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 quick guide to the Paris climate talks

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent I’m hearing a lot about climate talks in Paris at the moment. What’s that all about? Paris has been in the headlines for particularly shocking and tragic reasons in recent weeks. But from next weekend onwards you will be hearing a good deal about it in a different context. Beginning on Monday, 195 nations will gather in the French capital to try to forge an agreement aimed at limiting the future effects of …

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 …

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, …

Re-launching the single market

The “re-launch” of the EU single market by the European Commission was quite a damp squib – rather surprisingly, as the single market is supposed to be the big idea that drives much EU action. That big idea has been less of an energising factor over the last decade, partly because people have gotten used to it, partly because new technologies and industries have grown up and need a legal framework that accommodates them to the single market concept. As …

How much of the recovery is due to Government?

The Irish economy is growing quickly. But how much of this is as a result of actions by the Government? Part of the answer to that question lies in examining factors that are beyond the control of ministers and civil servants. The Central Bank reckons Gross Domestic Product, which measures national income, will expand by a remarkable 5.8% this year. One of the big reasons for that rapid turnaround is that international winds are helpfully filling the sails of the …

Sustaining health spending

The OECD has just published an overview of public health spending in its member states. Its main finding is that by mid-century most public health systems will no longer be financially viable on current trends. Mid-century is 35 years’ time. If you are 30 now you should be worried. If you are 50 now, you should be very worried – not so much about the financial implications of this finding, but of the political implications. Over the past 20 years …

‘Safe Harbour’ case – what is it and why should we care?

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent This week’s announcement by the Web Summit that it was moving to Lisbon from next year has consumed countless hours of airtime and plenty of column inches.  But significant as that decision is, it somewhat overshadowed another technology related story that broke at almost precisely the same time and which will arguably have much longer and more profound consequences. The European Court of Justice’s Advocate General issued his opinion that the “Safe Harbour” …

New Europeans

The coach lurched to a halt at a dusty crossroads. Rucksacks tumbled out. A small child was rushed out to get sick. The sounds of Arabic filled the evening air. Sixty men, women and children thus began the final walk from the northern edge of Serbia to Hungary. We joined them for the final few kilometres along the overgrown railway track which has become a well-known route this summer for tens of thousands of people from the Middle East and …