March 2, 2015
Could it happen again? This is the thought that went through my head, as I waited for the first question from the panel at the banking inquiry last Thursday morning. During the previous few weeks, I spent lots of late nights going through articles, books and documentary evidence written since 2000 on how an economic catastrophe builds. It’s funny how things seem so obvious in hindsight, but back then it was not clear to that many people. More
February 26, 2015
There must have been a collective sigh of relief in the halls of Ireland’s well-heeled, fee-paying schools yesterday, when the case brought by Mary Stokes against the practice of schools reserving places for the sons and daughters of past pupils was kicked out of the Supreme Court. More
February 23, 2015
This weekend, we are faced with the possibility of either a European Germany or a German Europe. It sounds stark, but there it is. More
February 19, 2015
Will the EU torpedo Greece? Will the ECB cause the Greek banking system to collapse? Will forcing a Europe-inspired bank run make it any more likely that the Greeks will be able to pay back more debt? What do you think? The short answer is: of course not. More
February 16, 2015
Irish politicians were almost unanimously delighted to abandon our national currency and join a currency of countries with which we do modest trade and with whom we have almost no traditional demographic links. These same politicians appear to be unwilling to sell their bit of our national airline to the one carrier that makes commercial sense. More
February 12, 2015
One of the strangest sights on arrival at Jose Marti airport in Havana is a large American Airlines 737 on the tarmac. There it is – stars and stripes on the tail – just beside the huge mural of an impossibly handsome Che Guevara. More
February 9, 2015
I am queuing in the cavernous aisle of Right Priced, a wholesaler in George Town, the capital of the Cayman Islands. Around me, poor black Caymanians are stocking up too, served by Filipino immigrants. These are not the people you see in the glittering strip of bars and hotels that service the massive ex-pat population here. These people are different. They are close to the bottom of a society, which has become extremely wealthy over the years by being a tax shelter for rich people’s money. More
February 5, 2015
I realise it’s a bit odd to be writing about the Irish tax system while eating grilled fish at a beach shack in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. I’m in this tax haven to give a speech about the economic challenges facing small countries when old certainties start to crumble. Specifically, in the case of the Bahamas, this has to do with changes to global tax conditions and the likely impact on the economies of the region as the giant in this part of the world, Cuba, opens up to commerce. More
February 2, 2015
This week, people are asking whether the Central Bank’s new restricted credit regime will stop house prices from rising. To answer that question, we have to know what drives house prices in Ireland. More
January 29, 2015
Like most Irish people, I like flying Aer Lingus. I like the staff, I like the feeling of being at home, but I can see what is happening. The airline is caught in a rapidly changing market having to offer a traditional, almost nostalgic, service in a world where customers’ expectations about flights are changing rapidly. 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?