Institute for Research in Economic and Fiscal issues

IREF Europe - Institute for Research in Economic and Fiscal issues

Fiscal competition
and economic freedom


Eastern Europe 30 Years After Revolution

Eastern Europe 30 Years After Revolution

Can The Market Stop Populism?

Can The Market Stop Populism?

Freedom of the Press and the Rule of Law: A Necessary Marriage

Freedom of the Press and the Rule of Law: A Necessary Marriage

Brexit Exposes The Hidden Costs Of Tariffs

Brexit Exposes The Hidden Costs Of Tariffs

The Reassessed OECD Jobs Strategy Revisited

The Reassessed OECD Jobs Strategy Revisited

Trade Liberalisation: The Challenge of Non-Tariff Barriers

Trade Liberalisation: The Challenge of Non-Tariff Barriers

Latest publications

GDP Per Capita of OECD Countries: Good News

GDP Per Capita of OECD Countries: Good NewsCrises, shortages, and bad news are often dominating daily politics and media coverage. Under the radar of politics and media, however, highly desirable developments have been taking place. Among those is growing GDP per capita across the OECD since the 1990s. The strong economic growth in the (...)

Greece’s Institutional Trap
By: Aristides N. Hatzis

Greece's Institutional TrapWP 2018-11. Executive Summary.

Who Is Afraid Of Populism?

Who Is Afraid Of Populism?If one wonders what Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Jeremy Corbyn and Matteo Salvini have in common, the answer is that each of them has been labelled populist, a word whose meaning is therefore being diluted as a result of loose usage. As emphasized by the BBC commentator Lionel Shriver, starting (...)

Activist Trade Policies: More Risks than Benefits

Activist Trade Policies: More Risks than BenefitsThe global economic order is changing: The free trade agreement TTIP has been put on hold; the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which held a dominant position after WWII with its multilateral rules has lost influence; the US, the EU and China are threatening each other with higher tariffs one (...)

Regional Convergence In Europe And The Redesign Of Cohesion Policy

Regional Convergence In Europe And The Redesign Of Cohesion PolicyIn order to achieve a satisfactory degree of socio-economic cohesion, the European authorities have long recognized the importance of convergence in per capita levels of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As the fulfilment of this objective requires that relatively poor regions exhibit per capita (...)

An Open Letter Opposing Emmanuel Macron’s Project for Europe
Signed by 154 German Economists Regarding Fiscal Harmonization and Financial Union

An Open Letter Opposing Emmanuel Macron's Project for EuropeThis open letter, addressed by 154 German economists against the Euro zone reform proposed by France, passed all but unnoticed. These well-known economists warn against a Europe led by a European Minister of Finances and the European Central Bank. In contrast with the French proposal, the (...)

EU Trade Policies: Remove Trade Tariffs, Foster Global Trade

EU Trade Policies: Remove Trade Tariffs, Foster Global TradeWith martial rhetoric the US president Donald Trump is threatening with new trade barriers. Europeans follow a similar policy albeit at a more moderate tone. The European Union also imposes often hefty tariffs on steel and aluminium from China – the justifications are surprisingly similar. On (...)

The Cost of Regulatory Divergence on the Pharmaceutical Market

The Cost of Regulatory Divergence on the Pharmaceutical MarketSince the introduction of the Pharmaceutical Tariff Elimination Agreement in the early 2000’s, the trade of pharmaceutical goods between the EU and US has been conducted mostly without the hindrance of tariff barriers. While this has certainly been a step in the right direction for a freer (...)

Free People are Happier

Free People are HappierWhat defines a happy life is a very individual question. A look at the “World Happiness Report” still provides some clues on what makes humans happy: A long and healthy life, in relative wealth with family, reliable friends and self-determination. The conditions for this are again mainly given in (...)

Problems with Oxfam’s Inequality Report

Problems with Oxfam's Inequality ReportOxfam’s latest report on Global Inequality entitled “Reward Work, not Wealth” continues its tradition of setting the tone for the World Economic Forum this week in Davos, Switzerland. While on the face of it the world looks like it is becoming less unequal as 42 people are claimed to control half (...)

Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Securing the Northern Irish Economy post-Brexit

Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceNorthern Ireland has been in a precarious political situation ever since the partition of Ireland in the 1920’s. Years of political instability, paramilitary warfare, and social divides have left the region uniquely sensitive to social and political change. Following the end of the Troubles in (...)

Private Sponsorship as a viable immigration system

Private Sponsorship as a viable immigration systemImmigration is a highly contentious topic in modern societies, with almost all of the different regimes across the OECD showing failures on some measure. As populist responses increase to rising levels of immigration, a policy solution must exist that assuages the concerns of those who have (...)

Taxing the web economy

Taxing the web economyThe size of the digital economy The digital economy represents a relevant quota of global wealth. According to Accenture, it counted for 22.5% of worldwide GDP in 2015, with a forecast of 25% by 2020. Facebook totals 2 billion users, while WhatsApp and YouTube more than 1 billion. Similarly, (...)

Why it’s Time to Scrap the CAP

Why it's Time to Scrap the CAPOf all the economic implications the European Union has on the world market, few policies have been debated and criticised more than the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Through this policy, farmers within the EU receive €45 billion in subsidies each year, with the intention of keeping (...)

Democracy: Impossible without economic freedom

Democracy: Impossible without economic freedomUntil the 1970s, Venezuela was regarded as a relatively well functioning democracy with relatively well-developed market economy. For decades, Venezuela took the top spot in Latin America regarding wealth. Today the country is governed by a dictator and is on the brink of economic collapse. How (...)

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 (...)

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 (...)

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 (...)

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 (...)

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 (...)

Capital for the 21st Century

Anti-PikettyThe English translation of “Anti-Piketty”, a collection of essays by renowned international economists and historians, critical of Thomas Piketty’s volume, Capital in the 21st Century has been recently published by Cato.
Should one write a book opposing the ideas of another? It would be (...)

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 (...)

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 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 (...)

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 (...)

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 (...)

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 (...)

Piketty’s three main mistakes
New IREF book

Piketty's three main mistakesThomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the 21st century” was dubbed as “blockbuster”. But for a group of French intellectuals under the lead of IREF, a free market institute in Paris, it was important to demonstrate that the French economist’s “Capital” did not deserve its commercial success. “Anti-Piketty” (...)

EU’s tax haven blacklist: created by black magic method

EU's tax haven blacklist: created by black magic methodHow do you make a credible list of countries whose tax policies you don’t agree with? Do you ask only half of your members, let them decide their own criteria, and have it approved by a few interest groups? If you are the EU, then (...)

TTIP: ending some protections while creating others?

TTIP: ending some protections while creating others?Transatlantic Trade and Investment negotiations are resuming. Popular support varies across Europe, we identify four distinct groups. Removing trade protectionism will generally benefit ordinary people. However, some protectionism may increase, especially in investment chapters. If governments (...)

January’15 Financial & Fiscal Features Newsletter
ECB QE? Will banks avoid Russia?

January'15 Financial & Fiscal Features NewsletterOnly two countries remain opposed to QE, although even they realise that measures about to be implemented are QE in all aspects but the name. Meanwhile, ground is being prepared for ECB to shift blame if “unconventional stimulus” ends up not working.
— -
Russian sanctions work. Or so we are led to (...)

Nobelist plays poker. For a pound.

Nobelist plays poker. For a pound.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 (...)

New Book: Europe in an Age of Austerity

New Book: Europe in an Age of AusterityTwo 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 (...)

Wealth and growth: Mr. Piketty’s fallacious statistics
The misadventures of a new scientific materialism

Wealth and growth: Mr. Piketty's fallacious statisticsIn 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 (...)

Government’s Fiscal Monopoly: Mono or Poly?

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?

Well-Being Ranking: France Is 18th on 34

Well-Being Ranking: France Is 18th on 34In which country would you live best? In France, amid interventionist politicians and cocooned by a Big Government? Not at all… The last OECD data about the well-being in the member States has ranked 34 countries. France is ranked… 18th. Australia is first, followed by Sweden and Canada. It is (...)

The Risky Business of Protectionism For Global Value Chains

The Risky Business of Protectionism For Global Value ChainsGlobalization 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 (...)

What’s Next On The Fiscal Trend?

What's Next On The Fiscal Trend?The IREF’s aim is to defend and promote economic freedom and fiscal competition. Our aim goes against the OECD’s last study that was commissioned by the G20 and called “Addressing Base Erosion and Profit Shifting”. It will be presented on February 15th at the G20 Summit in Moscow. The OECD claims (...)

IKEA: low-cost, high-end and big bucks

IKEA: low-cost, high-end and big bucksBy Jacob Arfwedson
For global capitalism to reach optimal eclosion, there are several basic conditions:
> free trade: companies are allowed to sell wherever they sense a profitable opportunity;
> the tech revolution: production may take place anywhere, whereas selling may be done thousands (...)

IMF Director Christine Lagarde giving lessons to Greek people

In an interview with the Guardian, Madam Lagarde says it is time for Greece to pay back and insists on the fairness of it – “Greeks have to pay taxes now and assume their past mistakes,” she says, adding that “As far as Athens is concerned, I also think about all those people who are trying to (...)

The Euro: A Community of Shared Destiny?

The Euro: A Community of Shared Destiny?In March 2010, when the Greek debt crisis was heating up, then-ECB president Jean Claude Trichet declared to the EU parliament that the “monetary Union in Europe is far more than a monetary arrangement. It is a union of shared destiny”. Less than two months later the ECB reversed its refusal to (...)

French unions live the good life. For how long?

French unions live the good life. For how long?France is famous for its wine, cheese and…unions. It is well established now that any reform considered by any government, left or right, has to be approved by unions (or, at least, not strongly opposed) in order to have a chance to be passed. Strange situation in a country where less than 8% of (...)

Bank regulation: Troubleshooter or Troublemaker?

A widespread understanding of the 2007-2008 crisis places the origins of the crisis in a capture of global economy by the finance industry. The “occupy Wall Street” group would surely agree, as well as most of those who get their economics from the general media. And President Sarkozy in his (...)

Engineering the Financial Crisis Systemic Risk and the Failure of Regulation

Engineering the Financial Crisis Systemic Risk and the Failure of RegulationIn one of the first studies critically to examine the Basel Accords, Engineering the Financial Crisis reveals the crucial role that bank capital requirements and other government regulations played in the recent financial crisis. Jeffrey Friedman and Wladimir Kraus argue that by encouraging (...)

$ 1.543 billion

$ 1.543 billionis the amount of exposition of French banks to European countries’ private and public debt. They own for instance $106 billion of Italian public debt (which is six times higher than the amount held in Greek bonds), while $230 billion are held in Belgian government bonds. France is therefore (...)

Coalition for Tax Competition Urges End to Taxpayer Subsidies for Paris-Based OECD

The Coalition for Tax Competition asked members of the US Congress to cut the $100 million taxpayer subsidy to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Citing the OECD’s record as an opponent of tax competition, the letter released by the coaltion argues that US taxpayers (...)

Market Crises Versus Sovereign Crises

Market Crises Versus Sovereign CrisesThis article first appeared in the Wall Street Journal
Markets always make good scapegoats. When they do well, they are populated by profiteers. When they do badly, they are accused of causing trouble for everyone else.The denizens of the Dow, Nasdaq, CAC and DAX floors may be speculators and (...)

USA sovereign debt rating downgraded

USA sovereign debt rating downgradedStandard&Poor’s, one of the three major credit rating agencies downgraded on Friday the USA credit rating, previously noted AAA, the highest possible level. The new rating AA+ is translating the worry of experts about the sustainability of US public finances, in the context of ever (...)

Who should pay for Greek’s mess?

Who should pay for Greek's mess?After a huge transfer-loan of €110 billion last year, Greece is once again pending on EU-IMF charity in order to avoid default, or at least, to benefit from a smooth default (assuming such a thing exists). Meanwhile, the Greek economy is paralyzed and tensions grow inside Greece as well as in (...)

Portugal turns the page

Portugal turns the pagePortugal has undergone a huge change. There is a completely new political leadership: younger, better prepared, and much more open to the civil society. But even this “right wing” government lack the theory to understand the causes of the crisis Portugal currently faces, and thus seem unable to (...)

Third Annual Meeting of the OECD Global Tax Forum

More than 100 member countries representatives participated in the annual meeting of the Global Tax Forum in Bermuda. The Global Forum is charged with the monitoring and peer review of the implementation of the standards of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes. It became (...)

Why the Portuguese government fell?

Why the Portuguese government fell?Because the music stopped.
As Thatcher said, “They [socialists] always run out of other people’s money”. Portugal is now a perfect study case for this golden rule, with its quadruple-crisis.

$ 2 trillion

$ 2 trillionThis would be the annual interest on the USA public debt in 2021, according to the estimations made by the economist Veronique de Rugy. This number is nearly triple from the official projections, but much more realistic, since it takes into account the historical evolution of interest rates and (...)

Free market is not to be blamed for the private debt bubble: the case of Spain

Free market is not to be blamed for the private debt bubble: the case of SpainWhen reflecting on the causes of the current economic and financial crisis, the huge upsurge in private debt is one of the most cited reasons. Some people insist on blaming the private sector for this. According to them, the sustainability of its behavior has been clearly put into question by (...)

Fiscal illusion soon to be swept away by the rigor of the numbers

Fiscal illusion soon to be swept away by the rigor of the numbersIn the New York Times of March 5th, economist Tyler Cowen gives his opinion on the situation prevailing in the United States - with a debt of $9 trillion (€ 6 435 billion). Citizens, he explains, are victims of a fiscal illusion and politicians know it. To get out of that vicious circle, Cowen (...)

$ 2.1 trillion

$ 2.1 trillionThis is the tax revenue expected by the USA this year, while interest payments on the publicly held debt will be about $200 billion. Contrary to the statements of the Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, those figures exclude any risks of default. His position rather looks like an irresponsible (...)

The fallacy of low taxes in Spain: A comparative study of taxation

The fallacy of low taxes in Spain: A comparative study of taxationThe current Socialist (PSOE) government in Spain has claimed in different occasions that the low fiscal pressure that Spain has experienced in 2008 and 2009, gives policy-makers a large leeway to raise taxes. Besides, this measure has been supported as necessary in order to maintain –or improve- (...)


145%This is the world economy real GDP expansion since 1980. It lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

Does the temporary extension of Bush-era tax rates reduce uncertainty?

Does the temporary extension of Bush-era tax rates reduce uncertainty?This is the question addressed by Jason Fichtner and Katelyn Christ in their working paper for the Mercatus Center. They explain that a real tax reform is necessary, rather than the current last-minute decision for extension. It is important for Congress to focus on implementing stable low (...)

$ 3 300 000 000 000

$ 3 300 000 000 000This is the cumulated budget deficit of the OECD countries in 2010. On average, it represents 7.5 GDP points.

OECD’s Campaign Against Tax Competition, Fiscal Sovereignty, and Financial Privacy

Singapore will host tomorrow the Global Tax Forum 2010. According to Dan Mitchell from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, the OECD will attempt there to promote a project against tax competition. This project received a boost when the Obama Administration joined forces with countries such (...)

The Paris-Based OECD: Pushing Obama`s Big Government Policy with American Tax Dollars

Unemployment : France is « doing better than the other countries »

Unemployment : France is « doing better than the other countries »The last statistics from the OECD are unequivocal: the unemployment rate in France is and has always been well above the average for the OECD countries and also above the average of countries from the euro zone. This is a proof that the State is not the solution for (...)


This is the GDP growth expected in Euroland this year. Comparing with the 3% of growth estimated for the United States, it proves that the euro was not a shield against the crisis, as claimed by European officials.

Tax Policy Lessons from the 2000s

Tax Policy Lessons from the 2000sTax Policy Lessons from the 2000s brings together the most up-to-date research available on tax policy with trenchant analysis by America’s leading economists. The authors explore the role taxes should play in setting environmental policy; the effect of tax rate increases on labor supply and (...)

The Dead Shall Be Raised: The Future of Fannie and Freddie

The renewed interest in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is premature. They are currently the mainstays of the U.S. housing market—more important now than they were before being placed in a government conservatorship in September 2008. Many observers do not believe the two government-sponsored (...)

Choosing the Nation’s Fiscal Future

In a joint report from the National Research Council and the National Academy of Public Administration, its authors, including AEI’s Joseph Antos, describe the United States’ fiscal outlook, asserting that the present budgetary path is unsustainable. If today’s policies, particularly those (...)

The State in the Third Millenium

The State in the Third MilleniumPrince Hans-Adam of Liechtenstein is able to look at the modern nation-state from many different angles: as a head of state; as a politician, who had to win popular votes in a direct democracy; as a businessman active in different continents; and as an historian who has studied the influence of (...)

Why Government Spending Does Not Stimulate Economic Growth: Answering the Critics

Despite decades of repeated failure, President Obama and Congress continue to promote the myth that government can spend its way out of recession. Heritage Foundation economic policy expert Brian Riedl dispels the stimulus myth, lays out the evidence that government spending does not end (...)

The Job Market and the Great Recession

In his testimony on Capitol Hill, the economist Russel Roberts is exposing the reasons why the The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) has not the anticipated by government effect on jobs creation. He is pointing out that given the lack of success so far and the role (...)

United States Debt Clock

Wanna know how much is the US Government spending right now? Or how fast US debt growths? You should add on your favourite websites.

Death Tax: Time to Kill It Forever

Death Tax: Time to Kill It ForeverThe Heritage Foundation launches a campaign against the dreaded estate tax (also known as the "death tax") in the US. In the coming weeks, Congress will once again take up debate on the death tax, which expires for one year, beginning on January 1, 2010, before coming back in full force on (...)

Taxes proposed to pay for healthcare reform

Taxes proposed to pay for healthcare reformThis paper from Curtis S. Dubay from the Heritage Foundation investigates the new taxes US government is about to impose, in order to finance Obama’s health care reform. Higher Medicare taxes would push the top average marginal tax rate even higher than already scheduled. Currently, the top (...)

A different look on the American health care system

A different look on the American health care systemThe American healthcare system is stigmatized in Europe, and especially in France, where the government is pretending to offer a high quality health services to every French citizen, regardless of his contribution to the social security. But if the French social security system succeed in one (...)

 css js


Monthly newsletter
Receive our publications for free

By continuing browsing our website, you agree with our cookies policy