameful Civil War that it triggered.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Entrepreneurship in rich countries declining; Innovation also sliding

In January 2004 Mark Burnett, a British-born producer of reality TV programmes in the United States and Britain, launched a new series that tapped into America's celebration of an era that many saw as an Age of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Burnett teamed up with a New York serial bankrupt who was notorious for defrauding suppliers and who was on the blacklists of Wall Street banks.