Articles: Economic History %


June 24, 2014

Years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to work for Jack Welch of GE fame at close quarters. It is the sort of invaluable experience that is hard to replicate, even if, at times, his pace of work was shocking for someone 30-odd years his junior. During the period we had time to chat about all sorts of things. More

June 9, 2014

If you only have to look at one chart this week, let it be the one on this page (chart one). More

April 28, 2014

This week’s column comes to you from a very warm and sunny Istanbul, where I am working, for my sins. This is one of the world’s great cities and everywhere there is the evidence that this place has been at the centre of the world for close to 2,000 years, stretching down the ages from the Roman Eastern Empire to the centre of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans were eventually deposed and replaced by Ataturk and his extraordinary secular vision in the early 20th century, who fashioned the new Republic out of the twin ingredients of science and nationalism. Now this secular republic is under threat by the renewed religious fever of Islamists in the government of Tayyip Erdogan. More

April 17, 2014

I’ve had a soft spot for Limerick since the time a pretty Laurel Hill teenager from Ennis Road whispered to a freckly, 15-year-old redhead outside the ceili at Irish college that she thought he was special. More

April 14, 2014

My dad used to tell me about the numerous pawnbrokers in Dun Laoghaire, and how it was common for people to use them at the end of a week, or coming up to some big event, to get cash for clothes, jewellery or anything that could be used as collateral. If the person didn’t pay back the loan, the pawnshop sold the collateral. More

March 20, 2014

Every month you’ll hear about the number of new cars that are sold. This is usually taken as a bellweather for the health of the economy. Cars are expensive and the more that are shifted in any one month, or indeed year, the healthier the economy. Also because so many people use their car to get to work, an upswing in the demand for cars indicates an upswing in activity across all sorts of areas. More

March 18, 2014

In the summer of 1787, determined to show foreign ambassadors the might of Russian power in the newly subjugated Ukraine and Crimea, Catherine the Great organised a boat trip down the Dnieper past modern-day Kiev. More

March 10, 2014

I am here at Abu Dhabi Airport. My flight was supposed to depart at 2.15am. It’s now 9am and we’ve been told the flight may take off at 11am. So you can imagine the state of the place and the state of me! There’s no point in getting angry at staff, who are trying their best to deal with a mega systems failure. There has been a collapse of the Etihad infrastructure: poor visibility due to fog, lights on the runways have gone out, crews are not able to make their connection and now there is a massive backlog of planes queuing up on the runways with no one to fly them. More

February 24, 2014

One of the interesting things about emerging market crises, is that when you are in one, it doesn’t feel like a crisis at all. Turkey has been buffeted by a political crisis and mass demonstrations, which could easily have spilled over into the nightmare playing out in Ukraine. Yet the situation has been calmed by both the protestors and the government. It doesn’t mean the problems have gone away, but it means that both sides have pulled back from the brink. More

February 17, 2014

My earliest memories of Castle Street, Dalkey, were Saturday mornings in Dom McClure’s barbershop with my father. Dom cut my Grandad’s hair, my Dad’s hair and now he was shearing mine. More

Articles: Economic History

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?

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