November 4, 2007

A sudden snapshot of reality

Posted in Irish Economy · 25 comments ·
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In a single week, the government has been faced with crises in many areas of Irish life.

The news last week from the Central Bank, Waterford Crystal and the World Economic Forum captured an economy in transition.

In just seven days, we got a snapshot of the housing market, the state of Irish manufacturing, the immigrant surge, the pre-eminence of the multinationals and the appalling job the state is doing with its infrastructure.

Let’s deal with each set of data in turn. The Central Bank revealed that mortgage lending was 30 per cent down last month vis-a’ -vis the same month last year. This is unambiguously positive.

It is not patriotic to talk up the housing market; the best thing that has happened to the economy this year is that the financial nihilism of rising house prices has come to an end at a pace that many thought impossible. This is not a crisis, but a boon.

The pinnacle of our economic development cannot be to condemn a generation of workers to paying 15 times their annual salary for a shoebox in the commuter belt. This is a sign of economic failure, not economic success, and the sooner it unravels the better.

Now that the mystique of rising prices has been punctured, prices will go the way of mortgage borrowing – downwards. People, seeing that house prices are falling, will just stand back and allow the market to do its thing. This is what the economy needs.

In the recent past, there has been such a cacophony regarding the housing market. Those who believe that it was all a bubble have been, bizarrely, branded as unpatriotic.

What nonsense! The main problem with the debate is that the discussion on the Irish economy has been hijacked by the housing lobby and its agents. So the economic debate is jaundiced.

The central myth propagated by the housing lobby is that the housing market and the economy are one and the same thing. They are not, and for the economy to breathe, the stranglehold of the housing mania needs to be loosened.

To see why this is the case, just look at the second major piece of news this week. In Waterford, one of Ireland’s best known brands -Waterford Crystal – is laying off close to half its workforce. The reason is that Ireland is far too expensive, and one of the reasons for this is the cost of housing, which workers need to put into their considerations when they are looking for higher wages.

This means that Ireland is pricing itself out of the market when compared to other parts of the world that have not allowed the housing market to get out of control. It is now likely that Waterford will follow many other European manufacturing companies. It will split the world into three: the production will be done in Asia, the branding and heritage aspects of the product will be bolstered in Europe, and the selling will be done in America.

This geographical split highlights another issue which has remained un-debated in Ireland in any real sense, and this is the wisdom of EMU for us. We still do far more trade with the US and Britain than we do with Europe, so, from a trade flow perspective, EMU is totally inappropriate for Ireland. Yet our political elite is so wedded to Europe that even raising this topic is seen as dangerous.

However, Sweden and Britain are members of the European Union without the added complication of a currency union. In fact, Sweden and Britain are the fourth and ninth most competitive countries in the world, according to the World Economic Forum. They are 18 and 13 places above us.

We also share a similar immigration policy with Sweden and Britain. Only three countries – Ireland, Sweden and Britain – allowed the free movement of central European workers after accession. In Ireland, this new immigration policy has resulted in an estimate this week by the Chambers of Commerce that 17 per cent of our workforce are immigrants.

This is a truly enormous figure of close to 400,000 people. Many readers will know this already, and anecdotal evidence might suggest a higher figure. The immigrants have two overall macroeconomic impacts on the economy.

While immigration makes the overall growth rate go up because you are adding more potential to the economy with every new immigrant, this GDP figure really tells you nothing. Yes, every time a Romanian sells a copy of the Big Issue, GDP goes up, but what does that tell you about the overall impact of immigration?

From a winner-and-loser perspective, immigrants also push wages lower than they would otherwise be in the absence of immigration, and they push up rents and house prices higher than they would be. This has the impact of reducing the wages of people in direct competition with immigrants, while at the same time pushing up their housing costs.

The positivity or otherwise of immigration will depend on where you stand. If you are a worker competing in the jobs or the housing market, you will have a very different view from that of a landlord, builder or company owner.

The one area where Ireland is doing very well is in the proportion of foreign owned companies here. For this, we have to thank previous public planners, who saw that we could offer an attractive package of tax breaks, graduates, links to Europe and a light regulatory touch which allowed them to flourish.

In the event, the majority of American multinational production is re-exported back to the US, but the European angle is positive for both cherry-picking smart EU graduates to bolster Irish capacity and for tax reasons.

This is an area in which Ireland needs to focus all its attention simply to stand still, because when you are number one, the only place to go is downwards.

The World Economic Forum highlighted appalling infrastructure as our biggest problem. At least we know what to do. Our ports, railways and roads are Third World, so let’s just get on with it and build them up.

If the problem is the planning system, then fast-track it. If it is competence, then give the contract to the best people in the world and do it. This is what government is supposed to do – so stop acting the maggot and get on with the job.

We are now at a dangerous period for the economy: the fallout from the faltering housing market will be magnified in personal consumption, as people realise that they have to tighten their belts. For Ireland to make a smooth transition, the state has to step up to the plate and accelerate the public works schemes. All we need is leadership.

The worst thing the state could do now is lose its nerve and retrench. We need infrastructure, so just build it! The taxpayer will get better value in a downturn rather than a boom, so now is the ideal time.

Also, if there are too many immigrants here and it is concluded that a quota system would work better, then decide what it is and implement it. The French have the expression ‘‘to govern is to choose’’. The time has come to make that choice.


  1. Nick

    As per, you are on the mark here. Slowly, but surely, your opinions and forecasts are proving themselves correct ie that the gravity defying Irish economy and our absolute heroin-like addiction to the seemlingly one and only asset class that Irish investors know of and want – property (both a home and abroad) – would sooner or later have to come down from it’s lofty, exuberant heights.

    In the future someone should write a thesis on the apparent Irish economic management tool known as “talking down the economy”. What naivety to think that we have any real monetary control over our economy and are immune to the global macroeconomic environment. People who going around “bigging up” the economy with absolutely NO knowledge of economic reality !

    The Sage Jim Rogers is right….a little recession is a good thing. Bring it on. Ireland needs to go on detox – and we will all be the better for it. Let “renewal” be our watchword.

  2. vince

    While watching the NY marathon on Sunday, it seemed that the city needed a biggish renewal. While not at Hill St blues standards of the 70s 80s, not that far from it. It would seem that the boom on the island is sucking much of the risk/developement money out of the boroughs. And this is an aspect of what is happening here. You are correct when you say that the ports etc. are in need of upgrade, or better yet moving to another site. How idiotic is it, that the main port is at the far end of the biggest city or that the new kids hospital is near as damnit beside it. Why extend an airport to a point that it will be overflowing the day it is opened, or extend a tram line when a train is needed. Why not have flyovers and underpasses and get rid of the roundabout.
    But there it a fear of inflation, and as with all economic fears tends to apply only to those below.But, this is the economic model that is known to the people on this island. The subby, or as it is known today the gangmaster, is the required engine of this, the British and vast areas of the US economy. The canal builder, the railroad, and much of the vast works of the 20th demand a mobile supply of cheap labour. And yah yah yah, I hear you say, so whats new. What is new is that the numbers of people leaving for a better life are still very high. And while not the stratosferic of the 50s and the 80s, are from segments of the society which are not that easy to replace. Hope, is what is missing from vast sections of the population. And access to a US passport is something of which many thank God.
    The economy of today is not the economy that the government are attempting to govern. That economy, died at the first oil crises and was cremated when the Shah flew from Iran. And attempting to fix an economy which was dead for twenty years is the curse of the early entry to politics and a delayed departure. A fixation with inflation, or rather a wilded attachment to price fixing of the cost of labour is a further example of that wrongheadedness. It was not the cost of labour but that cost relative. Why in GOD name were we paying the Civil Service at the same or near as Whitehall.

  3. paddy cullen

    Robert Shiller is an American economist, academic. Back in 1993 he wrote about the volatility of housing prices and the resulting risk and suggests that: “Speculative booms and busts in residential real estate markets are potentially more damaging than those in financial markets, in that the participants usually have much of their wealth concentrated in that local market and may be highly leveraged through their mortgages.” House price collapses generally affect the wider economy in three ways. First, households lose wealth and start to repay loans instead of spending. Secondly, banks reduce lending as they lose money on bad loans. A sharp fall in prices could lead to more foreclosures and unanticipated losses for lenders, straining the financial system. Furthermore, financial accelerator effects, whereby a negative economic shock is amplified by weakening market conditions, could worsen these developments and lead to a greater general economic decline. The third and potentially disastrous effect of a house price fall is on building activity i.e. more houses get built as prices rise and fewer get built as prices fall.

  4. Ruairi

    David,

    It must have been an horrendous insult to you to be branded as unpatriotic. You have mentioned it a few times now. I think when the Taoiseach used that word in relation to you (it was you he was talking about – let’s be honest) he insulted anyone who believes in free speech in the truest old fashioned sense of the term. However it was a more personal attack than that also. He took a look at a guy who – despite not needing to be one of us – has stood beside and defended ordinary Irish workers against a dismissal of their needs and requirements in favour of the needs and requirements of the elite – the politicians, builders, bankers, and landlords. For a country leader like Bertie Ahern to neglect his duty to the majority of his electorate is truly unpatriotic. This was a case of the pot calling the lily black in my opinion. I don’t agree with everything you say David but you are entitled to say it without being reprimanded from the highest office in the land. The wags of this country are about to turn on you big time David because you have been right for a long long time about our economy.The fact that you were almost a lone voice in that righteousness has created a situation where we know for a fact that pretty much every other analyst and economist was wrong. That must leave them very sore. Keep doing what you do.

    Ruairi

  5. mark

    Yes, I think many of these things will come to a head in our economy in the near term. I fear there will be a very significant tightening in the Irish labour market over the next six months to a year. The two main employment creation drivers: construction and the public service, have either dried up or are falling. Perhaps high migration numbers will ameliorate in response. This is what FÁS in their employment projections and some commentators are predicting. I wouldn’t be confident that this will happen to a significant degree, at least not very quickly anyway. Accession state migrants are well able to compete for available jobs, being typically better educated, young and single, often sharing accommodation, and generally having lower costs.

  6. Danny

    David,

    Once again you have hit the nail on the head and called it just like it is. Keep up the good work.

  7. Donal

    17% of the workforce being immigrants in a space of 10 years is very dangerous, there was a man who recently said in America that the immigration into Ireland will damage it in the long-term.

    He happened to identify also that there were 21,000 poles in this nation circa 2002 and when 2004 arrived it has shot them up to 260,000!

    This is the same with Asylum Seekers from Africa who only made about 5,000 in 2002 and are surely circulating at about 40,000!

    Plus there is the other 110,000 non-nationals in this country, the more that arrive in this country and successfully find work will add more venom to the already growing intolerance of the Irish people.
    That Primetime show back in may shows that the country towns are not tolerating the changes here very well, I only wonder if the same happens in dublin something will be done about it.

    There should be a poll census either online or through the post to every household in Ireland to decide the future of the country. The EU Treaty is only going to cause more problems than solutions in the future as that poor excuse of a lifeform Jose Barroso declared that the European Union “Is now an Empire” and our rights as a nation are being taken from us.

    No-one is putting up a fight and “Human Rights” are being used in double standards e.g. Bullying Liberalists giving more power to the minority supporters and oppressing the majority who disagree on moral issues.

    David, why not ask those families you met in the US and persuade them to bring some of the congressmen & Senators with them back here and sort some of these idiots in the Dáil a thing or two?

  8. Vandala

    Donal,

    With respect, I think the last thing Ireland needs is “some of the congressmen and senators”!

  9. Brian

    David

    You are supposed to be a trained and experienced economist so either you have forgotten what you have learned or deliberately ignore it for the purpose of attaining higher levels of notoriety.

    You state that house prices are a factor in Waterford Crystal moving out of Ireland. The impact that house prices has had on Waterford Crystals decision is really minimal when compared to the impact that the falling dollar and the change in retail patterns has had – yet you don’t mention either. Disingenuous?

    House affordability (not house price inflation) has been an issue – but look at the overall movement in mortgage costs as a percentage of take home pay, add in increases in take home pay (tax reductions and national pay agreements) reduce to allow for increasing costs (loads of that !) and you find that the figure hasn’t actually moved that much at all. This has been impacted by a move to 30+ year terms (which may not be welcome) but the bottom line is that ultimate affordability hasn’t been badly hit up until this year and now that the interest rate cycle is nearing a likely top (possibly 2 X 0.25% hikes to come) it is likely to be a positive factor over the next 24 months.

    I agree that infrastructure is the biggest problem – and has been our biggest failing – you don’t mention the massive NDP budget though? Disengenuous? You of all people know that if we overspend on infrastructure we will (once again) drive up construction inflation.

    The immigration comments are borderline dangerous – not sure that you mean them to be. Lets be truthfull here – the growth in the economy over the past 5-6 years would not have been possible without the influx of legal immigrants. The illegal elements are being tackled and certainly should be tackled. The decision not to allow the Romanians and other second phase accession countries in was the correct one but so too was the decision to all the first phase accession countries full access. These represent flexible and moveable labour – if the market ties up here they will move (as evidenced by the lack of significant uptick in unemployment claims). Again are you not being somewhat disingenuous in raising the immigrant issue as a problem for the economy?

  10. Kevin

    Brian, it’s pretty hypocritical to call David disingenuous when you provide some stonkers yourself. Attempting to only look at the monthly affordability of a mortgage without considering the term length or the amount of people needed to service it is very poor form. The fact remains that more of a person’s working life is required to pay for a house in Ireland than ever before. You can dress it up whatever way you like, but affordable it is not.

  11. The basic point that Brian had was correct.

    It was extremely disingenuous to blame the job losses at Waterford Crystal on house prices. The main reasons for the job losses are. . .

    1. Everytime the Dollar weakens further, it’s another nail in the coffin for Waterford exports. We really cannot overstate this impact.
    2. For a manufacturing company, making low-volumes of luxury items, 1,000 is simply far too many people to have on the payroll.
    3. Unprofit overseas subsidiaries like Royal Doulton are actually more culpable in cripping Waterford, than the crystal manufacturing arm itself.

    Don’t forget, that Waterford has been shedding jobs for nearly two decades now. You need proof?

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19950322/ai_n13972824

    The sad thing about the Waterford decline is that Ireland is losing a brand that was once as ubiquitous as shamrock and Guinness. The fact the company is so cash-strapped means that the brand will only take a further hit unless Waterford gets a substantial bail-out.

    If an investor had the balls, he could nab himself a world-wide brand for peanuts (well, 2.8 cent a share!). Sound a better investment than Eddie Hobbs’ latest scheme!

  12. andrew

    Donal said “Plus there is the other 110,000 non-nationals in this country, the more that arrive in this country and successfully find work will add more venom to the already growing intolerance of the Irish people.”

    i am one of the other 110,000 non-nationals. Recently i renewed my work permit (this time for 2 years). it was supposed to take 6 weeks but took only 4 days.

    that, Donal, is an example of how badly Ireland needs skilled professionals to work in this country. If you make it difficult for the non-nationals who run all of the large multinationals, we’ll just find a place with better weather. i can’t find decent enough employees in Ireland and currently run with open positions constantly and at a detriment to the business.

    Our execs keep asking me why then don’t we move somewhere else. i’m running out of excuses.

  13. SpinstaSista

    “The fact remains that more of a person’s working life is required to pay for a house in Ireland than ever before. You can dress it up whatever way you like, but affordable it is not.”

    Well said Kevin. I think any commuter couple who spend 3 hours on the road 5 days a week and are put to the pin of their collar paying a 30 year mortgage on a house 40 or 50 miles away from where they work will agree with you.

    Andrew, why aren’t the multinationals influencing education in Ireland so we can produce the calibre of graduates that you need? Or are all the quality Irish graduates emigrating again and the government is keeping it quiet? I know quite a few people who have upped sticks to Australia, the States and Spain because they couldn’t afford a decent quality of life on “professional” salaries in Ireland. They cannot compete with qualified professionals from other countries who have no long term plans to stay in Ireland. As David said, graduates from accession countries can keep their living costs lower. They have no long term plans to stay in Ireland so the cost of property here does not worry them.

    The accession countries are quickly developing their economies and infrastructure in preparation for investment from multinationals. Their people are gaining knowledge and experience in Ireland which they will take home. If we think things are bad and Ireland is not competitive now, things will be far worse in a few years time if the government doesn’t get its act together. Accession countries such as Poland are leaving us in the shade already.

    I have nothing against non-nationals who are here to work, we Irish were in that position for long enough, but Ireland has become a country where people can work, but cannot live.

  14. Donal

    Vandala, I understand your comment and will take it with a pinch of salt. I appreciate your criticism, my point was that some Irish American Senators would take more pride and care in governing this country more efficiently in some specific areas – The Private Healthcare system in the US is a fine example of an ideal service to expect but there is of course much to improve e.g. giving free healthcare to the poor and elderly.

    Andrew, the Irish do need you for the time being but I make no error in judgement by saying that you’ll recieve no thanks for your contributions in the future, this has fallen on so many deaf ears its sad.

    I grew up in the UK and the only well to do Irish are mainly doctors, previous flights of Irishmen and their descendents now live in sqaulid areas and ghettos across liverpool, leeds, london, manchester etc. They built the infrastructure of britain and no recognition of thanks is awarded to them, all that’s left is no opportunities and a poor education. I’m glad that I left without a doubt!

    When the troubles in the north happened and throughout that period, a man who sounded different i.e. Irish would have been beaten within an inch of his life and exploited in the workplace. That situation has now reversed overhere, with the rise of islamophobia and the anger of nationals whom were once colonial powers.

    It doesn’t help as you say you can’t find many talented Irish workers here because I would assume you weren’t giving the Irish expatriates a positive discrimination policy which would enable them to comeback, instead it was towards others like yourself who liked the romantic idea of living in Ireland, shopping in dublin, fishing in kerry and walking up the wicklow mountains in your free time.

    I expect like david, its only a matter of time before the company you work for does essentially pull out of Ireland. You have brought us benefits but you’ve also brought us great problems, if it wasn’t for the famine or the tyranny that we suffered……. the diaspora wouldn’t exist and we wouldn’t have to rely on anyone else.

    You need to give prefential treatment to the local workforce when you relocate to a nation, it keeps the talent pool in the nation instead of it leaving like it did for generations here. It would mean respecting the unique culture of the country and not forcing their {The business’} practises and culture on them {the natives} by filling those vacant positions with those who already work for for you elsewhere.

    This is why globalisation is now seen as a modern form of imperialism through the practise of macroeconomics, its popularity is dying out and we need to rely on those who know this country the best… the irish living here, abroad and their descendants.

    After reading Amy Chua’s book “World on Fire” she as a pro-globalisation academic is showing the dangers of continuing this economic practise in its present form. That has lead to the social backlashes of places like britain, holland, france, germany and this week in Italy.

  15. Perfectly put David. All the evidence is here to see and the sooner the desparate gap between housing prices and real incomes comes down the better. Anyone who really believes that the politicians, the financial institutions or the press are being ‘honest’ when they talk of ‘soft landings’ are frankly, either deluded or part of the problem (i.e. property developers who have only the obscenely high price of property as their own vested interest.) Regardless of how anyone may feel about a property crash, unless average incomes were to increase by some 200% (which in itself is no good thing,) then only a massive drop in property prices has to happen sooner or later or things are going to get an awful lot worse here.

  16. Nick

    Irish-Americans growing ‘distant’ from Ireland
    Sean O’Driscoll in New York

    Former president of the Coca-Cola corporation Donald Keough has warned that Ireland is becoming more “mentally distant” for Irish-Americans and may have to consider a looser, Israeli-type citizenship test for people of Irish origin.

    Mr Keough, who is also the former chairman of Columbia Pictures, said the world’s focus on a successful, peaceful Ireland is waning.

    “The global white light of attention is finding new stages in eastern Europe, Brazil, China and India,” he said, adding that Irish-Americans, in particular, view Ireland as more mentally distant with each passing generation.

    Mr Keough was speaking at the inaugural US-Ireland Forum, a convention on the future of US-Irish relations that is partly sponsored by University College Dublin and the American Ireland Fund.

    The fundamental question for Ireland is whether its 70 million-strong diaspora is still an important asset for the country’s future, he said.

    Mr Keough asked if Ireland has a definite plan to strengthen its relationship with its diaspora, particularly the 30 million Irish-Americans who live in states outside the influence of the Government and Irish-American organisations.

    He said Ireland has been inattentive to the Scots-Irish and that this group should now look to Ireland North and South as home.

    “Shouldn’t a systematic plan be put in place to find them and welcome them home?” he said.

    He questioned whether the Government should revisit its citizenship criteria to make them more inclusive for people of Irish ancestry, just as Israel embraces people of Jewish origin as citizens of Israel.

    Anyone with one Jewish grandparent is eligible to become an Israeli citizen under that country’s immigration laws. The policy has sparked criticism as thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union are not Jewish according to Jewish law.

    Such a policy for people with an Irish grandparent would allow millions of people around the world to apply for Irish citizenship.

    Mr Keough said that forum participants should examine whether they can help shape a new agenda “with a focus on the greatest resource of all – the millions of people, scattered around the world, who may be waiting to be invited to help the Celtic Tiger set new records as it walks through the 21st century”.

    Mr Keough retired as president of Coca-Cola in 1993 and currently serves on several boards, including Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. The US-Ireland Forum held in New York’s west Manhattan, is due to end today.

    © 2007 The Irish Times

  17. Donal

    Nick,

    very good article and very attentive. He is certainly an ideal person this country could welcome with open arms and without any hostility what so ever.

    Problem is that although Israel has a very good system of enabling citizenship for jews…. there is one fundamental flaw.

    Judaism is a religion not an ethnic group as many people depict it:

    Before anyone accuses me of being prejudicial let’s make one fact known.

    There are Jews whom are:
    Caucasian (Which you see the most common)
    Black (Ethiopians, Ugandans etc)
    Oriental (This includes not just northern africa and Iran but china!)
    Arab (This is for the very small pockets in Jordan, Egypt etc)

    How can all these diverse ethnic groups be part of the same people? When they clearly married into an indigenous tribe but the tribe however took on their faith?

    The grandparent rule can easily be flawed it should instead with respect :

    Descent (How much of your ethnic make up constitutes to Ireland and if it is from 50 to 66% you can instantly qualify)

    If you have over this amount along with a good degree of education, high knowledge of irish Customs & Culture and finally the dedication to promote the use of the Irish language yet hold fluency in english…

    Consider yourself one of us.

    This can be used fairly for AUS,NZ,CAN,US, ARG, RSA but the UK has the largest overdose of detatchment disorder.

    The other nations have more awareness and sense of belonging to Ireland.

    This is in the constitutuion but they haven’t put their brains into doing something about it which is now crucial for our future!!

  18. MK

    Hi David,

    Some valid points there. One thing though, whether it was 400,000 immigrant workers or 400,000 Irish workers from the lower ‘levels’ of income, that does not matter to businesses/employers. Its true that there is more competition at the lower income levels but income levels are a pyramid that (legally) start at the minimum wage level of 8ish euro per hour and that competition pushes up the line. Not all of the 400,000 immigrants are here for lower paid jobs either. But the large influx of 17%, which seems about right, actually also leads to some price pressure downwards, although as transient migrants, they can opt not to have the full trappings of others and can sacrifice while they are here. Whether the majority will be transient or not remains to be seen, and as long as the numbers keep increasing the beneficial effects will continue. But it will have to stop at some point, wont it? Any predictions for a peak? 25%, will that be a sufficient mass for the rumblings to turn it into an election/government problem? Or will it be 30% or 40%?

    But the Irish employee market is not a free-for-all. It is not a pure capitalist market. There are many examples of it being closed. Hospital Consultants is a glaring one but the list is long with institutionalised bias, over-protection from Unions which effectively is holding the county back (eg: transport).

    > Yes, every time a Romanian sells a copy of the Big Issue, GDP goes up

    In an otherwise good article, I dont think this comment was called for, and was perhaps just an unwise choice. There are many Romanians, Bulgarians, etc that are doing much more than selling the Big Issue.

    By the way, good points from Ruari and Brian above. In terms of the affordability of housing, yes, it is tue that its best measured in terms of the overall amount of a person’s life that it will take up to pay back for. However, with current lack of a free market in housing, (this is no Istanbul!), the restictions still point out that purchasing long-term is cheaper than renting long-term. Whilst that situation remains in Ireland, purchasing is a no-brainer, even if it takes 40 years to do so. Only when it heads towards 100 years (like it did in Japan) will people have to take think that there is a cheaper/alternative way to live apart from the 3-bed semi in a suburbia.

    MK

  19. Re ,Waterford Glass, I always wondered why they did not use the world famous brand names they own to diversify into other prestige products.They dabbled with jewellery,at one point, but regretably seem to have lost interest in this very suitable diversification area. They are now doing bed linen and kitchenware again, but wrist watches for example, and other products such as quality clothing, ( sport shirts-a la “Lacoste”?) has never been explored or exploited.

  20. John

    Re American company’s
    Intel Ireland is currently makeing half of its total revenue in one (FAB24) of three plants they have in Ireland.The other two fabs (FAB14 &FAB10) are losing money making flash chips
    This is all going to change in the next six months when two new plants (FAB28 and FAB32) will be making all the new fast processors on sites outside Ireland, and Ireland will be making the much less profitable chip sets ,and the two old plants will most lightly close in less than 12 months with a large loss of jobs not sure of the number but at a guess 800 to 1600.
    Some more research is needed in to how this will impact GPD in Ireland

  21. Wessel

    Donal,

    I’m not sure if you yourself are so comfortable with the “one-of-us” rules that you are trying to come up with. Do you really want to put in a colour bar or the Irish language as a requisite for being Irish? What does that say to the many Irish in the north or those in the diaspora that everyone on this site seem to enthusiastically want to reclaim?

    David,

    Agree with some previous posters that you are dancing on eggs using stereotypical imagery to make your points on immigrants. Clearly there are posters that see such comments as carte blanche for displaying their own prejudiced views.

  22. Thats interesting news re Intel.3com have left some years past, and IBM are downscaling continually.A new political party anybody-in time for the next election.? Then again, why bother- the Public Service and the farming vote will copperfasten the Soldiers of destiny´s stranglehold on power ad infinitum, come hurricane, high wind, famine, cancer, cryptosporidium,-or any other man made or natural disasters.!
    “It´s the numbers stupid ” and if there´s one thing Fianna Fail do well-its strategic re-distribution of other peoples cash/taxes to maintain a perpetual majority of happy voters.
    The Great Divide.The strategy is called “divide and conquer”. A two tier society.America at home.Thats why the public servants now earn on average 67% more than their private sector colleagues,The problem here David is theres no free market re adjustment process-like in the housing sector.These hundreds of thousands of jobs and pensions are secure for life.So where do we go as relentless stealth taxes continue to squeeze the mortgage holders yet further even if the price of property is in re adjustment.?

  23. Donal

    Wessel,

    there has to be a requisite for being Irish and the if the Irish language is to survive, the diaspora should as everyone else not be exempt from this. The Gaelscoilanna was an idea that should have been acted upon years ago, and its partly our fault for not continuing to speak the language after leaving school or learn in our own way.

    I am comfortable with having a criteria for allowing descendents to return home, the bar on Irish ethnicity under a specific amount would have to exist in order to prevent future ethnic inequality. This could be seen as discriminatory but I’d rather have an Ireland that was unequal in the grounds of wealth than ethnicity which has already occured here…. you only have to walk around the inner northside of dublin to see rundown houses that happen to house immigrants from Africa, the far-east etc.

    Every country in europe that has welcomed “new arrivals” have failed to provide facilities for them and it won’t ever improve no matter how long time passes, you can look at Brixton in london for example as a place that has failed to provide the community compared to upper-class chelsea.

    As a failed migrant in the UK, I would never want anyone from a foreign background to go through the adversity I went through and I will never forget or forgive those who treated me with contempt.

    As for the Irish in the north (Including Non-Catholic Christians whom want to learn without feeling forced to the point of harrassment), they want to learn Irish and the diaspora in America are very keen to follow this route.

    That’s why I came back

  24. Pay attention to the small print

    For anyone who believes that Britain is tolerant you should think again.

    All you need do is look at Quotes 416, 428 & 429. This was debated only just last thursday and the results of peoples opinions is overwhelmingly negative, and they have been dealing with Immigration for over 50 years and they are having enough.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/2007/11/the_big_immigration_debate.html

    I found that the phrase “Ethnic Cleansing” quite frequent

  25. Thaigah

    David wrote:

    “The World Economic Forum highlighted appalling infrastructure as our biggest problem. At least we know what to do. Our ports, railways and roads are Third World, so let’s just get on with it and build them up.

    If the problem is the planning system, then fast-track it. If it is competence, then give the contract to the best people in the world and do it. This is what government is supposed to do – so stop acting the maggot and get on with the job.”

    Go East, Mr Ahem!

    If we really want the best people in the world, then Korea’s your place for roads. They’re not only the best road-builders in the world but the fastest. I live in Korea so I’ve been watching them for the past few years, and I’ve also seen their work in 3rd World countries. They have the technology, the experience and – most importantly – the determination.

    They’d give Ireland a decent road system in a couple of years, using Irish or, if preferred (!), E. European or Chinese labour. Probably sort out port and rail too. And I’m sure they wouldn’t mind getting paid in Euros.

    The only problem might come from our national construction industry; but haven’t they
    done quite well for themselves anyway in the last few years?

    Anyway, I’m sure they could benefit from just watching true professionals at work!

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