Institute for Research in Economic and Fiscal issues

IREF Europe - Institute for Research in Economic and Fiscal issues

Fiscal competition
and economic freedom


Online Articles

The case of Fincantieri and STX

The case of Fincantieri and STXFrench Europeanism
In April, the European establishment and business communities welcomed the election of Emmanuel Macron as President of the French Republic. The election was interpreted as a positive sign for the future of an integrated and liberal EU. Indeed, in his electoral campaign the (...)

IREF’s call for research projects
Guidelines and information

IREF's call for research projectsIREF is a free-market oriented think tank based in France. It promotes ideas, debates, events, and rigorous academic research.
With regard to research, IREF supports original research projects that lead to the production of papers of academic quality of at least 7,000 words. This support is (...)

The need for the pension privatisation

The need for the pension privatisationThe purpose of the state pension regime in the UK is to ensure a basic pension to those who have paid reasonable contributions (via national insurance taxation) during their work life. It is essentially a system that attempts to ensure a subsistence income after retirement. The regime is an (...)

Trade and Consumer Preferences will lead to a Greener Environment

Trade and Consumer Preferences will lead to a Greener EnvironmentBy prioritising Paris commitments, while ignoring the more practical concerns of freer energy trade, the EU has put politics over economics. The current phrasing of the Renewable Energy Directive punishes states not party to Paris. Consequently, it will make trade with the United States more (...)

Rockets and Feathers in the UK Energy Market: Cartel or Competition?

Rockets and Feathers in the UK Energy Market: Cartel or Competition?In many markets, there is a common phenomenon that, for a given change in costs, prices tend to rise more quickly when costs increase than they fall when costs decrease. As evident in some recent price rises in the UK energy market, this "rockets and feathers" pricing pattern is often claimed (...)

A new European path towards globalization?

A new European path towards globalization?The recent EU-Japan free trade agreement will bring significant economic benefits to the EU. More importantly, the Agreement also indicates a change in the EU’s stance toward globalization and trade partnerships. While relationships with historic trade partners (the US and the UK) appear to be (...)

ECB Interest Rate: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

ECB Interest Rate: One Size Doesn't Fit AllSince the introduction of the Euro in 1999 the European Central Bank sets the main refinancing rate for the whole Eurozone and therefore decides at which conditions banks can take out loans from it. As banks pass through the conditions they face to their customers, the ECB influences the extent (...)

What is the future of the Northern Powerhouse?

What is the future of the Northern Powerhouse?After the recent disappointing performance in the last elections, the UK government led by Theresa May has revived the Northern Powerhouse project. The project aspires to make the North of the country a business centre able to compete with London. However, because of serious problems with (...)

The civil aviation sector and the possible effects of Brexit

The civil aviation sector and the possible effects of BrexitCompetitive pressure is changing the landscape of air travel and traditional national airlines need to adapt to the new environment. The situation is particularly complex and uncertain in Europe due to the Brexit talks. However, if the outcome of the negotiations will be a truly liberalized (...)

Tax on Robots? Old Wine in new Bottles

Tax on Robots? Old Wine in new BottlesRobots will significantly alter the working life over the coming decades and will take over many tasks which are currently performed by humans, for example in care and nursing, in the logistics sector or in legal counselling. Undoubtedly, humankind benefits if robots take over other tedious (...)

UK Productivity and Brexit
The 2017 Mansion House Speech

UK Productivity and BrexitAs we recently pointed out, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Phillip Hammond, was left aside by the Conservative party during the last campaign for parliamentary elections. With him, economic issues and detailed plans regarding Britain after Brexit were also largely neglected. After the (...)

UK 2017 Elections

UK 2017 ElectionsOn the 8th of June UK citizen will vote to elect a new Parliament in a snap election called by current Prime Minister Theresa May. The very short campaign so far has focused very little on economic and strategic policies. The key issues considered so far have been instead immigration policies, (...)

The Greek Privatizations

The Greek PrivatizationsGreece is in dire need of structural reforms, both in terms of public finances and real economy. Privatizations, especially if accompanied by appropriate liberalization policies, can improve the efficiency and profitability of a sector and can contribute to the economic success of a country. It (...)

Global trade and the role of the EU

Global trade and the role of the EUInternational trade is essential for economic growth. Similar to last year, global trade is expected to grow less than global GDP in 2017. This is not good news, especially when accompanied by the protectionist stance of global players like the US. In this scenario, the EU is failing to play (...)

IREF’s call for research projects
Guidelines and information

IREF's call for research projects IREF is a free-market oriented think tank based in France. It promotes ideas, debates, events, and rigorous academic research.
With regard to research, IREF supports original research projects that lead to the production of papers of academic quality of at least 7,000 words. This support is (...)

Rule Flouting Politicians
and the Willingness to Cooperate

Rule Flouting Politicians Rule Flouting Politicians and the Willingness to Cooperate
The market oriented democracy in the West enjoys a historically unprecedented period of wealth and peace today. This success is based primarily on the people living there adhering to some basic rules for social coexistence. Some of (...)

White paper on the future of the EU.
“EU first”?

White paper on the future of the EU. The EU is facing difficult challenges within its borders (weaker economic performance and Brexit) and outside (a more inward-looking America). The Commission has recently released a White Paper describing possible scenarios for the future of the Union. Here is our take on the Commission’s (...)

The War on Cash: Haldane Edition
by Kevin Dowd

The War on Cash: Haldane EditionKevin Dowd is professor of finance and economics at Durham University. Kevin has written extensively on the history and theory of free banking, central banking, financial regulation, and monetary systems.
The Adam Smith Institute have recently published my report “Killing the Cash Cow: Why (...)

The Relevance of Regulation for the Greek Debt Crisis
Iref Working Paper

The Relevance of Regulation for the Greek Debt CrisisGreece’s government debt keeps Europe busy for almost 7 years now. The government debt ratio adds up to almost 180% of the GDP. According to Transparency International, Greece is ranked 69th globally for corruption – a serious obstacle. Also, Greece is the most regulated country in Europe. (...)

The UK Spring Budget 2017

The UK Spring Budget 2017The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, has recently delivered in Westminster a rather uncontroversial Spring Budget. What has been greatly controversial, and rather embarrassing, was that the Chancellor has been accused of breaching a conservative manifesto promise and asked to (...)

Public transportation in Italy, Uber and the need for liberalisation and competition

Public transportation in Italy, Uber and the need for liberalisation and competitionIn February 2017, the Italian government defused a heated confrontation with the representatives of licensed taxi drivers. They were asking for protection against forms of allegedly unfair competition, such as the platform Uber. The solution has been found when the government promised to put (...)

The Fight Against Crime Does Not Need A Cash Ban

The Fight Against Crime Does Not Need A Cash BanGovernments around the globe are trying to limit the use of cash by their citizens. Most European countries already implemented upper limits for the amount of cash that can be used for payments. The German government is currently considering prohibiting citizens from paying bills of more than (...)

Zero-sum Thinking: Disadvantageous, but gaining Ground

Zero-sum Thinking: Disadvantageous, but gaining GroundEconomists do not regard the world as a zero-sum game, but as a positive sum game in which all voluntary participants in an interaction are winners and no one loses. Hence, people are cooperating voluntarily as buyers and sellers in markets as they are benefiting from both roles. It is not (...)

The European energy market and the agreement with Gazprom

The European energy market and the agreement with GazpromHas the European Court of Justice interrupted a honeymoon between Gazprom and the EU?
The energy giant Gazprom has been investigated by the EU Commission over an alleged abuse of dominant position and anticompetitive practices. At the end of 2016, Gazprom submitted a proposal with changes to (...)

The complex puzzle of the EU trade policy in an emerging new global scenario

The complex puzzle of the EU trade policy in an emerging new global scenario Europe recently faces, on one side, the potential isolationism of the USA (and the UK) and, on the other, aggressive competition from China. This provides an opportunity to the EU to confirm its support to free trade and to influence the conduct of trading partners.
A protectionist wind from (...)

Tensions between EU and US multinationals: just a matter of antitrust regulation?

Tensions between EU and US multinationals: just a matter of antitrust regulation?A radical change is gradually emerging in the attitude of the European Union towards multinational hi-tech giants. On the one hand, the new approach may be explained by the fact that European politicians have recently become more aware of the public policy implications of new technologies. On (...)

Seen and not seen: ECB Monetary Policy and Zombie Firms

Seen and not seen: ECB Monetary Policy and Zombie FirmsWhen interest rates on government bonds of struggling countries in the Eurozone rose heavily, up to the summer of 2012, ECB president Mario Draghi announced on 26. July 2012 that “the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro.” It was the birth of the not yet used OMT program (...)

The chances of a successful recovery in Spain

The chances of a successful recovery in SpainAt the beginning of 2008, Spain experienced an unprecedented bust in the housing market. The bust triggered a banking crisis and a recession. Moreover, Spain has dealt recently with political instability. The results of December 2015 and June 2016 election were inconclusive and only in October (...)

Education policy and Competitiveness: Secondary School Reform in UK

Education policy and Competitiveness: Secondary School Reform in UKIn the last few weeks the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has revealed plans to reform the UK secondary education. Her proposition sees the reintroduction of the Grammar Schools model - ruled out in 1965 – among the poll of choices for secondary schooling in UK. Beyond this decision lays (...)

Roam like at home! Or Not?

Roam like at home! Or Not?The creation of a European Digital Single Market is moving forward, but the risk of regulatory capture is significant and it is undermining the success of the project.
The reduction of roaming costs Consistent with the EU strategy of creating a Digital Single Market, the abolition of (...)

Speculation: Beneficial to the Market Economy

Speculation: Beneficial to the Market EconomySpeculation: Beneficial to the Market Economy
Speculators are currently not very popular. For the globalisation sceptics from Attac speculation is to be blamed for high food prices and famines in third world countries. The German Minister for Economic Affairs, Sigmar Gabriel accuses the (...)

Italy and the need for a new industrial revolution

Italy and the need for a new industrial revolutionThe Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, has recently announced the intention of the government to invest 13 billion euros to help modernizing Italian manufacturing. Leaving aside reasonable doubts regarding how the government will manage to raise these funds, it appears evident that Mr Renzi (...)

Economic Growth without a Government?

Economic Growth without a Government?Economic Growth without a Government?
Germany 2005, Belgium 2010-2011, USA 2013, Spain 2016: Even in well established democracies it can happen that governments lose a substantial part of their competencies or have to confine themselves to their representative tasks. There can be various (...)

A “poisoned” Apple for the EU?

A “poisoned” Apple for the EU?The EU Commission’s investigation
After a three-year investigation, on the 30th of August 2016 the European Commission has concluded that Ireland should recover up to €13bn (£11bn) from Apple. The Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said that Ireland allowed Apple to pay substantially less than (...)

Capitalism and Democracy

Capitalism and DemocracyCapitalism and Democracy: A recipe for Wealth and Freedom
Almost 90% of all Germans believe that democracy is the best political system, despite the slight decrease in approval ratings during the past few years. However, only a quarter of the population thinks the same way about capitalism, (...)

Brexit’s turmoil and UK commercial property funds

Brexit's turmoil and UK commercial property fundsCommercial property sector in UK after the Brexit referendum The UK’s choice to leave the EU triggered great instability on the financial markets resulting in currency value shocks and asset volatility while both businesses and consumers’ confidence fell sharply. Commercial property has been amid (...)

Reform in the market for Higher Education in England

Reform in the market for Higher Education in EnglandIn May 2016, the Ministry for Universities and Science of the UK Government published the white paper “Success as a knowledge-economy”. The explicit intention of the document is to indicate a path of reform for higher education in the country. The proposal argues in favour of a series of (...)

The wind of Brexit on the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

The wind of Brexit on the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)The agreement
On the 5th of July, just a few days after the UK expressed its intention to regain trade negotiation autonomy with the Brexit referendum, the EU has found itself in a pivotal position. It had to take an important decision regarding the nature of the Comprehensive Economic and (...)

Italian Banks: Bail-In or Bail-Out

Italian Banks: Bail-In or Bail-OutSomething is rotten in Italy, namely Italian bank loans amounting to € 360 billion. For around one out of five loans payback is doubtful. Such an imbalance in the Italian banking sector is a reminder of the financial crisis in 2008. In response to the crisis the European Single Resolution (...)

Economic Freedom: Remedy against Corruption

Economic Freedom: Remedy against CorruptionDuring the next months the Olympic Games will take place in Brazil. As was already the case during the Football World Championships 2014, we will see many reports about the widespread corruption in this country. Unfortunately, far less attention will be paid to how underdeveloped economic (...)

The Serbian r(EU)volution passes through privatization and political stability

The Serbian r(EU)volution passes through privatization and political stabilityA difficult economic scenario
The Serbian economy needs a shock to take a path of recovery based on growth and modernization. The IMF recently argued that even if the country “continued to make important progress in fiscal consolidation… important challenges remain to ensure a durable fiscal (...)

New Policy Paper Available: Taxing corporations: why it is not only bad, but unjust
by Pierre Bessard and Fabio Cappelletti

New Policy Paper Available: Taxing corporations: why it is not only bad, but unjustOur latest Policy Paper is now available.
Taxing corporations: why it is not only bad, but unjust by Pierre Bessard and Fabio Cappelletti (Liberal Institute, Geneva, Switzerland).

The potential of sharing (the) economy

The potential of sharing (the) economySome figures on the sharing economy
The sharing economy is a market system that requires peer-to-peer-based sharing of access to goods and services. The sharing is possible thanks to the use of digital platforms that allow peer-to peer transactions. The phenomenon (gross revenues were (...)

A report on the IREF Workshop in London (6th June 2016)

A report on the IREF Workshop in London (6th June 2016)On Monday the 6th of June 2016 an IREF workshop in cooperation with St. Mary’s University took place in London. International academic presenters gave talks on their recent research articles, providing stimulating and interesting insights on issues that are at the centre of the IREF proposals. (...)

The reform of the BBC

The reform of the BBCThe BBC Charter
The British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, is the oldest and largest broadcasting corporation in the world. It is funded (partially) by annual licence fees charged to all households possessing any type of equipment to receive TV broadcasts. BBC shows, documentaries and TV (...)

Universal Credit and Cross Generation Inequality after the Welfare System Reform in the UK

Universal Credit and Cross Generation Inequality after the Welfare System Reform in the UKIn recent years, the Welfare System in the UK has undergone radical changes beginning with the design and implementation by the Government of the Universal Credit, a single payment streamlining six in-work benefits (including Jobseeker’s Allowance; Housing Benefit; Working Tax Credit; Child Tax (...)

(Br)Exit Strategy

(Br)Exit StrategyIn less than a month, UK voters will be asked to express their intention to leave the EU in a referendum. The UK Prime Minister David Cameroon has strongly argued in favour of staying. However there is disagreement among Conservative MPs, and a few Ministers of his Government have spoken in (...)

The sector of delivery services and the privatization of Royal Mail

The sector of delivery services and the privatization of Royal Mail 2016 is going to be a crucial year for Royal Mail, RM, the 500 year old British postal operator whose privatization process (started in October 2013) was finally completed in October 2015. In a broad sense, it is a decisive time for the entire sector of delivery services in Great Britain. The (...)

The market for sex, human trafficking and the EU

The market for sex, human trafficking and the EUBack in 2014, several European countries started including the revenues from drugs and prostitution into their national accounting systems. These two sectors have several characteristics in common. First, the consumption of drugs and paid sex is usually considered an immoral activity from a (...)

The Northern Powerhouse

The Northern PowerhouseAn historic decentralization deal in England
There is historically in England a North/South division. In the South, trade and financial services have made London the target of international investments and the principal source of economic growth in the country. In the North, there is no city (...)

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