Analysis > Sean Whelan

The German who likes Irish Corporation Tax

The head of the German equivalent of Ibec, the BDI, was in Dublin on Friday. With lots to say about the migration crisis, the euro zone debt/banking crisis and Brexit. But Markus Kerber also had an interesting take on the BEPS tax avoidance clampdown.  In short he thinks Germany will be a loser. His reasoning is based on what has happened to German industry over the past two decades.  It has shifted a lot of production out of Germany – …

Fiscal Space – this madness must end!

There is no double counting. There is no mystery. It’s really simple. The net fiscal space is €8.6 billion. This figure has not changed since last October, when it was published as part of the Budget. Nobody has obtained special information from the Department of Finance to suggest otherwise. Nobody has discovered anything new. Fine Gael uses the €8.6 billion figure in its calculations of what might be feasible for the next government. Labour does the same. So does Fianna …

Exchequer returns – what went right?

The exchequer returns for 2015 show a much improved situation – even from that presented on budget day, last October, never mind the one revealed just a few weeks after the Troika deal was signed at the end of 2010. The exchequer account – effectively the cash-in, cash-out record – is as good as balanced:  total revenues of €58.59 billion, total net spending of €58.65 billion.  The difference between them is a mere €62 million. This compares to an €8.1 …

Commercial real estate – the first post-crash bubble?

The Commercial property sector in Ireland has been powering ahead for the past three years. Indeed last year saw the all-time high for spending on commercial property, exceeding the height of the Celtic Tiger years. But has it gone too far – is CRE the biggest risk to financial stability here? Both the Central Bank in Dublin and the European Systemic Risk Board in Frankfurt seem to think so – indeed the ESRB appears to regard CRE investment in the …

Pensions becoming sustainable, but what about pensioners?

The OECD has just published its latest “Pensions at a Glance” survey, the sixth such publication over a decade of work. The good news is that after a decade of reform, many OECD pension systems are heading towards sustainability, at least in financial terms. The question the OECD wants countries to focus on now is whether their systems will provide a pension that old people can actually live on. One of the problems is that high levels of youth unemployment, …

The Fiscal Council row

It’s been a while since the Irish economy was the subject of an editorial in the Financial Times – and that’s not really a bad thing. But on Friday, there it was – an old-school, tut-tutting, finger wag of a column, calling the Government’s tax cuts “unwise”, and advising the Taoiseach to “think again” on his spending plans. It also advised Dublin to beware of the “growing international unease towards its status as a corporate tax haven”, especially in the …

A cunning plan… phasing out USC – not as simple as it seems

The phasing out of USC is one of those political ideas that sounds great in theory, but in practice… well, that’s another story. Nobody likes paying tax, but pretty much everybody agrees some tax has to be paid to cover the cost of state provided services and goods. The OECD and the EU both take the view that the taxes most harmful to growth are taxes on corporate profits, followed by taxes on wages. They recommend governments look elsewhere for …

So farewell then, Universal Health Insurance

So farewell then, Universal Health Insurance – five years, and we barely knew you. Cruelly cut down  before you could show us your full potential. Were you the victim of financial cuts, election jitters, a cave in to vested interests? Or were you just too damn hard to implement? A reform of this scale was never going to be easy. Back at the start of 2009 I went to the Netherlands to look at the “Dutch Model” that Fine Gael …

Tax-driven productivity

The Chief Economist of the OECD, Catherine Mann, was in town last week giving the keynote lecture at the Department of Finance’s annual Tax conference. Dr Mann’s theme was how tax systems can boost productivity growth. And she delivered some pretty blunt messages about the tax system, the multinationals and the “real” Irish economy. Straight up she said Ireland will lose tax revenue from multinationals as a result of the BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) project of the OECD, …

Cameron’s plan for EU reform is ‘protecting the single market’

David Cameron’s four-point plan to renegotiate the UKs relationship with Europe reminds me of one of those Private Eye four-point lists, where point three is “Er…” and point four is “That’s it”.  Calling for more competitiveness and restrictions on welfare payments for internal EU migrants is hardly worth the toner in the Downing Street laser-printers. The key concept to understand in David Cameron’s speech and letter on EU reform is “protecting the single market”.  Naturally it is a concept that …