Category Archives: Dubious statistics

Did Ireland’s 12.5 Percent Corporate Tax Rate Create the Celtic Tiger?

Offshore banking and tax haven expert Nicholas Shaxson has launched a new blog, Fools’ Gold, to look at issues of ‘competitiveness’ and so-called ‘competition’ between nations. We’ve often taken issue with that policy goal, since it gives precedence to crushing labor as a way of lowering product prices to stoke exports. This approach is dubious for anything other than small economies, since all countries cannot be net exporters. Undue focus on exports as a driver of growth results in increasing international friction, such as the currency wars that are underway now. Moreover, as we have discussed separately, trade liberalization has gone hand in hand with liberalization of capital flows, in no small measure due to US efforts to make the world safe for what were then US investment banks. Yet Carmen Reinhardt and Ken Rogoff pointed out in their study of financial crises, higher levels of international capital flows are associated with more frequent and severe financial crises.

In addition, lowering wage rates reduces domestic demand. In countries like the US, where the domestic economy is much larger than the export sector, lowering internal demand to stoke exports is misguided.

Here we look at a first case study, the real reasons behind the growth and meltdown of the famed Celtic tiger, Ireland.

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Obama Administration Makes Unverifiable Claim of 545,000 IT Job Openings; H-1B Visa Boosting Likely Culprit

Two stories on Slashdot say a great deal about the reality of the labor market versus the official hype. It’s noteworthy that the comments, which are typically fractious at Slashdot, line up almost uniformly on the “employers are looking for insanely specific and often unrealistic experience.” And why might that be? In the case of tech in particular, to justify bringing in more H-1B visa candidates.

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Debunking the Claim that Inequality Fell After the Crisis

A new paper by Stephen Rose of George Washington University that was picked up by the New York Times created a stir by claiming that inequality fell after the crisis. While the crisis proper did hit the well-off hard, and past accounts allow for that, a large range of analyses had found that income and wealth inequality rose after the crisis. That mean the Rose paper was potentially important, and even if not, it was useful to those who’d like to claim that the new normal is benign, even virtuous, so it has gotten quite a bit of attention.

This article by Lance Taylor goes through the Rose paper and other data and finds the “lower inequality” hypothesis to be sorely wanting.

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