Articles: International Economy %


May 5, 2014

Years ago, in 2006, this column coined the expression ‘ghost estates’ after a drive from Castlebar to Dublin, where I saw row after row of these estates being built outside provincial villages. That year, over 90,000 houses were built in Ireland. I had no idea that this expression ‘ghost estate’ would find its way into the sorry lexicon of the era, but it did. 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 24, 2014

Sport is the ultimate winner- takes-all economy where the difference between first and second place is huge. No one remembers runners-up. It is all about glory – or glory and riches – and no one wants to be second best. This is why Moyes’ exit was so abrupt; Man Utd have come to expect better and there can be no room for sentiment in the economics of sport. More

April 21, 2014

The other day, I went for a coffee with one of the local priests here in Dalkey. Father Declan was chatting about all sorts of stuff, and we touched on the first year of Pope Francis and what it has meant. For millions of Catholics all over the world – whether practising or not – the image of a truly humble man, who says the right things and seems honestly interested in the poor, is a relief. 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

April 10, 2014

I am writing this from a small cafe just opposite the Old Bailey. For many Irishmen of my vintage, the Old Bailey is synonymous with IRA terrorists as well as innocent Irish people stitched up for crimes they didn’t commit. In my head, the Old Bailey reminds me of the 1970s and 1980s, a time when relations between Ireland and England were at their most strained. More

March 29, 2014

WHEN every fashionable tech start-up company is being bought by competitors or is raising billions on the stock market or from private investors, it is clear we are in the era of marketing, hype and opportunism, fuelled by lots of people having lots of money to throw around. Silicon Valley is full of hype and hot air these days. More

March 24, 2014

This week the diminutive Janet Yellen, by far and away the most powerful woman in the world, sent the macho and male-dominated financial markets into a hissy fit when she mused aloud that she may raise US interest rates early next year. 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 13, 2014

A few years ago, a reviewer decided to do a hatchet job on a book I wrote. This book was written in mid-2006. It forecast explicitly that the Irish banks were dangerously over-lending, one of the main banks was a wildly speculative “hedge fund” and would come crashing down when the property bubble imploded. More

Articles: International Economy

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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