April 20, 2015
Birmingham is many things, but as a city to visit, I have yet to find its attraction. It is home to one of the biggest Irish populations in Britain. In the pretty run-down inner suburbs of south Birmingham, the Kerryman and the Dubliner pubs face each other on either side of the road from the airport. When my dad was a kid during World War II, most of the working population of Dun Laoghaire worked full time – but they worked full time in Birmingham not Dublin. Much to Mr de Valera’s chagrin, they worked in the factories of the RAF producing planes for the eventual Allied victory over Germany. More
April 16, 2015
I love getting the bus, don’t you? It appeals to my nosey side. Ever since I was a kid, I have loved being on the top of the bus, hopefully right at the front, looking into people’s gardens and over walls into the secret world of other people’s lives. More
April 13, 2015
Perhaps the best description of the journey from solvency to bankruptcy comes from Hemingway in his novel The Sun Also Rises. Two characters have just met and are talking intently, each trying to figure out what the other is doing in rural Spain in the 1920s. One of them asks the other, ‘How did you go bankrupt?’ The other responds, ‘Two ways. Gradually, and then suddenly.’ More
April 9, 2015
If interest rates are zero, why does a new mortgagee face an interest rate of between 4pc and 5pc? It must be frustrating for readers to hear financial experts reiterate constantly that “interest rates have never been lower” and yet they face significantly higher rates when they go to borrow money. More
April 7, 2015
Theocracies tend to project their power and influence in the strangest ways. From local mystic rituals to get the natives onside, to subtle proselytising, to overt attempts to convert what my children would describe as “randomers”. More
April 2, 2015
I am being nosy sitting in a small café in central London, listening behind my paper to three young Irish professionals grab their sandwiches as they chat about job opportunities in Dublin. This scene could be anywhere in the world today. It could be Sydney, Auckland, Toronto, New York, San Francisco or anywhere in the UK. More
March 30, 2015
It hasn’t gone away, you know. The Greek crisis is back and this time it’s serious. The Greeks are about to run out of money again. Athens faces a €1.7 billion bill for wages and pensions at the end of the month and a further €450 million loan payment to the IMF on April 9 – and it doesn’t have the cash. More
March 26, 2015
There can be few better feelings than successfully explaining something to someone and watching their face and their reaction, as something that was confusing and difficult becomes clear and straightforward. It is a beautiful thing to see the weight of incomprehension being replaced by the freedom of understanding. More
March 16, 2015
Over the past year, the euro is 25 per cent down against the dollar – our main trading partner. This is the currency that was supposed to bring stability to Ireland. Losing a quarter of your value in 12 months is hardly stability, now, is it? More
March 12, 2015
Is rural Ireland dying today? Or maybe a better question is, when wasn’t rural Ireland dying? It has always been the case that opportunities in cities are more plentiful and that people migrate from the countryside to the cities. 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?