Daniel O’Donnell welcomes the Mary from Dungloe contestants on stage during a concert. Ireland’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council in 2011 might have been helped by his popularity in certain small countries. Photograph: North West Newspix

More active strategy to harness economic value of Irish culture could reap rewards

A euphorbium poplar forest in Kuche, Xinjiang Province, China. Photograph: Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty
Poem of the week: Who

A new work by John FitzGerald

The difference in living standards between rich and poor regions in practice may not be quite as high as the headline figures suggest, because housing is typically a lot cheaper in poorer regions.  Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

Cutting taxes on income or property would damage ability to redistribute wealth

While polls over the last year have shown an increased interest in tackling climate change, this appears to have evaporated now that an election is under way. Photograph:  Getty Images

John FitzGerald: It’s much easier in election mode to offer more cash for health or housing than to try to save the planet

‘It is no surprise that housing is figuring prominently in election manifestos.’ File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

John FitzGerald: Parties’ plans could exacerbate things without solving underlying issues

In 2013, the UK government introduced a carbon price floor, resulting in the closure of all coal-fired generation plants in mainland Britain. Photograph: John Giles/PA Wire

John FitzGerald: Co-ordinated North-South action is needed to tackle the issue effectively

TK Whitaker  in 1975, when he was governor of the Central Bank. Photograph: Tommy Collins

Downgrading of specialist skills has contributed to policy failures in the 2000s

US president Donald Trump and China’s president Xi Jinping in Beijing in 2017. Photograph: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images

John FitzGerald: New protectionist regime is good for neither US nor the rest of the world

Intel in Leixlip, Co Dublin. The CSO figures  show that multinationals account for around 20%  of our income, a similar share to what it was in 2013

John FitzGerald: It is only after much CSO work that we are beginning to see what is really going on

Probably the main channel through which the ECB action has affected the euro zone economy has been through the effect of zero interest rates on the exchange rate. Photograph: Getty Images

John FitzGerald: A euro zone fiscal stimulus is the only way to effectively revitalise the economy

“If the price of damaging emissions is not fully reflected in the prices we pay, the unconscious tendency will be to overconsume what is harmful, and underinvest in the greener alternatives.”

Policy changes could help shift the behaviour of businesses and households

Ellis Island, in New York Harbor, once an immigration inspection station many Irish emigrants passed through. Between 1820 and 1920, about six million people emigrated from Ireland to the US

Immigrants to Ireland from a non-English-speaking country typically experience some disadvantage

Those most likely to be consistently poor today are those who are unemployed, out of work due to sickness or disability, or lone parents. Photograph: iStock

The policy mix needed to deal with inequity is complex, not something easily fixed by changes to the welfare or tax systems

A customs post outside Newry, Co Down. File photograph: Pacemaker

John FitzGerald: Boris Johnson’s unrealistic timetable for trade deal could bring us back to dark days

The fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago tomorrow triggered the most fundamental change in Europe since the second World War. Photograph: AP Photo, File

Breaking up a country is relatively easy but, as the Germans discovered, putting it together again is much more challenging

Samson and Goliath: Twin shipbuilding gantry cranes in the Titanic quarter in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

John FitzGerald: A sharp fall in vital transfers to Northern Ireland after Brexit is likely

DUP leader Arlene Foster. The first Brexit agreement in December 2017 between May’s government and the EU had to be rapidly altered because of opposition from her  party. Photograph: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

With checks between the North and Britain adding to the costs for businesses, it’s no wonder the DUP is cross

Joint Nobel Prize winner in economics, Esther Duflo,  at MIT on October 14th. Photograph:  Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Esther Duflo’s research in developing countries has practical impact on tackling poverty

The budget introduced by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe includes about €800 million of conditional support for those who will be worst affected by Brexit. Photograph: Tom Honan

Budget needed to be Goldilocks solution to keep economy from overheating or cooling

An engineer measuring voltage or current. Having links with less “windy” systems means that surplus power can be exported when the wind blows in Ireland

John Fitzgerald: if Ireland is to generate 40% of its electricity from wind we need to double our interconnection with Britain and(...)

What happened to the 200,000 construction workers who lost their jobs in the 2008-2010 period?

Economists from the Irish Government Economic Service show the value of having in-house analysis capacity

A major problem for Ireland’s beef sector is that EU demand for the product is weak relative to supply.

Brexit, removal of EU protections and rise of meat alternatives are death knell for sector

One response may be for an orphan Northern Ireland to seek a home in a united Ireland. However, from an economic point of view, this would have unpleasant consequences North and South. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

John FitzGerald: Both North and South could pay a large price for unity in the near future

An exterior view of the Titanic Belfast building in Belfast, Northern Ireland. File photograph: David Moir/Reuters

John FitzGerald: The North faces decades of inertia unless there is urgent reform

Cars made in a free port Sunderland using imported parts would attract some tariffs if sold to consumers elsewhere within the UK. Photograph: EPA/Andy Rain

John FitzGerald: Drive towards making Teesside a free port could offer a way forward

Today 800 million litres of milk produced in the North are sent to the Republic for processing. Photograph: iStock

Many Northern farmers will be unable to continue in business

Cities that have introduced congestion charging have seen tangible improvements in terms of reduced traffic and better air quality.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

In the next few years, we will need to commit to a new tax regime for road transport

Alternative land uses could provide positive returns, rather than the losses that beef production entails. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

John FitzGerald: The economics of beef are on a knife edge – changing makes sense

The minimum wage is effective at providing some protection for poorly organised workers with weak bargaining positions.

John Fitzgerald: Ireland’s lower-paid workers are not always from poorest households

Our prices for food and clothing are about 10 per cent more expensive than in the EU15. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

John FitzGerald: Price level here is more than compensated for by other factors

Poor life expectancy today is related to many factors such as deprivation, social class and education level. Photograph: Getty Images

Inequality in life expectancy has received much less attention than income inequality

The shock to our economy from a disorderly Brexit would reduce our national income by about 4 per cent, and lead to a major rise in unemployment

Pumping money into construction will lead to price rises, not increased supply

Facebook in Dublin. Most of the foreign multinationals in Ireland today are primarily here because of the availability of the skilled labour they need. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

There is still work to be done in separating out multinationals from the rest of the economy

Breaking down the   Berlin Wall. Its fall  initiated a major transformation in the wider European economy whose effects played out over the subsequent 25 years.  Photograph:   David Brauchli/Reuters

Populist politicians continue to blame globalisation and foreigners for society’s ills

‘Child benefit is paid to mothers, this does not protect them from personally experiencing deprivation. Photograph: iStock

Research found in low-income households benefit spent by mothers on their children

The Republic has been a net beneficiary until the current decade, and today makes only a small net contribution to the budget. Photograph: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

Irish contributions will increase if UK leaves union but benefits are worth the cost

While housing output is beginning to pick up, it could be another four or five years before supply and demand come into balance. Photograph: Getty Images

John FitzGerald: New survey shows employment figures set to grow despite threats

Dollymount, Dublin. Throughout Ireland, extreme weather has brought more frequent and severe storms, increased flooding, droughts and wildfires, with all their negative consequences. File photograph: Eric Luke

Collapse of Rome shows how failure to adapt can have catastrophic consequences

 Work  at the national children’s hospital  site at St James’s Hospital, Dublin. While its  cash cost  is heading for €2bn, a hidden cost is the effect on the economy’s output of raising the revenue to pay for it. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

While a sophisticated method for assessing the value of public projects is now applied, this does not guarantee final costs will r(...)

Paschal Donohoe: tricky decisions ahead. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

John FitzGerald: Should Donohoe prepare State for Brexit crash-out or further growth?

Crowded classroom where 248 children are taught at once in a Belfast school: Northern Ireland urgently needs to reform its educational system to deliver better results for children of all abilities and backgrounds.

In the North, 21% per cent of 30-34 year olds have not completed their post-primary education

‘It is not fair that homes built since 2013 should be exempt while those who own homes built earlier pay in full.’

John FitzGerald: The levy is not perfect but it may offer a solution for the housing crisis

‘Our babysitting club was a great way to build community and make friends on our estate.’ File photograph: Getty Images

John FitzGerald: Capitol Hill babysitting co-op’s fate offers a lesson on quantitative easing

Sinn Féin spokesperson on finance Pearse Doherty has proposed a Bill that would prevent banks from selling home loans without the consent of borrowers.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

John FitzGerald: Move on securitisations could hurt consumers and housing supply

TK Whitaker at a press conference in Dublin in April 1975. Whitaker helped establish the ESRI.   Photograph: Tommy Collins/The Irish Times

John FitzGerald: Government policies have seen better outcomes thanks to domestic expertise

Wherever manufacturing takes place, automation and computerisation have led to job losses among the least skilled, whose jobs are most easily automated

The long-term solution to loss of unskilled jobs is to ensure that those leaving education have the skills to work in a modern eco(...)

When does an Irish cow become a British cow? Photograph: iStock

John FitzGerald: The UK’s proposed ‘honesty box’ approach to NI-British trade raises problems

In Ireland, our average annual hours dropped by 150 during the recession, and has since recovered as employment picked up.

About a third of the difference in working hours can be explained by annual holidays

Computer-generated image of what MetroLink arriving at Swords could look like

John FitzGerald: Why has the projected Luas Green Line closure time jumped fourfold?

Major home improvements are not only expensive, they are also inherently disruptive, and this will remain an obstacle to people retrofitting their homes.

Biggest problem for households is cutting fossil fuel energy consumed in home heating

Queen’s University Belfast. In  recent years, the impact of emigration on Northern Irish society and the economy has been more negative than in the Republic

Permanent migration of graduates has had serious negative impact on North’s economy

Traditionally, the key factor driving emigration from Ireland has been the prospect of a better standard of living in Britain.

John FitzGerald: Britain’s influence over Irish migration and wages may be waning

An orderly Brexit would leave our economy growing very rapidly this year. In turn this would mean that the current fiscal stance, embodied in the budget, is very inappropriate

Instead of fuelling the boom the Government should be saving for future shocks

President Michael D Higgins on a state visit to Vietnam in 2016. The president was visiting a district in Vinh Linh to see work Irish Aid had completed. Photograph: Maxwell’s

John FitzGerald: Irish Aid’s activity boosts our influence and opens doors to trade

In the case of a no-deal Brexit, Irish food exports, especially of meat, will be subject to heavy duties. And the full effects will take some time to play out

John FitzGerald: One concern about a bad-tempered Brexit is that some of the potential ways of smoothing the economic consequences(...)

“The true cost of achieving an optimal design for the children’s hospital is that it has hoovered up the budgets needed for other health facilities that will, as a result, be delayed for years.”

Children’s hospital design another example where the best is the enemy of the good

An employee assists travellers with Vietjet Aviation JSC self check-in kiosks at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Any disruption to the Chinese economy will have serious  consequences for Vietnam. Photograph: Maika Elan/Bloomberg

Unpredictable nature of US trade policy poses a particular danger for super-open economies

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe. He   has received a windfall in corporation tax receipts this year. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

John FitzGerald: Surge in revenue from multinationals is a boost but masks reality

“Carbon taxes will discourage future developments that involve lengthy commutes by car. However, there is a challenge of how best to support those already caught in this situation.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Mitigating effects of carbon tax on those with lowest incomes is essential

By the end of 2017 the State Claims Agency estimated that its outstanding liability was €2.7 billion, about three-quarters of which related to claims against the health system. Photograph: iStock

John FitzGerald: Claims system adds cost to health service with adverse effects

Our participation rates in education were further boosted by choices young people made in the recession to stay on in school or college. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Recent CSO study shows that workers with degrees earn two-thirds more than others

A quarter of the class of 2010 were living abroad five years after graduation.

Permanent emigration of people with key skills could be serious loss to Irish economy

A lorry passes a sign on a main road outside Newry pointing towards an old customs and excise station near the Border. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

The only way to have a soft border after Brexit is for UK to stay in customs union

‘After 2008, the necessary adjustment was concentrated into four years. Recovery is faster when tough medicine is taken quickly.’ Photograph: Getty Images

John FitzGerald: State’s progress out of recession is much smoother than in 1980s

The UK announced a tech tax this week. While this type of tax has serious defects, the move reflects a public concern felt across the EU. Photograph: Getty Images

While the services of social media companies may overlap, they each have their distinctive niche which they dominate worldwide

‘If the UK is reduced to England, Wales and the North, the exceptional generosity of transfers to the North will stand out even more, increasing the likelihood that mainland politicians will choose to  cast the North adrift.’

John FitzGerald: Britain’s Brexit ‘civil war’ could lead to a disastrous end for the union

Dublin’s bus network must adapt to reflect the city’s growth. Photograph: Alan Betson

Most commuters in 2040 will depend on buses not the Luas, Dart or Metro

William Nordhaus  after winning the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences at Yale University on Monday. Photograph:  Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

Climate change specialist William Nordhaus says carbon price needed to achieve targets will rise as policies have been delayed

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has much to ponder as he puts the finishing touches to Budget 2019. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The hospitality sector is booming – it’s time to raise the 9% VAT rate

Graffiti depicts the stalled construction site of Anglo Irish Bank’s proposed headquarters in Dublin following the bank’s collapse.  Photographer: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

John FitzGerald: More banks might have survived had more been foreign-owned

The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. Photograph: Tom Stoddart/Getty Images

John FitzGerald: Germany’s interest rate rise set an indebted Irish economy back three years

The large-scale demolition of social housing reflected an approach to regeneration which saw replacing the physical fabric as being the answer to social problems affecting certain housing estates. Photograph: David Sleator

Government should address housing shortages and climate change at the same time

Official documents at the National Archives. A growing number of public bodies are scanning past publications to make them more widely available. Photograph: Eric Luke

Central repository for electronic documents would guard against risk of disappearance

Latest CSO figures show  the participation rate for women  has  risen by one percentage point. Photograph: Getty

John FitzGerald: CSO figures also show rise in participation of workers over the age of 65

Seán Cromien had a special concern to protect the institution of the Department of Finance. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

John FitzGerald: Seán Cromien’s work at Department of Finance led to a better Ireland

 The offices of the Central Bank at  North Wall Quay, Dublin.  It saying it is “difficult to analyse adequately fundamental questions such as the current cyclical position of the economy.”  Photograph: Alan Betson

Corporation tax receipts are skewed by big firms but influence on exports overstated

 Joseph Curtin and Laura Burke of the Climate Change Advisory Council:  Switching from fossil fuels to electricity to power heating and transport will be crucial to tackle climate change. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Tax on carbon must rise to make it dearer and reduce its damage to environment

The proposed water ownership referendum, like much else with Irish Water, is about solving a political problem, not addressing any fundamentals about our water supply. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

John FitzGerald: Shortages show why water utility should have followed ESB template

A scene outside a workhouse in Ireland during the Famine. One million people died and more than one million emigrated. Photograph: Getty Images

CSO provides estimates of future population depending on different assumptions about fertility, life expectancy and migration

At least half of the more than €8 billion the exchequer will receive this year in corporation tax is  attributable to the transfer of profits to Ireland by US multinationals. Photograph: Eric Luke

Risks from reputational damage and potential sudden outflow if US tax law changes

France’s president Emmanuel Macron. Photograph: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

A mechanism to co-ordinate national budgets across euro area would be more beneficial

Andreas Georgiou, president of the Hellenic Statistical Authority, remains under fire in Greece for restating the country’s indebtedness. Photograph: Roy Gutman/MCT via Getty Images

Statistics office director got suspended sentence for correcting Greece’s cooked books

Bord na Mona land at Mountlucas Wind farm in Co Offaly. Photograph: Dara MacDonaill/The Irish Times

Subsidy on peat generation exceeds wages of those it employs as our emissions soar

Ireland can look forward to a continuing rise in productivity for decades to come, provided the economy is managed well. Photograph: iStock

John FitzGerald: State’s ability to plan for the future is stymied by misleading CSO figures

'Of course, women whose cervical smear examinations wrongly failed to detect pre-cancerous signs should have been told.' Above, a demonstration at Leinster House. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

John FitzGerald: We must focus on learning from mistakes, not covering them up

French people, on average, spend three hours a day on meals compared to two hours in Sweden and Britain, and only one hour and 50 minutes in Ireland.

French eat and sleep more while women in Ireland do 3.5 hours more unpaid work a day

Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT): Galway city has the highest proportion of graduates in the State (61 per cent), beating Dublin and Cork. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Galway is a success story, with large labour catchment area and highly educated workforce

People queuing at the National Immigration Bureau visa office in Dublin. Immigration continues to play an important role in expanding the growth potential of the economy. Photograph: David Sleator

Influx of skills has improved competitiveness and allowed economy to grow more rapidly

Northern Ireland’s “special status”: Ministry for Commerce Jack Lynch, Northern Ireland PM Terence O’Neill, Minister for External Affairs Frank Aiken and Taoiseach Seán Lemass at Iveagh House. Photograph: Joe Clarke

John FitzGerald: Ireland and the UK have been here before, in our 1965 free-trade deal

The exceptional profitability of US companies in Ireland reflects US tax law and how it is implemented by the US administration. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

Prudent budgetary planning would regard tax take from US firms as temporary

Ireland’s urban structure is weak: Dublin’s population equates to that of the next 40 cities and towns combined

Only by understanding the preferences of people and business can public policy influence development

German chancellor Angela Merkel. Both the German and Irish economies run the risk of dangerous domestic bubbles in 2019. Photograph: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

John FitzGerald: The regulations can mask dangerous economic policies

The housing valuations used for property tax purposes have been frozen at their 2013 level, even though average house prices have risen by almost two-thirds since then.

People well housed should pay a bit more to help local authorities fund social housing

As the EU market price for meat is roughly 30%  above the world market price, if the UK price fell to the world level it would be a huge hit for Irish exporters.  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Developing new markets now will shorten the period of pain for dairy farmers

An over-zealous interpretation of the General Data Protection Regulation may risk the CSO’s ability to make available anonymised microdata files for the purpose of research that is in the public interest.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Without access to proper data wrong policy levers might be applied

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar launching national planning framework Project Ireland 2040. Photograph: Alan Betson

A human capital strategy would bring bigger benefits than the National Development Plan

We also need to plan ahead for anticipated significant population growth. New schools are needed for more pupils; new homes are needed for our growing population; and new investment in transport  is needed to get people to work

Very little explains why specific projects were chosen and why certain investment areas were prioritised

'We are unsure what type of Brexit the UK wants and, depending on the final EU-UK relationship, we are unsure as to how the Irish economy will react.'

There is no doubt Brexit will be bad for Irish trade with UK but it’s uncertain as to just how bad it will be

Preparing tenders can take a lot of time, and involve a lot of expense for firms. It must be worthwhile for firms to compete given that many times they won’t be awarded the job. Photograph: Getty Images

Excess complexity of tender processes can undermine competition and savings

Beginning with the 1973 accessions of Ireland, the UK and Denmark, successive waves of EU enlargement have shown benefits for members. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

John FitzGerald: Despite post-crisis anxiety, the EU has driven prosperity for its members

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