Anything Good In The New Yorker?



Ireland’s economic transformation in the course of the past thirty-five years was remarkable in many ways. Up until the early nineteen-eighties, Ireland’s income per person was one of the lowest in Europe, right alongside Greece’s. Unemployment was well above sixteen per cent for much of the nineteen-eighties.

The country’s income began to hurtle upward after 1995. Dell, Intel, and Microsoft joined Apple in Ireland. Large pharmaceutical firms also came…


…But, alongside this “real” economy, Ireland developed a fantasy one, based on exploiting accidental quirks in European and global markets.


This helped fuel a local housing and finance bubble that exploded, causing long-term pain…


But both before the financial bubble and afterward, Ireland’s primary global sales pitch was that the country offered multinational firms a twofer: you can get your tax avoidance and a qualified, English-speaking workforce all at the same time.

G’wan the twofer.

…Ireland’s modern growth came at a relatively benign time in the global economy. Economists and pro-trade activists called it “The Great Moderation.” The world was going to be more global, richer, happier. Everybody was going to look a lot like Ireland. In that world, who cares if some countries turn a blind eye to tax-avoidance schemes? We’ll all be richer in the future and can sort the grubby business out later.

Stop now.

….A secure Ireland, one that will be economically healthy for years to come, needs to be built on a “real” economy, one based on strong investment in innovation, manufacturing, and valuable services that other people want to pay for. It needs to be based on things done in Ireland, by people who live in Ireland—who pay Irish taxes.


How Apple Helped Create Ireland’s Economies Both Real And Fantasy (Adam Davidson, The New Yorker)


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34 thoughts on “Anything Good In The New Yorker?

  1. Fully Keen

    We came from the farm. And no amount of iPhones and cronuts can smother the smell of cow muck.

    Brown envelope thinking. At all levels of Irish life. All levels.

    Get a job. Get a pension. Do as little as possible and get some extra gravy.

    Can we get that written done somewhere officially?

    Ireland, the right to pursue gravy.

    1. Nigel

      Oh God, if only our ancestors weren’t downtrodden peasants and so many of us still insist in living near or on dirty nasty farms, icky, if only there wasn’t so much nasty smelly dirty farming in Ireland everything would be ok!

      (This is basically an updated ‘Ireland is an old sow eating her farrow.’)

    2. rotide

      Top five words to casually drop into rant to let people know you mean business:

      -1. Elites
      ↑2. Gravy (NEW ENTRY)
      ↑3. Vulture Fund
      ↓4. Privilege
      ↓5. Blushirt

  2. forfeckssake

    It was funny to hear Tim Cook saying that Apple were upset because they were accused of something that was opposite to their “values”. The thing is, Tim, Irish people don’t swallow any of that corporate guff. Support in Ireland will come because from people who know what you’re doing is wrong but are happy to look the other way.

  3. Serval

    “A secure Ireland, one that will be economically healthy for years to come, needs to be built on a “real” economy, one based on strong investment in innovation, manufacturing, and valuable services that other people want to pay for. It needs to be based on things done in Ireland, by people who live in Ireland—who pay Irish taxes.”

    Correct, but that’s too much like hard work.
    Can’t we take a shortcut?

    1. De Kloot

      Indeed, I mean all these other countries were built upon colonial kleptocracy and unjustified wars that were really economic in nature that’s lead the plant to a corporate led global hegemony… What we have in Ireland simply a consequence. If not us, Holland, or Portugal. The technocratic bureaucracy of Brussels and Washington will continue to huff and puff but their political overlords won’t want their paymasters pissed off…

      But for us, it was pennies from heaven. It will remain that way unless it’s felt that we’re now too hot to handle and we’re back shoveling shite….

      1. scottser

        if we must shovel it then we should at least make use of it. Saltpetre and microbial fuel cells for all!!!!

  4. Rubex

    “Ireland’s economic health is based on its exports, and nearly all of its exports go through England”
    Lazy statement…15.07% of our exports in 2014 went to the UK, slightly higher than the 13.24% that went to Belgium

  5. manolo

    The closing comments reminded me of a piece I wrote in 2008 – still valid today:

    “There is a point regarding our high costs and to a large extent low taxes will not be enough.

    I suspect our future is totally related to innovation, high-end/high-value services, foreign trade (as a hub logistically and commercially between Europe and Americas), and exploring somehow the potential low cost countries have to offer to increase the value of what we can do here.

    We need to be very creative and explore the resources we have, such as

    – EU membership (we can sell our products and services without attracting import duties, we can import lower end components to be assembled or modified with no import taxes).
    – Instead of fearing our jobs going to low cost countries, we should find ways of employing them as a way to reduce our final costs (it is a win-win in my view, they get jobs, we survive)
    – As part of the EU we can bring in components tax free, do the high value bits here and distribute to the EU.
    – We should look at exploring our natural/sustainable capabilities as Peasant proposes.
    – We should explore better the Internet and other communications tools that make it almost irrelevant where you are today – thus reducing our handicap as an island in the Atlantic
    – We should think globally

    I am doing my best to educate my kids to be good entrepreneurs, not good employees. This can be hard when we have an educational system very much driven towards the job market.

    The main areas we should specialize in IMO are:
    – Product design & innovation
    – Business engineering
    – Foreign trade
    – Marketing
    – Outsourcing

    Things we should invest in:
    – Infrastructure to enable a shipping logistics hub (Rotterdam or Le Havre style)
    – Proper Business education
    – Establish a hands on market/business development network across Europe for hard selling and maintaining networks
    – Bring in top R&D minds and invest on our own
    – Support even more universities in their R&D initiatives and ensure business potential is realized where possible
    – Invest more in language and cultural training
    -We should make all possible efforts to ensure Irish enterprises with foreign trade potential grow, so we are not over-dependent on multinationals as we are today.

    There are many more things we can do, of course. If we just raised our heads a bit and put our efforts into ambitious planning rather than moaning around the place we would have a chance of becoming a serious player in the European economy.”

    1. TheFerg

      Point for point I agree. Reminds of a recent McWilliams article about Team GB’s success at the Olympics – “specialise”. We don’t do manufacturing, for example, not our thing, play to our strengths and get the kids reading business books.

  6. Fully Keen

    All joking aside, are we at least getting the iPhone 7 early after all this embarrassment.

    It made the bbc news you know!! And some say the Americas are talking too!

    *Pat Hickey enjoys another stereotypical Brazilian fancy drink and smiles.*

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