The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has recently published a record profit of staggering 54 bn. Franken or €46 bn. The central bank´s profit is equivalent to 6,600 Franken for every Swiss citizen. In a market economy, profits are the sign of successful economic action. Does this mean that the Swiss (...)
Italian general elections will be held on March the 4th, and these weeks will be remembered as a time when promises abound and all Italians are assured that from March on they will bask in eternal happiness. This is great news for Italians, after all what they suffered during the past years: no (...)
The next IREF Workshop will take place in Vienna on the 8th of March 2018. The Workshop will be co-hosted by the Austrian Economics Centre.
Programme of the Workshop
Location: Hayek Saal, Grünangergasse 1-15/1, 1010 Wien, March 8, 2018
09:15 – 09:30 Welcome addresses: Barbara Kolm (Austrian (...)
Oxfam’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 (...)
The US economy has for years suffered because of its corporate tax rate, which has sat consistently among the world’s highest at 35%. In attempts to escape this punitive rate, US companies such as Apple have relocated their headquarters to countries like Ireland, who have seized the opportunity (...)
Every winter, the media comment on the challenges that the NHS faces during the cold season. We have reported on this in the past, and 2018 is no different. The system cannot access enough resources, including nurses and young doctors, and hospitals are overcrowded. The Government seems to (...)
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 (...)
Deal protection measures aim to limit the costs of negotiation in mergers and acquisitions. By voluntarily stipulating a certain breakup fee in the event a higher bidder arises, the target company will only violate the contract in the event the higher bid is above the deal value plus the (...)
Immigration 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 (...)
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 (...)
The European Commission has made a commitment to evidence-based policy making when designing regulations to improve Europe’s environmental conditions. The stated objective is that “Commission initiatives and proposals for EU legislation are prepared on the basis of transparent, comprehensive and (...)
The 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, (...)
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 (...)
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 (...)
Significant worry has arisen recently over the potential of rapidly developing Artificial Intelligence technologies to automate large sectors of the workforce. As the EU currently advances with the development of a Civil Law framework for robotics, a general unease over the impacts of (...)
Until 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 (...)
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 (...)
By 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 (...)
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 (...)
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 (...)
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 (...)
Competitive 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 (...)
Robots 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 (...)
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 (...)
International 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 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
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 (...)
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 (...)
Kevin 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 (...)
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. (...)
The 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 (...)
In 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 (...)
Governments 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 (...)
Economists 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 (...)
Has 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 (...)
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 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 (...)
When 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 (...)
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 (...)
In 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 (...)
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 roaming (...)
Speculation: 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 (...)
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 (...)
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 (...)
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: 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, (...)