Ronan Lyons | Personal Website
Ronan Lyons | Personal Website

July 2009

A little quiz on Ireland’s income tax

Income tax will form more than one third of Ireland’s tax take in 2009. Yet, if the wild claims about who does or doesn’t pay what are anything to go by, the nature of Ireland’s income tax regime is poorly understood. This post includes a little quiz to see whether some key aspects of Ireland system are understood and where readers think the system should be. It also outlines some startling findings in relation to income tax, but don’t forget to answer the questions before you read the findings! Read more

Understanding deglobalization – measuring tariffs and enabling trade

With trade falling faster than output, the world is – in a technical sense – deglobalizing to some degree. In truth, though, it represents less a conscious choice made by consumers in one economy to switch to domestic produce and instead reflects the highly integrated nature of product markets.

A cause of concern, however, would be if countries started to raise tariffs and other barriers to trade. Earlier this month, the WTO made available for researchers a very detailed database on tariffs at a country and product level.

If all that detail is a little to mind-boggling (or spreadsheet-breaking), the World Economic Forum also earlier this month launched their 2009 Global Enabling Trade Report. The rankings in full show that small open economies are the best for enabling trade. Of note is that all the EU countries score very poorly in the ‘Market Access’ heading, due no doubt to the difficulties faced by agricultural exporters in other countries when trying to get their goods in the EU.

The level of transactions in property and the emergence of regional property markets

The latest daft report shows that asking prices are now almost 25% below their 2007 peak but also shows regional differences, with prices in some areas falling twice as much as in others. This post explores the typical time a property spends on the market across the different parts of the country and the share of properties coming off the market in a particular month. Interesting regional trends emerge. Read more

It’s so cold and it’s so broken, Board Snip Nua!

I’ve always had a soft spot for song parodies, as longer established readers of the blog will probably ruefully attest. My last foray into this territory with my economic hat on was “Brother, Can you bail out my bank?” in the midst of our global financial excitement last Autumn (although I did try my hand at Copa-obama later last year). Anyway, with the launch of An Board Snip Nua’s report later today, that peculiarly Irish name, for a peculiarly Irish public sector expenditure body, will probably recede back into the depths of our subconscious until the next time national debt threatens to cripple us.

But before it does, I feel we should mark it in song. You can thank An Taoiseach’s about-turn on publication date for the missing fifth and sixth verses… but as it happens only die-hard Leonard Cohen fans know those anyway! Yes, today’s ditty is to the tune of Hallelujah, and while I think Cohen was most inventive to come up with no less than six sentences that sort of rhymed with the title word, surely An Board Snip Nua was made for rhyming with it! So, crank open your itunes and put on Cohen/Buckley/Wainwright/whatserface-from-X-factor – or else open the video below – and get singing…

Now I’ve read we are so short on bread
That even the Galway tent is dead
But you won’t really go for tax hikes, will you?
“You cut like this
Cut FAS, cut NESC
Cut the lads who print the car tax disc”,
The baffled Cowen is told by Board Snip Nua
Board Snip Nua, Board Snip Nua
Board Snip Nua, Board Snip Nua

Your vote was strong but you needed the youth
You cut stamp duty on the hoof
While the OAPs dreamt they overthrew you
They cried you
didn’t really care
They broke your vote, it collapsed in Clare
And the best that you could do was Board Snip Nua

In the 80s we were here before
We know this gloom, we left these shores
We used to live State-side before we knew you.
We’ve heard all about the ECB
But have you seen our GDP?
It’s so cold and it’s so broken; Board Snip Nua

What will you do-ah, Board Snip Nua?
Board Snip Nua, Board Snip Nua

It’s about time that you let us know
What’s really going on with our dough
But now you never tell it straight, do you?
We paid two mill to move in here
But NAMA’s going to cost us dear
And every budget cut by Board Snip Nua

Board Snip Nua, Board Snip Nua
Board Snip Nua, Board Snip Nua (repeat to fade…)

Youtube: Rufus Wainwright on Tubridy, getting the lyrics to An Board Snip Nua wrong

Is government expenditure in Europe an inferior good? The Slovakia-Ireland paradox

To an economist, “inferior goods” are those we switch away from as we become richer. Between 2000 and 2008, Europeans became 14% richer, while the typical European government increased its share in the economy from 44.7% to 45.4%. The two fastest growing economies, however, the Slovak Republic and Ireland, had exactly opposite experiences, with the Slovak government now the smallest in Europe. It turns out that these countries aside, poorer countries generally saw their governments grow, while wealthier European states saw their governments shrink. Read more