Articles tagged with: Economics

Co-operatives and the Economic and Environmental Crisis

on Thursday, 11 March 2010. Posted in Issue 63 A New Economic Paradigm?

Dermot McKenna SJ

March, 2010

Co-operatives and the Economic and Environmental Crisis

Nora Herlihy with President de Valera at the signing of the Credit Union Act, 1996
© Irish League of Credit Unions


The current economic and financial crisis has had an enormous impact across the world. Here in Ireland, we have experienced the harsh consequences of a sharp reversal of economic growth. During 2009, there was estimated fall of over 7 per cent in GDP, and of more than 10 per cent in GNP. Both measures had already shown a drop of 3 per cent in 2008.

A crisis in the Irish public finances has seen our national debt rise dramatically to well over €20 billion; the ratio of General Government Debt to GDP, calculated to have been just over 25 per cent in 2007, soared over the past two years to reach an estimated 65 per cent by the end of 2009.1

Bad Business

on Thursday, 11 March 2010. Posted in Issue 63 A New Economic Paradigm?

Seamus Murphy SJ

March, 2010

Bad Business

Ethics essential in the ups and downs of economic life
© istock


Much of the world is going through the biggest financial and economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s.  While the crisis is not as severe as that of the Great Depression, its effects are more widespread, owing to globalisation and the interconnectedness of national economies.  It is causing much suffering, as investments that were people’s savings for the future are wiped out, jobs in both the private and public sectors are lost, and public finances come under severe strain.

In this, a follow-up on an earlier Working Notes article which was written before the current financial and economic crisis,1 I explore some of the ethical issues that arise.

Working Notes Issue 63 Editorial

on Thursday, 11 March 2010. Posted in Issue 63 A New Economic Paradigm?

Issue 63 Editorial

Even as the global economy shows signs of recovery from the financial and economic shocks of the past two years, worrying questions remain. Just how robust is the recovery: is it possible we may yet face a ‘double dip’ recession? How long until economic growth translates into a fall in unemployment? How severe will be the social, as well as the economic, impact of governments having to deal with the public debt incurred in order to prevent a deeper recession?

Justice in Recession: Statement on the Current Economic Situation

on Wednesday, 29 October 2008. Posted in Issue 59 In Recession who will be left Stranded?

Justice in Recession: Statement on the Current Economic Situation

November 2008



It is no exaggeration to say that people in Ireland are in a state of shock at the suddenness and severity of the downturn in the country’s economic situation. In so far as we thought about ‘Ireland after the Celtic Tiger’, most people assumed it would be a time where growth would be slower, but more sustainable, where there would be ‘a soft landing’ for house prices, and where the gains of the boom years would be consolidated. We did not envisage an economic recession, a deep and widespread crisis in the financial system, a sharp rise in unemployment, and considerable anxiety about the future.


Working Notes Issue 59 Editorial

on Wednesday, 29 October 2008. Posted in Issue 59 In Recession who will be left Stranded?

November 2008

pdf Editorial

‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’, L.P. Hartley famously wrote. Right now in Ireland, however, it is the present that feels like a foreign country. This is a place where we must adjust our assumptions and expectations and learn, or relearn, the skills to enable us deal with an economic situation that is the reverse of the favourable one to which we had become so acclimatised.


Doing Business and Doing Good: The Role of Business Ethics

on Tuesday, 18 April 2006. Posted in Issue 52 Mental Illness in Irish Prisons: A Solitary Experience?, 2006

Seamus Murphy, SJ

April 2006


Down the ages, some currents of thought have seen business as incapable of being honourable, and barely able to be honest, since honest business will always be at a disadvantage in competition with dishonest business.  On this view, neither business, banking, investment, profit-making, nor entrepreneurial initiative promote the good of individuals or society.  Business ethics is doomed to be at best ineffectual, at worst a sham.

Connecting Debt and Trade

on Tuesday, 07 December 2004. Posted in Issue 49 The Garda Síochána Bill 2004 (Somone will be watching you!), 2004

November 2004

Connecting Debt and Trade from a Development Perspective
Peter Henriot SJ*

How Do We Define ‘Development\'?

Before examining the connections between debt and trade, it is worthwhile to reflect on what we mean when we talk about a ‘development perspective\'. It is now widely accepted that economic models that are not people-centred have led us to the current global crisis of deepening poverty, degradation of rights, destruction of the environment and increased danger of conflict and terrorism.


on Thursday, 18 December 2003. Posted in Issue 47 Budget 2004: Preserving a Divided Society?, 2003

December 2003

Dear Reader,

We are happy to present to you with the December 2003 issue of Working Notes. We hope you find it helpful for your reflection and work.

In our opening article, Budget 2004: Small Change for the Poor, Robin Hanan of EAPN (European Anti-Poverty Network) Ireland, analyses the seventh Budget to be introduced by the current Minister for Finance. While welcoming the increases announced in social welfare payments, and the concentration of income tax cuts on the lowest paid, Robin Hanan suggests that, viewed in a broader context, the Budget is not so ‘harmless’. It was preceded by the Estimates, published in November, which introduced welfare cuts that will save a comparatively small amount of money but have a devastating impact on the people affected, and by a year-long run-down of the Community Employment and Jobs Initiative Schemes. The Budget is critically considered in the light of fact that Ireland is the fastest-growing economy in the European Union, and the member country with the second-highest level of income, yet has the lowest spending on social provision and the lowest overall tax rates.He concludes that the Budget showed little indication of a willingness to undertake the type of taxation and spending measures that would be required to seriously address the tasks of eradicating poverty, reducing inequality and developing a level of public services commensurate with our wealth.

In the second article in this issue, Economics and Justice, economist Eithne Fitzgerald argues that the purpose of any economic system ought to be to serve the greater good of society and to ensure that the basic human needs of all its people are met in a way that is both fair and efficient. Ireland over the past decade illustrates some of the virtues and the vices of the market model. Its benefits, in terms of rising incomes and increased employment, are highlighted in public and political discourse. She suggests that even though mainstream economics acknowledges that there are important areas of activity where the market \'does not give the right answer\', public debate on economic policy has become increasingly dominated by those adhering to a blind belief in market forces. She argues there is need for an alternative economic voice - one that places justice and redistribution at the heart of our economic values.

As a seasonal offering, we are privileged to have insightful Perspectives on Christmas from two people who have come to reside in Ireland from afar, Zhiyan Sharif, who is from Kurdistan in Iraq and Egide Dhala who is from the Congo. Finally, Cathy Molloy introduces a Christmas Reflection from an essay by Karl Rahner SJ.

If you enjoy what you read in these pages and find it useful we invite you to consider making a voluntary subscription to Working Notes. We suggest a sum of €15.00 per year. If you wish to contribute more to our work, we would be most appreciative.

We thank you for your continued support and wish all our readers a very happy Christmas.



Eugene Quinn
Director, Centre for Faith and Justice



A Vision for Ireland: A Question Of Tax?

Written by Eugene Quinn on Monday, 23 June 2003. Posted in Issue 43 Juvenile Crime: Are Harsher Sentences the Solution?, 2002

June 2002

Eugene Quinn , an actuary working part-time with the CFJ, examines issues of fairness in taxation.


Taxation is always a vexing question and in the modern Ireland particularly so. The role of taxation policy in stimulating the Celtic Tiger is disputed. The neoliberal view is that the creation of a low tax environment was integral to our economic success and is an essential ingredient if that success is to continue. This premise has not gone unchallenged. The opposing view points to factors that were funded through tax revenues such as the supply of an educated labour force and the presence of an adequate infrastructure as major contributors to our economic growth in the period. These differing perspectives bring into focus tensions at the core of taxation policy.

Economics and Justice

on Thursday, 18 December 2003. Posted in Issue 47 Budget 2004: Preserving a Divided Society?, 2003

Eithne Fitzgerald

December 2003


©D. Speirs

Equity and wider human well being must be central concerns in a just economic order

Economics - Value Free?

Economics is central to public policy and economic policy affects centrally the lives of citizens. Economics allows us to explore the likely outcomes of particular economic activities and to examine how policy impacts on different groups in society - who benefits and who loses - and to come up with proposals for change.


Whose Business is Business?

on Saturday, 05 July 2003. Posted in Issue 40 An Ethic for the Third Millennium, 2001

Seamus O\'Gorman, SJ

June 2001

Business – An Uneasy Success Story

Given the amazing and lasting ‘success’ of the Irish economy over the last number of years, it is striking to note what a strong sense of unease there is in Irish society. At one level, the first year of the new millennium has been characterised by an almost irrational but niggling fear that much of what we have achieved could quite suddenly  turn to dust. Will we wake up and see the cranes have disappeared? Will we discover that the miracle epitomized in the potential  of the world wide web has turned out to be more one of its deceit rather than of its lasting contribution to real wealth creation? Will a contemptuously disregarded environment strike back? There are also indications of a deeper fear, the fear that all we have achieved may not have been very much anyhow.  That this feeling lingers is remarkable given the extraordinary change in our economic well-being perhaps most notably in relation to jobs and emigration. For all those real achievements, there is little evidence to suggest that we have become a happier, a  more content or more fulfilled people. As recent industrial action indicates there are significant sections of people convinced that they have not received an adequate share of the boom.  Others - the sick, the excluded - can equally wonder why the boom makes so little difference to them.  Could it be that we have been so enthralled by the experience of riding the Celtic Tiger that we have missed its meaning?

Ethics, Compassion and Self-Deceit

Written by Peter McVerry SJ on Saturday, 05 July 2003. Posted in Issue 40 An Ethic for the Third Millennium, 2001

Peter McVerry, SJ

June 2001


There is a homeless person sitting in the street, begging.  Passing by, I wonder whether to give him money or not.   On the one hand, I feel sorry for him, no place to go, hungry, cold, bored.  On the other hand, maybe he isn’t really homeless, or even if he is, maybe he wants money for drugs or alcohol and I may actually be making his situation worse by giving him money.   It’s all very confusing.

In the Millennium, a sustained campaign was waged to abolish or reduce the debt owed by the poorest Third World countries, who were being crippled by the interest they had to pay on loans they had received from the economically developed world.  The campaigners argued that this repayment was preventing health and education programmes from being funded and was therefore costing lives and preventing development.   Others argued that corruption was so extensive in many of these countries and spending on arms and military so high that to simply cancel the debt would make their ruling elites even wealthier, their armies even better equipped and increase the oppression and suffering of the people, not reduce it.   It’s all very confusing.

The Economics of Immigration Policy

on Wednesday, 30 July 2003. Posted in Issue 33 Wanted: An Immigration Policy, 1998

Tom Giblin, SJ

December 1998


The possible impact of immigration on the economy of a country is much debated. In continental Europe, up to a decade ago, the impact of immigrant labour was not a matter of much concern. Immigrant workers were widely employed to carry out work for which it was very difficult to recruit native workers. For instance, in Germany large numbers of Turkish people were employed in this way. In recent times however, with unemployment levels high over most of Europe, there has been more concern about the impact of immigration on the economy. Because of increased immigration here, there is now some concern in Ireland about the issue.

Social Enterprise – An Untapped Resource

on Wednesday, 06 October 2010. Posted in Issue 64 What Direction for Recovery?

Gerard Doyle

October 2010

Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise – An Untapped Resource


Across Europe, social enterprises are making a significant impact on communities, particularly those blighted by high levels of unemployment, poverty and disadvantage. According to the European Commission, there are 2 million social enterprises in the EU (representing 10 per cent of all European businesses) and they employ over 11 million people (the equivalent of 6 per cent of the working population of the EU).  In EU Member States, social enterprises are present in almost every sector of the economy, including banking, insurance, agriculture, crafts, various commercial services, and health and social services.

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We tend to think that law defines what crime is. This makes sense because contemporary legal codes are concerned with marking out the territory where conduct is permissible by specifying the conduct that is outlawed. Yet the earliest bodies of law – consider for example, the Torah or Hammurabi’s Code – are at least as committed to articulating the good as proscribing the bad... Read full editorial

Working Notes is a journal published by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. The journal focuses on social, economic and theological analysis of Irish society. It has been produced since 1987.