Articles

Archives

Article Archives

David has been running this website for over 18 years and there are plenty of articles covering some of the most turbulent times in the world economy.

Below is a year by year list of Davids’s articles.

ARCHIVES 2016

The year of the outsider

In 2010, I staged a one-man show with the Abbey Theatre called Outsiders. We had a wonderful month-long run in Dublin and then toured the show all around the country. It was a fantastic experience, working with some of Ireland’s most brilliant theatre professionals,...

read more

Coveney walking a tightrope in risky bid to end housing crisis

Imagine Simon Coveney in a translucent, skin-tight leotard, high above the political swamp, walking the tight-rope between the social reforming objective of rent control and the hard commercial reality of dormant housing supply. Get the picture? This is the minister's...

read more

ARCHIVES 2015

Economic lessons from the age of the Pharaohs

The Pharaoh awoke petrified by a dream. None of his holy men could interpret it. The Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile and that seven cows “attractive and plump” came and fed in the rich grass by the waters. But soon these beasts morphed into seven...

read more

All set for a cracker of a Christmas

This Christmas, many of us are heading to family in different parts of the country, lots are returning home and yet more are coming back to Ireland from abroad. Conversations in houses will vary, but lots of families, particularly those from the country, will look...

read more

ARCHIVES 2014

Why the bookie always wins

One of the many positive by-products of the system of better roads built in Ireland over the last decade is the patchwork of better views. Many of the new roads have cut through parts of the countryside that were never seen before, and lots of new vistas of our lovely...

read more

Oil proves Putin’s weak spot

It’s ironic that in the week that the US lifted its ridiculous embargo on communist Cuba, capitalist Russia experienced one of the most debilitating crises any capitalist country can go through – a run on its currency. It is also a bit paradoxical that the Argentinian...

read more

Why it’s easier to invade Ukraine than defend the Rouble!

The global financial markets are going through a spasm. Emerging markets, long the flavour of the month as poor countries got richer, have seen money flow out of their economies at historical rates. Russia's currency is in free-fall and there's very little that the...

read more

We create our own buzz

Yesterday, in rural Kilkenny, a man stopped me and asked me when the recovery would be felt in the countryside. He told me he was watching the TV and listening to the radio about the recovery in Dublin and Cork, but he wasn’t feeling it. His question was whether this...

read more

ARCHIVES 2013

Ten global market calls for 2014

Today, as there will be lots of commentary on Ireland, let's go large, gain altitude and look at the broad global economic canvas, to see what is likely to happen in 2014. Making forecasts is risky business, but so too is life - and as return is the opposite of risk,...

read more

Official Europe is in denial

What’s worse? Having to listen to a Portuguese communist telling us that the Euro was a victim of Ireland? Or having to listen to our own guy, when the EU has just nailed his ass to a post, telling us there is “no row” between Ireland and the EU President? I don’t...

read more

The economy cannot be transformed by ‘doing nothing’, Enda

The Government's new economic strategy was unveiled yesterday. It is supposed to outline new thinking for the next decade. Yet it seems very much like everything else that we have ever seen before. It is long on things we "must" do, making it read like an early new...

read more

ARCHIVES 2012

Ten global market calls for 2014

Today, as there will be lots of commentary on Ireland, let's go large, gain altitude and look at the broad global economic canvas, to see what is likely to happen in 2014. Making forecasts is risky business, but so too is life - and as return is the opposite of risk,...

read more

Official Europe is in denial

What’s worse? Having to listen to a Portuguese communist telling us that the Euro was a victim of Ireland? Or having to listen to our own guy, when the EU has just nailed his ass to a post, telling us there is “no row” between Ireland and the EU President? I don’t...

read more

The economy cannot be transformed by ‘doing nothing’, Enda

The Government's new economic strategy was unveiled yesterday. It is supposed to outline new thinking for the next decade. Yet it seems very much like everything else that we have ever seen before. It is long on things we "must" do, making it read like an early new...

read more

ARCHIVES 2011

The irrationality of it all

Over the past few days, I have received all sorts of economic forecasts of 2013 penned by economists in large financial outfits who are confidently telling me what is going to happen next year. Most of these guys were the same people who didn’t foresee this crisis,...

read more

Paradox at the heart of the American way

Can you imagine if all the casual sociopaths that you knew in school, the sort of lads that you’d generally give a wide berth, could buy guns with the same ease as they buy Mars bars or laptops? Imagine if all the small time psychopathic drug dealers, not the big...

read more

Marian Finucane Show

Spent Sunday morning on Marian Finucane's show, with Maureen Gaffney, Brendan Howlin, Tom McGurk, Stephen O'Byrnes & Philip O'Connor, discussing last week's news. Part 1 & Part...

read more

BBC Northern Ireland: Spotlight

I recently had the weird experience of being sandwiched between Gerry Kelly of Sinn Fein and Jim Allister of the Traditional Unionist Voice. Don't ask! Ahead of my seasonal visit to Belfast this week and amid the furore over the Union Jack, here's a funny reminder of...

read more

ARCHIVES 2010

We still have the financial means to save ourselves

If we separated the banking system's debt from the rest of the State, we could borrow easily on international markets Yesterday, I got into a Dublin taxi and started nattering away about the usual, the weather, the football and, of course, the state of the kip. "How...

read more

Burning the bus drivers

Last Wednesday evening, in thick snow, as cars slid and sneaked tentatively past the wonderful Church of Ireland church In Monkstown - the one built like a chess set - I hopped on the 7 bus. The driver was courteous and good humoured as he ferried dozens of people...

read more

Last-gasp bluff is now a debt sentence for us all

Tonight I am heading to see 'Scrooge' at the Grand Canal Theatre. I have to reveal an interest and not a little bit of fatherly pride as my daughter plays one of the children. She has been excited all month by this and of course, the whole family now know all the...

read more

Talking about a revolution

What is it? What is the difference between Donegal and Tyrone? And I don’t just mean in Gaelic football. Last Friday morning, I was trying to put my finger - or, more accurately, my foot - on it. Yes, it is something tangible. Crossing the bridge between Lifford and...

read more

Separate bank from state debt or else face econocide

We are only fiscally delinquent when we attach our banks to the people, so we should cut them loose The 13.00 train from Waterford to Dublin pulls out bang on time in glorious sunshine and sneaks its way up the River Suir before turning right and heading inland,...

read more

ARCHIVES 2009

Let’s give away big two banks

This time last year, this column predicted that Anglo Irish Bank would be nationalised within weeks. That came to pass in late January. At the time, the mainstream view was that Anglo could limp on, but this was codswallop. The reason for the nationalisation was...

read more

Banking chief will face deep opposition to reform

The easy-credit drug was pushed from the top, right down to the poor debt junkies at the bottom

Could Patrick Honohan be our Noel Browne? Could Honohan’s inquiry into the fiasco of the banking mess be the 21st century equivalent of Browne’s Mother and Child scheme?

read more

Set our entrepreneurs free

What are we going to do with small businesses that are flirting with bankruptcy? This week, I have had numerous ‘end-of-season’ conversations with businesspeople about the state of the nation. One of the recurring subjects was what are we going to do with the thousands of businesses that are close to going bust.

read more

Country on doomed course with ‘insiders’ at the helm

In recent weeks I’ve been travelling around the country, talking to people and listening to ideas about how best to get out of this mess. What is coming up in all conversation is the sense that the insiders in Ireland are getting away with it and the outsiders are being asked to take most of the pain.

read more

ARCHIVES 2008

Botched bank job is the economics of Noddyland

Brian Lenihan is the Marie Antoinette of Irish politics. He has just done a deal with the management of the Irish banks which even the bewigged last queen of France (bred into the regime, like Lenihan) would not have tried to get away with.

read more

Ireland Inc gets innovative

The government is finally getting it. The €500 million innovation fund announced last Thursday is an enormously influential and intelligent move. In years to come, it may even be seen as Whitakeresque in its prescience. For the first time in a long while, we have a vision of this country that complements what is good in the economy and, more importantly, sees beyond the current malaise. In the weekend where the depth of the problems in our banking system were laid bare, it is encouraging to see that Taoiseach Brian Cowen has the capacity to think about the future.

read more

Lenihan must take responsibility

Has anyone broken the news to finance minister Brian Lenihan that he owns the banks? So far, this fact appears to be unclear to the minister and his civil servants.

read more

ARCHIVES 2007

As a nation, we’ve given up our three core values

Next year will give us the opportunity to ask ourselves, after 10 years of an economic boom, who are we? Our minds will be focussed on this existential question by yet another EU referendum. Where do we want Ireland to go? What sort of EU commitment suits us now? Whether we vote yes or no, it is a positive thing that a country should have discussions with itself from time to time. My hunch (and its only a hunch) is that we might vote no as we did to the Maastricht Treaty before the government told us that the no vote didn’t count and we would have to vote again. The reasons for this are both historic and contemporary.

read more

The office bash: a lesson in losing our decorum

The traffic is brutal as always on the Western Road. The squeaky sound of the wipers is getting on her nerves as Miss Pencil Skirt tries, faithful Tweezerman in hand, to pluck her eyebrows — which is difficult when you are in first gear, foot permanently on the clutch, avoiding the account director in his Five Series who is trying to cut her up.

read more

Reaching for Starbucks in Shanghai

The growing appetite of young Chinese workers for all things western, including dairy products, is having a profound effect on global agriculture.

read more

ARCHIVES 2006

Make politicians accountable for antiquated road network

The other day, I visited a highly profitable multinational company in the west of Ireland. The complex was high-spec, the workers well-paid and well-educated. Despite (or maybe because of) being in a non-unionised plant, workers’ terms and conditions were far better than most heavily unionised workplaces.

read more

Nation of adults now behaving just like spoilt little children

Now that you’ve splurged, given, received, admired, gushed, drunk, gorged and financed it all on the “never never”, let’s take stock. Will 2007 be a good or bad year? What will determine success or failure and, most importantly, will we continue on the path which we have trodden since 2000 – the one of ever-increasing debt, higher house prices, more immigration and more congestion? In short, will the affluent trajectory which has catapulted modern Ireland forward continue? Will the election be won on the simple slogan “it’s the economy, stupid” or will some other imperative grab us?

read more

Children are chomping their way to an epidemic

For anyone who has first-hand experience of the debilitating effects of diabetes – particularly in the old – a survey this week which reveals the prevalence of obesity in children makes disturbing reading.

read more

The road to nowhere

‘I can always tell the weather in Dublin by the annoying sound of wipers, swishing back and forth incessantly. It drives me mad’’.

read more

ARCHIVES 2005

Catholic Ireland has turned economically Protestant

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

This is one of the few Bible parables I remember from school. The image jumped – or rather waddled – out of the page at me.

read more

Ireland should learn from US immigration

In the 1950s and 1960s, black Americans moved into the middle classes at a rate not experienced before or since. When seen though the lens of 1967, it would have been logical to foresee the American black future as a middle-class one, as represented by The Cosby Show, Toni Morrison and Condoleezza Rice. Yet it did not turn out like that.

read more

Budget for the baby-boomers

Brian Cowen would look great with a soft perm, don’t you think? He would cut a dash in a pair of bottle green, high-waist parallels or snugly fitted into a Bay City Rollers bomber jacket.

read more

Annual budget ballyhoo is much ado about nothing

In 1990, the Central Bank’s entire economic fraternity crammed into a small office and giddily jotted down figures to assess the impact of the various numbers pronounced by the minister for finance.

read more

We all contribute to the rip-off

When you touch down in Dublin after your winter break in the sun, the purchasing power of your euro drops considerably. What happens to debase the currency once you pass passport controls at Dublin, Cork or Shannon?

read more

ARCHIVES 2004

The great toll bridge rip-off

This article, like every other one in this newspaper and indeed almost every sentence in every book you read in English, will have been typed with a QWERTY keyboard, named after the first six letters on the top left-hand side of the keyboard. Amazing as it may sound, this keyboard was designed in 1873 as an exercise in anti-engineering.

read more

Hold onto the sackcloth and ashes

The biblical expression “sackcloth and ashes” has been bandied about quite a bit these days.

Coming from Ian Paisley it may sound appropriate.

read more

Passing over the old guard

Is corporate Ireland about to skip a generation? Will thirty-something hotshots take over at board and chief executive level and rob Ireland’s corporate fifty-somethings of their inheritance?

read more

Truth about the Celtic Tiger

Over the years, many Irish politicians, industrialists and public servants have tried, under various guises, to take credit for the Celtic Tiger.

read more

ARCHIVES 2003

ARCHIVES 2002

Money gets us what we want — but do we really need it?

Aristotle made the ancient distinction between ‘needs’ — objects that we must have to survive, such as food, shelter, clothes and other essentials — and `wants’, which are those things we want to make us feel superior to others

read more

ARCHIVES 2001

Euro may do better without Britain

In England, the fancy French train snails through the Kent countryside at around 80 kilometres an hour, shuddering periodically on second-rate, privatised infrastructure (supplied by the now bankrupt Railtrack).

read more

How to build a successful empire

Next week is the 400th anniversary of the battle of Kinsale in which the English monarchy defeated Gaelic Ireland. This English victory marked the beginning of the remarkable story of the British Empire.

read more

Life after the bubble bursts

In fact, there is a direct link between the discovery of the dead refugees in Wexford, the amount of borrowed cash spent at the tills in the next week and the price of houses in Dublin. All three are products of globalisation and will change utterly how this economy and society works over the coming years.

read more

An arcane and irrelevant ritual

The bank’s entire economic fraternity crammed into a small office and giddily jotted down figures to assess the impact of the various numbers pronounced by the minister.

read more

Let’s talk the tiger back to life

Economic fundamentalism is alive and well in Ireland.

Every day, as evidence of the hard landing mounts, a soothing spin is being manufactured which dismisses worries about the economy. The spin contends that a slump is unlikely here because the economic fundamentals are very strong. Let’s call the subscribers to this creed the ‘fundamentalists’.

read more

ARCHIVES 2000

Eircom shareholders are speculators, not investors

“Nothing so undermines your judgement as the sight of your neighbour getting rich,” wrote JP Morgan in 1905. As I write, a telecom company is digging up the street outside the window, laying cables, promising me the world from my living room in a matter of months. The gouging out of Ireland’s road network is happening in every town and has been for the past six months at least.

read more

Raise your glasses to more inflation and higher wages

This year’s Christmas message is that most of you are being ripped off. Difficult to accept but there you go. Despite the wage increases announced to keep the PPF together, Irish workers are selling themselves far too cheaply when compared to their continental neighbours. In doing so, workers are subsidising owners of capital, particularly foreign owners of capital employed in Ireland.

read more

Envious east will take its piece of European action

‘I’m sorry Mr Mec Villiams, but without a visa you can’t enter Yugoslavia.” There was a pause as he surveyed the empty hall. Then he continued in fluent English: “However, as there are no more flights out this evening, you might be able to stay here.”

read more

This borrowing binge is blowing our bubble

News footage from Britain in 1987 shows champagne-swilling Hooray Henrys corking Bolly in celebration of Nigel Lawson’s tax-cutting budget. For many, this landmark budget was the culmination of Mrs Thatcher’s revolution and the high point of Lawson’s career.

read more

Working suburbs will turn cities inside out

In 1987, Steve Martin and John Candy starred in a movie about two all-American Dads desperately trying to get home for Thanksgiving. Planes Trains and Automobiles went on (rather inexplicably) to be one of the biggest films of the year with an “it could happen to you” message in the varied transport disasters befalling two unlikely bedfellows on a filthy late November night.

read more