Why We Need The European Union

In two weeks time, Britain will vote on whether or not it will leave the European Union, a major decision which could have wide reaching ramifications. Even though as an Irish citizen I cannot vote, the decision will have a large impact on both Ireland and myself. Leaving aside the specifics of Brexit (whether Britain could still have access to the common market and whether it would still be bound by EU regulations) and political ironies (the same people who opposed Scottish independence are making essentially the same agreement in support of leaving the EU) I think it’s worthwhile to discuss the EU as an institution in general and consider whether it is beneficial or not. Continue reading “Why We Need The European Union”

The Case For Capital Controls

The standard economic view used to be that capital controls were a damaging relic from the past. Almost all economists opposed them as they believed they discouraged foreign investment, created barriers to trade and lead to an inefficient allocation of resources. The notion that the government could restrict how people used their money was found abhorrent by many. However, since the Financial Crisis, there has been a shift in opinions. Many economists support some capital controls to reduce instability in the economy, particularly in the financial sector. 250 economists from around the world signed a petition calling on the US government to reconsider its opposition to capital controls. Even major institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, the Federal Reserve and the European Union have admitted that there may be some cases in which capital controls are beneficial. Continue reading “The Case For Capital Controls”

Do Generous Welfare Benefits Lead To High Unemployment? (Long Version)

(This was originally written as a college essay. For this reason it is 3,000 words long and contains a lot of economics terms references. It is meant as a help for anyone who wants an in-depth study of the topic with supporting facts and figures. For a short version in plain English see here. The essay was marked the best in my class of 80 students. It won the Undergraduate Award 2012 in Economics along with someone from Yale. I’m not trying to boast but I’m over the moon.)


This paper discusses the conventional wisdom that unemployment benefits create a disincentive to work, the so-called “welfare trap”. It examines if higher benefit levels or longer benefit durations lead to higher unemployment rates. Surprisingly, it finds that the disincentive effect is negligible to non-existent. A wide range of different studies have found little or no disincentive effect. The orthodox economic view which states that workers will quit their jobs if they will receive more money from unemployment benefits has been found to be naive and unrealistic. Despite the large number of people who believe it to be true, it simply is not supported by evidence. Continue reading “Do Generous Welfare Benefits Lead To High Unemployment? (Long Version)”