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%).

Ireland reported GDP of €373bn compared with Denmark's €313bn but when 3 large multinational firm distortions — Income of redomiciled PLCs (public limited companies); Depreciation on R&D and IP, and Depreciation on aircraft leasing — are eliminated from the data, Modified Gross National Income (GNI*) falls to €208bn.

However net exports related to foreign manufacturing and merchanting rose from €64bn in 2019; €74bn in 2020, and to over an estimated €100bn+ in 2021 and this is not treated as a distortionit is mainly related to fake exports of Apple's iPhones from Ireland to China.

Leprechaun Redux: Ireland's fake €100bn+ of net exports in 2021 — Ireland exports Apple iPhones to China!!!

GNI* fell 4% in 2020.

Irish international indicators, in particular in the economic area, typically are unreliable because of the multinational firm distortions.

Government agencies promote such data and in 2018 when Ireland was selected as the most profitable country in the world for US-owned affiliates, Bloomberg ranked Ireland as the 13th most innovative country. Enterprise Ireland which supports indigenous exporting firms bragged that "Ireland ranked in first place in subcategories including value-added manufacturing and productivity."

This did not reflect the indigenous sector while the first place positions for US affiliates included massive tax avoidance.

Last November Global Finance magazine published a ranking of 'Richest Countries in the World 2021.' Luxembourg and Ireland headed the rankings of 192 countries.

Luxembourg and Ireland had current $126,569 and $111,360 GDP per capita respectively, adjusted for price differences — called purchasing power parity (PPP.)

Switzerland had a 5th ranking at $78,1112

Neither Luxembourg nor Ireland should have top rankings: over 40% of the workforce of the grand duchy live outside its borders while the journalist Luca Ventura explained the status of Ireland:

"Do citizens feel twice as rich as a decade ago? Probably not: Ireland is one of the world's largest corporate tax havens, with ordinary people benefitting far less than multinationals do. And while they are undoubtedly better off than they used to be, according to data from the OECD the national household per-capita disposable income is actually lower than the overall member countries’ average, about $25,300 a year versus $33,600."

Rankings that do not depend on GDP are 1) The Economist Intelligence Units Democracy Index where Ireland is among the small number of full democracies 2) The US Heritage Foundation's 5th ranking of Economic Freedom.

Irish standard of living at 13th in EU27 and 19th among rich OECD countries

European countries and exporting champions — 1) Ireland's domestic firms are among the EU's lowest exporters 2) employer firm entrepreneurship.

Global trends 2022

In early January, Ruchir Sharma, Morgan Stanley Investment Management’s chief global strategist and author, in The Financial Times, set out 10 trends that could define 2022.

They are: 1) Decline in birth rates accelerates; 2) China's economic power peaking; 3) Global debt trap deepens; 4) Inflation will rise but may not hit double-digits; 5) Greenflation; 6) Productivity paradox persists; 7) Data localization; 8) Bubblets deflate; 9) Small investors' mania cools; 10) Physical world is still more important than the Metaverse.

A week later Sharma was interviewed by NDTV (New Delhi Television) and it provides a more detailed script than the FT.

Falling birth rates are depressing global economic growth and 51 countries have shrinking working-age populations, up from 17 in 2000.

"China's working-age population started shrinking around 2015, and now its total population is on track to start shrinking this year or next — many years earlier than most forecasters expected...India too is now seeing a baby bust."

"China accounted for a quarter of global GDP growth in 2021, down from a third before the pandemic.

In 1995 there was no country in the world with debt of over 300% of GDP.

"Twenty-five countries including the US and China have total debt above 300% of GDP, up from none in the mid-1990s. Money printed by central banks continues to inflate financial markets and deepen the debt trap. It is clear that societies addicted to debt find it tough to cut back for fear of bankruptcies and contagion."

"Deglobalization of trade, money and people flows implies less competition. Slow productivity growth raises costs, and the spread of populism cuts any appetite for spending restraint.

"Over the past five to ten years, investment in new oil and mineral production has fallen by more than 50%, as local and national governments resist the construction of new production facilities, and investors shun fossil fuels."

"Hope has vanished that rapid adoption of digital services during the pandemic would end the long decline in global productivity growth, which has dropped from 5% in the mid-1960s to 1% today."

"The most restrictive data regimes are arising in emerging countries led, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, by China, Saudi Arabia, India, and Russia." See also.

"While this has been called the era of the 'everything bubble,' a few assets do show classic bubble signs, from prices doubling in a 12-month period to manic trading."

"...retail buyers are still overwhelmingly enthusiastic at the same time that selling by corporate insiders is peaking. And corporate insiders have a much better track record: they tend to sell at the peak."

"Behind every avatar is a human, and labour shortages are lifting wages even in jobs most threatened by automation, like truck driving. Requiems for the tangible are premature."

Social and Environmental Rankings

Human Development Index 2020/21

The United Nations did not publish a new ranking in 2021 of its index of human development.

Norway retained its top position in 2020 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 (life expectancy), being knowledgeable (extent of schooling) and enjoying a decent standard of living (income).”

The typical birth life expectancy in rich countries is in the range of 81-83 years. The United States is an outlier at 77.3 in 2020. The pandemic resulted in the lowest rate in 20 years.

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

As noted below, Ireland's AIC (actual individual consumption) was less than $30,000 in 2019.

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

SEE: Crazy economics fuelled Hong Kong's protests in recent years

World Happiness Report 2021

Finland keeps the top rank as the happiest country in the world. The results were published in March 2021 and related to 2020.

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 2021's top ten are Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Norway, New Zealand, and Austria.

Ireland is at rank 13 behind Australia and ahead of the United States.

Sample sizes were generally 1,000 compared to 3,000 for the combined sample covering 2017-2019.

South Korea was at 50th ranking; Greece 51; China 52 and Portugal 53, of 95 countries.

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 2020 Irish GDP per capita was €75,000 compared with a modified GNI (gross national income) of €41,000 which strips out some of the distortions as noted above. In 2020 there was a 0.2% change in Irish GDP due to the pandemic, according to the report.

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

Japan is at 40.

Japan is most backward advanced country

Social Progress Index 2021

Norway ranks first on the 2021 Social Progress Index, with a score of 92.63 followed by Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland. Canada ranked sixth with a score of 91.41 and is the top-performing G7 (US, Japan, Germany, UK, France, Italy and Canada) country. All 14 Tier 1 countries are high-income, and all score very similarly on social progress — just 3.19 points separate first-ranked Norway at the top of the tier from 14th ranked Austria.

The Social Progress Index rather than emphasising traditional measurements of success like income and investmen measures 53 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 168 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 13th ranking behind New Zealand and ahead of Austria.

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

Ranking of results from 168 countries

The US ranks 24th overall and first in the Social Progress Index 2021 for quality of universities, but at a 78 ranking for access to quality basic education while access to quality healthcare is at 97.

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

OECD's Better Life Index 2020

OECD, the think-tank for the governments of 38 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 38 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 spending (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 28 of the then 36 OECD countries was 33,600. Ireland had a 19th income per capita ranking at $26,300.

In 2020 Ireland's consumer price index and Denmark's were 40% above the EU average compared with Germany's level of 7%.

The How's Life? Well-Being database was updated in May 2021.

Household net adjusted disposable income, measured in US$ at 2019 PPPs per capita (adjusted for price differences).

The OECD says [Household net adjusted disposable income is obtained by summing all the (gross) income flows (earnings, self-employment and capital income, current transfers received from other sectors) paid to the (SNA) household sector and then subtracting current transfers (such as taxes on income and wealth) paid by households to other sectors of the economy. The term “adjusted”, in National Accounts vocabulary, denotes the inclusion of the social transfers in-kind (such as education and health care services) that households receive from government. The measure used here also takes into account the amount needed to replace the capital assets of households (i.e. dwellings and equipment of unincorporated enterprises), which is deducted from their income.]

Germany was at $39,141; Austria $37,356; Belgium $35,091; Denmark $34,196; Italy $30027 and Ireland $29,863.

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

In 2020 the World Economic Forum created a new index to measure social mobility, providing a much-needed assessment of the current state of social mobility worldwide.

The WEF said "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 led, and Ireland got 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 were 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 led and Ireland had the 11th ranking behind Sweden and ahead of Slovenia.

The United States was at 26 behind 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 a country annual budget on healthcare.

Health rankings in 2021, 2020 and 2019

A ranking of 167 countries by Legatum Prosperity Index 2021 in the pillar on the best healthcare in the world has Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Norway in the lead. Denmark is at 18th rank and Ireland is at 26th. Ireland has the 4th rank for economics but that's based on distorted national accounts data.

The United States has the 68th ranking.

Ceoworld Magazine in 2021 had South Korea, Taiwan, Denmark and Austria in the lead. Ireland is at 80 between Georgia (Central Asia) and Ukraine.

The United States is at the 30th ranking among 89 countries.

The Euro Health Consumer Index hasn't been published since 2019.

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

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

According to the Index which tracked 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 said, "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 the 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 had a 22nd position in the ranking of 35 country systems. It was behind Italy and Slovenia and ahead of Montenegro and Croatia.


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 "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."

In 2020, Ireland’s GHG emissions (chart above) were estimated to be 57.70m tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO₂ eq) according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

This was 3.6% lower (or 2.14 Mt CO₂ eq) than emissions in 2019 (59.84 Mt CO₂ eq) — with the help of pandemic lockdowns. There was a decrease of 4.0% in emissions reported for 2019 compared to 2018. "Emissions reductions have been recorded in six of the last ten years of inventory data (2010-2020).

The EPA said "In 2020, the energy industries, transport and agriculture sectors accounted for 70.1% of total GHG emissions. Agriculture is the single largest contributor to the overall emissions, at 37.1%. Transport, energy industries and the residential sector are the next largest contributors, at 17.9%, 15.0% and 12.3%, respectively."

Ireland had the highest per capita Greenhouse Gas Emissions in (GHG) 2019. Luxembourg's level was artificially boosted as over 40% of the workforce live in adjacent countries.

Finfacts: Climate change challenges of the 21st century

The World Economic Forum's 2021 Energy Transition Index (ETI) ranks 115 countries.

Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland lead. Ireland has the 14th rank.

Economic and Business Rankings

IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking

The Swiss business school presented the 2021 overall rankings for the 64 economies covered by the WCY (World Competitiveness Yearbook). The rankings are calculated on the basis of the 52 ranked criteria: 32 Hard and 20 Survey data. The countries are ranked from the most to the least digital competitive and the results from the previous year’s scoreboard (2020) are shown in brackets. The index value or “score” is also indicated for each country.

IMD said the world’s two largest economies — according to the World Bank, the USA’s GDP in 2020 was 20.9 and China’s 14.7, both in trillions of US dollars — are evenly matched on some of the criteria measured by the WCC to determine digital competitiveness, namely: knowledge transfer, business readiness and educational investment.

US; Hong Kong; Sweden; Denmark; Singapore; Switzerland; Netherlands; Taiwan; Norway and UAE comprise the top 10.

China is at 15th ranking and Ireland 19th.

IMD World Competitiveness Ranking 2021

The IMD said that Europe displayed regional strength in the world competitiveness ranking while Singapore slipped.

Innovation, digitalisation, welfare benefits, and social cohesion awareness are key to economic performance in the 2021 rankings, topped with Switzerland (1st), Sweden (2nd), Denmark (3rd), the Netherlands (4th), and Singapore (5th). Norway; Hong Kong; Taiwan; UAE and US completed the top 10 rankings.

Ireland was at 13th of 64 countries.

Global Innovation Index 2021

Global Innovation Index 2021: Tracking Innovation through the COVID-19 Crisis, presents the latest global innovation ranking of 132 economies, relying on 81 different indicators.

It is the result of a collaboration between Cornell University, INSEAD (the French business school), and the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as co-publishers, and their Knowledge Partners.

Ireland ranks 19th among the 132 economies featured in the GII 2021.

No.1 for Intellectual Property payments, % total trade

No. 1 for ICT services exports, % total trade

These two indicators suggest that Ireland is the best in the world. There are other indicators as well that are also polluted by multinational firm tax avoidance.

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


These are patent applications filed at the European Patent Office. The EU-27 accounted for 37% of applications in 2020. Ireland had 612 granted patents while Switzerland had 4,899 and Denmark 1,272. Foreign-owned firms dominate Irish patents while domestic firms dominate Danish patents.

The UN's World Intellectual Property Organisation, based in Geneva, administers the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). WIPO says the PCT makes it possible to seek patent protection for an invention simultaneously in a large number of countries by filing a single “international” patent application instead of filing several separate national or regional patent applications. The granting of patents remains under the control of the national or regional patent Offices in what is called the “national phase.”

Seven of the top 10 Irish-related applicants for PCT patents in 2020 were foreign firms. The remaining 3 organisations were 1) University College Dublin 2) University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin.

Eaton, the biggest filer, is an American firm that is Irish for tax purposes.

Global Tech Hubs 2021

A decade ago the Irish Government provided about 40% of the annual venture capital funding. In 2007 the Irish Venture Capital Association (IVCA) estimated that funding amounted to €226m which rose to €269m in 2012 when the Irish economic bust that began in 2008 bottomed.

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), managed and controlled by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), is a sovereign development fund with a mandate to invest on a commercial basis to support economic activity and employment in Ireland. The Global Portfolio had assets at end-2020 of €5.4bn.

There were 12 Irish-related investments in 2021 including in Stripe — the successful Silicon Valley company that was founded by the Irish-born Collison brothers — and Aer Lingus — a wholly-owned subsidiary of the International Airline Group (IAG).

IVCA estimated that by the end of the third quarter of 2021 Irish SMEs (small and middle-size firms) had received funding of €872m according to the VenturePulse survey.

In 2021 the funding is likely to exceed €1bn.

The Irish Times reported 'Venture capital funding for Irish SMEs rose almost 20% in Q3 to €231m.'

However, it's misleading to use the term 'Irish SMEs': Northern Ireland firms are included with the Republic of Ireland and some of the funding is raised in the United States and utilised there. The redomiciled firms for tax avoidance purposes typically retain their main operations in the US. In addition, some of the investors do not reveal their identities.

The total funding is a key metric for ranking hubs.

London raised $18.4bn in the first nine months of 2021.

The Startup Genome in 2021 'Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking (Top 30 + Runners-Up)' ranks Dublin in the runner ups.

Atomico, a venture capital firm, in December published 'The State of European Tech 2021' and Dublin got the 14th ranking.

Oxford Economics in November 2020 published a research briefing saying the term 'Tech City' "is fluid and ambiguous ...we produce a ranking of European cities based on their levels and growth of tech sector employment, and scale of tech investment. We crown London as Europe’s leading Tech City."

IDA Ireland, the inward investment agency, says "Ireland has become the global technology hub of choice when it comes to attracting the strategic business activities of ICT companies."

That would be something to celebrate if it was true! There are strengths and weaknesses, and Ireland will not become a leading high tech country because of its overdependence on foreign-owned firms.

Finfacts: Irish digital economy firms account for 1.4% of employment

World Bank's 'Doing Business' may reappear in 2 years

Last September, the World Bank's board decided to end publication of the annual flagship report on, "Doing Business," which ranked countries on the ease of doing business — for example days, weeks or months to incorporate a business or how long courts took to adjudicate on business disputes etc. Data irregularities in the 2018 and 2020 versions by staff including then-chief executive Kristalina Georgieva, who now heads the IMF, were identified.

A law firm is working on a second report on possible staff misconduct about the data changes, which benefited China, Saudi Arabia and other countries.

Last November, the bank's chief economist, Prof Carmen Reinhart, told Reuters that a replacement would be produced in 2 years.