Saturday, February 05, 2022

Ireland's international economic and social indicators in 2022

Last year Eurostat reported that in 2020, slightly more than a quarter of the EU’s GDP (gross domestic product) was generated by Germany (25.1%), followed by France (17.2%) and Italy (12.3%), ahead of Spain (8.4%) and the Netherlands (6.0%).

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

In the first year of the pandemic, Spain took the biggest GDP hit (-10.8%), followed by Greece (-9.0%), Italy (-8.9%), Portugal (-8.4%), Malta (-8.2%), Croatia (-8.1%) and France (-7.9%).

The only EU country that registered an increase in GDP in 2020 was Ireland (+5.9%).

Friday, February 04, 2022

Birth of James Joyce's Ulysses coincided with genesis of Irish democracy

Sylvia Beach meets James Joyce in her Parisian English language bookshop, Shakespeare and Company in 1922 (the second poster in the background references a 1922 review of 'Ulysses'). She had published Joyce's groundbreaking novel 'Ulysses.' on February 2, 1922 — Joyce's 40th birthday. It began to be serialised in the United States from 1918, resulting in a ban that was lifted in 1933.

The 100th anniversary of the publication of the novel 'Ulysses' (the Latinised name of Odysseus, the hero of Homer's epic poem the 'Odyssey') highlights the importance of James Joyce (1882-1941), who is renowned for his experimental use of language together with new literary methods, which he called "scrupulous meanness."

The book was also controversial in prudish times. Belfast-born James Douglas (1867–1940) — a critic, editor of the British Sunday Express, and author — called 'Ulysess':

“The most infamously obscene book in ancient or modern literature. All the secret sewers of vice are canalised in its flood of unimaginable thoughts, images, and pornographic words. And its unclean lunacies are larded with appalling and revolting blasphemies directed against the Christian religion and against the holy name of Christ — blasphemies hitherto associated with the most degraded orgies of Satanism and the Black Mass.”

A US attorney used the quote before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in US v One Book Entitled Ulysses in 1934. A 1933 decision to lift a ban on the book was upheld. In the UK a 1922 censorship ban was lifted in 1936.

'Ulysses' was not banned in Ireland but it was never sold there until decades after its release.

The first publication, in Paris, came two weeks after the British government had ceded Dublin Castle, the bastion of 700 years of rule by Normans, English and British, to the new Provisional Government of the Irish Free State.

'Ulysses' is set on June 16, 1904, when the prospect of a self-governing Irish democracy was extremely remote.

Joyce had a love-hate relationship with Ireland and when he died in Zurich in 1941, he was a British citizen and a British diplomat spoke at the funeral while the Irish taoiseach (prime minister) queried if Joyce had been a Catholic. There was no Irish representation at the funeral.

Sylvia Beach, the American-born publisher of the book, had to support the Joyces through the 1920s but according to 'The New Yorker' "The peak of his prosperity came in 1932 with the news of his sale of the book to Random House in New York for a $45,000 ($916,000 today) advance, which, she (Sylvia Beach) confessed, he failed to announce to her and of which, as was later known, he never even offered her a penny. "I understood from the first that, working with or for Mr Joyce, the pleasure was mine — an infinite pleasure: the profits were for him."

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

US and Chinese ICT and health firms lead global R&D

In December 2021 the European Commission published its annual review of business research and development — both in the Union and across the globe.

At a spending level, the EU remained second to the United States. American and European companies fell slightly to 20.3% and 37.8% respectively while Chinese companies continued to raise spending by reaching 15.5%.

At a global level in 2020 — the first year of the pandemic — business R&D was concentrated in four key sectors accounting for 77.4% of global R&D on the Scoreboard: ICT producers (22.9%), Health industries (20.8%), ICT services (18.6%) and Automotive (15.2%).

Amazon is the world's biggest business R&D spender.

However, it is not on the Scorecard as its "technology and content" expense includes more than R&D. Amazon's SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) filing reveals a huge expenditure of $42.74bn in fiscal 2020 (11.1% of net sales) on 'technology and content' as compared to $35.93 billion in fiscal 2019. This compares with the top-ranking Alphabet (Google's parent) in the Global 2500 at €22.47bn ($25.62bn) in 2020.