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Why the Watch wasn’t most important news from Apple event

Posted on by Will Goodbody

Apple's CEO Tim Cook announcing details of Apple Pay

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook announcing Apple Pay

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

So, the hype has evaporated – for a while at least. The rumour mill can slow down, for a few months anyway. Apple has unveiled its new and updated products at a special launch event in California.

We now know the details of the two new iPhones – the 6 and 6 Plus. We know they are bigger than their predecessors, have an updated curvy look, an A8 chip, improved camera technology and a few other bits and bobs. Inevitably, they will sell in their millions, making the company even more money to add to its $160bn stash.

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The direct and indirect tax debate

Posted on by Sean Whelan

The European Commission has tax policy in its sights

The Nevin Institute’s report has sparked another debate about the country’s taxation system for individuals

By Sean Whelan, Economics Correspondent

ADDENDUM

Since we posted this blog Micheal Collins of NERI has posted a response to some of the issued raised here and elsewhere (see the IrishEconomy.ie thread especially).  It’s worth including all of it here, especially as it is in the form of a Q&A, so it is user friendly.  As we said, it has certainly kicked off a good debate.  The new NERI Q& A is further down the page, after the original blog post.

The Nevin Economic Research Institute seems to have kicked over a hornets nest with its latest version of a working paper claiming that top and bottom income deciles pay about the same proportion of their income in tax.

The premise is that while income tax is very progressive in Ireland, indirect taxes such as VAT tend are regressive.  Continue reading

Why Amazon paid $970m for Twitch

Posted on by Will Goodbody

 

Amazon already offers gaming services through its Fire TV set-top box

Amazon already offers gaming services through its Fire TV set-top box

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

The owners of Twitch must be feeling pretty smug this morning. Last night they sealed a deal which will see them sell their mere three year old streaming service for just shy of $1bn. But while the price tag may be surprising to many, the buyer is even more unexpected. Because until a few months ago Twitch was reportedly in talks with Google with a view to a prospective tie-up.

So why Amazon, and why $970m? Few outside the world of gaming will know much about Twitch. But if you are a gamer, you’ve probably spent countless hours of your life using it. Twitch is a  video service for games, allowing them to stream and upload their gaming activities as they play to potentially millions of viewers who can follow every explosion and carjacking in real-time. A non-gamer might ask why? The 55 million unique visitors to the site, who together viewed over 15 billion minutes of content, would clearly respond why not?

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Interest rates will rise – it is just a question of when

Posted on by David Murphy

ecb

Many households have managed to pay their mortgages due to the substantial cut in ECB rates.

Central bankers in the euro zone, UK and US frequently adjust interest rates in unison.

That is not due to a herd instinct, but when conditions in one region merit higher or lower rates similar circumstances are often occurring elsewhere. Continue reading

Lessons from the banking crisis quickly forgotten

Posted on by David Murphy

 

portugal

Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santo went bust with losses of €3.6 billion

They say history repeats itself for those who were not watching the first time.

One lesson from the Irish banking collapse was putting the burden on the tax payer while senior bondholders got all their money back was an unfair, dangerous and destabilising error.

Ireland fully repaid senior bondholders who had lent money to the banks. That cost so much it was one of the reasons why the country had to be bailed out by the EU and IMF.

The experience in Ireland prompted Europe reconsider how banks should be rescued and who should pay.

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Fermanagh fracking fight perhaps a taste of things to come

Posted on by Will Goodbody

The government here has asked the EPA to carry out a study into fracking

The government here has asked the EPA to carry out a study on fracking

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

In Belcoo, County Fermanagh opponents of fracking must be collectively exhaling. Over the past few months they took on Goliath. And yesterday they won – for now at least.

For months protests had been building there against an application by energy company Tamboran Resources to drill a fracking exploratory bore hole. Fracking involves the cracking open of deeply buried shale rock using high pressure fluid, which in turn releases gas that is then brought to the surface.

Tamboran estimates there could be up to £20bn worth of gas in the area around the border between Fermanagh and Leitrim. The problem is, however, the only way to get the gas out is from the northern side of the border, because fracking licences are currently not being issued by the government here while an in-depth study is being carried out.

Tamboran wanted to explore how much gas is under the ground there, by drilling a 750m deep hole in a quarry near Belcoo. It wasn’t planning to carry out fracking – just do some tests.

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Three reasons to look to the stars

Posted on by Will Goodbody

A supermoon rises next to the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, some 65 kilometers south of Athens.

A supermoon rises next to the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, some 65 kilometers south of Athens

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

It’s been an exciting week for star-gazers, with the remarkable rendez-vous between the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe and comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. For a man-made object to travel 6 billion kilometres unscathed around the solar system over a decade and still manage to catch and begin orbiting a 4 kilometre target moving at 55,000 kmp/h is extraordinary. And happily, the best is yet to come, as Rosetta prepares to monitor and send a lander down onto the comet’s surface – unlocking, it’s hoped, wonderful secrets about life.

But back on Earth, the space fest is set to continue this weekend. Because Sunday and the early days of next week could end up being a super celestial showcase. According to the Irish Astronomical Association (IAA), on August 10th Ireland will enjoy its best SuperMoon until 2018, followed two days later by the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower and a great series of passes by the International Space Station.

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Big banks back on the rise

Posted on by David Murphy

The billions poured Anglo and Irish Nationwide will never be seen again

The billions poured Anglo and Irish Nationwide will never be seen again

By Business Editor David Murphy

The country’s three biggest banks, AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank, released financial results this week. All three are making progress (thanks to bailouts from Irish and British taxpayers.)

There are some common themes across all three.

They are making profits, their margins are improving and the amount they are setting aside for bad loans is also declining.

That is good news for bank shareholders. The State owns 14% of Bank of Ireland and 99% of AIB.

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The hard reality of the Irish software industry

Posted on by Will Goodbody

Around half of all software vacancies here are filled through inward migration

Around half of all software vacancies here are filled through inward migration

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

Warnings about a skills shortage in the IT sector are nothing new. We’ve been hearing them for years now, mostly from the industry itself. Nor are they unique to Ireland. Because as the internet flourishes and technology becomes ubiquitous, the global demand for IT skills is rocketing, everywhere. Indeed the manpower shortage will be a little shy of 1 million people by the end of next year in Europe alone, according to a recent estimate from the European Commission.

But when an in-depth academic study of the software industry in Ireland finds the problem is so severe that thousands of new jobs set to be created by Irish based businesses over the coming months and years could end up in foreign countries, it’s worth taking note. Particularly at a time when unemployment remains close to 12%.

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Can Noonan stay cautious over cuts?

Posted on by David Murphy

Michael Noonan has to decide the extent of cuts in Budget 2015

Michael Noonan has to decide the extent of cuts in Budget 2015

By Business Editor David Murphy

There is an interesting dynamic unfolding as the lobby groups bombard the Department of Finance with their demands regarding the upcoming Budget.

In some respects, there is a race to the bottom to recommend the smallest amount which might be needed in extra taxes and spending cuts. Continue reading

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