Why the resistance to tackling antibiotic resistance?

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent There are certain issues which people know are serious, but for whatever reason choose to bury their heads in the sand about. Climate change is one obvious one. Despite decades of warnings that our manmade carbon emissions are effectively overheating our planet, only in the last two or so years has the global community woken up to the reality of the danger and started to take action – possibly too late. Antimicrobial drug …

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 …

Is the EU’s stance on Google Android really best for consumers?

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent Listening to the press conference of the EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, you would think Google hadn’t a leg to stand on. The EU has formally served the internet giant with a Statement of Objections over alleged anti-competitive practices around its Android operating system. And the case it has laid out, on the face of it, seems pretty compelling. Anti-trust regulators claim the dominance of the software in the smartphone market – 80% …

The hat-trick – three EPP prime ministers struggle in post-bailout elections

So it’s a hat trick – three in a row. First Portugal, then Spain, now Ireland. Three post-bailout countries went to the polls over the past five months. All were led by prime ministers from the European Peoples Party (EPP), the mainstream conservative block in Europe. All three emerged from their elections as the biggest party in parliament. None of them could put together a new government. And nor could the opposition (with the heavily qualified exception of Portugal – …

Protracted political hiatus means bigger borrowing cost

Despite the inconclusive result of the General Election, Ireland’s borrowing costs remain very low at 0.8%. It is not surprising there has been little movement, because it frequently takes some weeks for the markets to digest an evolving situation. There are some reasons to believe that Ireland will be able to avoid ruffling the feathers of investors for some weeks – as long as a stable solid administration is formed. The main political parties stated in their manifestos that they …

Markets: Is it time to panic?

When a significant fall occurs in the stock market the most important question to ask is: Why? The initial trigger for the recent collapse was a long overdue fall in Chinese shares. The Shanghai Stock Exchange index had rocketed in value from 2,039 points in July, 2013 to 5,131 points in June, 2015. That was a staggering increase of 151%. That was never sustainable. Since June shares have fallen by 47%. In many respects it is not too surprising. Shanghai …

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 – …

Gravitational waves discovery vindicates investment in big science

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent Something remarkable happened yesterday. Something scientists will talk about for centuries to come. Something our children’s children will likely read about in science text books as a defining moment in our understanding of physics, astronomy and the very origins of the universe. The first ever discovery of gravitational waves by scientists at the Advanced LIGO collaboration is a momentous achievement, and among the biggest scientific developments in recent decades. Up there with the …

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 …