The real story behind Ireland’s ‘Leprechaun’ economics fiasco

Over the past few days we have learned much about the true story behind Ireland’s so-called “Leprechaun” economic figures. Senior civil servants and ministers were blindsided by the astonishing 26% economic growth figures for 2015 from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) – issued on 12 July. Some of the mandarins found out after the media, who were given the information under embargo 30 minutes in advance of publication at a press briefing. When the statisticians dropped their bombshell last week, ministers …

Yanis Varoufakis comes to town. But did he help Greece?

Every year I make a point of attending the Dalkey Book Festival in Co Dublin, writes RTÉ’s Business Editor David Murphy. Run by economist David McWilliams and his highly-motivated wife Sian Smyth, the event has broadened from its literary origins to include a range of interesting speakers from the world of politics and economics. This year, one of the big name guests is the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis next Thursday. He is engaging, smart and controversial. This time …

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 …

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 – …

The EU-US Privacy Shield – what is it?

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent The EU and US have announced a new deal which they hope will allow the lawful mass transfer of European citizens data from the EU to the US to resume. The agreement will have EU and US authorities as well as US tech multinationals heaving a sigh of relief. But it’s not that simple. Why was a new deal needed? US technology companies with operations in Europe like Facebook, Google and Amazon 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, …

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 …