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."

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is the world’s biggest semiconductor company in terms of market capitalisation, overtaking Samsung Electronics, according to reports. Two-thirds of foundry production comes out of Taiwan, most of it from TSMC — in effect they make chips for other companies.

Chairil Abdini of the University of Indonesia writes that in 1967, Malaysia led the four East Asian economies in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita at US$317; Taiwan’s was $281; South Korea’s $161 and Indonesia was at $54.

In 2019 South Korea had a GDP per capita at current prices of $31,800; Taiwan $25,900; Malaysia $11,200 and Indonesia $4,130 (values differ when price adjusted — see Purchasing Power Parities [PPP]).

Both Korea and Taiwan focussed on developing indigenous technologies compared with Malaysian over-reliance on multinationals with the missing link being the lack of development of their own technology.

In recent years the research and development expenditure rate in Korea has been 4.8% of GDP; Taiwan 3.4%; Malaysia 1.4% and 0.23% in Indonesia.

Ireland's rate is 1.3% of GDP and 1.9% based on Modified GNI* (a Gross National Income metric that strips out some of the main multinational tax avoidance-related distortions).

Average annual real growth in 1960-2018 was 7.6% in South Korea and 6.6% in Taiwan according to the Asian Development Bank. However, rates have declined in the past decade.

Average annual compound constant (inflation-adjusted) growth in the 60 years to 2019 was 5.98% in South Korea and in 59 years was 5.70% in Taiwan.

In the period 1970-2019, Ireland had an average real annual compound growth of 3.30% in 1970-1994, and 3.34% in 1995-2019 based on Modified GNI*.

In the boom postwar period of 1950-1973, according to the late British economic historian Angus Maddison, Greece was the star performer growing at an average compound GDP per capita of 6.2% per annum; West Germany and Italy grew 5.0%; Spain 5.8%; Ireland and Switzerland were at 3.1%; UK achieved 2.5% and USA 2.4%.

In 1961 Ireland's population of 2.8m was at the lowest of the century and that boosted its data — Irish emigration averaged about 40,000 per annum in the 1950s.

In 1995-2019 Italy's official growth was at a mere 8% over a quarter-century!

Ireland's 54% economic output rise in 1995-2019 was similar to that of Finland and Sweden.

Ireland's GDP per capita rise was 532% in 1970-2019 (including tax avoidance distortions) and the adjusted data above likely still exaggerates economic performance.

For example in 1974 foreign firms accounted for 34% of employment in Irish manufacturing and 45% in 1995 according to Forfás Employment Survey data.

SEE: Irish economy grew by a mere 1.5% in 2019


The International Comparison Programme (ICP) is one of the biggest global statistical initiatives which aims at providing comparable price and volume measures of gross domestic product (GDP) and its aggregates across countries and regions. The main output of the ICP are purchasing power parities (PPP).

It is led by the World Bank, under the auspices of the United Nations Statistical Commission and in 2020 it published important metrics of the world economy in 2017 and later in the year there were some updates to 2019.

The ICP's measures of price levels, GDP and AIC (actual individual consumption per capita) across 176 countries, showed that China’s total real (inflation-adjusted) income is slightly bigger than the United States. In purchasing-power-parity (PPP) terms (stripping out price differences for comparable goods and services), China’s 2017 GDP was $19.61tn, while the US’s stood at $19.51tn.

Ireland's distorted GDP per capita at $78,200 in 2017 was the second-highest behind Luxembourg at $112,700 among the mainly 36 rich country members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Switzerland was at $67,100; Norway 62,900 and the United States at $60,000!!

Besides tax haven activities the city duchy of Luxembourg with 614,000 inhabitants has a workforce with 45% living in neighbouring countries. As for Ireland, the top-ranking GDP per capita data are as magical as a leprechaun's gold.

SEE: Ireland is most profitable foreign country for US multinationals

The AIC is a measure of the average per capita consumption of public and private goods and services in an economy, adjusted for price differences between countries — it is effectively a proxy for individual material standard of living.

The United States had the highest level of AIC per capita, at $44,620, and Niger had the lowest, at $661. The mean (average) AIC per capita for the world was $10,858 in 2017.

Ireland was at 60% of the US level at a value of $26,700 with the 19th ranking among 36 OECD countries.

In Asia New Zealand with a comparable population to Ireland which is an OECD member, together with non-members Taiwan and Singapore were ahead of Ireland.

An interesting cross-check is that in 2019 Ireland also had a 19th ranking from the OECD for net-adjusted disposable income per capita in the OECD's Better Life Index — see below.

The ICP chart shows big differences between GDP per capita and AIC per capita in 12 economies.

Besides tax haven activities, Brunei Darussalam and Qatar had AIC values that accounted for just 27% and 31% of their nominal GDP, respectively. "They are, therefore 'income ­rich' economies, where the national wealth is not reflected in the average consumption levels of their populations" — they have big migrant populations on low incomes while the US has high-income equality.

According to the PEW Research Center, among the top 5% of US households – those with incomes of at least $248,729 in 2018 – their share of all US income rose from 16% in 1968 to 23% in 2018.

In 2017 Ireland's average material standard of living was 39% of its GDP per capita of $69,700 according to the World Bank this year. Modified GNI* per capita was $40,600 compared with the AIC of $26,700.

The International Monetary Fund classifies only 39 countries of 195 countries as “advanced,” and most of those were in that category before 1945.

34 + 5: 34- Australia; Austria; Belgium; Canada; Cyprus; Czechia; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Iceland; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Korea; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Portugal; Singapore; Slovak Republic; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; United Kingdom; United States. 5- Hong Kong SAR (China); Macao SAR (China); Puerto Rico (United States); San Marino (Europe: population 34,000); Taiwan (claimed by China). 

The OECD's 36 member countries in 2020. Five OECD countries are not classified as Advanced by the IMF: Colombia; Hungary; Mexico; Poland and Turkey.

OECD countries included in this Table account for a share of world GDP above 1%

SEE: Purchasing Power Parities and the Size of World Economies (2020)

Social and Environmental Rankings

Human Development Index 2020

On December 15 the 30th edition of the United Nations' index of human development was published.

Norway retained its top position and Ireland moved up one rung to the 2nd spot among 186 countries. They were followed by Switzerland and Hong Kong, China.

The HDI is in a transition to PHDI as planetary issues such as climate change will have much bigger impacts in future.

The flaws in the current index are obvious with the top rankings for Ireland and Hong Kong.

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 other 3 indicators, the one with significant differences among advanced countries is unadjusted Gross National Income per capita and Ireland gets No. 1 ranking in the world with unadjusted GNI of $68,371 per capita with PPP using 2017 international dollars.

As noted above Ireland's AIC (actual individual consumption) was less than $27,000 in 2017.

In Hong Kong the civil unrest had been fanned by a huge housing crisis:

SEE:Crazy economics have fuelled Hong Kong's protests

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2020: The next frontier - Human development and the Anthropocene

World Happiness Report 2020

Finland keeps the top rank as the happiest country in the world.

Since the first World Happiness Report in 2012, four different countries have held the top position: Denmark in 2012, 2013 and 2016, Switzerland in 2015, Norway in 2017, and now Finland in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The remaining countries in the top ten are Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand, and Austria, followed by top-10 newcomer Luxembourg.

Ireland is at rank 16 behind Isreal and Costa Rica and ahead of Germany and the United States.

Portugal is at 59 of 153 countries/territories and Japan has a ranking of 62.

Life evaluations come from the Gallup World Poll which provides the basis for the annual happiness rankings.

One criterion is GDP (gross domestic product) per capita which for Ireland is boosted by multinational tax avoidance. In 2019 Irish GDP per capita was €70,000 compared with a modified GNI (gross national income) of €41,000 which strips out some of the distortions.

SEE:The Nordic Exceptionalism: What Explains Why the Nordic Countries Are Constantly Among the Happiest in the World

Social Progress Index 2020

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

The architects say that the index of 163 countries 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 12th ranking behind Germany and ahead of Japan.

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

The US ranks first in the Social Progress Index 2020 for quality of universities, but at a 91 ranking for access to quality basic education. The US leads the world in medical technology, but it dips to 97 in access to quality healthcare.

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

OECD's Better Life Index 2020

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.

"How’s Life? charts whether life is getting better for people in 37 OECD countries and 4 partner countries. This fifth edition presents the latest evidence from an updated set of over 80 indicators, covering current well-being outcomes, inequalities, and resources for future well-being."

  • Housing: housing conditions and spendings (e.g. property prices);
  • Income: household income (after taxes and transfers) and net financial wealth;
  • Jobs: earnings, job security and unemployment;
  • Community: quality of social support network;
  • Education: education and what one gets out of it;
  • Environment: quality of environment (e.g. environmental health)
  • Governance: involvement in democracy;
  • Health;
  • Life Satisfaction: level of happiness;
  • Safety: murder and assault rates;
  • Work–life balance.

OECD Better Life Index Statistics

The data are from 2019 are price adjusted using 2016 dollar prices (see PPP) and the average adjusted net disposable income for the 36 OECD countries was 33,600. Ireland had a 19th income per capita ranking at 26,300. Keep in mind that in 2019 Ireland's consumer price index was 34% above the EU average compared with for example Germany at 7% above.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development doesn't provide an overall league table.

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

Global Social Mobility Index 2020: why economies benefit from fixing inequality

The World Economic Forum has created a new index to measure social mobility, providing a much-needed assessment of the current state of social mobility worldwide.

The WEF says "Social mobility can be understood as the movement in personal circumstances either 'upwards' or 'downwards” of an individual in relation to those of their parents. In absolute terms, it is the ability of a child to experience a better life than their parents. On the other hand, relative social mobility is an assessment of the impact of socio-economic background on an individual’s outcomes in life."

It can be measured against a number of outcomes ranging from health to educational achievement and income.

Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden lead, and Ireland gets the 18th rank.

The United States has the 27th rank among 82 countries.

The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index 2020

Eight of the top 10 ranked countries for doing the most to reduce inequality are in Europe, with Norway topping the 2020 CRI Index – and New Zealand and Canada the only outliers.

This CRI index from Oxfam ranks 158 governments on their policies in three pillars pivotal to levelling the playing field:

1. Public services, which include education, health and social protection;

2. Progressive taxation, including corporate income tax and tax collection;

3. Labour, which includes women’s rights in the workplace and the minimum wage.

Norway, Denmark and Germany lead and Ireland has the 11th ranking behind Sweden and ahead of Slovenia.

The United States is at 26 behind the Czechia (Czech Republic) and Italy and ahead of Portugal and Ukraine.

Before the pandemic hit, only 26 out of 158 countries were spending the recommended amount of 15% of country annual budgets on healthcare.

Social Justice Index 2019

This index hasn't been published in 2020.

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.

The 2019 Social Justice Index was 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 added:

“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 half of the country’s carbon emissions.'”

Euro Health Consumer Index 2018 published in 2019

This index hasn't been published in 2020.

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 2020

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

In 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% for each of the other three modules.

In the overall ranking, the United States is ranked first followed by Switzerland and Denmark. The other countries in the top 10 have scores within a narrow band of 82 to 84. In rank order they are Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Canada, Finland, Australia and the Netherlands.  "Compared with last year’s ranking Singapore rose three places and Denmark two places. The United Kingdom fell three places owing to a fall in the rank for Resources. After allowing for differences in income levels, the top ranked countries are Finland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Canada."

Ireland got the 19th ranking among 50 countries, behind France and Israel and ahead of Japan and Taiwan.

Almost half of EU pupils study vocational programmes

Eurostat has reported that in 13 EU member states, more than half of all upper secondary pupils studied vocational programmes in 2018. Such programmes may have work-based components (e.g. apprenticeships, dual-system education programmes).

Finland registered the highest proportion of pupils at upper secondary level enrolled in vocational education (72%), ahead of Czechia and Slovenia (both 71%), Croatia (69%), the Netherlands, Austria and Slovakia (each 68%).

At the opposite end of the scale, shares of less than a third were recorded in Cyprus (17%), Lithuania (27%), Greece and Malta (both 29%).

Ireland traditionally has treated vocational education/ training as the poor relation and the focus has been typically on male apprenticeships in the construction sector.


Environmental statistics

Based at Yale and Columbia universities the biennial 2020 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is in its 22nd year and provides a data-driven summary of the state of sustainability around the world. Using 32 performance indicators across 11 issue categories, the EPI ranks 180 countries on environmental health and ecosystem vitality."

Denmark, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and France lead.

Ireland has the 16th rank behind Spain and Belgium and ahead of Iceland and Slovenia.

The United States has the 24th rank "with its relatively low ranking reflecting poor performance in protecting water resources and waste management. While the data reveal strong US results with regard to marine protected areas and air quality, the aggregate ranking puts the United States near the back of the pack among industrialized nations, behind the United Kingdom (4th), France (5th), Germany (10th), Japan (12th), Canada (20th), and Italy (22nd)."

The scientists say that "As the 2020 EPI builds on data published in 2019 and collected earlier, the results do not capture impacts from very recent events, including the burning of the Brazilian Amazon, wildfires in Australia, or the COVID-19 pandemic."

According to the Irish Environmental Protection Agency "In 2019, Ireland’s provisional GHG (greenhouse) emissions are estimated to be 59.90m tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq), which is 4.5% lower (or 2.80 Mt CO2 eq) than emissions in 2018 (62.70 Mt CO2 eq). Emissions reductions have been recorded in 6 of the last 10 years of inventory data (2009-2019). In 2019 national total emissions decreased by 4.5%, emissions in the stationary ETS sector have decreased by 8.7% and emissions under the ESD (Effort Sharing Decision) decreased by 3.1%. This is the first time all 3 category totals have decreased in the same year since 2013."

According to the EPA, Luxembourg, Estonia, Iceland and Ireland had the highest per capita GHG emissions in 2018 among EU/EEA countries see chart here.

City rankings quality of life

Mercer, an American asset management firm, says that because of the pandemic's impact on the quality of city living, it did not produce a city ranking in 2020.

These 2019 rankings tend to favour mid-size cities rather than big metropolitan areas.

Living conditions are analysed according to 39 factors, grouped in 10 categories and Vienna was No 1 for the 10th straight time.

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 2019 liveable city index and it also did not publish the index in 2020.

Vienna again was No. 1 in 2019 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.

Feargus O'Sullivan of CityLab in London in March 2020 wrote that "according to a report from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), Vienna’s dominant position on the EIU index may be flawed because the metrics used by the Economist Intelligence Unit to rank urban livability fail to sufficiently account for many environmental factors. It’s not that Vienna’s conditions are poor by international standards. What the report suggests is that city rankings, in general, might be falling short because they take a too-narrow view of what 'livability' means."

“We already knew that the index didn’t really take environmental factors into account, such as air pollution, noise levels, green spaces.” ISGlobal report co-author Sasha Khomenko told CityLab by telephone. “We wanted to do a comparison and see if there was a mismatch between livability and environmental health.”

“The main issue with the Global Livability Index is that it’s not developed for the citizens of the city,” Khomenko said. “It’s mainly built for expats who are moving to cities on the index, so they can be given more wages if they go to worse places to live.”

Sasha Khomenko of ISGlobal also noted "We estimated that 8% of annual premature mortality in Vienna could be attributed to non-compliance with international exposure recommendations for the five studied exposures. Both higher socioeconomic status groups that lived in the city centre and lower socioeconomic groups faced higher adverse exposure levels for the studied exposures. However, overall lower socioeconomic groups faced higher risk for mortality due to the exposures."

A 2019 Traffic Jam Index of 416 cities across the world has Dublin in the 17th rank; Vienna 155 and Frankfurt at 174.

In another index, Dublin has the 7th worst jams.

Economic and Business Rankings

The World Bank's flagship publication on business regulation 'Doing Business 2021' has been put on hold because of cheating by four countries. The Bank commented on Dec 16 2020, "As noted in our statement of August 27, irregularities were reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports...A full review of the data irregularities and required corrections affecting the data for the 4 affected countries...We will be completing the arrangements for the publication of the Doing Business 2021 report in the coming months, incorporating the data corrections noted above."

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 2020

On December 16, 2020 the World Economic Forum issued its 2020 special edition of The Global Competitiveness Report

The WEF said the 2020 special edition is dedicated to elaborating on the priorities for recovery and revival, and considering the building blocks of a transformation towards new economic systems that combine “productivity”, “people” and “planet” targets.

The WEF notes that countries with advanced digital economies and digital skills have been more successful at keeping their economies running while their citizens worked from home. The Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, Estonia, and the United States have performed well on this measure.

Countries with robust economic safety nets, such as Denmark, Finland, Norway, Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland, were well placed to support those who could not work. Similarly, countries with strong financial systems such as Finland, the United States, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore, could more easily provide credit to SMEs to prevent insolvency.

It adds "Countries that could successfully plan and integrate health, fiscal and social policies have been relatively more successful in mitigating the effects of the crisis, including Singapore, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Austria and the United Arab Emirates.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that countries with previous experience of coronavirus epidemics (e.g., SARS) had better protocols and technological systems in place (e.g., Republic of Korea, Singapore) and could contain the epidemic relatively better than others."

The special edition does not provide rankings this year.

In 2019 Ireland was at 24 of 141 countries behind Belgium and Spain and ahead of the United Arab Emirates and Iceland.

SEE: Mapping TradeTech: Trade in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

IMD Swiss Business School 2020

Ireland has the 12th ranking in the IMD Competitiveness 2020 falling from the 7th rank in 2019.

The United States and Singapore have come in first and second, respectively, in the 2020 IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking, an analysis of how economies employ digital technologies, which could help predict their ability to weather the pandemic.

The ranking from the IMD World Competitiveness Center (WCC) positioned Denmark in third place and Sweden in fourth.

“The flexibility and adaptability of both individuals and the private sector may also be a large part of the puzzle for countries trying to rebuild their economies from COVID’s battering,” added Christos Cabolis, chief economist of the IMD World Competitiveness Center.

"This year’s results show few changes in the top ten from last year. However, three clear trends in 2020’s results run through all economies that made the higher echelons. One is an efficient use of digital talent, reflection of having the technological infrastructure in place and using the technology available."

Ireland has a digital 20th ranking.

Digital rankings

Rankings criteria

Global Financial Centres Index

The twenty-eight edition of the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI 28) was published in September 2020. It has evaluations of future competitiveness and rankings for 111 major financial centres across the world.

New York's lead over London (2) fell to 4 points. They are followed by Shanghai (3), Tokyo (4), Hong Kong (5), Singapore (6), Beijing (7), San Francisco (8), Shenzhen (9) and Zurich (10).

Dublin has an overall ranking of 34th and 13th in Western Europe.

Dublin had a global 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.

Dublin has the 42nd ranking in the FinTech ranks.

The methodology is on Page 53 of the report.

Which EU countries had the highest GDP in 2019?

The pandemic has damaged economies in 2020 and the chart here shows the respective shares of the 27 member countries of the European Union at the end of 2019.

Ireland's adjusted economic output (Modified Gross National Income: GNI*) would cut its share from 2.5% to 1.5%.

In 2019, the GDP of the European Union (EU) stood at around €13,900bn (€13.9tn) at current prices. In real terms, the EU’s GDP in 2019 was 17% higher than its level one decade earlier.

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office says that almost a quarter of the EU’s GDP (24.7%) was generated by Germany, followed by France (17.4%) and Italy (12.8%), ahead of Spain (8.9%) and the Netherlands (5.8%).

At the opposite end of the scale, ten EU member states contributed less than 1% of the EU’s total GDP: Malta (which had the lowest share of EU GDP at 0.1%), Estonia, Cyprus and Latvia (all 0.2%), Lithuania and Slovenia (both 0.3%), Bulgaria and Croatia (both 0.4%), Luxembourg (0.5%) and Slovakia (0.7%).

The 19 EU member states that comprise the Euro Area had a combined GDP of €11,900bn (€11.9tn) and accounted for 85.5% of the EU’s GDP in 2019.

Global Innovation Index 2020

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.

Top 10 innovation countries:

1 Switzerland (1);
2 Sweden (2)
3 United States of America (3);
4 United Kingdom (4);
5 Netherlands (5);
6 Denmark (6);
7 Finland (7);
8 Singapore (8);
9 Germany (9)
10 Republic of Korea (10).

Ireland has the 15th rank among 131 countries, behind Israel and China and ahead of Japan and Canada.

There are 7 main pillars Institutions (Rank 17); Human capital and research (22); Infrastructure (Rank 10); Market sophistication (Rank 35); Busines sophistication (Rank 14); Knowledge & Technology outputs (Rank 5); Creative outputs (Rank 21).

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) audits the methodology but the bloated Irish GDP exaggerates or underscores sub-pillars (see Page 268 of the report.)

Knowledge impact and Knowledge diffusion get No. 1 rankings related to for example "ICT services exports, % total trade" — think of Facebook booking 50% of its global revenues in Ireland and in respect of Outward FDI, think of Medtronic, the top US medical devices firm being Irish for tax avoidance purposes.

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

Ecological sustainability gets a No. 2 ranking helped by energy as a % of bloated GDP.

There are other data on university/industry research collaboration; business support for university research, and the state of cluster development, that are not credible.

The 15th global ranking flatters.

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

World Intellectual Property Organisation patent applications in 2019

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the global patent system of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) had 642 Irish applications in 2019 and 27% came from Eaton, an American firm that is Irish for tax purposes.

European Patent Office applications in 2019

Global Tech Hubs 2020 outside Silicon Valley

Singapore, London, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and New York lead the rankings among the Top 20 Tech Hubs outside Silicon Valley/ San Francisco hub.

The 2020 Technology Innovation Hubs report includes perspectives from KPMG’s latest global Technology Industry Innovation Survey, now in its eighth year.

KPMG is one of the Big 4 accountancy firms.

More than 800 global technology industry leaders (54% of CEOs) ranked the cities and countries that are leading innovation centres. The publication also outlines what technology company executives and venture capitalists should consider when selecting and investing in technology centres.

SEE: Entrepreneurship falls as reliance on high growth firms risesin the FT Top 1000 high growth companies in Europe in 2020 small economies had the following numbers: Finland (18); Sweden (16); Portugal (15); Netherlands (13); Estonia (8) and Ireland ZERO.

Nevertheless, the Irish Government through its enterprise agency for indigenous firms, Enterprise Ireland (EI), in a 2019 ranking of the most active global investors via venture capital (VC) deal count reported by PitchBook, was at the second-highest in the world and first in Europe.

Enterprise Ireland, which made about 200 investments in 2019 followed 500 Startups, an early-stage VC and seed accelerator based in California, with 285 deals.

Over €700m of EI funding is under the management of 12 VC firms in Seed and VC funds. In addition, Development Capital Funds have a capacity of €490m.

"Under the various Seed and Venture Capital Schemes to date, we have supported 58 funds, resulting in commitments to funds with a total combined fund size of over €2.4bn" Enterprise Ireland Annual Report 2019.

At the end of 2019, the Enterprise Ireland Direct Equity Portfolio held 2,965 equity investments in 1,465 client companies.

SEE: Ireland and Greece have the lowest rates in the European Union of SME firms that export  — 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).

Capital raised in 12 months to September 2020

Atomico, the European venture capital firm that is headquartered in London has produced its annual report The State of European Tech 2020.

Private funding is forecast to hit a new record of $41bn and 18 companies will have achieved the $1bn unicorn value status so far in 2020.

\sifted/ the startup reporting service says that in comparison to the US, European investment remains low — five times less than North America’s $141bn for this year. "Still, the continent continues to catch up with Asia, which, at $74bn invested in 2020."

France is the only one of Europe’s three largest markets to grow in 2020 while London remains Europe’s hub in terms of capital invested in 2020. The city has attracted $34bn in investment since 2016.

The Irish venture capital data collected by the Irish Venture Capital Association (IVCA) are exaggerated (there may be distortions elsewhere, or not).

The low corporation tax rate has attracted firms that become Irish for tax purposes. Some do invest in Ireland.

In Q4 2019 €253m ($283m) was raised and of the €193m ($216m) where firms posted public data, the biggest funding of €90m ($101m) was done by a Boston firm for Options Technology, an American firm, with London responsible for the European market. Options also raised €100m in 2017

In Q1 2020 €229m ($261m) was raised and of the €175m ($199m) that was disclosed, €98m ($112m) was raised in the US by the ALX Oncology holding company. It has a subsidiary in Dublin. Also in Q1 the Boston firm Silvercloud Health raised €14.8m ($16m) in the US.

In the first quarter in effect, 2 American firms that I checked were responsible for two-thirds of the disclosed fundraising.

In Q2 2020 €364m ($415m) in funding was raised and IVCA disclosed that 42% of deals were not disclosed with a total of €2116m ($240m) disclosed. Fenergo of the US raised €73m ($83m) and €65m ($74m) was also raised in the US by Lets Get Checked. It was founded in the US by an Irishman. Fenergo raised €65m in 2019.

In the second quarter in effect, 2 American firms were responsible for 65% of disclosed funding.

IVCA has reported fundraising of €193m in the third quarter and €160m was disclosed with LearnUpon, the eLearning firm, which was founded in Dublin in 2012 raising €47.4m ($56m) in the United States.

According to IVCA funding for the first nine months of the year rose by 39% to €785.7m from €566.3m the same time last year.

KPMG's Venture Pulse has Irish fundraising at about €560m in the nine months.

Workhuman (previously Globoforce) which was founded in Dublin in 1999 and has headquarters in the US and Ireland is an Irish unicorn among 511 private firms globally worth at least $1bn in December 2019. 

Distorted Irish economic data often make a fool of foreigners and natives alike, including most Irish journalists.


The ending of the Double Irish tax dodge this month will begin the process of large global firms using small countries to aid them in massive tax avoidance that would be viewed as evasion if, for example, small firms used the same techniques that typically involves offshore shell companies.

Behind the delusional headline data, Ireland has been stuck in a rut for several years.

A National Economic Plan that was to be published last month has been delayed.

Ireland is in the second-tier of rich countries among OECD members and aspirations no longer suffice.

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