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Marc Morgan

By Marc Morgan

“If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” (Isaac Newton, 1676)

A simple idea, embodied in a proverb, has been at the core of mainstream economic theory since the conservative-libertarian economist Milton Friedman popularised it in 1975. This is that “there is no such thing as a free lunch”. Essentially what this proverb intends to say is that one cannot get “something for nothing”. The first reference to this idea originated in 19th century US saloons whereby free lunches were offered to customers who purchased at least one drink. The foods, being high in salt, would entice customers to consume more drink, usually beer. As such the “free lunch” carried a hidden cost, namely the price paid for each extra unit of drink, which effectively ended up paying for the lunch. In economic terminology “no free lunch” represents the trade off (or opportunity cost) that must be made between two things that one values.

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By Marc Morgan

The IFSC: where the decisions are really made?

Earlier this year, formal records were released under the Irish Freedom of Information Act which revealed the intertwined relationship between the Irish Government and the Irish Financial Services Centre (IFSC). These records become known to the general public on Monday October 8th in an article by The Irish Times. The relationship between the two parties has been, and continues to be, played out within the IFSC Clearing House Group, a lobbying group, chaired by Martin Fraser, the secretary general of Government. The group comprises of civil servants from state agencies like the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and Enterprise Ireland, as well as representatives from the principle financial corporations in the country; JP Morgan, Citigroup, State Street, Barclays, KPMG, Bank of America, Bank of Ireland, among others. Meetings between the two parties take place in Government Buildings, so it is no surprise that the Government’s policy bears striking resemblance to the Group’s position in two related areas: tax incentives for the financial industry and the stance on the EU’s proposal of a European-wide financial transactions tax (FTT).

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By Marc Morgan

Is there a single small, secret group that controls almost all major world events?

In our economically centred world money is the primary conditioning factor of life. Its abundance guarantees an individual a higher quality healthcare and education, a dignified employment, and the possibility of following whatever personal pursuits an individual may have. Wealth is the turning of money from income to asset; from something you receive to something you accumulate. Therefore, the more money at the disposal of an individual the wealthier that individual can become.

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by Marc Morgan

A complement to From Dr Keynes to Financial Bloodletting

“I work for a Government I despise for ends I think criminal” (John Maynard Keynes, 1917).

This would certainly be Keynes’ position today if he were unfortunate enough to work under the current British Government, or any EU government for that matter. The criminal ends can be attributed to contemporary ‘financial bloodletting’, whose practice can indeed be heralded as criminal. The earlier piece which Antoine Cerisier and I wrote deals broadly with the ideological change from Keynesianism to neo-liberal ‘austerianism’ that occurred in the latter half of the 20th century. But what was Dr Keynes’ idea, which gave rise to ‘Keynesianism’ and which has now been replaced by financial bloodletting? Read More

by Antoine Cerisier & Marc Morgan

“There is no alternative” (Margaret Thatcher)

“Doctors often invent diseases which do not exist” (Eugène Ionesco, Rhinocéros)

Bloodleting in the Middle Ages

Bloodletting was a common medical practice until the late 19th century, involving the withdrawal of blood from patients to prevent illness. Despite its inefficacy, this custom was very popular in Europe, the United States and the Middle East for more than 2000 years. Leeches were often used to remove so much blood that patients usually fainted; some died from this dangerous and ignorant treatment. Crooked doctors who practised bloodletting were often mocked and condemned by French playwright Molière in his 17th century theatre plays. In 21st century public policy, the medical removal of blood gave way to what could be described as financial bloodletting – or in other words, neoliberal austerity measures. The analogy seems a bit far-fetched but is worth looking into. Like bloodletting, austerity remains a common practice despite poor social and macroeconomic results around the world: recession, poverty, debt increases. Like bloodletting, painful solutions are considered more efficient; the more patients suffer the better. Replace blood with welfare and leeches with spending cuts and the analogy is complete.

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by Marc Morgan

On May 31st Ireland grounded further its position as the poster child of the EU. In a referendum on whether to ratify the Union’s ‘Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union’, otherwise known as the Fiscal Treaty, the Irish people voted 60% in favour of the new European provisions thereby becoming the first country to ratify them. However, the ‘Irish people’ might well be an overstatement since only half of the electorate went out to vote in the referendum .

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By Marc Morgan

Are private schools something Charles Ponzi could have dreamt up?

A traditional Ponzi scheme “is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors.” (U.S Securities and Exchange Commission)

A ‘theoretical Ponzi scheme’ is a theoretical fraud that involves the belief in something because others believe in it.

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by Marc Morgan

“It is about time that the Vatican adhere to social justice in human affairs, and leave its pseudo-dogmatism as a feature of its past.”

In very recent times we have been reminded of the sacredness of the Catholic Church’s orthodoxy. We have also learnt that there are two sides to the dogma the Church seeks to profess. Indeed, as Paddy Agnew writes in the Irish Times, what recent Vatican revelations highlight is a division between “church law” and “God’s law”. Putting this into context, the Vatican’s latest censuring of the Irish priest, Fr. Brian D’Arcy, depicts an institution struggling to preserve its dogmatic teaching even among individuals of the Church’s own making. Fr. D’Arcy is the fifth Irish priest to have been censured by the Vatican this year.

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Financed by our collective ignorance?

By Marc Morgan

“There are no conditions of life to which a man cannot get accustomed, especially if he sees them accepted by everyone around him”- Tolstoy

The “complex network” of financial contracts that seemingly justify the need to pay back unguaranteed holders of private sector debt turned public debt only appears to be transferring money from those in need of it to those in search of it. But it would be a mistake to think this a recent phenomenon. Since the early 1980’s this transfer of wealth has been almost a social norm in government policy on both sides of the Atlantic, to the extent that we have accustomed ourselves to its existence by being ignorant of its very dynamic. The passing of time and events we study as ‘history’ can help us reflect on exactly what we had accustomed ourselves to, and what we are in danger of ignoring from the remedies to the recent crisis.

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