It is reported that Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Apple, LG, NEC, Qualcomm, Research in Motion, Samsung and Texas Instruments have signed an agreement for EU-wide harmonisation of mobile phone chargers.  

In a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) submitted to the Commission , the industry has committed to provide charger compatibility on the basis of the Micro-USB connector.  Read the rest of this entry »

As the ESB struggles to contain its costs in the face of economic depression and greater competition, let’s stop to look at the composition of its Board of Directors (link).   

There are 4 worker directors, which in itself is an impediment to efficiency (but that’s another day’s work).   On top of that handicap, we must question whether some of the other board members are sufficiently qualified for the job of acting as a director of one of our largest and most important State enterprises,  Read the rest of this entry »

In the Irish Times this week, Brian Cowen wrote a Comment piece  entitled “Why we must deliver a resounding Yes to Lisbon”.  The content demonstrates yet again that in Ireland the debate has been hi-jacked by single-issue fanatics who are fixated on matters such as abortion or neutrality.  Nowhere in his contribution does Mr Cowen actually address the core issues covered by the Treaty, or deal with the concerns of the many non-fanatics,     Read the rest of this entry »

Leviathan Political Cabaret 19/05/09  http://leviathan.ie/ 

I was a first-time attendee at this regular happening, in the Button Factory in Temple Bar, Dublin, hosted by David McWilliams.  The theme on the night was The Economy vs the Environment.  On the right hand side of the stage, and presumably designed to represent the right politically, were Petrel Resources’  Managing Director David Horgan and Paul Sommerville,  Head of Private Clients, Delta Index.  On the left (in both senses I suppose) were television presenter Duncan Stewart and Eamon Ryan, our Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

Duncan Stewart not only tried (and largely succeeded) to hog the discussion and single-handedly    Read the rest of this entry »

Why do I think that investors in hedge funds should think twice?  Well, one of the key issues is that hedge fund managers typically take a large profit share (say 20%) in the good years, but don’t take a share of the lossses that arise in other years.  So they tend to like big swings in annual returns.  The effects of this lack of symmetry on investor return can be remarkable over the long run (just as the lack of symmetry in bonus systems for bank executives has had a predictably disastrous effect on the wealth of bank shareholders in recent years).  

By way of illustration of the sweet deal that hedge fund managers arrange for themselves, in the FT “Money” section on 20th June 2009, one of my favourite economic writers, John Kay, has this nugget:      Read the rest of this entry »

I Give Up

20 June, 2009

So you think that the enormous economic and social problems we are facing will lead to a new era where voters will reject the old politics of croneyism and strokes?    You sincerely believe that anybody convicted of stealing money from the hard-pressed taxpayer would be shunned by the voters in the unlikely event that they have the temerity to put themselves up for election?   Hah!

The following snippets from the coverage of the recent local elections are almost too depressing for words.   Read the rest of this entry »

Many people will make the reasonable assumption that if there is to be an annual property tax on residential property (and there certainly should be), then the current high rates of Stamp Duty on purchases of such property will be reduced at the same time.  This highlights a potential transitional problem.  In particular, unless     Read the rest of this entry »