Articles %


December 5, 2017

When I was a boy I never went to a restaurant with my parents. On very special occasions we might go to a hotel grill room. Restaurants were for other people, of a different caste. Restaurants signified not just wealth or commercial status; a more adventurous palate indicated a subtle form of worldly sophistication. More

November 28, 2017

In June 1858, during the second Opium War, Britain and France, in cahoots with the other major European powers and the United States, forced China to sign the Treaty of Tianjin. Britain waged the Opium War so its merchants could flood China with cheap heroin, cultivated by other British merchants in India. More

November 20, 2017

Unlike hosting the Rugby World Cup, the global economy is no longer an “all-or-nothing” game of nations pitted against each other where for one side to win the other must lose. It’s more nuanced. More

October 29, 2017

This week, the Catalan parliament declared independence. Immediately, the Spanish government annulled this move and announced direct rule from Madrid. By tomorrow, the Spanish authorities will have taken over all the organisations of the Catalonia state, including the police force. More

October 23, 2017

The current tracker mortgage scandal has its roots deep in the Celtic Tiger boom when the banks went hell-for-leather to lend to anyone in order to make more and more profits. More

October 15, 2017

It has been particularly interesting listening to Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe, talk about his plans for tax rates. He wants to reduce income tax on the ‘squeezed middle’. This is undoubtedly a laudable move. Excessive taxation cripples people, as too do excessive retail prices. More

October 8, 2017

Do you remember the break up of Yugoslavia? At first people said it could never happen. Yugoslavia had been a federation since the First World War, it had Europe’s biggest standing army, it had been the ballast between East and West and yet, it disintegrated in bloodshed. More

October 1, 2017

With the Budget just ahead of us, it is timely to remind ourselves of the original Colbert report. I don’t mean Stephen Colbert, but rather Jean Baptiste Colbert. He was the extraordinarily talented finance minister of Louis XIV who radically overhauled the French economy of the early 17th century, generating the revenues that were subsequently squandered by both Louis and his free-spending grandson. More

September 24, 2017

The budget, only a few weeks away, is the main instrument used by a government to signal what type of economic policy it favours. Using the tax system, the cabinet indicates where it would like the country to go and what sort of society it is trying to establish. The taxes that it decides to levy should reveal a government’s true colours and, if it isn’t too much to expect, its vision. More

September 17, 2017

Did you know that there is more than a 90pc chance that Dublin will win today because Fine Gael are in power? Eight of Dublin’s last nine All-Ireland wins have happened under Fine Gael governments. More

Articles

I write a column every week. This keeps me sane and hopefully, on my toes – but you can be the judge of that! The article appears in the Irish Times every Saturday. I just started writing this column (having recently left my column at the Irish Independent which I wrote for over 10 years). I cover 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?

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