Articles: People %

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

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

March 6, 2014

Look at the chart for the latest from January 2014 and notice which cities scream crisis.They are Kiev and Istanbul. More

March 3, 2014

I am in Kilkenny this evening, planning some events for this year’s Kilkenomics festival. Kilkenomics is a strange hybrid of economics and comedy. It is not your usual economics conference because the stand-up comedians tease out the logic – warts and all – of what the economists are saying. In addition, the comedians shear away the jargon behind which many economists hide. As a result, there is more clarity delivered in Kilkenny than in many other economic set pieces. More

February 27, 2014

Sometimes when people write about economics, it is easy to forget that behind every economic statistic is a personal story. More

February 20, 2014

It’s not every day I can open the column from such an exotic location as Sarajevo. I am sitting in a small cafe opposite the very bridge where Gavrilo Princip, the young Serb radical, assassinated Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, triggering a sequence of events leading to World War I. 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

February 13, 2014

This day last week a letter posted in Connacht came into the Irish Independent addressed to me. Its contents were disturbing. It describes the “new poor”– people with good jobs in our country who can’t make ends meet and who are advised by people working for the State that they’d be better off working part-time and taking benefits. I will transcribe it for you. More

February 6, 2014

A few years ago, a comedian had me in stitches with his sketch of Aldi jokes. The plot line was that a shopper goes into Aldi looking to buy cheap meat and milk and comes out with a leg of lamb, a pint of milk, a snorkel, a tent and an angle grinder. Things were just so cheap and the range so indiscriminate, that he simply had to buy the angle grinder at the price, even if he had no obvious angles to grind. As for the snorkel and the tent, well they are the sorts of things that go together in your head when you are in Aldi, aren’t they? More

February 3, 2014

Even though the Pantheon in Paris is covered up for refurbishment, it is impossible not to be amazed by the majesty of it. It is where France goes to bury its great men. The roll-call of the dead is impressive, from Napoleon to Victor Hugo. Interestingly, it was right in the middle of the French Revolution when the French were killing quite a few of their great men and wouldn’t have been that keen on such traditionalist, religious ceremonies such as burials. More

Articles: People

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?