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January 16, 2018

“If the Dutch lived in Ireland, they’d feed the world but if the Irish lived in Holland, they’d drown.” More

January 10, 2018

The Irish crash of 2008 was not a surprise to anyone with their wits about them and a passing knowledge of economic history. The great delusion propagated, which continues to be propagated, was that the housing/property/banking/credit collapse was in some way unexpected. More

January 3, 2018

Much of today’s economic and financial discourse revolves around the impact of new technology on our lives, as if this were something new. It’s not. The repetitive economic cycle is also as old as the hills, as is speculation. More

January 1, 2018

Every Christmas, our family heads to Belfast to see the in-laws and eat gluttonously, drink copiously, argue endlessly, and fill the boot dementedly before we head down South again. The difference in prices between the Republic and Northern Ireland is remarkable, particularly at Christmas when everyone is buying more of everything. More

December 27, 2017

Some 2000 years ago, Joseph and Mary headed from Nazareth to Bethlehem to sign a census. Census night was a big deal in Roman Judea because the Romans were meticulous about economic and demographic affairs, particularly because they were exacting tax-collectors. These taxes were designed to finance Roman expansion in the East. More

December 20, 2017

One of the oddest things happening in the Irish economy is that unemployment is falling quickly but income-tax receipts are not rising in tandem. The Government is confused. When employment rises so should income tax. So why isn’t this happening? More

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


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?