Northern 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 (...)
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, presented his Autumn Budget to Parliament on 22 November 2017. Compared to what happened in Spring 2017, this time the Chancellor described a rather uncontroversial nor surprising set of measures. What has instead inspired a national debate is (...)
Of 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 (...)
WP 2017-05. Executive summary.
Discussions on the optimal level of government intervention in the economy have become very intense in recent years, especially following the 2008 financial and economic crisis. The hardships produced by this temporal economic downturn have led to some very (...)
The two major Parties in UK have recently concluded their annual conferences.
After the positive performance in the last election, the Labour Party appears to have found internal cohesion and a credible leader in Jeremy Corbin. In line with their manifesto, the conference offered a clear, and (...)
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 (...)
The 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 (...)
Since 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 (...)
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 (...)
As 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 (...)
On 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, (...)
Greece 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 (...)
The 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 (...)
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 (...)
Greece’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. (...)
WP 2017-01. Executive Summary
Since the financial crisis, government debt ratios have increased in many countries. Most studies indicate that there is a negative association between high medium- and long-term debt ratios and growth, although the exact magnitude of the relationship is being (...)
At 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 (...)
The 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 (...)
A 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 (...)
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. (...)
In 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 (...)
An 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 (...)
How is NHS coping with winter?
Winter is historically, and not surprisingly, a very challenging time for the UK National Health System, NHS, due to lower temperatures and the spread of viral infections. Winter 2015/2016 seems to be particularly bad and the system is showing clear signs of a (...)
Switzerland may be known for low taxes, but that does not prevent it from redistributing them; richer regions subsidise the poorer ones. Now at least one paying canton is starting to protest against the arrangement. There really is a big difference between how much taxpayers in different (...)
The UK government has been watching Jamie Oliver’s TV shows and now wants to implement his plans for a new tax on sugar. The Commons‘ Health Committee has reported its overwhelming support for the idea at the end of November. Other than arguments that such taxes are “good per se“ because they will (...)
Germany Income per capita is not only high in Germany, it is also relatively equally distributed in the population. OECD data indicate that only a few small countries have income both higher and more equally distributed than Germany. In other large European countries like France, UK, Italy or (...)
It is good when foreigners buy agricultural land. Johnny Foreigner will have evidentnly paid more than anyone else, and he can bring access to better capital, technology, know-how or marketing channels. That’s what the single market is for.
Yet governments fear him and legalise against him - (...)
Two decades after the last EU bananagate, it’s going bananas again. EU subsidy programme to bring "fruits, vegetables and bananas" [sic!] to schools is only partly trying to do a "good thing". Partly it’s changing schools into dumpsters for excess output of oversubsidised agriculture. And the EU (...)
How do you know that any institution has too much money? When it does not manage, in spite of best intentions, to spend them all. Then there is room for scaling down the budget. The money will not disappear - it will be spent by the original "donors" instead. We show that the EU is, at least to (...)
There are plenty of reasons to panic about the level of UK government deficits and debt. But Brexit, even if it actually came, is not one of them. We review the relationship between a UK-sans-EU and public finance.
The Greek bankruptcy of 2010 was the latest impetus for reviving the debate on robustness of governments’ budgets in the Eurozone. It became clear that in order to assess the long-term fiscal health, it is not enough to look at the much used public debt-to-GDP ratio. Additional indicators need (...)
The poorest poor in Croatia are having their debts wiped out by the government. The motivation may be noble, but the apportioning of the costs is despicable. Once again, government’s power and reach grows, yet it keeps this fact under the carpet. Who’s (...)
New rules about deficits run by Member State governments have been announced by the European Commission. They are phrased as “guidance” so no Parliamentary approval is needed. They are said to “encourage structural reforms and investment”, but IREF shows that they discourage structural reforms and (...)
To replace the original sacrifice of two turtle doves, the biggest European authority in the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church, dictated what people should eat. EU governments continue doing the same, by fiscal means. However, this fiscal policy is full of paradoxes. Governments tax consumption (...)
A partridge in a pear tree, the famous gift of the first day of Christmas, is at the centre of an EU fiscal paradox: European taxpayers are paying for extensive programmes to protect the habitat of the dwindling species. At the same time, they are fiscally forced to help to destroy partridge’s (...)
New ECJ ruling confirms that member states can currently deprive non-residents of welfare payments. Yet, it has been popularly portrayed as a new tool to protect the spiralling costs of EU welfare states. We show that on the contrary, costs may rise, both in the short and long run, and the (...)
Every month, the EU Commision starts dozens of legal actions against Member States for non-compliance with EU law. We evaluate the November crop of fiscally-related cases. While 2 such actions are generally a good idea, 4 are a bad idea, reducing EU citizens’ opportunities for an efficient and (...)
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?
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 (...)
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 (...)
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 (...)
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 (...)
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 (...)
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 (...)
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 (...)
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?
Ultimately, how to resist the Obamamania that is ruining the United States?
The staff costs are higher at the Banque de France than in the Bundesbank! This is one of the conclusions of our comparative study “Banque de France vs Bundesbank”. On the one hand, 1.45 billion euros, in the other hand, 700 million euros! Regarding pension costs, the comparison also makes a (...)
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 (...)
It is the stunning figure revealed by Jean-Philippe’s Delsol in his book "Why I Am Going To Leave France", an IREF bestseller.
Between the public sector (5.2 millions), the parapublic sector (2 millions), those who are granted the public allowance called "Active Solidarity Revenue" (1.3 (...)
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 (...)
According to a Eurobarometer / TNS Opinion, only 50% of the French people have a good opinion of their government whereas 46% have a bad opinion (4% are undecided). In Germany, the government gathers 73% favorable opinion and 23% unfavorable opinions (4% were undecided). Yet, in 2013 public (...)
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 (...)
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.
WP 2013-05. Executive Summary
Although it is generally agreed that government size has a negative impact on economic growth, it is also manifest that the intensity of this causal relationship varies across countries and over time. It is usually argued that these differences can be explained (...)
"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 (...)
This little county on the shores of the Baltic Sea will become the 18th member of the Eurozone. That is well deserved since Latvia meets all of the Maastricht criteria. Its public debt amount to 40% of its GDP compare to 70% in Germany and 90% in the Eurozone. The maximum public debt rate (...)
The French Government supporting private companies thanks a system of financial assistance: what an economic heresy! Yet, over the last thirty years, it has become the creed for French Governments, whether conservative of leftist. Four figures are to be pointed (...)
Welcome to the clubs! Why should they join?
The crisis is not over and doubts about the virtues of the EU and the euro abound. It may therefore seem surprising that not only are more countries seeking to join the EU, but also that some are joining the currency union. Croatia accedes on July 1 (...)
“If I have less money, I shouldn’t spend less but tax more”. That is exactly what the French President François Hollande and his Government are doing. Economic principles are obviously upside down. That is the result of socialist economic policies denying reality: the French budget was established (...)
Over 30 to 35% og GDP, except in Scandinavian countries, taxpayers refuse to cover public spending over a 70% threshold. Governemts that have high public spending are entrapped in deficit and debt. Stimulus policies failed. True economic stimulus can be found by less regulation and less public (...)
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 (...)
Richard Durana, Ph.D, director of Institute of Economic and Social Studies (INESS) has annouced that INESS released the Receipt for Government Services for 2013.
The annual price of the state for Slovakia increased by EUR 322 (7.3%) and reached EUR 4,704 per (...)
France is the best example of this economic truth. The French public sector is undermining the economy. It must be pointed out that in Spain and Ireland the crisis was due to a real-estate bubble. In France, the crisis is worsened by an obese bureaucracy. The trend is striking: the French (...)
“She did not just lead our country; she saved our country” said British Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron as a tribute Margaret Thatcher who died at 87, on April 8th, 2013. Tony Blair, former British Labor Prime Minister, declared: “Very few leaders get to change not only the political (...)
Corruption! A word that is destroying the base of the Government action. Above the “Cahuzac Case”, it is the whole public power that is stained with doubt and distrust. The clear and present danger is the rise of uncontrolled populisms seeking the collapse of a corrupt Government. But this would (...)
6 lines against 20! In Germany, the gross salary is taxed by only few contributions (tax on salaries, solidarity, pension fee, Church). It was understood that flexibility is much more efficient with a fiscal and regulatory simplification.
In France, it is the exact opposite. The French pay (...)
The IREF figures on civil servants’ working time in the OECD countries were quoted in the radio show "Carrément Brunet" on RMC.
Between 3 and 5 per cent of the members of Parliament, and 6 per cent of the senators: the parliamentarians with a background in business represent a tiny minority. An IREF study shows the contrast with four other countries where economic legislation is handled by people who know what it means. (...)
43 billion Swedish crowns . As stated by the Waste Ombudsman (Swedish Taxpayers’ Association), this is the amount erroneously paid out by the EU according to its Court of Auditors. These payments represent more than twice the amount that Swedish taxpayers send to Brussels every year.
For the (...)
There has been a sizeable number of studies trying to identify the determinants of judicial performance on the country level. Such a design is appropriate to identify underperforming single judges or underperforming courts or court districts. But it is not appropriate to identify institutions (...)
As tax revenues are flooding into the Treasury, the German taxpayers’ association (BdSt) has asked the federal government to axe the "stealth" tax increases and to cut spending further. Current estimates show that tax revenues will be substantially higher than previously thought: a record 600 (...)
IREF has examined the provisions of the French government’s 2013 budget proposal, and concludes that these are confiscatory and arbitrary. Henceforth taxpayers will be subject to taxation on revenues of which they do not dispose, and forced to pay taxes that are above the corresponding incomes. (...)
By Nicolas Lecaussin
Can you imagine that unemployment has been “priority number one” for French politicians over the past 35 years! Left, right and center have all claimed that their first objective was to reduce unemployment, in particular among young people. Yet they have failed every time. (...)
Despite being bombed by information, it seems we have forgotten the roots of the debt crisis. Instead we play a martingale game, where the only precaution after losing a round is to double the bet for the next one. The solution is not called EFSM, EFSF, ESM, SMP, OMT or banking union. These are (...)
In response to the financial crisis in the euro zone, the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI) has worked out and submitted to public institutions a plan which would help countries potentially exiting the euro zone to build stable and sound money. LFMI‘s proposal can be also used by the euro (...)
is the amount needed by Spanish banks to avoid the clash, revealed the Spanish government last week. This is supposed to be good news for European taxpayers who will have to rescue Spain with their tax money. Indeed, the initial estimation was about €100 (...)
WP 2012-03. Executive Summary
Update Jul’14: The paper has been published by Palgrave Macmillan and is available on Amazon.
The European crisis is not behind us and easy solutions do not readily present themselves. Some of the causes of the crisis may be regarded as temporary while others (...)
The French Cour des Comptes (National Audit Office) published this Monday a new report on public finances. Without surprise, the ambition to limit the budget deficit to 4.4% of GDP in 2012 is confirmed to be unrealistic. An extra six to ten billion euro would be necessary in order to meet this (...)
This paper is excerpted from the forthcoming "IREF’s Yearbook on Taxation" 2012
In an unprecedented and historical move, the European Union forced the Irish government against its stated wishes to indebt itself in an € 85 billion international bailout comprising of the IMF, EU and bilateral (...)