Monthly Archives: August 2014

Railroading capital spending..

IScreenshot 2014-08-30 07.35.11nfrastructure investment is a huge business. Worldwide there are estimates that upwards of a trillion dollars extra per annum are required in investment in water, power, sewerage etc. Total global infrastructure needs are estimated to be of the order of $60tr over the next couple of decades.  The changing regulatory environment, combined with weaker banking systems, and the need to find attractive returns for pension funds are also combining to make financing of infrastructure more complex and involving more partners. Globally infrastructure has been a good bet for investors. Infrastructure and related indices are consistent outperformers over equity and bonds. So what does all this have to do with Ireland ? Continue reading

What Lies, beneath. Civil and public service pay, again.

So, public sector pay is back on the radar. The publication by the CSO of the recent public/private sector pay comparisons has given rise to the usual outpourings from the organs of media billionaires. The facts on the face of it seem stark : see the graph. However, beyond the bilious soundbits of bitter hacks, a different, complex, story emerges. That there is a wedge, whereby public sector pay is on average greater than private, is a fact. The issue is why : some may simply think it to be capture of the coffers, others might note that one is comparing apples and tomatoes.  

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Five economics lessons for the Leaving Certificate

With the leaving cert results out and students awaiting CAO offers, we might wish to consider again some of the problems of the second level system, and in particular how basic economic principles can aid us towards a solution. Too much discussion on reform revolves into micro discussion of whether we should have compulsory Irish or replace it with compulsory C++ training. We display educational opsablepsia with regards to our own educational system and need to face its problems.

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The Tontosity and Tontification of John Bruton

john-bruton-iAt one time western movies, cowboys and indians, were the most popular form of cinema. The top of the tree in hero terms was The Lone Ranger. With his Native American sidekick, Tonto, he got into and out of scrapes on a weekly basis. A running gag is when, holed up by enraged Native Americans, LR turns to Tonto and says “we’re in trouble” to be met with a flinty eyed “who’s this we, white man?” .   We in Ireland have a mode of discourse best called Tontosity – pompous urging of ‘us’ to do something when the speaker has no intention of being one of ‘us’. Sometimes, when they are in full form they Tontificate, expressing such views from on high (usually a first class airplane seat) Continue reading

Monopoly Madness, Irish Style

watervanclampedTwo recent government decisions – on postcodes and the ongoing Irish Water rollout-  show the lack of basic economic logic at the heart of policy making.  This is worrying. As I have noted many times before, while some macroeconomic approaches have been shown to have failed, and how, in the last decade, the basic precepts of supply and demand, of how firms and consumers interact, of market failure and so forth, these remain unchallenged for the main.  The unwillingness of governments to adhere to the implications of these fundamentals is as worrying in its field as would be the case of a government persistently and wilfully ignoring the advice of medical professionals on matters of public health. Not that t that would ever happen… Continue reading