Tom McDonnell: Useful post (here) from Andrew Watt. He looks at the latest uninspiring growth figures in Europe (0.3% quarter-on-quarter in the euro area and just 0.2% in the wider EU27). We cannot assume such anaemic growth will be improved upon as austerity bites down in 2011. Weak employment growth will be the upshot.
One interesting point relates to the newly fashionable idea that increased ‘competitiveness’ is the solution to the jobs crisis. Andrew notes that the Euro area has actually maintained a balanced trade account virtually throughout its existence and achieved a trade surplus in 2010. If the Euro area had a severe competitiveness problem it would surely be reflected in the trade statistics.
Ireland of course has the second highest (http://www.finfacts.ie/irishfinancenews/article_1021642.shtml) trade surplus in the whole of the EU. Ireland has many problems but competitiveness does not appear to be at the top of the list. Worth bearing in mind as the attacks on the minimum wage and other wage floors continue...
Tom McDonnell is senior economist at the NERI and is responsible for among other things, NERI's analysis of the Republic of Ireland economy including risks, trends and forecasts. He specialises in economic growth theory, the economics of innovation, the Irish and European economies, and fiscal policy. He previously worked as an economist at TASC and before that was a lecturer in economics at NUI Galway and at DCU. He has also taught at Maynooth University.
Tom obtained his PhD in economics from NUI Galway.