Tax cuts are pretty rare in the real world. When they do happen, they tend to be very partial, offering unjust advantages to a specific group. But even broader tax cuts can paradoxically do much harm. Using Italy as an example, this piece argues that when tax cuts lead to greater debt, they may ultimately curtail rather than enhance liberty – and long run economic (...)
What happens when high tax rates drop
How do you pay for increased government spending on education, health care and social services? By lowering the tax rate, of course… Wait, what?! Oh indeed. A new report on Swedish fiscal developments over the last dozen or so years shows what’s possible to achieve when a country tries to shake off the reputation for Europe’s highest (...)
It is becoming a pattern. Another weekend, another 100,000+ protest against a new tax. Only not Hungary and tax on the internet, but Ireland and “tax on water”. At least that’s how many media are reporting it. ABC runs with the headline "Marchers Protest Ireland’s New Tax on Water Supply", RT leads with “Ireland Stands Up Against Water Tax”. Protestors’ banners also cite water tax. IREF shows (...)
8 myths busted
Large demonstrations took place over the weekend in Hungary. Somewhat unusually, people were not protesting against spending cuts, but against a new tax. A targeted tax on internet traffic. The issue of taxing this new paradigm of our lives will not go away anytime soon. As a companion to your on/offline debates, IREF busts 8 fiscal myths about the (...)
The new Nobel Memorial Laureate is one of prime architects of modern regulation of markets. To many that will make him a social engineer. However, as modern EU governments’ budgets are increasingly suffering from similar problems of failed previous regulation and self-regulation, his voice should increasingly be heard also in the European fiscal (...)
Minimum wage is a tax on those who create jobs
Germany’s minimum wage has been created at a pretty high level, higher than its equivalents in the UK or the US. Increasing the price and reducing the quantity of an economic activity it acts as a tax. A pretty unsocial one as it destroys jobs for the poor and punishes those who create them. That the poorer Eastern Germany should be hit the hardest is saddest of (...)
Should fiscal policy be taken away from governments?
When governments are unable to take care of their finances, is it time to appoint them a guardian who will take care of that business and (co-)determine fiscal policy? When is such guardian irreplaceable and how could they help?
Dawn of Zeroastrianism?
In 2006, the EU outlawed the zero, banning it from VAT rates of member states. Within two years the zero struck back. It now rules supreme in at least three economic areas, but in the tax domain it continues to be banned. Any newcomers to the EU will be hit especially hard. Why would anyone institute a minimum tax anyway? Surely we need protection from a maximum, not a (...)
With the Scottish referendum around the corner and other ones looming on the horizon, IREF investigates the accounts of states thinking about a divorce. What are assets and liabilities to be split? Is the currency such asset, for example?
Scotland’s coming referendum is offering the country “independence”. Politicians cannot agree about what exactly it would mean, especially what currency the new state would have. Now an economics Nobelist has added his voice to the debate. At face value the question of adopting another country’s currency is very simple, but closer scrutiny reveals deep fiscal connotations which complicate things. (...)
Most companies were hit hard by the freezing up of financial markets after 2008. Governments responded selectively – by selective tax cuts and subsidies, but they could have more meaningfully “help” everyone, not just big companies, by lowering corporate tax rates. Did they? IREF investigates, and shows EU countries’ responses fall into 5 (...)
Why is anyone against it?
A famous economist, author of even more famous economics textbooks, is calling for an end to corporate taxation. Not because he has been bought by the corporate world and multinational companies, but because it makes economic sense. Perhaps most surprisingly – it should make sense even to left-leaning (...)
A century later....
EU governments are increasingly subsidising electric plug-in cars. Many countries have “five year action plans” to electrify their roads, using tax money. Environmental benefits will actually decrease with e-car proliferation, and the governments are forcing us to pay for something we may soon not want.
New IREF Policy Paper
A new IREF Policy Paper by Senior Fellow Alexander Fink analyses the colourful patchwork of various private pension schemes the government has created, and compares their inflexibility and other disadvantages to the US system. A “single pot” which would enjoy some of the currently individualized incentives would be a much better idea for everyone in Germany. And it may even contribute towards (...)
So who would build roads without taxes?
A century after privately built and operated roads were either nationalized or closed down, a new private toll road has sprung up in England. It is popular with drivers, if not with the local government. Is it always wrong to charge for use of infrastructure built from tax money? Is it OK that many EU countries start charging for highway (...)
Government is blatantly nudist
Summer temperatures bring new wave of strikes to France (not that they’re seasonal…). Two concurrent current strikes involve nudity. Fiscally, though, they have very different implications. It does not depend on what you do with your clothes, it depends on who is your employer.
After many Occidental countries imposed sanctions on some Russian businesses, Russia has retaliated by restrictions on some Occidental ones. Trade wars rarely work. However, a new fiscal phenomenon has appeared: affected EU companies seek compensation from the state for loss of markets. Should they get (...)
The media world calls Summer “the silly season”. When politics takes summer break, it is time to roll out the “silly stories” to fill the media. Not this year. Politics strikes back and rolls out silly taxes on media. Hungary’s ruling party introduced a new tax on advertising revenues of up to 40%. This is terrible economics, but economics cannot compete with terrible (...)
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 (...)
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 (...)
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 (...)
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.
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 (...)
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.
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 (...)
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 (...)
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?
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.
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 (...)
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 (...)
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 (...)
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 (...)
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!
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 (...)
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?
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 (...)
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 (...)
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?
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?
… 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.
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 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 (...)
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?
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.
A Book By Wayne Allyn Root (Regnery, 2013)
Ultimately, how to resist the Obamamania that is ruining the United States?
"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 (...)
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.
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 .
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!
A little more than 30 years ago, George Gilder published a book titled: “Wealth and Poverty”. This book became a worldwide bestseller. As a researcher, an economist and an investor, the author showed that government intervention cannot reduce poverty, but economic growth and economic development can only achieve this (...)
It seems logical: economic growth resumed in the United States, and since the United States used an economic stimulus thanks to budget deficits, it could be believed that public spending lead to recovery. Indeed, but… it is in the sectors that did not benefited from the Federal money that new companies and new jobs were created. And in States that have reduced their public spending (as in some (...)
The Laffer Effect Has (Also) Arrived In France
This long-debated concept by policy makers and economists is coming back. That is because the Government believes that prosperity cannot be recovered without a strict “austerity policy”. But it actually means higher taxes only. Yet, the latest concerns of the French National Assembly on a substantial fall of tax revenues for 2013 raise the question again: has France reached the top of Laffer’s (...)
France hosted in the November 15th week a summit dedicated to the "Fight Against Youth Unemployment." This is an excellent initiative for a country where the 16-25 years-old population reached a 26.1 % unemployment rate. Yet, France should be doing what is being done elsewhere, especially in Germany, where the rate of youth unemployment is three times lower than in France: 7.7 (...)
According to the Harris Interactive poll for Le Figaro daily and LCP television, French President Hollande would not be reelected in 2017. His fiscal policies are highly criticized and would cost him his reelection. It seems that Holland is discovering this principle : the more taxes, the less votes. Yet, if he is not reelected, what would be (...)
Attacks against wealthy people are still going on in spite of the fact the Welfare-State is plundering taxpayers. In a recently published book, sociologists – I should say ideologists – Michel and Monique Pionçon-Charlot are criticizing those they call "deliquents". No, wealthy people are not offenders or delinquent. They are above all those who create (...)
The crisis of the world economy since 2008 has encouraged various governments to increase the share of public spending. This increase was a general phenomenon among the OECD countries and contributed to an unprecedented debt hike. An IREF study comparing the development of key economic indicators over the recent period (1997-2011) for some 30 OECD member countries makes it possible to update (...)
And in France, there is a high level of unemployment whereas it is low elsewhere. And elsewhere, there is no Labor Code, no unions, no judges, and everybody is satisfied with the freedom of work, as reported by IREF European contributors.
Reforming is a path for reelection: German Chancellor Angela Merkel privatized, deregulated, capitalized. She did not reflate nor accepted deficits : she reduced taxes. For sure, there are some lessons to learn for France.
John Galt in The Netherlands?
"A nation with a small but strong government which gives people the space they need": this what Dutch King Wilhem-Alexander wants for his people. And it has become a domestic policy on September 17th, 2013. The King has a life-time in front of him to consider the social, economic and political evolutions of society. Unlike an elected President, he does not have only a handful of years (...)
While Ireland may exit its bailout program at the end of this year, Greece is far from getting out of it. Around 10 to 11 billion euros ($13.1-14.4 billion) from the second half of 2014 will be needed to keep it going next year and in 2015. This will be the Third Act of the economic tragedy unfolding in Greece. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Dutch Finance Minister, confirmed to the European Parliament (...)
This is the transaltion of an article published by Nicolas Lecaussin on August 14th, 2013 What is the common point between Socialists as Claude Bartolone, President of the French National Assembly, Pierre Moscovici, the Finance Minister, MP Jérôme Guedj, Conservatives as Xavier Bertrand, Health minister during the Sarkozy Presidency, Environmentalists as European MP Daniel Cohn-Bendit, (...)
This is the translation of an op-ed published by Jean-Philippe Delsol on August 24th, 2013 in the leading French newspaper “Le Figaro”. In France, during the last 30 years, social spending went from 21% to 33%. It is the sign of an ever growing Big Government that is out of control and unbearable. Thus, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out, Europe “gathers 7% of the world population, (...)
"There will have to be another program in Greece," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said bluntly on August 20th. The two previous bail-outs amounted to about 240 billion euros but that was not enough. According to the International Monetary Fund, one the Troika member, the estimated uncovered funding needed by Greece for 2014-2015 may amount to 10.9 billion (...)
“The youth is the utmost priority of my mandate”. Thus spoke François Hollande on January 23, 2013, when wishing a happy new year 2013. “Happy” may not have been the right term, “subsidized” should have been better. Indeed, when saying that 500 000 young people below 25 years-old do not have a job, that 25% of them are unemployed, the French President does not think that entrepreneurship is the (...)
Nicolas Lecaussin was quoted by The Economist (July 6th - Juy12th, 2013) about a report written with Lucas Léger on French high school economic textbooks. "The IREF study last year" said the Economist, "showed that, in one tome’s 382 pages, only (...)
European Union finance ministers failed to reach a deal last week on this controversial issue. Germany and France are at odds about costs distribution. The Banking Union is at stake since this law on rescuing and closing banks in the EU is a key point. The problem is to know who is going to decide what will happen to a failing bank and who will pay for (...)
Why would you stay in a country where there are more than 200 types of taxes? And in which taxes are piled up and never removed. If French President François Hollande and his government want to fight against tax havens, French taxpayers and entrepreneurs are battling against the daily tax hell they are living (...)
Competitiveness is embedded in the private sector. Employment is created only the private sector. Wealth increases through the private sector. No public intervention can manage to replace the private sector, no Government know how to make business and money. As a consequence, the real economy of a country relies on its private sector, not on the Government. Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro (...)
Since events related to financial, banking, and debt crises regularly make it into the news, a term that seemingly originated from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in the late 1970s has become more popular: macroprudential supervision. Whereas microprudential supervision relates to the oversight of individual market participants (e.g. banks), macroprudential policy relates to the (...)
Globalization is often associated with delocalization and unfair competition with emergent countries that are flooding us with cheap goods and services regardless of good environmental practices or social benefits these populations should enjoy, like in rich countries. Beyond this spurious assessment hinge the even more fallacious concept of reciprocity that justifies a new form of (...)
In a recent post, Nicolas Lecaussin is pointing out that tax consequences can be studied as in a lab: some American States can be observed. Taxes were lowered in thirty States. If they gather only 20% of the US population, they have created 65% of US jobs.
“A recession can be a good time to grow a business”. Thus is the opinion of Lord Young, a British cabinet minister under late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and still having his own office in Downing Street. Lord Young’s comments are stated in a report to be published this week and addressed to Prime Minister David Cameron. It is obvious that Lord Young stands for a “creative destruction” and (...)
The Friedman Foundation has published a report about the 22 American States that enforce school choice thanks to vouchers. Children’s work is better, teaching’s quality has improved and the overall cost of the school system is cheaper which is a benefit to low-income families.
The European Commission’s forecasts are gloomy: a 0.1% decrease of European GDP in 2013 as a 0.4% decrease for the Eurozone. It seems that, one after the other, all the member states are collapsing and get trapped into economical disarray. The European Commission gives more time for France and Netherlands to reduce their deficits, but Slovenia is on the edge of explosion while Cyprus, Spain (...)
Germany and Finance Minister Wolfgand Schäuble do not press for setting up a banking union and rejects a centralized authority whereas France and Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici are urging to set up the banking union through centralization. The latter position is also the Commission’s. The Eurozone financial convergence will prove to be complex: European negotiations are at a crossroad not (...)
These figures, calculated by the IREF, point out what is happening in the United Kingdom governed by Premier David Cameron. Since the Tories arrived in power in 2010, between 500.000 and 600.000 public jobs disappeared while the private sector (...)
Big Governments usually do not trust people or companies to improve living conditions. That is why notions of “social justice”, “solidarity”, “equality” and above all “sharing” were hijacked by Governments and turned into an economic principle: redistribution. Since it is believed the Government is the only organization that can be fair and would share wealth without any interests of its own, (...)
Knowledge has now become a capital investment and no longer a cost of producing goods. This change has been announced by Brent Moulton, head of national accounts at the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), on April 22nd, 2013. This will change the way gross domestic products are calculated. It will lead to an immediate 3% growth in the United States’ (...)
The new IREF paper of Stefan Lutz, from the University of Manchester, UK, and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain, points out that if it is apparent that companies do not welcome taxation, the main reason is that taxes reduce profits: shareholders are disappointed and the prospects for investments and development are penalized. This paper, however, concentrates on how companies react (...)
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