Mortgage warnings, housing on vacant public land and Microsoft’s moral victory

Business Today: the best news, analysis and comment from ‘The Irish Times’ business desk

Mortgages and housing: Central Bank researchers sound a warning and Nesc offers a solution. Photograph: iStock

Mortgages and housing: Central Bank researchers sound a warning and Nesc offers a solution. Photograph: iStock


Central Bank researchers are warning today that if current growth in mortgage lending persists and household incomes rise in line with forecasts, the combination could pose a systemic risk to the whole economy. Eoin Burke-Kennedy reports on this, and on warnings from economist Seamus Coffey about the unreliability of the State’s hefty corporation tax take.

The potential vagaries in corporation tax payments also feature in this week’s Inside Business podcast, produced in association with Irish Life. DCU professor of economics Edgar Morgenroth joins the team to assess the IMF’s most recent warnings on the economy.

Still in economics, but moving from warnings to solutions, a new report from the National Economic and Social Council recommends this morning that the Government should look to publicly owned land such as former docks and rail depots as it seeks to address the housing crisis. Colin Gleeson has that story, while Cantillon also has some thoughts on the State’s efforts in the area so far.

Barry O’Halloran reports meanwhile that developer Cairn Homes is close to selling an entire apartment block in Dublin to a single investor.

Mark Paul brings the news that Dreams, the UK furniture retailer, is considering expansion into the Republic, with its chief executive having attended a major Irish retail conference in Dublin on Wednesday.

Facebook and Microsoft

In our technology section this week, Karlin Lillington examines two giant technology groups and the different paths they have taken in dealing with what could be judged as moral issues: Facebook and Microsoft. She has praise for only one of the two.

In Innovation, Charles Arthur considers the true power of artificial intelligence and paints a number of chilling scenarios involving the hackers of the future, from your front door unlocking by itself to your entire city being plunged into darkness.

Ciara O’Brien is writing about hippos this week, but not the animal kind. In management speak, a hippo is the “highest paid person’s opinion”, a phenomenon that can often be seen at play the top of an organisation. According to MIT guru Andrew McAfee, it’s time for the nerds to take over.

Still in Innovation, Charlie Taylor shines a light on cyborgs, or humans who choose to have microchips implanted, often for very positive reasons.

But if “human augmentation” isn’t for you, perhaps “self-gratification” is - John Holden explainshere.

And finally, if you’re about to tuck into your sugar-laden breakfast cereal or morning yoghurt, you might want to avoid Peter Hamilton’s story on research from the UK’s Institute of European Affairs that shows “sin” taxes on household staples including yoghurts, crisps, bread and sliced ham could cost a typical Irish family an extra ¤606 per year.