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

Race to the bottom? What race?

Race to the bottom? What race?Tax harmonisation in the EU is pursued in order to prevent competitive lowering of tax rates, an alleged race to the bottom. What race?, IREF asks. Taxes are an ever increasing (at best stable) portion of GDP, and have been for (...)

28 Shades of Grey
Gross domestic product is getting more gross

28 Shades of GreyProstitution is going to enter official Italian GDP figures, allegedly to help the government meet its fiscal targets... The story went viral.
IREF brings you the real story beyond the headlines. Prostitutes in GDP are perfectly normal, everywhere. It’s the way that we measure our governments’ (...)

Does turnout affect fiscal policy?

Does turnout affect fiscal policy?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 (...)

A New Ocean Discovered! - or just another subsidy?

A New Ocean Discovered! - or just another subsidy? 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 (...)

Geographic Distance from Brussels Matters

Geographic Distance from Brussels MattersVoter 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 (...)

What would be a “living wage” in the EU? The answer may surprise you.

What would be a “living wage” in the EU? The answer may surprise you.The concept of Living wage is gaining popularity throughout the EU. The social pressure of its advocates probably stands behind the recent proposals to increase substantial minimum wages. Closer scrutiny of the proposed levels of living wages by the IREF reveals, however, that the relationship (...)

Swiss referendum on minimum wage and the EU
LLL: Location, Largess and Lessons

Swiss referendum on minimum wage and the EUIf the Yes campaign wins today, Switzerland will have by far the biggest minimum wage on this planet. We analyse this trend in a wider context of contemporary European popular movements. We suggest that the Swiss Minimum wage proposition has actually very little to do with the traditional (...)

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 (...)

Basic income is not so basic after all

Basic income is not so basic after allNobody 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 (...)

Woes of Wolf of Wallstreet

Woes of Wolf of WallstreetThe latest Scorsese blockbuster is still making the headlines for its novel artistic work with timelines. Does the Wolf, however, have anything whatsoever to say about Wall Street? Very little, and it may actually work to strengthen and entrench any bad practices that remain in the financial (...)

Are Members of European Parliament Smart or Dumb?

Are Members of European Parliament Smart or Dumb? European elections are upon us. In a series of articles, IREF is helping to inform voters’ decision. Last week we analysed attendance rates by voters at elections and reasoned that European elections may be bad for democracy. It’s now time to turn the tables and consider attendance rates of (...)

The useless reshuffle : another French exception

The useless reshuffle : another French exceptionFollowing lacklustre performance at local elections, the French President has appointed a new Prime Minister. Is it a good tactic, and will it change anything?

The fallacious statistics of Mr. Piketty
Book review

The fallacious statistics of Mr. PikettyIn his new book Capital in the 21st century (Belknap Press, April 2014), French economist 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 relationship to capital and the divide (...)

Are European Elections Bad for Democracy?
Where have all the voters gone....

Are European Elections Bad for Democracy?“Nothing to see here, move on.” So goes the “apology” for low turnout rates in European elections as penned by many European analysts and commentators. “The US have them just as low at mid-term elections, so why worry?” Closer analysis of individual country data by the IREF, however, reveals that the (...)

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?

The Butch Dutch
They want to be taxed.. or so they say.

The Butch DutchGovernment’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?

Dutch Disease, 2nd edition
… And Then There Were Three…

Dutch Disease, 2nd editionLadies and Gentlemen, please welcome to the stage Dutch Disease, 2nd edition. This time it’s not natural wealth that makes you poor, it’s a natural consequence of a poor policy.

Odd Odd-Number Experiment Has Odd Consequences. What Are The Odds?

Odd Odd-Number Experiment Has Odd Consequences. What Are The Odds?Only those Parisians whose licence plates end with an odd number could drive their cars down the Boulevards last Monday. It was the 17th, an odd number. This is no solution to a real underlying problem which exists because of a lacking (...)

Anti-Pollution Measures: A Third Of Abuse Of Power, A Third Of Mismanagement And A Third Of Demagoguery

Anti-Pollution Measures: A Third Of Abuse Of Power, A Third Of Mismanagement And A Third Of DemagogueryAnd maybe even a fourth third of “electoralism” in order to win the hearts of green voters! In fact, the executive power has nothing but contempt for users, taxpayers and citizens.

The Precautionary Principle Against Science

The culture of the single transgenic maize (MON810 , produced by Monsanto) approved by the European Union has been banned from France. It is the third time since 2008 that genetically modified corn is banned from the French territory. The decree of March 15th states that "in light of scientific (...)

Just How Unequal Would We Still Be If We Were All Equal?
Distribution Of Wealth Over The Life-Cycle And Inequality

Just How Unequal Would We Still Be If We Were All Equal?Suppose we had a society where the only difference among its members were their age. How unequally would wealth then be distributed?

Matteo Renzi And The Reform Challenge In Italy

Matteo Renzi And The Reform Challenge In ItalyOf all the shortcomings of the Italian economy, youth unemployment (40%) is the most worrying. The new Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, took up this issue through labor law reform since it was outdated and harmful. Will he succeed where Mario Monti failed? Yet what happened at Fiat’s may be (...)

Obama The Ultimate Survival Guide
A Book By Wayne Allyn Root (Regnery, 2013)

Obama The Ultimate Survival GuideUltimately, how to resist the Obamamania that is ruining the United States?

France: Away From Global Economy?

France: Away From Global Economy?"Made in France" produced and exported: it is indeed a very popular program, but it can only be achieved if companies want to stay in or move to France. However, they are escaping from this fiscal and regulatory hell. Abroad, corporate taxes are much lower than in France and the legal framework (...)

European Energy Policy Is a Failure

European Energy Policy Is a FailureSecurity supply is not guaranteed, energy cost will increase and CO2 emissions will not be reduced. This is an obvious failure that Jean Pierre Riou, President of Mont Champot, has clearly seen. The IREF support his analysis.

Corporate Tax: Northern Good Practices

Corporate Tax: Northern Good PracticesIt is not forbidden to former socialist countries to reduce the weight of the state and drastically reduce taxes, especially on businesses. This was done in Sweden and Denmark, where unemployment is lower than in France .

The Word “Profit” Falls Into Oblivion in François Hollande’s Economic Liberalism

The Word “Profit” Falls Into Oblivion in François Hollande's Economic Liberalism Here is a relevant remarks from Professor Florin Aftalion: the word "profit" has disappeared from the public debate to be replaced by the word "margin". This semantic shift is not trivial: the profit goes to CEOs and shareholders while the margin is under Government (...)

Comparison Between the Banque de France and the Bundesbank

Comparison Between the Banque de France and the BundesbankA company is mismanaged when some indicators are in the red such as factory costs higher than those of its competitors; highly unprofitable activities; general and administrative costs much higher than those of its competitors; too many employees in too many locations; outstanding wages and (...)

Knowledge and Power

Knowledge and PowerA little more than 30 years ago, George Gilder published a book titled: “Wealth and Poverty”. This book became a worldwide bestseller. As a researcher, an economist and an investor, the author showed that government intervention cannot reduce poverty, but economic growth and economic development (...)

The U.S. Economy Is Getting Better Thanks To The Stimulus. Really?

The U.S. Economy Is Getting Better Thanks To The Stimulus. Really?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 (...)

More Taxes, Less Revenues
The Laffer Effect Has (Also) Arrived In France

More Taxes, Less RevenuesThis long-debated concept by policy makers and economists is coming back. That is because the Government believes that prosperity cannot be recovered without a strict “austerity policy”. But it actually means higher taxes only. Yet, the latest concerns of the French National Assembly on a (...)

Government Caring For Youth: The Path To Failure

Government Caring For Youth: The Path To FailureFrance hosted in the November 15th week a summit dedicated to the "Fight Against Youth Unemployment." This is an excellent initiative for a country where the 16-25 years-old population reached a 26.1 % unemployment rate. Yet, France should be doing what is being done elsewhere, especially in (...)

France: A Free-Trader President After Hollande?

France: A Free-Trader President After Hollande?According to the Harris Interactive poll for Le Figaro daily and LCP television, French President Hollande would not be reelected in 2017. His fiscal policies are highly criticized and would cost him his reelection. It seems that Holland is discovering this principle : the more taxes, the less (...)

Violence and Absurdity of French Anti-Wealth Ideologists

Violence and Absurdity of French Anti-Wealth IdeologistsAttacks 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 (...)

The Stimulus Does Not Work

The Stimulus Does Not WorkThe 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 (...)

Working Hours : When France Forbids, Germany and Sweden Allow

Working Hours : When France Forbids, Germany and Sweden AllowAnd in France, there is a high level of unemployment whereas it is low elsewhere. And elsewhere, there is no Labor Code, no unions, no judges, and everybody is satisfied with the freedom of work, as reported by IREF European (...)

Germany : Less Welfare State, More Electoral Victories

Germany : Less Welfare State, More Electoral Victories 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.

Dutch King Willem Alexander Ends The Welfare State
John Galt in The Netherlands?

Dutch King Willem Alexander Ends The Welfare State"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 (...)

A Greek Tragedy, Act III

A Greek Tragedy, Act IIIWhile Ireland may exit its bailout program at the end of this year, Greece is far from getting out of it. Around 10 to 11 billion euros ($13.1-14.4 billion) from the second half of 2014 will be needed to keep it going next year and in 2015. This will be the Third Act of the economic tragedy (...)

Anti Free Trade: A French Obsession

Anti Free Trade: A French ObsessionThis is the transaltion of an article published by Nicolas Lecaussin on August 14th, 2013
What is the common point between Socialists as Claude Bartolone, President of the French National Assembly, Pierre Moscovici, the Finance Minister, MP Jérôme Guedj, Conservatives as Xavier Bertrand, Health (...)

Better Be Insured Than On Welfare

Better Be Insured Than On WelfareThis is the translation of an op-ed published by Jean-Philippe Delsol on August 24th, 2013 in the leading French newspaper “Le Figaro”.
In France, during the last 30 years, social spending went from 21% to 33%. It is the sign of an ever growing Big Government that is out of control and (...)

Bailing Out Greece For The Third Time: Useless and Illegimate?

Bailing Out Greece For The Third Time: Useless and Illegimate?"There will have to be another program in Greece," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said bluntly on August 20th. The two previous bail-outs amounted to about 240 billion euros but that was not enough. According to the International Monetary Fund, one the Troika member, the estimated (...)

5 Billion Euros: The Cost of Subsidized Jobs

5 Billion Euros: The Cost of Subsidized Jobs“The youth is the utmost priority of my mandate”. Thus spoke François Hollande on January 23, 2013, when wishing a happy new year 2013. “Happy” may not have been the right term, “subsidized” should have been better. Indeed, when saying that 500 000 young people below 25 years-old do not have a job, (...)

The IREF in The Economist

The IREF in The EconomistNicolas Lecaussin was quoted by The Economist (July 6th - Juy12th, 2013) about a report written with Lucas Léger on French high school economic textbooks. "The IREF study last year" said the Economist, "showed that, in one tome’s 382 pages, only 18 were devoted to business. "Entrepreneurs and (...)

Who Pays If Banks Fail

Who Pays If Banks FailEuropean Union finance ministers failed to reach a deal last week on this controversial issue. Germany and France are at odds about costs distribution. The Banking Union is at stake since this law on rescuing and closing banks in the EU is a key point. The problem is to know who is going to (...)

The Making of Tax Hell… And The Escape of Entrepreneurship

The Making of Tax Hell… And The Escape of EntrepreneurshipWhy would you stay in a country where there are more than 200 types of taxes? And in which taxes are piled up and never removed. If French President François Hollande and his government want to fight against tax havens, French taxpayers and entrepreneurs are battling against the daily tax hell (...)

7.5%: Portugal’s New Corporate Tax

7.5%: Portugal's New Corporate TaxCompetitiveness is embedded in the private sector. Employment is created only the private sector. Wealth increases through the private sector. No public intervention can manage to replace the private sector, no Government know how to make business and money. As a consequence, the real economy (...)

Objectives, Instruments and Problems of Macroprudential Supervision

Objectives, Instruments and Problems of Macroprudential SupervisionSince events related to financial, banking, and debt crises regularly make it into the news, a term that seemingly originated from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in the late 1970s has become more popular: macroprudential supervision. Whereas microprudential supervision relates to (...)

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 (...)

American States Are Tax Decrease Laboratories

American States Are Tax Decrease LaboratoriesIn a recent post, Nicolas Lecaussin is pointing out that tax consequences can be studied as in a lab: some American States can be observed. Taxes were lowered in thirty States. If they gather only 20% of the US population, they have created 65% of US (...)

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