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July’14 Financial and Fiscal Features Newsletter

BIS has doubts about monetary policy in the Euro area Latest BIS Report says that present monetary policies risk permanently destabilizing the global economy. It calls for A New Policy Compass, focussing on the ‘Financial Cycle’, not the Business Cycle. Banks remain fragile and imbalances persist The BIS notes that banks have been recapitalising, but in some countries problems with asset quality and earnings persist. The recent issue of a convertible bond for TESLA is a prime example of (...)


Latest publications

If you’ve won Wimbledon recently, read this.

Key to post-Wimbledon life? Lose the key!
Carrying keys on your person is dangerous if you are a Wimbledon champion, tax authorities will charge you heavily for such audacity. At least one EU government’s budget apparently relies on its citizens winning the Wimbledon. And it encourages envy. If successful sports-people representing their countries want to help their fellow citizens, they should stop being patriotic.


Governments should not be able to blame courts for their deficits

Portuguese Constitution is too PC
Portugal’s Constitutional court joined the ranks of those European courts that have halted crucial welfare reforms by governments. IREF reviews the evidence and concludes that fiscal policy must, for better or worse, remain the sovereign responsibility of the government held accountable at the next election. Being able to blame the courts would pave the way for governments to court misery, the opposite of what constitutions want to (...)


Strange property of property tax: an Irish tale

Desperate times call for desperate measures. European governments cannot raise enough tax to cover their spending. Ireland has even been forced to adopt what economists generally consider the least distortive tax feasible. That is good (considering the alternatives), but its execution leaves much to be desired. Strange incentives remain, and punishment for success is built (...)


New Book: Europe in an Age of Austerity

Two years ago, prof. Vani K. Borooah published a working paper for the IREF with the warning title "When the Lights Go Out". We are pleased to announce that the working paper has been since extended into a fully fledged book, now published by Palgrage Macmillan.


The Sol y Sombra of one sombre tax reform by los sombreros

Spanish government has just announced it will cut some taxes. The actual cut will not come until early next year, and just like a Spanish rodeo arenas, it has a sunny and a shady side to it. The sol is the riddance of tax breaks. The sombra, however, is ushered by the EU pressing for higher taxes.


The Invisible Tax Riseth

Stalin said: No man – no problem. EU governments’ tax policies are following suit. Shifting taxes onto a man who does not (yet) exist is one way of solving problems. Are governments also subtly changing existing taxes into less visible ones? Is this a more humane form of “No man protesting – no problem”? IREF investigates.


June ’14 Newsletter

Central Banking Confidence in the ECB wobbles as commentators on all sides question the effectiveness of supposedly growth stimulating new policies. Markets and Investment At least two big takeover deals are being negotiated in Europe now, both with heavy government involvement. The strategies adopted by the French and UK governments may appear to differ but at heart they are very (...)


Race to the bottom? What race?

Tax harmonisation in the EU is pursued in order to prevent competitive lowering of tax rates, an alleged race to the bottom. What race?, IREF asks. Taxes are an ever increasing (at best stable) portion of GDP, and have been for years.


28 Shades of Grey

Gross domestic product is getting more gross
Prostitution is going to enter official Italian GDP figures, allegedly to help the government meet its fiscal targets... The story went viral. IREF brings you the real story beyond the headlines. Prostitutes in GDP are perfectly normal, everywhere. It’s the way that we measure our governments’ indebtedness that is not normal...


Does turnout affect fiscal policy?

How economics - and the fiscal cycle - affect voter turnout is a richly studied question. But what about the other way? Can turnout - how many or few voters turn up to vote - affect the fiscal situation in the following period? IREF investigates and finds that people simply going and voting can be good for fiscal freedom. At least a little.


A New Ocean Discovered! - or just another subsidy?

Cypriot government has unilaterally “redefined” one of the conditions of its 10bn bailout package and lifted a ban on government officials traveling business class. Is this an exercise in customary opulent luxury or is it actually a hidden subsidy? And aren’t all governments guilty?


Geographic Distance from Brussels Matters

Voter turnout at the latest European Parliament election is much debated. Many countries saw further drops compared to last EP elections in 2009, fuelling concerns about widening democratic deficit. Beyond the general facade, IREF discovers an interesting geographic pattern in the turnout numbers.


What would be a “living wage” in the EU? The answer may surprise you.

The concept of Living wage is gaining popularity throughout the EU. The social pressure of its advocates probably stands behind the recent proposals to increase substantial minimum wages. Closer scrutiny of the proposed levels of living wages by the IREF reveals, however, that the relationship between Living wages and Minimum wages is quite unexpected.


Swiss referendum on minimum wage and the EU

LLL: Location, Largess and Lessons
If the Yes campaign wins today, Switzerland will have by far the biggest minimum wage on this planet. We analyse this trend in a wider context of contemporary European popular movements. We suggest that the Swiss Minimum wage proposition has actually very little to do with the traditional concept of "minimum wage". Lessons for the EU go much deeper than the standard effect of minimum wage on (...)


Wealth and growth: Mr. Piketty’s fallacious statistics

The misadventures of a new scientific materialism
In his new Capital in the 21st century, as forbidding as his previous work on High Wages in France in the 20th century, Thomas Piketty presents a mass of data on asset growth in several European countries and the United States. This information improves the knowledge of our society’s relationship to capital and the divide between the richest and the poorest. Except that the author abuses these data, following 19th century scientific materialism. Like Marxist authors, he endeavours to (...)


May’14 Newsletter: Three clear questions with unclear answers

Three fundamental questions have emerged, but clear answers still have not: Free floating for the hryvnia? New bureaucrats in Brussels? New rules for high-frequency trading?


Basic income is not so basic after all

Nobody likes poverty. But how do we end it? Suppose we give everyone some money. This will automatically include the poor, we don’t have to identify them, problem solved. Is it doable? Will anyone still work, create new ideas, write poetry, love? The answer depends largely on how basic the basic income is, as we show.


Woes of Wolf of Wallstreet

The latest Scorsese blockbuster is still making the headlines for its novel artistic work with timelines. Does the Wolf, however, have anything whatsoever to say about Wall Street? Very little, and it may actually work to strengthen and entrench any bad practices that remain in the financial world!


Are Members of European Parliament Smart or Dumb?

European elections are upon us. In a series of articles, IREF is helping to inform voters’ decision. Last week we analysed attendance rates by voters at elections and reasoned that European elections may be bad for democracy. It’s now time to turn the tables and consider attendance rates of parliamentarians at the EP. What does the record reveal about their attitude to work?


April ’14 Newsletter: Is the Recovery Sustainable?

Recovery has started, according to some data. Is it sustainable? Or is it based on asset prices inflated by easy monetary policies? Inside this newsletter: * Bond markets and the real economy * Central Banking – The Illusion of Tapering * The Return of Bubbles?


The useless reshuffle : another French exception

Following lacklustre performance at local elections, the French President has appointed a new Prime Minister. Is it a good tactic, and will it change anything?


The fallacious statistics of Mr. Piketty

Book review
In his new book Capital in the 21st century (Belknap Press, April 2014), French economist Thomas Piketty presents a mass of data on asset growth in several European countries and the United States. This information improves the knowledge of our society’s relationship to capital and the divide between the richest and the poorest. Except that the author abuses these data, following 19th century scientific (...)


Are European Elections Bad for Democracy?

Where have all the voters gone....
“Nothing to see here, move on.” So goes the “apology” for low turnout rates in European elections as penned by many European analysts and commentators. “The US have them just as low at mid-term elections, so why worry?” Closer analysis of individual country data by the IREF, however, reveals that the “European turnout deficit” is actually worryingly high in many places, adding to existing concerns over EU’s democratic (...)


Government’s Fiscal Monopoly: Mono or Poly?

European nations’ fiscal authorities must be doing an excellent job if people are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of euros for the privilege to pay taxes to them… Or is there something else behind the new market for EU citizenship?


The Butch Dutch

They want to be taxed.. or so they say.
Government’s mortgage interest subsidy, besides creating a lot of social costs, benefits almost solely the rich, yet it’s precisely the rich who boldly claim to want to scrap the programme. What’s going on?


Dutch Disease, 2nd edition

… And Then There Were Three…
Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome to the stage Dutch Disease, 2nd edition. This time it’s not natural wealth that makes you poor, it’s a natural consequence of a poor policy.


Odd Odd-Number Experiment Has Odd Consequences. What Are The Odds?

Only those Parisians whose licence plates end with an odd number could drive their cars down the Boulevards last Monday. It was the 17th, an odd number. This is no solution to a real underlying problem which exists because of a lacking market.


Anti-Pollution Measures: A Third Of Abuse Of Power, A Third Of Mismanagement And A Third Of Demagoguery

And maybe even a fourth third of “electoralism” in order to win the hearts of green voters! In fact, the executive power has nothing but contempt for users, taxpayers and citizens.


The Precautionary Principle Against Science

The culture of the single transgenic maize (MON810 , produced by Monsanto) approved by the European Union has been banned from France. It is the third time since 2008 that genetically modified corn is banned from the French territory. The decree (...)


Just How Unequal Would We Still Be If We Were All Equal?

Distribution Of Wealth Over The Life-Cycle And Inequality
Suppose we had a society where the only difference among its members were their age. How unequally would wealth then be distributed?


March Newsletter: A Questionable Recovery

The quality of the recovery remains questionable. In the meanwhile, banks must deal with new regulation and investors look for higher yields.


Matteo Renzi And The Reform Challenge In Italy

Of all the shortcomings of the Italian economy, youth unemployment (40%) is the most worrying. The new Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, took up this issue through labor law reform since it was outdated and harmful. Will he succeed where Mario Monti failed? Yet what happened at Fiat’s may be hopeful.


Obama The Ultimate Survival Guide

A Book By Wayne Allyn Root (Regnery, 2013)
Ultimately, how to resist the Obamamania that is ruining the United States?


France: Away From Global Economy?

"Made in France" produced and exported: it is indeed a very popular program, but it can only be achieved if companies want to stay in or move to France. However, they are escaping from this fiscal and regulatory hell. Abroad, corporate taxes are much lower than in France and the legal framework is stable and attractive.


A Weak Recovery Turns Monetary Policy Into A Gamble

European growth stutters along as fear of deflation exerts pressure on the ECB to loosen monetary policy further.


Save The Date! Workshop at AAU in cooperation with IREF

Institut de Recherches Economiques et Fiscales (IREF) in cooperation with Anglo-American University (AAU) is organizing a workshop on topical economic problems


European Energy Policy Is a Failure

Security supply is not guaranteed, energy cost will increase and CO2 emissions will not be reduced. This is an obvious failure that Jean Pierre Riou, President of Mont Champot, has clearly seen. The IREF support his analysis.


Corporate Tax: Northern Good Practices

It is not forbidden to former socialist countries to reduce the weight of the state and drastically reduce taxes, especially on businesses. This was done in Sweden and Denmark, where unemployment is lower than in France .


Markets, Morals and Policy-Making: A New Defence of Free‐Market Economics

Event coming up: Enrico Colombatto will intervene at the CISEPS Seminar in defence of free-market, on January 30th, 2014 in Milan. Here is reproduced the abstract of Enrico Colombatto’s talk.


The Word “Profit” Falls Into Oblivion in François Hollande’s Economic Liberalism

Here is a relevant remarks from Professor Florin Aftalion: the word "profit" has disappeared from the public debate to be replaced by the word "margin". This semantic shift is not trivial: the profit goes to CEOs and shareholders while the margin is under Government control!



Last Seminar

Free Market Road Show


Last Publication

Comparison Between the Banque de France and the Bundesbank


Last Digit

Banque de France vs Bundesbank


Latest Study

Legitimacy and The Cost of Government


In the media

IREF In CBN News


IREF Bookseller: "Before It’s News"


"Why I Am Going To Leave France" in the Financial Post


"Why I Am Going To Leave France" in the Marginal Revolution


"Why I Am Going To Leave France" in the Telegraph