The European Commission recommends…

We are now halfway through the budget-making process for 2017, the point at which the European Commission sends out Country-specific Recommendations to member states – key issues to be dealt with in the national budget plans that are to be published in mid October. They boil down to calls to broaden the tax base, prioritise capital spending on transport, water services and housing, tweak social welfare policy to concentrate on the high number of “low work intensity households” in Ireland, …

Laws to cut mortgage rates could be counter productive

A lot of mortgage customers feel ripped off. The reason is simple. Many people on standard variable rates are paying interest between 3.1% and 4.5%. Those lucky enough to have trackers are generally paying between 0.5% and 1.5%. So it is not surprising that the people with variable loans aren’t happy. The new Programme for Government promises to tackle the problem. It says it is “not ethically acceptable for Irish banks to charge excessive interest rates on standard variable rate …

A wake-up call for government on digital skills

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent As journalists, we generally try to deal in facts. But sometimes, anecdotal evidence is far more compelling and indeed trustworthy. I regularly meet the managers of technology business operating here – from massive global multinationals, to tiny early stage start-ups. As well as probing what’s going well for them, and their plans for the future, I often make a point of asking them about the challenges they are facing. For some, it’s scaling rapidly, …

ESRI shows customers bamboozled by choice

It is critical that regulatory bodies make use of a new ESRI study to ensure consumers are not bamboozled into overpaying or making the wrong purchase, writes Business Editor David Murphy. We all know the feeling – you go to buy something and within minutes you are completely bamboozled. Perhaps health insurance is the best example. There can often be 30 different policies on offer within a limited price range. Each policy has a vast array of different features. Some …

That €6.75 billion spending increase – a back-of-the envelope first take

The leaked draft programme for government says the new government will spend €6.75 billion more on services by 2021 than it plans to spend this year. What does this mean? Are they talking about the dreaded fiscal space? Michael Noonan told the Dáil last week that the fiscal space has gone up from €8.6 billion before the election, to somewhere north of €10 billion now. Taking the draft programmes 2:1 spending to tax cuts ratio suggests €3.4 billion in tax …

The little fish get named and shamed – others get lawyers

It seems ironic that after a banking collapse and a string of insurance failures that the only person named as failing a fitness and probity test was working for a Co Tipperary brokerage. This week the Central Bank issued a notice prohibiting Darren Gleeson from carrying out certain functions in a regulated company. Mr Gleeson of Portroe in Nenagh is well known as a former All Ireland medal winning hurler. Until last year he was a director of Quinlan Financial …

Scary movie – Brussels style

Holy Moly – the latest economic forecast from the European Commission is one of the scariest I have seen from any major forecaster for some time. You want me to be more precise – OK, what about 2009? That’s the last time the global economy was growing as slowly as it is now. As for the risk of something bad blowing up, like it did back then, well have a look at this line from Marco Buti, the top Eurocrat …

Screaming in fiscal space

Nobody outside Leinster house seemed to be too bothered by the prospect of the next government (or governments – however many it takes to reach the end of the forecast period in 2021) having an extra €2bn to play with. But it seems they do, thanks to a largely expected expansion of our old friend, the fiscal space. The Department of Finance published a “slimline” version of the Stability Programme Update on Tuesday night, giving the expected update on its …

Irish Water deal muddies prospects of fixing leaks

Whatever the arguments in favour of accepting Fianna Fáil’s demands for suspending water charges, it is abundantly clear some Fine Gael ministers believe it was not in the public interest. Taoiseach Enda Kenny decided acquiescing to Fianna Fáil’s stipulations to suspend for nine months was better than calling a second general election. But by opting to halt paying for water a Rubicon has been crossed. It will now be a political nightmare to resume charging and any government will have …

The public finances without a Government

By Sean Whelan, Economics Correspondent By the end of this week, the government is supposed to have sent the European Commission a document called the ‘Stability Programme Update’. Although this requirement has been around for some two decades, it is only with the onset of the financial crisis that the wider public started to pay it much attention. In fact the SPU, as it is know, is probably the most important budget document apart from the Budget itself.