UCC Economics Conference to kick-start wealth of debate

This Saturday, the UCC Economics Society will be holding their Economic Conference. There is a number of excellent speakers lined up (see below) which should be interesting to a lot of people. The reason I am posting this is that I shall be there and covering it on Twitter, Facebook and the blog.

Press Release:

Multi-million selling author and BBC Radio presenter Tim Harford will be the keynote speaker at the UCC Economics Society inaugural conference on Saturday the 1st of February in the Aula Maxima, UCC from 11am to 5pm. Other speakers include economists, broadcasters, politicians and journalists.

Harford spent some time lecturing in UCC in the nineties. Since then he become well known through his writing. He contributes to the Financial Times where he writes the world’s only economic ‘agony aunt’ column. His most recent publication ‘The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to run or ruin an economy’ takes a step into macroeconomics, while his online TED talk has over 150,000 views (link http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_harford.html )

The conference features a number of other high-profile panellists who will debate European and political related economicaffairs. Megan Greene, Chief Economist with Maverick Intelligence, based in London, will speak about the current European situation. Other speaks include Brendan Keenan, former Economics Editor for Independent NewspapersSinead Ryan, consumer and personal finance journalist with The Herald, and Ciarán Lynch TD, Chairman of the Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform. UCC economists will also contribute, including Robbie Butler, Seamus Coffey and Declan Jordan.

The conference comes as part of a string of economics events running from Monday 27th January – Monday 3 February.Economist and author David McWilliams will officially launch ‘Economics Week’ on Monday 27th January in Boole Lecture Theatre 1 at 6:30pm. The week will be concluded by John Fitzgerald, Research Professor at the Economics and Social Research Institute, on Monday 3rd February at 7pm in Kane Science Building G02. A full timetable is available here: http://www.ucceconomicsconference.com/

Speaking ahead of the event, conference convener Jamie Cullinan said, “This conference is intended to unite leading academics and practitioners in the field to discuss economic problems with a view towards finding a pathway into the future. Applying the discussion to matters of politics and policy will focus the conference on the most current topics in a continually challenging economic environment.”

“Thanks to our hard-working team, we are very happy to have such a fantastic line up from international and national commentators and economists. Many people have read Tim Harford and he has enthralled us with his writing, while we’ve seen the likes of Megan Greene and Sinead Ryan speaking at Kilkenomics where they proved very insightful commentators. Now more than ever economics is to the forefront of society. Economists have dug into real-world matters and tried to understand human behaviour.

“Importantly this discussion will take place in a college setting and will have the power to influence economic thinking into the future through the attending students, who will also be given an opportunity to question the prevailing economic thought and policy issues on the day.”

Tickets for the conference are €10, with a €5 rate for students, and are on sale both online (http://www.ucceconomicsconference.com/ )  and on campus. For further information please contact economics@uccsocieties.ie.

 

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Fine Gael LGBT to Launch this Weekend

On Saturday 28 April a Fine Gael Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender group will be launched in Dublin in the Ely Gastro Pub.

The event will be addressed by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD.

In it it’s launch event on Facebook it explains why it is being set up,

Fine Gael is an inclusive party and has a commitment to a just society and a fairer Ireland. Now we are taking the next step.

Fine Gael LGBT is an inclusive group for party members who share a common goal of promoting full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our party, in our country and in our world.

Membership is open to all members of Fine Gael regardless of orientation.

Fine Gael LGBT aims to;

  • provide a welcome and inclusive forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of Fine Gael;
  • promote equality within Fine Gael including encouraging the adoption of equality policies as party and Government policy;
  • be a visible sign of the inclusivity and modernity of Fine Gael and in particular encourage members of the LGBT community to join and become active participants in our party.

For more see the Facebook page and the event page.

I am glad to see Members of Fine Gael spear heading this making it a ground up initiative. It now means Labour and Sinn Fein are no longer the only parties with an LGBT section, meaning that Fianna Fail are the only major party without an LGBT grouping.

I must say I am looking forward to this.

European Democrat Students launch ‘Knowledge is Power’ campaign

Logo of the European Democrat Students

The European Democrat Students (EDS) yesterday launched their “Knowledge is Power Campaign”. This campaign encourages EU political leaders to prioritize efforts on higher education and research funding. EDS urges leaders to introduce stimulus packages for the higher education sector, which is an important factor to help boost economic recovery in Europe.

The EDS emphasizes the importance of having a good education system for our future generations, and wish to encourage politicians to invest more resources in higher education and research. The EDS strongly believes that Europe 2020 is the fundamental guideline for all 27 Member States and thus, endorse the principle of a knowledge-based economy where higher education is a central pillar for sustainable economic growth.

EPP President Wilfried Martens strongly supports the EDS initiative: “the EPP believes that know-how in societies is central to economic growth and job creation, so we must create the best conditions for transforming them into knowledge-based societies. To reach this fundamental objective of the EPP, we strongly support investments in research and innovation. Ultimately, the economic success of Europe will be determined by the extent of the financial commitments allocated to these pivotal sectors of the economy. Europe must become a knowledge economy.”

This campaign is EDS’ first Internet based campaign and consists of several online films and an online petition available at eds-knowledge.eu. With the petition, the EDS wants to reach out to young Europeans and thereby send a bold signal to Europe’s policy makers that young people in today’s Europe believe that we have to invest more in Europe’s future.

So sign the petition, like on Facebook an follow on Twitter!

EDS is the official Student Organisation of the European People’s Party.

Campaign For Children – Cork Meeting Wednesday 25th

The Campaign for Children will be holding a public meeting tomorrow, Wednesday 25th, at 6pm in the Geogrpahy Lecture Hall in UCC. It is part of a series of public meetings to inform people about the work of the campaign.

The Campaign is chaired by Former Supreme Court Justice Catherine McGuinness. Its board also contains some influential people, including Fergus Finlay of Barnardos and Olivia O’Leary.

The Campaign raises very important issues and more importantly has suggestions to how they should be solved.

This organisation will most likely play a leading role in any referendum campaign on Children’s Rights.

So head along and find out more about the campaign.

More info

Asking the Candidates: If elected will you continue to use Facebook/Twitter

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After thinking about all the tweets and facebooking from the Irish Presidential Candidates, I decided to ask them if they would contine use Twitter/Facebook if they were elected President of the Republic of Ireland.

I asked the question on Twitter initially, but then posted it also on the candidates Facebook to give them all a fair chance of responding.

These are the respons in the order I have recieved them and on what medium they responded on.

Mary Davis – Facebook

Hi Stephen, when I am elected I will definitely ensure that social media is a key part of my Áras an Uachtarán communications.

Sean GallagherFacebook

Certainly Stephen. I was using both Facebook and Twitter well before I announced my intention to run for the Presidency. Social media and new technologies mean that I can reach people and hear what you, the people of Ireland are saying more clearly than ever before. Best wishes, Seán

Michael D HigginsTwitter

@spiller2 if elected I hope to continue using social media Stephen #aras11

Martin McGuinnessTwitter

@spiller2 I do indeed Stephen

UPDATE 20:25

Dana Rosemary Scallon Twitter

@spiller2 I’m still learning, but I will keep it up while I’m in office. It’s a great way to connect with the people. #aras11 #dana

Senator David Norris (Team) – Facebook

Hi Stephen, I have asked your question and can confirmed a David Norris Presidency would certainly be using Social Media to make the Office of President even more accessible while continuing on the fantastic dialogue David Norris has enjoyed throughout his campaign. Admin (Ronan)

I have yet to recieve a response from Gay Mitchell. When I do I will update this post.

Fine Gael launches a Facebook Campaign

As the election was announced yesterday, I noticed messages appearing in my Facebook feed like this one:

It would seem that Fine Gael have launched a facebook widget which is linked from their website.

It is an interesting move from the party and I wonder how it will play out on Facebook.

I myself am a bit sceptical because it seems to be trying to use American Campaign techniques, and I am not sure how it will go down. It also is not very interactive. It seems to be more broadcast then conversation which engagement with social media should be. But I am open to be proven wrong on this.

There is also a grassroots campaign with Twibbons putting the Fine Gael star on peoples  profile pictures. So far 121 people have added it to their profile.

I wonder which of the two campaigns will be more successful?

The Dáil must vote on the Bailout

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Charlie Flanagan TD has flagged up an interesting article in Bunreacht na hEireann on Facebook which could cause a headache for the Government.

The Constitution in Article 29.5.2 states

The State shall not be bound by any international agreement involving a charge upon public funds unless the terms of the agreement shall have been approved by Dáil Éireann.

This will lead to a few interesting days in the Dáil chamber. The Bailout cannot be drawn down on without the Dáil supporting the bailout. That means the Government will have to try and get that passed. Will they do it before the Budget? Will all the Government TD’s vote for the Bailout?

The Government may try and weasel out of a vote using Article 29.5.3 which states

This section shall not apply to agreements or conventions of a technical and adminstrative character.

But I don’t think the Attorney General or the Courts would support that decision.

So who is going to lobby their TD on this bailout?

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Why does all this ‘Bond Market Malarkey’ Matter?

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As I have recently begun writing about the Bond Markets and posting about it on Facebook, an interesting discussion has taken place on why are we bothering reporting on it if we currently aren’t borrowing from the bond market and what exactly are bonds. So myself and another friend tried to explain why it is important.

Comment 1:

Good job we are not actually borrowing at the moment!! (Which is why I am surprised that we are still fixated on the number, who cares what rates bondholders are selling to each other, we need to concentrate on getting the rate down for Jan when we need to borrow.)

My Response:

The reason its going up though is that investors think we will default before we can borrow again. We were supposed to borrow €1.5bn in October and €1.5bn in November, therefore we have to borrow more then initially hoped next year. Also if… investors are dumping the bonds at the moment, why will they want to buy new ones next year? That is why we care what the number is. Also LCH putting up the margin by 15% to trade in Irish Bonds means it will be very expensive to trade in Irish Bonds, making it harder still to sell new ones.

Comment 2:

What are the bonds exactly Spillane?

My Response:

Its basically what funds the country.The Government raises money by selling Bonds on the market.

Comment 3:

so what is this 8% malarkey all about? its more expensive to buy Irish bonds is it?

ScandalCentral:

Stephen has got it more or less spot on there. We currently have a huge gap between spending and income for the state. We fill this gap through borrowing. We borrow by issuing bonds. Current bond prices are on the secondary market. Bonds of… over 8% are generally regarding as Junk bonds. This essentially means they are high risk and the chance of default is huge. The prices are rising because no one wants Irish sovereign bonds. The Government will return to the bond market early next year, unless the rates go down we will be unable to afford to borrow and will crash. We would then need the EU & IMF to bail us out.

ScandalCentral also linked to this video of Bloomberg on Monday which shows how serious this is for Ireland.

I hope this may help explain to you why all this stuff is important!

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Facebook Change

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Today I implemented a change to how I use facebook as a bit of an experiment. Normally my blog posts are automatically imported as notes on my own page. From today that is no longer the case. I have set up a fan page for this blog and in future all notes shall be imported there.

Do become a fan! I wonder how it will go?

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Bruton For European Council President?

John Bruton For President?
John Bruton For President?

Young Fine Gael is trying to launch a grassroots campaign for John Bruton to be made President of the European Council. I received the following missive from HQ.

Dear Member,

As you may know former Taoiseach and Leader of Fine Gael John Bruton is seeking election as President of the European Council.

Let’s get behind him by using the internet to spread his campaign around Europe.

SIGN THE PETITION
Please sign and forward the petition link to all your contacts throughout the 27 member states of the EU http://www.petitiononline.com/Bruton/petition.html

SUPPORTER ON FACEBOOK
Please become a supporter on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/John-Bruton-for-EU-President/163560809402

CHANGE YOUR PROFILE PIC
For you hardcore supporters our there… Please use this pic as your profile pic on bebo and facebook www.yfg.ie/images/images/johnb.jpg

Now while a Facebook Page and Petition might get you some attention in the national media, I do not think it is going to make waves across Europe.

The thinking behind this is a little strange. Campaigns like this rarely work in Ireland, let alone across 27 countries. Would YFG not be better off asking its members to write to the Taoiseach and other EU leaders extolling the virtues of John Bruton? Would they not be better off sending us reason why we should back him? There are a few that I can think of, but why not inform the rest of us. That way we can try and convince our friends rather just blindly following due to fact he used to lead our party.

Why not tell us about all the things he has done since he stopped being a Fine Gael TD? Such as being the EU Ambassodor to the US?

This will also go nowhere due to the fact it is in one language. Why not translate the petition into German and French and maybe other EU languages and maybe also give information about Bruton in those languages so we can convince others.

I don’t think this will make much of a difference to his chances. I don’t think Angela Merkel or Nicolas Sarkozy are going to be looking on facebook for ideas of who to suggest for the poistion of President of the European Council.