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February 8, 2016

The other day there was a vox-pop on RTE radio that asked people how they were going to vote. One voice said that he was from a family of 15, nine of whom had a vote and all of whom were registered in one house. He went on to say that his mother was waiting for the government to buy her an extractor fan in her kitchen. He concluded that whatever politician paid for the mother’s extractor fan would get all the votes in the house! More

February 4, 2016

In global economics and finance there is a phenomenon called a “super cycle”. This is a large structural shift in the world economy that can go on for a long time. Unlike normal business cycles, which last approximately seven or eight years, super cycles can last decades. A good example of these super cycles is what is happening in world markets right now. More

February 1, 2016

The way Donald Trump wants to see the world matches the model of driving in India. Somehow there are codes of individual self-discipline in a system with no obvious collective rules. This is what Trump and ideological right wingers all over the world yearn for. They want an economic system where there is no state control but where individual humans acting in their own interest will thrive. This is the cornerstone of Adam Smith’s 18th-century writings. Driving in India is a prime example of Adam’s Smith’s “invisible hand” at work. More

January 28, 2016

The EU’s Court of Auditors has come out very strongly against the EU Commission’s handling of Ireland’s bailout, particularly the way the EU Commission backed – without reservation – the ECB’s insistence that Ireland pay all the senior bondholders of the banks. More

January 25, 2016

I now know what the expression “dirt poor” looks like. It is dawn in Jaipur, India. I am watching crowds of filthy, impoverished men on the side of a dusty road pour buffalo milk from large vats into smaller cups. They are hungry. The masala chai is brewing as emaciated cows graze in rubbish skips, unfazed by the armada of tuck tucks, motorbikes and buses that transports the masses in this extraordinary and extraordinarily beautiful city. More

January 21, 2016

This has been a fantastic week for Irish cinema. The achievements of directors, scriptwriters, actors and producers in nabbing seven Oscar nominations is the equivalent of the Irish football team getting to the World Cup final. More

January 18, 2016

My abiding memory of the Leaving Cert is of being in a Dublin boarding school the night before an exam, cramming the last morsels of useless knowledge into my jaded head, listening to a battered tape recorder blasting out a tinny version of Moonage Daydream by Bowie. In my final stretch in school, Bowie was my companion. His music was the soundtrack of that Leaving Cert year. More

January 14, 2016

The one thing I like about Manchester United fans is their obsessively narrow focus. The world may be ending but they will still be able to see it from a Manchester United perspective. The other day I witnessed a great example of this. I was talking to a friend, who has the United weakness. She is fascinated by the world around her but tends to see an Old Trafford angle in even the most remote events. We were talking about the global economy, the crisis in China, the fall in the price of oil and the instability of the Gulf region given the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia. More

January 11, 2016

Has the world run out of credit boom and credit busts?  More

January 7, 2016

In this first article of the new year, I’d like to discuss the reasons why the global financial markets began the year in turmoil. The Chinese market fell 7pc on Monday, as did several major stock markets, while the dollar rose against a prevailing backdrop of chaos and uncertainty. More


I write two economics columns every week. They keep me sane and hopefully, on my toes – but you can be the judge of that! One appears in the Irish Independent on Wednesdays and the other in the Sunday Business Post every Sunday. I’ve been writing the columns for over ten years now, covering economic, financial, demographic, social and geo-political issues – and all sorts of other things that come into my head, sparked by things I’ve read, people I have spoken to or ideas I have heard, over the course of any particular week.

The world - and Ireland - is changing so rapidly that it’s impossible to run out of things to write about. Since I rarely stop writing, the articles are composed and written in the oddest of places, in bars, on trains, in my office, on buses. You name it, I’ve written in, on or under it.

One of the great joys in the week is reading the responses to my articles in the comments on this site. Thanks so much to everyone who responds, challenges, argues and even blatantly insults! This is what freedom of expression and opinion is all about: two contrasting opinions – a buyer and a seller - make a market and makes for good discussion. Imagine a world where we all agreed?