Monthly Archives For November 2013

Friday Stat Attack: Rising and Rising Profits

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We have been told that we are ‘all in this together’, everyone has ‘shared the pain’ and that the wealthiest have borne a ‘disproportionate amount of the burden’.  Is this so?

NFC

Throughout Europe profits (net entrepreneurial income) in non-financial companies fell in 2008 as the recession set in.  They started recovering in 2009 (in Ireland they started recovering a year earlier).  In the Eurozone profits are still below their 2007 level.

Not Ireland.  Profits here have risen by 21 percent since 2007 and are growing at a much faster pace than almost anywhere else in Europe.

Of course, some might point out that these ‘Irish profits’ contain a lot that were imported for tax purposes – i.e. they were generated in other economies.  How much?   The Government won’t measure this because it would have to spell out how much it is siphoning off tax revenue from other countries, which wouldn’t go down well abroad.

So, whether home-grown or blow-in, Ireland is the place where profits grow. And grow. And grow.

Some people get the gain while most get the pain.  Welcome to recovery ‘Irish style’.

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I Have Been Reading The Tailor of Ulm by Lucio Magri

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Honeymooning in 1979 on a package holiday to the Hotel Alaska, Rimini (it’s surprising how attractive the word Alaska sounds on a hot July day in Italy), I became friends with a man who ran a bar. I remember him saying to me, one day, in reply to some question I asked, ‘Sono communista io’. To make that statement as casually as he did, would really have been impossible in Ireland. In that sense, I think he was the first communist I had ever met who was completely comfortable in his skin. Communism has deep cultural and social roots in Italy even still. The singer-song-writer Giorgio Gaber puts it well in his wry, nostalgic stage monologue Qualcuno era comunista perché (A person was a communist because…):

“[Qualcuno era comunista] perché aveva bisogno di una spinta verso qualcosa di nuovo, perché sentiva la necessità di una morale diversa, perché era solo una forza, un sogno, un volo, era solo uno slancio, un desiderio di cambiare le cose, di cambiare la vita.”

“A person was a communist because he had a need for a push towards something new, because he felt the need for a different kind of morality, because it was simply a force, a dream, a flight, it was simply an impulse, a desire to change things, to change life.”

I have often asked my Italian friends who were members of or close to the Partito Comunista Italiano(PCI) what happened to the once powerful party. I have been given many explanations and I suspect for most of them the collapse of the PCI was a personal as well as a national catastrophe. This was, after all, the largest communist party outside of the Soviet Union and China. It had the great fortune to have as one of its founders one of the most important philosophers of the 20th Century, Antonio Gramsci. It had a history of struggle, particularly against fascism. It counted almost all of Italy’s intellectuals, writers and artists among its members, including, at one time or another, Italo Calvino,Pier Paolo PasoliniNatalia GinzburgCesare PaveseElsa MoranteFederico FelliniCarlo Levi,Alberto MoraviaSalvatore QuasimodoLeonardo SciasciaVittorio de Sica, the singer Fabrizio de Andre (Italy’s Jacques Brel) and the publishers Giulio Einaudi and Giangiacomo Feltrinelli and many more. It was guided by master theoretician Palmiro Togliatti (commemorated in this song). Most of all, it was the organising force behind much of the resistance during WWII and emerged from that war in position to dominate the peace.

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Solidarity Books Launch: Sins of the Father 2nd Ed. by Dr Conor McCabe

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Solidarity Books is proud to host the Cork launch of the 2nd Edition of

Sins of the Father: The Decisions that Shaped the Irish Economy

On Thursday 5th December

7:30pm

The event will include a talk from Dr. Conor McCabe, the author of ‘Sins of the Father: The decisions that shaped the Irish economy‘, which analyses the development of the Irish economy throughout the 20th Century right up to the current crisis, without resorting to just pointing fingers at ‘a few morally bankrupt individuals’ in an otherwise sound system.

Sins of the Father: The decisions that shaped the Irish economy This is a new edition of Conor McCabe’s highly regarded economic history, fully updated to include the change of government, the austerity programme, and the liquidation of IBRC/Anglo and the impending exit from the bailout programme.

This new, 2nd edition, of Conor McCabes highly regarded economic history, is fully updated to include the change of government, the austerity programme, and the liquidation of IBRC/Anglo and the impending exit from the bailout programme.

Conor McCabe, who currently teaches at the UCD School of Social Justice, and is a regular contributor to Irish Left Review.

McCabe last visited Cork, and Solidarity Books, in February of this year, to launch “Irish Left Review” journal and to pose the question of ‘Who Benefits from Austerity?’ While popular disgust with TD’s, bankers and other elites’ privileges is rampant, austerity programmes are still justified on the basis that we all must pay for a crisis that we apparently all helped to create. What do we make of this state of affairs?

This will be Conor McCabe’s fourth visit to Solidarity Books in the last two years since the release of his book, and like the previous events, this promises to be an evening of animated discussion.

Entry is free and all are welcome, copies of the book will be for sale at the launch and donations towards the running of the non-profit bookshop are always appreciated.

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Tales of Ireland the Tax Haven: To Hell or to Arthur Cox

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Joanne Richardson is stepping down as head of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland. To mark the occasion the Irish Independent are providing the usual frothy interview. First all, she says that the level of US investment here is all about the tax regime:

“…but it’s no secret that the favourable tax regime makes it particularly appealing.”

The recent controversies, US Senate Subcommittees and international debates on Ireland as a tax haven are mentioned but brushed aside. Their impact is apparent, however, in the reference to ‘regime’ rather than the 12.5% ‘rate’.

No one believes that one any more. A well-publicised report, published on the 25th of November 2013 by the World Bank and the large accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, claims Ireland has an effective corporate tax rate very close to the official rate of 12.5%. From the headline of the press release:

“Ireland has an effective corporate tax rate of 12.3% compared to an EU average of 12.9% and 16.1% globally.”

Feargal O’Rourke, Head of Tax, PwC Ireland said:

“The survey further demonstrates that Ireland’s statutory headline rate on profits is broadly similar to the effective rate. For many EU countries, the statutory headline rate is significantly higher than the effective rate.”

Feargal was described by Jesse Drucker in a recent Bloomberg profile erroneously as a ‘local hero’ who made Ireland a ‘tax avoidance hub’, but people might recognise him as the son of Fianna Fail politician Mary O’Rourke and nephew of the late former Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan.

But, PwC, as a leading accountancy firm in making this claim is running at odds with the advertising made available on the websites of the Irish offices of other prominent accountancy firms.

The most well known in an Irish context is Arthur Cox, who the Irish Independent suggested were the legal brains behind the 2008 Irish bank guarantee. They have been saying that Ireland has a 2.5% effective corporate tax rate in their advertising since at least 2011:

“Intellectual Property: There are numerous advantages for multi-national companies with large Intellectual Property (“IP”) portfolios who locate and manage these portfolios in Ireland. The effective corporation tax rate can be reduced to as low as 2.5% for Irish companies whose trade involves the exploitation of intellectual property. The Irish IP regime is broad and applies to all types of IP. A generous scheme of capital allowances as well as a tax credit for money invested in research and development in Ireland offer significant incentives to companies who locate their activities in Ireland.

A well-known global company recently moved the ownership and exploitation of an IP portfolio worth approximately $7 billion to Ireland.”

(Michael Hennigan suggests that the company in question is Accenture.)

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Quick Notes on the CSO’s Employment Numbers – Some Commentators Should Look Harder

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Relief throughout the nation – employment rising, joblessness falling; the new CSO release should give us something to cheer about.  Some quick notes on what the numbers are telling us:

Employment has risen by 58,000 – or 3.2 percent.  This is good but puzzling – how does this square with an economy that is still stagnating?

Agriculture employment – an area where the CSO has warned we should tread carefully – has risen by 25,000, or 29.4 percent.  Self-employment (without paid employees) rose by 28,400 or 14.4 percent.   This makes up a substantial amount of the employment rise.  Does this skewer the overall results?  Some say no – the overall figure of a 58,000 increase stands, it’s just a problem in the distribution of gains in different economic sectors (e.g. agriculture, industry, retail, etc.).

This may be so.  However, the CSO Quarterly National Household Survey registers an increase in the number of employees at 27,200, or 1.8 percent.  The CSO’s Earning and Labour Costs, also released yesterday, showed a similar number of non-agriculture employees rising by 21,900 or 1.4 percent (the Earnings and Labour Costs only measures firms with three employees or more which may account for the small difference).  So the CSO’s warnings seem valid – agriculture and self-employment numbers are artificially inflating the job numbers.

Nonetheless, the rise in employees is the biggest since the crisis started.  What were the biggest growth categories?  The Hospitality sector grew by 15,900 – or 72 percent of the total increase.    This is the lowest paid, lowest value-added sector of the market economy.   Other categories to gain were manufacturing and professional & scientific – which provides some balance.  Only 3 out of the remaining categories (12) saw employment increases.  So the employment rise is not spread out.

Big question:  is this increase the bounce after years of recession?  How much higher will this bounce go?  And when will it settle down?  The Government and the ESRI predict that the rise in employment will be lower in 2014 than this year.  Again, this may be due to the statistical bump the CSO has warned about this year.

Unemployment has thankfully fallen – by 18,000.  But to what extent is this due to the rise in the number of employees and the number of people emigrating?  We should expect more than 60,000 people emigrating this year in the key age category of 15-24 years.

Tentative conclusions – the employment rise looks to be settled in but it is not spread throughout most categories; it is concentrated primarily in the low-paid hospitality sector with small gains in the manufacturing and professional & scientific sections.  The statistical problems will go away in the final quarter of this year so it won’t be until next year until we get a sense of the real trend.  Employment will increase but key questions remain:  where will it increase, what kind of jobs will be created, what value-added will be produced and what wage levels will be paid?

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What’s at Stake

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The Dail Technical Group is putting forward a private members’ motion calling on the Government to re-enter negotiations with the ECB with a view to writing off the Anglo-Irish bank debt.  Yes, the bank debt is still with us despite the binning of the Promissory Note; it is a debt held by the Central Bank in what can now be called Anglo-Irish bonds.  Same debt, different repayment schedule, same drain on the productive economy and same burden on the Irish people.

I don’t intend to repeat the arguments regarding the political illegitimacy of this debt, nor the means by which we can expunge this debt.  I want to focus on the level of debt – of which the Anglo-Irish bonds are a significant contributor.  For the Government is having to take steps to drive down the debt by raiding its savings – because economic growth is still too sluggish to reduce the debt burden.

Remember the claims earlier in the crisis – that when Government debt reaches 90 percent of GDP we would be a in real danger zone?  As debt mounted, the new danger zone threshold became 100 percent.  Then it became 120 percent, after even more debt was accumulated.  In Ireland all these thresholds have been crashed.

GGD1

The debt rose to 117 percent last year (rising nearly five-fold in nearly five years).  The Government’s projections (in grey) show the debt peaking at 124 percent this year and falling to a little under 115 percent in 2016.  We crashed by 120 percent danger zone but, fortunately, the debt is starting to fall as the economy recovers and the austerity succeeds in getting our deficit under control.  Correct?  Not quite.  But before we discuss this  let’s look at two other measurements which show that the debt is actually much higher and the burden much heavier.

The ESRI Measurement

In their last quarterly review the ESRI put much emphasis on GNP as the defining statistic for the Irish economy.

 ‘The best indicator of what is currently happening in the economy is the growth rate of GNP . . .  it provides a much clearer picture of the change in the economic welfare of people living in Ireland.’

Ok, let’s assume this is true.  So what does the debt look like when measured against this ‘clearer picture’ of people’s economic welfare?

GGD2

When measured against GNP, our debt is through the roof.  Interestingly, the debt still has yet to stabilise completely even by 2016.  Even more interesting, Greek debt is projected to be 173 percent of GNI (a similar measurement to GNP) in 2015 – so were’ not that far off from the worst performing EU country.

I am sure that most commentators would agree that 150 percent debt is at, or beyond, the unsustainability benchmark.  And that’s where Ireland is if we use GNP.

The Fiscal Council

The Fiscal Council attempted to define a new measurement for the economy’s capacity – an adjusted GDP figure, a hybrid of GNP and GDP.  This is a useful measurement and, despite problems, is probably closer to the reality.  So what does the debt look like when this benchmark is used?

GGD3

While not as bad as the GNP measurement, we find that debt is phenomenally high – peaking this year at 140 percent of the Fiscal Council’s adjusted GDP before starting to decline.  But even in 2016 we’re still above 130 percent.

Is this sustainable?

The Government’s Raid on Savings

The debt levels, when measured against benchmarks that try to assess the real capacity of the economy, is extra-ordinarily high – much higher than when we use GDP.  But GDP is the measurement we will be judged by, even if the economy groans under a debt burden that is much higher.

The Government is understandably keen to show everyone that the economy is generating sufficient growth to bring debt levels down.  However, is this the case?  In the first chart, we saw debt peaking this year and starting to fall next year.  But there is a bit of massaging here.

The Government is using a large portion of its cash balances to pay down the debt (cash balances , when borrowed, are counted as part of gross debt).  The economy itself is still not generating enough income to bring down debt levels.  We can see this by removing the cash balance element from the debt figures (essentially, this measures our debt by the actual amount we borrow in a year – the Exchequer Borrowing Requirement).

GGD4

When we measure the economy’s growth as a means of reducing the debt, it will still rise in 2014 and the fall is significantly less than the official figures.  Why the difference?  Because the Government is using its ‘savings’ (cash balance) to drive down the debt to make up for sluggish economic growth.

This is particularly relevant as the Government is claiming that they don’t need a precautionary credit line because they have €20 billion in the kitty.  However, the Government intends to use nearly €11 billion next year to pay down the debt – so that money is not available to it if things go pear shape and we can’t borrow at sustainable rates in the market.

All this might seem a bit wonkish and stat-picking.  However, there are some real considerations:

  • Our debt levels are high and the burden is masked by using GDP as the benchmark
  • When measurements of economic capacity (GNP or the Fiscal Council’s adjusted GDP) are used, our debt levels are much much higher
  • Projected economic growth is still so sluggish that the Government is having to dip into its savings to drive down the headline debt levels
  • What happens if economic growth is even lower?

One can argue that all this is sustainable.  I suspect it is.  Sustainability is a political choice.  If you hollow out your productive economy, drive down incomes, wreck public services – all to ensure that you pay off your debt, it will be sustainable; all the more so if you convince people there is no alternative.

But if the Anglo-Irish debt was expunged we would be in a better place.  Our debt levels, while still high, would be less of a burden on the economy.  We would be giving ourselves a better chance of extricating ourselves from high debt levels.  We wouldn’t need more doses of austerity.  Our economy would be better.  All of us would be better.

That’s what’s at stake with the Private Members motion on Anglo-Irish debt.  Not a panacea, just an opportunity to give ourselves a break.

Boy, do we need it.

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China accounts for 100% of the reduction in the number of the world’s people living in poverty

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In 2010 Professor Danny Quah, of the London School of Economics, noted: ‘In the last 3 decades, China alone has lifted more people out of extreme poverty than the rest of the world combined. Indeed, China’s ($1/day) poverty reduction of 627 million from 1981 to 2005 exceeds the total global economy’s decline in its extremely poor from 1.9 billion to 1.4 billion over the same period.’ The aim of this article is to analyse the situation taking data published three years after Quah’s analysis; look at the trends not only of extreme poverty, which the World Bank calculates using expenditure of $1.25 a day or less; examine a slightly wider poverty definition ($2 a day expenditure), and compare the trends in other regions of the world economy.

The conclusion is simple. Quah’s conclusion still holds. China is responsible for 100% of the reduction in the number of people living in poverty in the world. This finding is the necessary backdrop to any serious and informed discussion of the role of China in the world economy and its contribution to human rights.

*   *   *

There are many remarkable economic statistics about China.

  • China contained 22% of the world’s population when its reforms began in 1978, so the percentage of the world’s population directly benefitting from China’s rapid economic growth is seven times that of the 3% of the world’s population in the US or Japan when they began rapid growth, or the 2% of the world’s population in the UK at the time of the Industrial Revolution.
  • China’s 9.9% average increase in GDP per capita during the two last five year plans is the fastest economic growth per capita ever achieved by a major country in human history.
  • In the same period China’s annual average 8.1% increase in household consumption, and 8.3% annual increase in total consumption, including state expenditure on items vital for quality of life such as education and health, was the fastest of any major economy. Coupled with a life expectancy above that which would be expected from China’s GDP per capita it is evident China experienced the most rapid increase in living standards of any country.
  • Measured in Parity Purchasing Powers (PPPs) – that is the real increase in output in steel, cars, transport, services etc. – the greatest absolute increase in output ever recorded in single year by the US was in 1999 when it added $567 billion in output. But in 2010 China added $1,126 billion – more than twice the increase in output in a single year ever achieved by any other country in human history.

Nevertheless, impressive as such statistics are, from the point of view of human welfare it is another number which dwarfs all others: the contribution of China to the reduction of human poverty not only within its own borders but in its impact on the world. The astonishing fact remains that China has been responsible for the entire reduction in the number of people living in absolute poverty in the world!

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From Alpha to Omega Podcast #042 Oh So Reserved

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This weeks our guest is Dan Kervick. By day Dan works in the book publishing industry. By night, Dan is an independent scholar, specialising in the work of the British Philosopher David Hume, and a regular blogger on progressive and egalitarian economics over on http://neweconomicperspectives.org

We discuss the institutional working of the banking system, how reserves really work, bubble blowing and the logic of quantitative easing, military Keynesianism, and the role of capital flows in the modern economy.

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Man Whose Middle Name Is Against

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Man Whose Middle Name Is Against

 sdsdd

When his conviction for cruelty

to two canaries

got quashed on a technicality,

he found Jesus in a cheap B&B

outside Tuam and married

a girl with an excellent set

of teeth.

  sdsdd

On bath night, as the scrubbing brush

worked its magic into every

crevice, she told him he smelt

like a Summer breeze without

the hint of cow shit.

   sdsdd

The morning of his forty fourth

birthday, she got lockjaw

at the most sensitive point in proceedings.

After which, he sold Rosary beads

door to door in the more swish parts

of Mountbellew.

   sdsdd

On bucketing afternoons he grew preoccupied

with writing letters against sodomy.

So taken with life, he wished to inflict it

on every sperm that ever died on a tissue

or made its way to a necessary end in a white

treatment room outside Liverpool.

   sdsdd

His face tragic as Ted Hughes

opening his latest gas bill,

he plods Main Street with a huge

colour photograph of a mutilated

baby, which to glancing motorists looks

like an advertisement

for a full Irish breakfast.

   sdsdd

 

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Friday Stat Attack: Low-Pay in the Restaurant and Hotel Sector

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Every Friday I hope to feature a telling statistic – one that explains an issue simply and says more than a ream of posts ever could.  Here is the first Friday Stat Attack.

Employers, in particular the Restaurant Association of Ireland, are at it again – spreading misinformation and degrading the debate.  Here is just one recent example:

‘The [RAI] claimed that Irish restaurateurs pay the highest wages in Europe and the highest excise duty on wines in Europe, while Irish food costs are 18pc above the European average.’

Whatever about the latter, the claim about ‘the highest wages in Europe’ is simply wrong, wrong, wrong.  And the RAI knows it.  Here is what Eurostat has to say about the issue.

Hosp_sector

Ireland is among the lowest of the low.  Irish wages and/or employers’ social insurance in this sector (of which restaurant workers make up two-thirds) would have to rise by 23 percent to reach the average of other EU-15 countries.  They would have to rise by an amazing 44 percent to reach the average of our peer group – other small open economies (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Sweden).

And in the absence of Joint Labour Committees, wages have been driven down towards the minimum wage since these figures were compiled.

Restaurateurs here pay some of the lowest wages in the EU-15.  Full stop.

Have an important weekend.

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Fiscal Council Functionaries

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Statements made by economic think tanks and fiscal councils have two distinct styles: incomprehensible gobbledygook, when they are trying to hide inconvenient truths using highly technical language written for the exclusive enjoyment of university professors on the verge of retirement, and press savvy sound bites with a technocratic veneer so that they don’t look out of place when dropped wholesale into an article published somewhere on the business pages in our daily newspapers. The latter ensures that a specific agenda can enter the media at a fictional arm’s length from government. These pronouncements can then be commented upon by Ministers and politicians as if the expert’s opinion is expressed independently of them. Most often, the discrepancy between the opinion of the fiscal council and the government is such that the former will be more extreme in what it recommends. This provides the minister with room to offer a more ‘political’ solution; one which suggests that they are not monsters, after all.

Irish banks are on the verge of a Euro wide stress test. The banks, as we know, despite years of unprecedented support are still fucked (I can’t think of a nicer way of putting it). They were given everything and they are still hollowed out.

In 2008, at the height of the crisis the state promised to pay all investors, even the short term money markets via the shadow banking system, who had provided the banks with most of their wholesale capital.

Just to note the shadow banking system is unregulated because if an alternative fund makes a loss on an investment it is expected that the investor will eat that loss (it’s also expected that they would have hedged against it and probably made a profit from selling on the insurance taken out to cover any potential loss etc ). Because of this they are outside the money system and, unlike normal banks, they do not get support from a central bank to balance their books at the end of the day.

The bad loans (debt) that Irish retail banks had accumulated through failed commercial property speculation was taken off them. The book losses from the haircuts on the bad debt was repaid in full through recapitalisation and the purchase of the loans was paid for through direct government funding and the selling of state-backed bonds.

All these things were justified one the basis that it we had to rebuild ‘a well-functioning credit system’.

Irish bank were left, however, with what at the time were performing loans – house mortgages.

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Purging Ourselves of Our Young – A Follow-Up

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Oh, the trouble one gets into by pointing out the obvious.  There have been comments on the post, Purging Ourselves of Our Young, claiming that my factual reporting of the population fall in the youth age category of 15-24 was, to quote one commentator, ‘awful’ because I implied it was down to emigration.  I didn’t, and I didn’t mean to.  But I can see how it was read that way.  So let’s clarify.  Because no matter how you turn this thing upside down or right-side up, the extent and tragedy of youth emigration stares us in the face.

Basic numbers:  the previous post charted the rise of emigration in the 15-24 year age group.  This year, to April, it was 34,000. The post went on to show that there was a substantial fall in the age category of 15-29 – 224,000 or 21 percent.  I should have tied-off the post by relating the emigration with the demographic fall because that is where the confusion arose.

Eurostat gives a more relevant age breakdown but only goes up to 2011 so we’ll have to extrapolate for the last two years.  From the CSO we can assume that 48.3 percent of emigration since 2007 was recession-related for the age-group 15-29 (this is ascertained by comparing the percentage difference between emigration in the last five year with the previous five years for the age group 15-24)).  Using the Eurostat data we can find the following.

Pop_Emig

Between 2008 and 2013, there was, according to Eurostat, with some extrapolation based on CSO:

  • a population decline of 207,900 in the age cohort of 15-29 years
  • In this same period, 281,800 in this age group emigrated
  • If we assume that 48.3 percent of this emigration was recession-related, then the recession-related emigration figure is 136,100

So nearly two-thirds (65.5 percent) of the decline in the key age cohort is due to recession-related emigration.

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Britain’s Economic ‘Boom’

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This post originally appeared in Socialist Economic Bulletin on the 19th of November. 

As the British economic crisis becomes more prolonged the outbreak of stupidity that greets every new piece of important economic data becomes more generalised. Previously there has been a campaign to suggest that austerity has led to recovery when the opposite is the case. The recovery is based unsustainably on rising consumption, led by government consumption. The publication of the latest GDP data for most major economies has now led to wild suggestions that Britain is booming and is the strongest major economy in the world.

The level of real GDP in Britain since the recession began at the beginning of 2008 is shown in the chart below. It is compared to the US and the Euro Area. British growth has been almost exactly the same as that of the Euro Area as a whole and significantly worse than US GDP growth.

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Obama’s America – Our Struggle: An Interview with Remi Kanazi

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An Interview with Remi Kanazi on the August 15, 2013, in New York. This interview was originally published on September 28th, 2013 in the German online daily newspaper Schattenblick. Interview by Riocard O’Tiarnaigh. 

The poet and hip hop artist Remi Kanazi was born in 1981 in the U.S.A., the son of Palestinian immigrants. He grew up in the Western part of the state of Massachusetts and was educated as practically the only Arab pupil in a Catholic school. The plane attacks of September 2001 along with the anti-Muslim hysteria, which they triggered off in the U.S.A., motivated Remi Kanazi to publish his first political commentaries. After experiencing the Broadway production of the show Def Poetry Jam in 2004 Kanazi took up for the first time the spoken word as an art form. In 2008 he published „Poets for Palestine“, a collection of writings by well-known Palestinian as well as politically involved American poets, hip-hop musicians and artists. The book contained a number of his own pieces.

Kanazi’s first collection of poems, entitled “Poetic Injustice – Writings on Resistance and Palestine“, appeared in book form (plus CD) in 2011. The legendary jazz and blues rapper Gil-Scott Heron and the Palestinian-American poet Suheir Hammad are among Kanazi’s most important influences. Kanazi is a member of the organising committee of the U. S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

In the course of his political activism he travels widely and as an artist has already toured the U.S.A., Great Britain, Ireland and the Middle East. The Schattenblick spoke with Remi Kanazi, who has been living for a number of years in Brooklyn, on the 15th of August in Bryant Park in the heart of Manhattan.

Schattenblick: Mr. Kanazi, could you tell us a little bit about your family’s history and how it reflects that of the Palestinians?

Remi Kanazi: In 1948 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their native country and more than 450 Palestinian villages destroyed. I’m the son and grandson of victims of this ethnic cleansing, which the Palestinians call the Nakba, which means the catastrophe. My mother’s family come from Jaffa, my father’s from Haifa. Both cities belong today to the state of Israel. My grandparents, my parents and their siblings fled along the coastal road to the Lebanon in the North. More than 30 years ago they emigrated from there to the United States. They experienced the expulsion for themselves and cannot return to their former homeland to this day.

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