(April 2012) Dave Thomas of the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants, an Irish trade union, said last month that "average public sector pay will always come out ahead of the private sector due to the skilled, highly professional nature of the work involved and the qualifications that are required to perform it." Is this true or a relic of past times when 'our Johnny' was lucky to get a big job in the civil service in Dublin? Evidence from countries such as Germany, UK, and Finland suggests that there is no imbalance in skills today that would warrant a big premium in public pay.
(March 2012) Innovation: Last week the Irish government announced the investment of $37.5m in a US life sciences fund which invests in an area of biotechnology that focuses on the development of sophisticated drugs. It also said it would invest €60m in US venture capital funds which establish a presence in Ireland. It was a 'a global call' that reflects some desperation but the target is the US at a time when biotech is under pressure. Meanwhile in a welcome development, Prof Mark Ferguson, the new head of Science Foundation Ireland - - the Irish public grant-awarding agency - - says academic researchers are to face scrutiny from international venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and company directors, as part of a major overhaul of how scientific research is funded by the State. Ferguson has been a successful biotech entrepreneur who eventually failed in an industry that in aggregate first reported a profit in 2008 after four decades - - most firms still never make a profit.
(March 2012) Goodbody Stockbrokers says official Irish house price data likely understates the fall from the 2007 peak which maybe 68% compared with the CSO's index which is at 48% and does not track the current high level of cash sales. Using data from auctions held by Allsop Space, the UK firm, the brokers say house prices are now close to or back at fair value.
Irish Public Pay & Pensions: Howlin would have no savings by 2015 if 2006 -- peak year of boom -- was benchmark year
(March 2012) Irish Public Pay & Pensions: Minister Brendan Howlin read a statement to the Dáil on Thursday and it's clear that anyone fearing radicalism from this man should rest easy. He spoke of planned pay savings of 20% by 2015 compared with 2008 but if 2006 -- the peak year of the boom - - was the benchmark year for savings on the total central government public pay and pensions bill, there would be no savings at all.
(March 2012) The debate on the Irish referendum on the EU Fiscal Compact Treaty has begun in advance of the announcement of the date of the vote. Shane Ross, right-wing non-party TD says: “What the Government should say is this: ’We promise the people that if they pass this, the debt will be reduced. That’s the demand that should have been made in Europe before we signed up for this deal - - that there will be a write-off for the Irish people as a minimum quid pro quo for this treaty which he is signing.” From the left, Sinn Féin says a vote for the treaty will be a vote for austerity -- as if a leprechaun with a truckload of gold or a tooth-fairy with a wand, could replace support funds from Europe and the International Monetary Fund.
IMF strikes positive note on €31bn worth of Anglo Irish Bank promissory notes' debt; Suggests reform of Ireland's welfare system
(March 2012) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week struck a positive note on restructuring talks on €31bn worth of promissory notes that account for almost one-fifth of total Irish public debt of €164bn as at the end of last December, which were issued in respect of the defunct Anglo Irish Bank and two other bust Irish financial firms in 2010. The Fund noted in its fifth review of the International bailout of Ireland that the Irish State provides significant support to low-income groups and that there is scope for reform. The IMF notes that protection has come, however, at a high fiscal cost. Welfare spending was 6 percentage points of GDP (gross domestic product) higher in 2010 than in 2007 (the largest increase in Europe) and now claims over half of government revenue (up from one-third in 2007). The surge partly reflects a collapse in GDP and revenues, but mostly the interplay of: (i) mounting unemployment payment recipients (with weak job search conditionality, Ireland has the highest ratio of recipients to unemployed in the OECD); (ii) rising rates of payment (which doubled between 2000 and 2009 - - trebled in the case of the universal child benefit); and (iii) ageing-related spending pressures from before the crisis (payments to elderly doubled between 2001 and 2007, and have risen by one-fifth since).
Irish State Science Budget: After spending €20bn in a decade, winning formula for jobs remains elusive
(March 2012) Irish State Science Budget: After public spending of an estimated €20bn on science activities in the past decade, a winning formula for job creation remains elusive and on Thursday, the Government published a report from a taskforce on research priorities that was appointed by the last government. The report is the fourth such public study on what is termed the 'smart economy' and it fails to address a fundamental aspect of public science policy: university research will never have a significant impact on job creation.
(February 2012) The Irish Attorney General is expected to make a decision in March on whether Ireland will require a referendum on the so-called Fiscal Compact treaty that was agreed in January by the leaders of 25 of the EU27 member countries. The treaty provides a framework for closer monitoring of the public finances of individual countries and while it is the first step in a long march, to borrow from Mao Zedong - - the Chinese communist leader -- Ireland has little option but to ratify the treaty as ratification is a precondition for future funding from the permanent ESM (European Stability Mechanism) that is due to be launched by mid-year.
(February 2012) Guinness didn't achieve domination of the stout market by chance and one of its brewers at St. James's Gate Brewery, Dublin, became a world famous statistician who provided the framework for quality control. Stephen T. Ziliak, a professor of economics at Roosevelt University, Chicago, says fermentation fares fairly well in the history of scientific discovery and method, from quantitative chemistry to econometrics. "Organized religion can get people feeling mighty high and precise. But evidently the quantitative study of alcohol creation - - of fermentation -- can really get people up and moving - - moving higher up the ladder of scientific and commercial progress." He cites great experimentalists, such as Priestley, Laplace, Lavoisier, Pasteur, Johannsen, and Gosset aka 'Student.' "Fermentation was for each of these scientists the raw material, the pathway to scientific discovery and commercial innovation."
Irish Economy 2012: ESRI says GDP to rise 0.9%; Austerity necessary but self-defeating in whole Eurozone
(February 2012) Irish Economy 2012: Against a backdrop of a mild recession in Europe, a knock-on impact on the UK and a weak recovery in the US, coupled with fiscal retrenchments domestically and across Europe, the ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) forecasts today that Ireland's GDP (gross domestic product) will expand by 0.9% this year. GNP (gross national product - - a measure that compared with GDP mainly reflects the exclusion of the profits of the foreign-owned sector) will fall by 0.6% in 2012. In 2013, GDP is expected to rise by 2.3% and GNP by 1%. The economists say 'austerity' is absolutely necessary in Ireland but when applied across the Eurozone, it is self-defeating.