Institute for Research in Economic and Fiscal issues

IREF Europe - Institute for Research in Economic and Fiscal issues

Fiscal competition
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Synthetic Control and Extended Critics

Synthetic Control and Extended CriticsThe recent paper “20 Years of the Euro: Winners and Losers” by Gasparotti & Kullas estimates that the introduction of the euro increased the pro-capita income in Germany and the Netherlands, while it impoverished the other EMU members. Critics have poured on the statistical technique. In our (...)

Financial vs Business: What Cycle Comes First?

Financial vs Business: What Cycle Comes First?It is common opinion that financial cycles generate business cycles and crises, and that central banks intervene to sterilise this causal link. But there are reasons to doubt both statements.

Brexit Exposes The Hidden Costs Of Tariffs

Brexit Exposes The Hidden Costs Of TariffsThe collection of tariffs on imports not only involves direct costs, which is the price of the tariff itself, but also numerous indirect costs. Civil servants, as an example, employed in the collection process add to the overall financial burden. So do the importers hiring employees to do the (...)

Paris At Loggerheads With Rome As European Parliamentary Elections Approach

Paris At Loggerheads With Rome As European Parliamentary Elections ApproachParis has decided to recall its ambassador from Rome, further deepening one of the worst crises between the two neighbouring countries in recent European history. The dramatic (some say theatrical) move was motivated by the repeated verbal attacks that prominent Italian political leaders – Luigi (...)

The Solitude of Neoliberalism

The Solitude of NeoliberalismSo-called "neoliberalism" is nowadays more often than ever the scapegoat of anything wrong happening in contemporary democracies: from economic crisis to increase inequality, from the rise of populism to environmental catastrophes. Those who criticise it assume that support for laissez-faire (...)

European Union’s Disastrous Digital Services Tax

European Union's Disastrous Digital Services TaxOver the last few months of 2018, several European Union member states intensified their opposition to a proposed Digital Services Tax (DST), also known as the “Google Tax”. Yet, these efforts have not prevented the campaign to further damage the EU’s innovation ecosystem. As more pro-innovation (...)

Mandatory Year of Service: Coerced Community?

Mandatory Year of Service: Coerced Community?“This state is not for free,” said the recently-elected leader of the Christian Democratic Union, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, promoting a mandatory year of service in the military or in the social sector for all 18-25 year-olds. The idea seems well-received among the population: a survey by (...)

The Reassessed OECD Jobs Strategy Revisited

The Reassessed OECD Jobs Strategy RevisitedThe OECD Jobs Strategy was launched in 1994 in response to high and persistent unemployment in the member countries. Although unevenly spread across the labour force, at the time unemployment was indeed perceived as the main policy challenge facing the advanced countries.
The Jobs Strategy (...)

Trade Liberalisation: The Challenge of Non-Tariff Barriers

Trade Liberalisation: The Challenge of Non-Tariff BarriersThe latest tariff debate between the United States and China, and between the US and the European Union, could give the impression that tariffs are the only impediment to global trade. Yet, trade flows are also burdened by other, far less transparent, measures: non-tariff barriers. Indeed, the (...)

Game of Thrones: Italian Style

Game of Thrones: Italian StyleIn less than 25 years, the Italian political system has experienced three watershed elections, an unmatched record among most (if not all) Western European democracies. In 1994, the entire Italian political galaxy, which had been dominated by Christian Democracy party for almost 50 years, (...)

Sugden’s Response to Behavioural Paternalism

Sugden's Response to Behavioural PaternalismThe Community of Advantage by Robert Sugden has just been published by Oxford University Press. The author is a professor at the University of East Anglia, a member of the British Academy, and an influential economist. In his youth, influenced by Nobel Prize winner James Buchanan, Sugden worked (...)

The Economics of Donald Trump’s Twitter Account

The Economics of Donald Trump's Twitter AccountUS President Donald Trump’s (in)famous tweet-storms have been used as anecdotal evidence of his volatility, anger, etc., but they are also an important source of policy information. After all, it has been repeatedly noted how Trump uses social media, particularly Twitter, as a way of addressing (...)

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 (...)

Visibility or Virtue Signalling? The Liberalisation of Salon de Paris

Visibility or Virtue Signalling? The Liberalisation of Salon de ParisThere exists more or less a consensus that the state must promote the arts. This exists even among many who know that state intervention brings market distortions, and it should be clear the arts are no exception. The case of the Salon de Paris, investigated by F. Etro, S. Marchesi and E. (...)

How Do Governments Circumvent EU Fiscal Rules?

How Do Governments Circumvent EU Fiscal Rules?The European Fiscal Board (EFB) - an agency established in 2015 by the European Commission to evaluate the implementation of EU fiscal rules and to advise the Commission on fiscal policies suitable to the euro area - has published its second annual Report (10th October 2018). The Report reviews (...)

The Reliability of Quantitative Results in Social Science

The Reliability of Quantitative Results in Social ScienceIn a recent paper titled "Evaluating the replicability of social science experiments in Nature and Science Between 2010 and 2015", a group of researchers set out to replicate a series of experiments published in prestigious academic journals, employing larger samples and different sophisticated (...)

Britain’s Unsustainable Higher Education Financials

Britain's Unsustainable Higher Education FinancialsWhile the country and the main political parties are still focused on the Brexit debate, there is a potential educational, economic and financial crisis in the making, which may in the near future affect people involved in higher education in England.
After a government-supported process of (...)

The Faults In The Macron System: Wind Turbines At The LA Consulate

The Faults In The Macron System: Wind Turbines At The LA ConsulateMinister Hulot is leaving. We should rejoice, if only we knew the story of the old woman of Syracuse, told by Valerius Maximus (1st century AD historian), about Denys, one of Syracuse’s tyrants, loathed by everybody. One day, Denys heard about an old woman who prayed for him every single day. (...)

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 (...)

The EU Needs Property Rights In Spectrum

The EU Needs Property Rights In SpectrumThe European Union has been hard at work attempting to harmonise national markets in an effort to build a competitive and innovative Digital Single Market by reducing the ability for individual member states to develop cumbersome barriers to market entry. One of the flagship proposals of the (...)

Will The ECB Step In and Help Turkey Stabilise Its Currency?

Will The ECB Step In and Help Turkey Stabilise Its Currency?Why is Turkey’s Currency Falling?
During the past five years, we have observed the ebbs and flows of US and European capital markets investment appetite for the emerging markets (EM). Nothing deters EM investment more than currency fears, and many European fund managers must be pleased that (...)

Growth of the World Population: Good News for Humans and the Planet

Growth of the World Population: Good News for Humans and the PlanetThe extent of the climate change is significantly affected by the size of the world population. A larger population increases the use of resources and more greenhouse gases are emitted. It is usually assumed the world population will continue to grow at the same pace as in the recent past. In (...)

What Will The Fourth Industrial Revolution Require?

What Will The Fourth Industrial Revolution Require?In the last few years, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) has become one of the most investigated and discussed topics in the political and economic debate. 4IR is based on the application of new technologies, primarily digital ones, in production. Specifically, according to Boston (...)

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 (...)

Would De-Growth Make Us Happier?

Would De-Growth Make Us Happier?Economists use the per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the main indicator of the level of material well-being achieved by a country. The GDP is the cake with which we feed ourselves; the portfolio to draw on to meet our material needs. In recent years, there have been many critical (...)

The Economic Illiteracy of the Google Antitrust Case

The Economic Illiteracy of the Google Antitrust CaseThe European Commission handed Google a record-breaking €4.3 billion fine and demanded major changes to its business model over alleged competition abuses on its Android mobile operating system. The Competition Commission claimed Google was abusing manufacturers to “cement its dominant position” (...)

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 (...)

The Need for Devolution to Address the UK’s Transport Sector Crisis

The Need for Devolution to Address the UK's Transport Sector CrisisThe Heathrow Expansion
On the night of the 25th of June, the UK Parliament voted in favour (415 to 119) of the £14bn expansion of Heathrow airport in London. This decision represents the latest episode in a decade-long national debate on the creation of third runway at Heathrow. Those is (...)

The High Cost of GDPR is Already Apparent

The High Cost of GDPR is Already ApparentOn May 25th, 2018, one of the most sweeping changes to the regulation of the internet, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), came into effect. While it has been only a few weeks since the new privacy policies have been enacted, there are already noticeable changes to (...)

Social Responsibility: Compulsory Voluntarism?

Social Responsibility: Compulsory Voluntarism?“Do good and talk about it” became compulsory last year with the introduction of the new European CSR directive for companies with more than 500 employees. The keyword is Corporate Social Responsibility. Companies are compelled to provide annual reports about their charitable commitments. In (...)

Will Scotland’s Price Floor do more Harm than Good?

Will Scotland's Price Floor do more Harm than Good?Scotland has recently imposed a price-floor on all alcoholic products, requiring retailers to charge at least £0.50 per unit (equal to 8g of pure alcohol, according to the UK government). The intention behind this imposition is to restrict the affordability of cheap, highly alcoholic drinks, in (...)

How Long is Long-Term Persistence?

How Long is Long-Term Persistence?A paper by economists Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales (GSZ) has recently made headlines and received widespread approval within the academic community. Their contribution, titled Long-term Persistence, provides the empirical test of a hypothesis put forward in 1993 by American (...)

Karl Marx? I Knew Him Well...

Karl Marx? I Knew Him Well...On this 5th of May, the author of the Capital would have blown his 200 candles. Embittered by the communism theorist’s admirers, Nicolas Lecaussin explains how his idea was contradicted by facts.
A Romanian who became French, Bogdan Călinescu lived his adolescence under Ceaușescu’s dictatorship. (...)

IREF’s Call for Research Projects

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. IREF supports research projects that lead to the production of original papers of academic quality of at least 7,000 words. This support is not a prize to published (...)

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 (...)

Biofueled Unintended Consequences

Biofueled Unintended ConsequencesIn mid-January, the European Parliament voted a resolution to phase out the use of palm oil as a component of clean diesel by 2021. This is a ban only on one ingredient, all other diesel “cleaners” are not treated. In particular, the Parliament asked the Commission “to take measures to phase out (...)

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 (...)

Populinomics Italian Style

Populinomics Italian StyleAfter some months of amazing promises made by politicians pledging whatever might have warranted to them a parliamentary seat, the judgement day has finally come, as Italy’s general elections were held on March the 4th. Apparently, something like a tsunami materialised. In reality - however (...)

Gig Economy Regulations Will Hurt Consumers

Gig Economy Regulations Will Hurt ConsumersPrime Minister Theresa May recently announced the "Good Work Plan," legislation that specifically regulates gig-economy companies in response to the Taylor Review on modern working conditions published last year. The review, led by former Tony Blair advisor Matthew Taylor, aimed to ensure that (...)

Unconditional Basic Income: Experimental Findings so far

Unconditional Basic Income: Experimental Findings so farThe unconditional basic income became subject of a heated debate recently. Across ideological borders there are supporters and opponents. The possible consequences of its introduction are controversial. Critics are afraid that people would reduce the amount of their paid work and hence (...)

Is Nudging Against Individual Autonomy?

Is Nudging Against Individual Autonomy?It recently became known that there were less than 800 organ donors in Germany in 2017 – 65 percent less than in 2007. Whenever such numbers are published, it is highlighted that contrary to the Netherlands, in Germany individuals do not become organ donors automatically unless they explicitly (...)

New Guidelines on Snacking: Another Unnecessary Interference

New Guidelines on Snacking: Another Unnecessary InterferenceToday, in England nearly a third of the children aged between 2 and 15 years old are either overweight or obese and younger generations are becoming obese at earlier ages and staying obese for longer, according to the Survey for England by Health and Social Care Information Centre. In order to (...)

The fatal profit of the Swiss National Bank

The fatal profit of the Swiss National BankThe 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 (...)

The miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes in the Italian electoral campaign

The miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes in the Italian electoral campaignItalian 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 (...)

IREF Workshop in Vienna 8th March 2018
IREF and Austrian Economics Centre

IREF Workshop in Vienna 8th March 2018The 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 (...)

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 (...)

Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts Show the Importance of Tax Competition

Donald Trump's Tax Cuts Show the Importance of Tax CompetitionThe 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 (...)

Can a new tax save the NHS?

Can a new tax save the NHS?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 (...)

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