Breaking up with Brexit

Posted in politics by thenextwavefutures on 2 September, 2017


There are at least five reasons why Brexit is too complex to deliver. The most likely outcome is a transition period that continues until the political demographics have changed.

The news that Labour has resolved its policy on Brexit is welcome for short-term, medium-term, and long-term reasons. It is also smart politics, because it is becoming increasingly clear that Brexit is too complex to deliver. Richard Murphy made this suggestion on his blog recently. And when I say, “too complex to deliver”, I don’t mean “too complex to deliver in a two year window plus a transition period”. I mean too complex because Britain has become institutionally and economically interlocked with the rest of the European Union. It can check out but it can’t leave.

The first reason is that the relationship between Britain and the EU is fantastically intricate. Just after Article 50 was triggered Buzzfeed published a memorable list of the 30-odd things that Britain had to do resolve Brexit, and it was immediately clear, reading the list, that all of them were complicated and that the government didn’t have a clue what to do about well over half of them. Since then, these issues have kept on getting more complex. Euratom, for example: it’s both essential to Britain’s nuclear power industry, and it requires accepting the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.



Apple’s Irish problem and the end of the tech boom

Posted in economics, innovation, long waves, technology by thenextwavefutures on 5 September, 2016

Source: European Commission

The EU’s ruling on Apple’s Irish tax affairs is a sign of two different sets of change: the ending of the ICT boom, and the decline of globalisation

Silicon Valley seems surprised, and not for the first time, by the fact that the European Union has a different view of its business practices than it does. Apple is perplexed (even maddened) by the decision of the EU’s Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, that it should pay the same rate of corporation tax as other companies doing business in Ireland–and that it therefore owed €13 billion, perhaps more, in back taxes. Bloomberg explains the issue well.

Google, similarly, has been perplexed by the three separate anti-trust suits that the EU has filed against it. One relates to its advertising business; a second to its shopping service; the third is about whether Google has been giving preferential treatment to both Search and Chrome in its Android operating system.

So what’s going on here? Two separate things: first, it’s about the coming end of the ICT boom that has dominated innovation and culture since the mid-1970s; second, it’s about the limits of corporate power and influence as economic globalisation declines.


Re-visiting Ireland’s boom years

Posted in Uncategorized by thenextwavefutures on 10 April, 2011

The lesson from Ireland’s boom and bust: don’t confuse economic rhetoric with long-run structural and external change

I wrote about the disaster that is the Irish economy about eighteen months ago, just after Fianna Fáil government, true to form, had bought up bad property assets from its crony capitalists on unduly generous terms. I was revisiting the Irish economic miracle ahead of a workshop in Dublin this week, and found an interesting structural explanation of the Celtic Tiger boom in Fintan O’Toole’s book Ship of Fools. It’s not the explanation of “business friendly” policy, low tax and light regulation that’s normally offered, and it has implications that go beyond Ireland.


The end of the Celtic Tiger

Posted in banks, economics, trends by thenextwavefutures on 6 September, 2009

1224250905014_2There’s a global financial crisis joke which goes, What’s the difference between Iceland and Ireland?  The answer: One consonant, and about six months.

Having been in Ireland during some of August, as the government tried to set up its “bad bank”, the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA), on what appeared to be extremely favourable terms to bank shareholders amid the collapse of one of the country’s biggest property developers, Liam Carroll’s Zoe Group, the joke looks alarmingly close to the truth.