Institute for Research in Economic and Fiscal issues

IREF Europe - Institute for Research in Economic and Fiscal issues

Fiscal competition
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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 (...)

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 (...)

Europe needs Deal Protection

Europe needs Deal ProtectionDeal 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 (...)

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 (...)

The UK labour productivity. Is a new Industrial Strategy needed?

The UK labour productivity. Is a new Industrial Strategy needed?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 (...)

Regulatory Capture in European Evidence-Based Policy Making

Regulatory Capture in European Evidence-Based Policy MakingThe 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 (...)

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 (...)

Party Conferences in UK

Party Conferences in UKThe 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 (...)

Artificial Intelligence and Technological Unemployment

Artificial Intelligence and Technological UnemploymentSignificant 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 (...)

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 (...)

The need for the pension privatisation

The need for the pension privatisationThe 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 (...)

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 (...)

Rockets and Feathers in the UK Energy Market: Cartel or Competition?

Rockets and Feathers in the UK Energy Market: Cartel or Competition?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 (...)

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 (...)

ECB Interest Rate: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

ECB Interest Rate: One Size Doesn't Fit AllSince 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 (...)

What is the future of the Northern Powerhouse?

What is the future of the Northern Powerhouse?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 (...)

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 (...)

Tax on Robots? Old Wine in new Bottles

Tax on Robots? Old Wine in new BottlesRobots 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 (...)

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 (...)

UK 2017 Elections

UK 2017 ElectionsOn 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, (...)

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