Budget 2021: What We Know So Far

By Paul Ralph

  • Minister announces no changes to PAYE, USC or PRSI.
  • Central Bank Governor Gabriel Makhlouf calls for path to “sustainable debt” and a focus on building resilience to future shocks.
  • IBEC lobbies for gradual tapering of business supports into 2021 as opposed to a “cliff-edge” end.

Last Wednesday, the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe confirmed that there would be no changes to income tax, USC or PRSI. At a press briefing he explained that cabinet had agreed that increases in taxation would be counterproductive. The Minister wants to “give confidence to those earning income or who a have level of deposits in our economy” in a time of “heightened economic uncertainty”. The main focus of the government is the management of the Covid-19 crisis and the looming prospect of a no-deal Brexit at the end of the year. This was made clear when the Minister explained that only “future budgets” would be guided by the commitments made in the Programme for Government agreed between the three governing parties. 

Minister Donohoe declined to rule out any possible changes to welfare payments.

Donohoe’s Fianna Fáil counterpart, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said that government spending this year would be 23% higher than forecasted due to the unprecedented scale of government intervention in the economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic.   

The unpredictability of the current crisis is adding to the difficulty of planning a budget. Speaking to RTÉ news on Wednesday, Minister McGrath said he was currently working with officials to ascertain how much extra spending will be required next year for schools, the health service, new college places and the additional costs of reduced capacity public transport.   

On the same day, the Governor of the Central Bank Gabriel Makhlouf wrote to the Minister for Finance in his pre-Budget letter outlining what policy needs to focus on. In the letter, the Governor outlined three goals of policy:

  • Policy should focus on “supporting the productive capacity of the economy”.
  • Path to lower and sustainable debt will eventually have to be forged.
  • Continued “focus on building resilience to future shocks”.

Regarding the first point, Minister Donohoe has yet to introduce any labour market activation policies such as new training programmes. He is instead opting for the continuation of a reduced Pandemic Unemployment Payment scheme until the end of the year. This has received condemnation from the opposition with Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin calling for the reintroduction of the €350 weekly payment in light of increased restrictions.  

The Central Bank Governor also advised against supporting loss-making enterprises, arguing that it was “not in the community’s interest”. However, it will be difficult for the government to distinguish what firms had an unsustainable business model entering this recession given its nature. The Governor recommended that the Government make provisions for business support grants. Also, he expects that debt will be an unattractive prospect for many SMEs because of the “scarring effect” of the previous crisis, banks’ reduced lending appetite and any debt overhang during the recovery. So far, the government has not yet hinted at any changes for the whole economy after Level 3 restrictions were introduced in Dublin last Friday. Nonetheless, the government committed to an extra €30 million in aid for businesses in the Capital.    

Covid-19 restrictions have hit SMEs extremely hard. The Government’s current emergency supports are due to end in the first half of 2021. In IBEC’s pre-budget submission they call for provisions to be made for the tapering of supports to avoid a cliff edge for thousands of businesses. The group said that the package of supports would need to be in the region of €6 billion on top of the €20 billion that will have been spent by the government on business supports by the first half of 2021.

According to IBEC’s chief economist, Ger Brady, who was speaking at the launch of the group’s pre-budget submission, the Government will run a deficit this year of about €30 billion. To give this figure more context, in 2019 there was a small surplus of €1.5 billion. The last time the deficit was so large was in 2011 when it hit €30.5 billion, starkly illustrating the extent to which the Irish economy is now reliant on government stimulus. 

A Guide For Incoming Freshers Of Business-Related Degrees

by Jody Murphy

Hello, and welcome! If you’re reading this article, I presume that you are one of two things, an incoming student, or, someone keen on reading insightful business-related content. If you fall into the first category, I hope this article will benefit you greatly as you progress through your first year of study. Anyone else may find that reading this article lacks relevance, and thus I encourage you to explore our website for content better suited to your interests.


I believe a congratulations are in order to all those successful in making it into Trinity’s Class of 2024! I hope this article will assist you in your navigation of academic and social life at Trinity. Although you have started your college career during a global pandemic, with the aid of technology, you can rest assured that it will have only a marginal impact on your life as an undergraduate.

Societies

Trinity is host to many great societies, but there are six focused specifically on business. It is important to note that there are no requirements for becoming a member of these societies. You don’t need to be studying a business-related degree, nor do you need any prior experience or credentials.

Trinity Student Managed Fund (SMF)

I spoke to this year’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Liam Collins.

“The SMF is Trinity’s premier society for finance, investing, and professional services. Traditionally we run workshops on investment research, trading and professional development alongside our fantastic, highly regarded sponsors. The SMF will be running as close to ‘business as usual’ as possible, running these events online for the first semester. Anyone interested in these workshops is encouraged to apply to be an Analyst on our website (http://www.trinitysmf.com/). Also online this semester will be our annual Women in Business Conference. We are looking forward to running some great events this semester, even with the new normal.”

Trinity Entrepreneur Society (TES)

I spoke to Daryne Kushnir, the society’s PRO.

“There are few societies in Trinity that have hatched multi-million-euro business ideas, but TES prides itself in being able to do so (if you have a multi-million idea, that is). We offer a steppingstone to young inventive students, who want to become the next Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, through programs such as Incubator, Dragon’s Den and through various networking events. TES has always had a fantastic presence on campus, despite being only seven years old. We consistently gather around 2000 members each year, aided by our brilliant Fresher’s Week campaign and our high-quality, professional events. Continuing this standard online will be a challenge, but the current TES committee has worked unstintingly to organise exciting new events for the coming year. We’re starting off with an Information Night, for those new to the university (or anyone who would like to learn about the society in general), an event with Kingsley Aikins (a brilliant storyteller and the CEO of The Networking Institute) and some exciting competitions with goodies, to give students the Freshers Week buzz they might be missing this year. Our Incubator and Dragon’s Den competition will be held online, with applications coming soon. A chance to do these events from home means we can hopefully, gather more students to participate. Pitching and receiving professional guidance will now be a matter of logging onto Zoom and just showing up. We’re also running our Ambassadors program, with applications to come on our social media in the next two weeks. The best piece of advice we can give right now is to head over to Facebook and Instagram and give us a follow. All of our updates, Zoom links and goodie-competitions will be posted out there. We can’t wait to see some fresh new faces and ideas!”

Dublin University Business and Economics Society (DUBES)

The society’s PRO, Sarah Davis, and Careers Convenor, Ana Bellow, gave an introduction to the society.

“DUBES is one of Trinity’s oldest and largest societies founded in 1929. DUBES was established with one clear goal; to provide our members with access to academic, social and professional opportunities that will help prepare them for the professional world.  Although we are facing a significantly different challenge this year, like other successful organisations, we will adapt rather than buckle. As of now, popular social events like the BESS Ball and the Mystery Tour are on hold this year, but the reasons for joining our society are more compelling than ever. We have moved everything online for the upcoming Michaelmas term but have doubled the number of events held this year compared to last year. Our members will have access to an exciting line-up of speakers from companies such as Linkedin, Ernest and Young, Revolut, Salesforce and BP as well as a host of educational events throughout the calendar year. So, DUBES is taking a glass-half-full view of our enforced reality. We will continue planning in accordance with government regulations and guidelines and in the best interests of our members. Of course, if these regulations and guidelines are relaxed in future, DUBES will also begin hosting on-campus events and a range of social events. We are looking forward to engaging with our new members with a sense of hope and optimism. We remain upbeat. We are resilient. This year, Freshers Week will not have the same frenetic buzz that many of us were lucky enough to experience in the past, but Trinity societies still have plenty to offer. We are collaborating with Trinity Hall JCR for a virtual Freshers Week Social Event so keep an eye on our Instagram and Facebook pages for more information. This is hopefully the first of more virtual social events, we are testing how we would be able to run them at the moment.  We will continue to innovate and excite. We will continue to provide the kind of opportunities that have enriched college life for so many students for so many years.”

Dublin University Consulting Society (DUCS)

A new addition to Trinity this year, Conor Perry, an active member of the Irish Student Consulting Group spoke to me about what this new society involves.

“DUCS is the Trinity branch of the Irish Student Consulting Group (ISCG). The ISCG aims to provide a platform for Ireland’s highest achieving students across all disciplines to get real-world business experience and insight into the world of consulting. Within Trinity, the DUCS will aim to attract the highest achieving students within the college and engage them in working with clients to help solve tangible business problems within a real-world business environment. Given the current pandemic, all consulting projects and events will be completed virtually. These include digital information meetings, networking evenings with our alumni network and the likely digitisation of the consulting competitions (both national and international) that DUCS intends to enter. We encourage all students to apply to join and attend one of our information evenings to learn more about the DUCS.”


Trinity’s Developer Student Club (TCD DSC)

Another new addition to Trinity this year, I spoke to society’s Marketing and Relations Lead, Alexandra Ichim.

“TCD DSC is a student-led tech community. It’s open to students from any course with an interest in using Google Developer technologies to solve real-world problems. We’ll be hosting events to cater to members of all skill levels throughout the year featuring talks from guest speakers, technology workshops and ongoing certification programs. TCD DSC is a great opportunity to connect with and learn from students across campus, all while making a real difference in your community. To join, follow the link in our bio on our Instagram account @tcddsc.”

Trinity Business Review (TBR)

Last but certainly not least, the Trinity Business Review. TBR is an online student-run publication that gives its readers unique insights into the business world. The review is an excellent way to meet people from a diverse range of courses and disciplines with an interest in the ever-changing business environment. We are always looking for new correspondents as well as Junior Fresh representatives so if you are interested in writing for TBR, or generating publicity for the review, send an email to trinitybusinessreview@gmail.com.

Modules

Getting to grips with the modules you are studying is essential to avoid any unnecessary confusion. I highly recommend that you use the links below to look up the modules you are taking.

Business modules can be found here:
https://www.tcd.ie/business/undergraduate/module-outlines/

Economics modules can be found here:
https://www.tcd.ie/Economics/undergraduate/modules/

Politics modules can be found here:
https://www.tcd.ie/Political_Science/undergraduate/module-outlines/

Sociology modules can be found here: https://www.tcd.ie/sociology/undergraduate/modules/

Law modules can be found here:
https://www.tcd.ie/law/programmes/undergraduate/modules/

Personal Experience

Recently I’ve been thinking about my first year as a BESS student, and I’ve come up with some advice that I hope you will find useful.

The first is to relax. Making the transition from an environment where you know a great number of people to one where you know few, can be an experience shadowed by anxiety and stress. You may find that prospect of going to your first in-person lecture, attending a society event or interacting with new people somewhat daunting. I can assure you that you are not the only one. It can take some time to fit into college life. The best way to speed this process up is to get involved. Why not become an ambassador for TES, an analyst for the SMF, a consultant for the DUCS or, a correspondent for the Trinity Business Review? You’re in the first year of your degree, there has never been a better time to get stuck in!

The second piece of advice relates to module selection. Towards the end of Hillary term, you will select your second-year modules. It’s important you know that whichever modules you choose to study for second year will determine which modules you can choose for third and fourth years. For example, if you are a BESS student and you chose not to study ‘Mathematical and Statistical Methods A & B’ for your second year, this will limit which economics modules you can study for third and fourth year.

I hope this article serves you well as you progress through Junior Fresh. Be sure to follow the Trinity Business Review on social media to learn of new articles as they are published. On behalf of the TBR team, I would like to wish you the best of luck throughout your years at Trinity.

Sustainability in Business, Sustainability as Business

By Ciarán Quinn

Before the pandemic consumed the eyes and ears of the world, the cry for the halt to climate change and destruction caused by the world’s economy was a silent wave coming to its peak. Whether it was a schoolgirl from Sweden being awarded Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for her efforts to raise awareness on the issue, or the hundreds of school strikes organized around the globe, a wary eye was cast once again on the efforts companies are making to heed these warnings. There are plenty of examples of companies who have blatantly disregarded their environmental responsibilities in the past. Take Volkswagen’s ‘Diesel gate’ or the continued deforestation of the Amazon by the likes of Costco and Walmart. It is clear from the profile of these companies, an auto industry powerhouse and the world’s largest company by revenue in 2019, that thus far sustainability is not something they feel is vital to the present and future success of their businesses. The likes of Ryanair have introduced a voluntary ‘carbon footprint offset fee’, which seems to try and give back through environmental schemes, rather than tackling or reducing the issue head-on. This all begs the question, is sustainability within business achievable? And is the notion of sustainability as a core business element constituent only possible as an allusion?


There are examples of hope to contrast the examples of doom mentioned above. Many household companies have embraced sustainability and the chances it creates, with different approaches to the issues allowing for innovation and creativity in this field. This has led to disruption and new improvements across all aspects of business. Whether it be supply chain or the product itself, sustainability is slowly being embraced across the board, although some companies have shown great agility in their conversion to sustainable practices also.


Adidas have concentrated on creating a greener supply chain, with a focus on reducing energy used and importantly water consumption- which has historically played a huge role in the fabric-dyeing process. This has been made possible through the reconfiguring of their production process with the implementation of ‘Drydye’ technology. Another project by Adidas is their collaboration with Parley, a non-profit organization to commit to creating shoes from 100% recycled polyester. This will be possible through a material called ‘primeblue’, which the two have collaborated on creating from plastics and polyesters recycled from the ocean. Another lifestyle-clothing stalwart is Nike, who have
focused on the introduction of recycled and reconstituted materials in their products. Most notably, 75% of the products produced by Nike partially contain some recycled material. This effort has culminated in the release of Nike’s ‘space hippie’ collection, which combines sustainability with radical design. The result is a fashionable sports lifestyle shoes made from between 85-90% recycled materials. Furthermore, Companies have focused on logistics to drive improvements. British supermarket Tesco have invested to improve rail systems to shift a portion of their distribution
network from road to the more environmentally friendly rail network. It’s clear that these firms see sustainability as an important issue in their profitability and future growth. While the companies mentioned above have begun to adopt sustainability as a core element of their businesses, there are several companies that have sustainability as a core constituent since their inception. Patagonia is a clothing company which puts the environment and sustainability above all else, whether it be through their ‘don’t buy this jacket’ campaign or use of 70% recycled materials across their range. Tesla have shifted their product focus to machines that build a future foundation for the firm, where the use of fossil fuels is eliminated through their groundbreaking technology.


None of Tesla’s vehicles have tailpipe emissions and the company have revolutionised how homes can be fueled through their intuitive solar roof technology. The potential for advancement through renewable energy and sustainability can be seen here, with the opportunity for solar energy to charge a customer’s car at home rather than having to stop at a petrol station. With every advancement in sustainable fields such as renewable energy for Tesla, even more innovation is demanded, and the likes of Tesla are delivering.


Another company taking an approach similar to Tesla’s, but within the fashion industry is the brand SAYE. SAYE is a start-up founded in Barcelona, which has incorporated sustainability across all its activities from the start. Their shoes are made from a host of ecological and recycled materials. The leather comes from European farms, which have been vetted as respecting environmental stewardship standards. The laces are produced from organic cotton, allowing them to easily integrate back into the cycles of the earth for future generations. The insoles are produced from PU foam, repurposed from the by-products of the European car industry. The company has also ensured all packaging is made entirely from recycled materials and promises to plant two trees for each pair of their shoes sold, with 90,000 trees planted to date. With their production facilities located in northern Portugal, the company guarantees fair wages and working hours, with worker friendly policies concerning overtime and conditions. With sustainability underpinning the ethos of the company, SAYE are in the best position to take advantage of the many opportunities and innovation stemming from this vital and growing sector.


The struggle between sustainability and profitability has long been a source of contention within business regarding its achievability. Too many companies have given lip service, but few up until now have made it a real purpose. Today’s world of Greta Thunberg and climate activism doesn’t see this issue as it once did and demands that real change be made. Patagonia, SAYE and Tesla have risen to the challenge. The idea of sustainability as business is clear from these companies making honest change, and the success of these businesses is reflective of that.

Striking the Balance: Will Hindsight Lead the Way?

By Sinéad Flynn

Overview

Innovation and technology are the most prominent buzz words for firms and corporations around the world. The next big idea, next invention, and next discovery are waiting to emerge. Society has evolved from the 1880s, where it was once thought by Commissioner of US Patent Office Charles Duell that “everything that can be invented has been invented” to new advances exploding at our fingertips without limits. FinTech has received a great deal of attention, and it’s only in its infant stages.  Marc Andressen notes that ‘internet companies might end up in 180 countries before they have 180 employees.’ Globalisation and technology have had a huge impact on markets, and the role of Fintech is just a new stimulation.

What is Fintech?

Fintech is a financial technology that aims to compete with traditional financial methods. Fintech can take the shape of crowdfunding, cryptocurrencies, or blockchain, and notably is expanding into new markets rapidly. While online banking has been prevalent for years, fintech adds a new dimension to the payment’s services. Within seconds, users are sending and receiving money faster than ever before. Fintech has begun to dominate our everyday lives where it is commonly seen with those who use Apple Pay or Samsung Pay or those that have sent funds via GoFundMe. The limits to what may be considered Fintech can be unlimited, where most start-ups are embracing technology to create innovative products and services. FinTech is emerging throughout trading, insurance, and risk management as well, which has appeared quite disruptive to these industries that haven’t changed for quite some time.

Opportunity or Threat?

While business may be booming, and the financial crash seems to be forgotten, how does commercial law interact with this fast-paced business environment? It is argued that fintech firms receive a competitive advantage and create an attractive space for investors when they comply with regulations. Cryptocurrency companies and those that are an unregistered seller of securities have been hit hard in the US by the Security and Exchange Commission. These fines have diminished confidence in these certain start-ups and created financial loss through settlements and fines. There are concerns that fintech firms are utilising their institutions to harbour illegal assets utilised for criminal activity. While fintech firms have been embraced for their revolutionary growth and modern methods to business in this age of technology, it must be approached with caution due to poor ethical choices being made at times.

Striking the Balance

Countries such as Ireland that rely on a great deal of foreign direct investment must adequately strike the right balance between attracting new business, but also ensuring the system is not abused. Research shows that there is no specific legislation designed to regulate certain services that fall under this broad FinTech category, besides those concerning the Central Bank of Ireland and minimal EU Regulations. Ireland is a lucrative location for start-ups and businesses looking to set up a European hub, as they have more freedom to do so while then receiving this passport into the European market. Diversity in our financial markets reflects this growing desire to explore alternative mechanisms to enhance society. While research is ongoing for the limitations and effects FinTech firms bring to the table, these initiatives are looking primarily to law firms to structure and protect their interests.

A Closer Look

If one narrows the analysis of Fintech into electronic payment companies, the Payment Services Regulation 2018 will apply. This Regulation has effectively created a more level playing field for fintech start-ups to enter the market and develop their technology services further with an overall aim to increase competition for the benefit of consumers. At the moment, it is argued here that the EU is fully embracing these innovative and competitive practices. If one assumes that the market will regulate itself and that the legislature should be more laissez-faire, then more relaxed regulations should be welcomed. While this may be worrisome to those that appreciate the traditional style of banking and finance, this is ultimately a positive step, as time and time again, traditional banking models and financial institutions of the past have failed multiple sectors leading to dire losses.

Has the Balance Been Struck?

The right balance must be struck in order to protect investors, but also to facilitate this necessary development. The Central Bank of Ireland is conscious that there is a lack of legislation specific to Fintech entities, and that it has assumed the role as the main regulator where able. This leaves investors and innovators in a precarious spot. In one regard, there is little law guiding their activities, but in turn, this allows them to receive the freedom necessary to develop and surpass imaginable limits on their ventures. While the Payments Services Regulation may increase accountability and reporting, this may not be enough to accurately analyse how these institutions are operating.

What Next?

The embrace of the change in the financial markets may be a positive step, and a mechanism that may prevent future economic crashes and downturns as new perspectives and ways of managing the financial sector are introduced. Consumers must be wary for that this partially unregulated ecosystem may produce detrimental effects that hindsight may prove useful.

Demi’s Basic Business Questions: What is Commercial Awareness?

This week instead of looking to myself for the answer to your questions, I looked to you for the answer to the meaning of Commercial Awareness. Commercial awareness is a phrase I’ve been seeing lately all over commercial law applications and all over financial and professional services sectors too. My idea of commercial awareness has always been wishy-washy and recently I’ve wanted to gain a more succinct definition.

To achieve my objective, I asked a few students from Trinity and UCD how they would define commercial awareness. 

I spoke to students from business backgrounds who gave exhaustive responses:

 “Being cognisant of the way businesses operate and affect our lives and how we affect businesses” (1st Year BESS), 

“..being able to tack together different current affair stories and making real sense of them for your industry,” (2nd Year Law and Business)

“..understanding the external environment that impacts the specific industry, i.e the Political. Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors (PESTLE)..” (1st Year Global Business)

I also spoke to law students like myself, who kept things short and simple:

“..an understanding of how businesses work”

“Knowledge of a business or company, which is important if you want to get recruited by that company!”

I spoke to older students whose responses were.. interesting, to say the least:

“It means being aware, commercially of course.” (3rd Year Biomedical Sciences)

“Being able to tell the difference between all the ads or commercials on TV” (3rd Year Children’s and General Nursing)

Not only was I able to get student insight, I was able to get some industry perspective on commercial awareness too. My application for Legal Cheek’s Commercial Awareness Question Time with Matheson, Barbri, Pinsent Masons and Arthur Cox was successful so I was invited to attend the event at the Law Society.

The Commercial Awareness Question Time taught me the wide range of issues that commercial awareness encompasses. It ranges from having an in-depth knowledge of what the implications of Brexit are on the legal sector to knowing that a company is a brand that has to sell and distinguish itself from competitors. 

Nearing the end of my search for “commercial awareness”, I’ve come to the realization that commercial awareness is as broad or as succinct a definition as we want it to be. It really is as simple as taking a little time out of your week to become “..aware, commercially of course” by following some financial institutions, newspapers or even keeping up with my Basic Business Questions.

If you have any more Basic Business Questions you are interested in me tackling, please do not hesitate to email me at dadenira@tcd.ie

Yours in Learning,

Demilade

A Long Road Ahead? Here’s what happened when the 33rd Dáil Convened Today

  • This afternoon the 33rd Dáil convened for the first time, with 48 newly elected and 112 returning TDs.
  • No leader secured the required number of votes to become Taoiseach today, and there are differing arguments as to how long talks on the formation of a new government will last.
  • Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ó Fearghaíl beat independent Denis Naughten and was re-elected as Ceann Comhairle, meaning Fianna Fáil’s seats are now on a level with those of Sinn Féin at 37.

Today the 33rd Dáil convened with the agenda of electing the Ceann Comhairle and seeing through the Taoiseach nomination process, which entails a vote among all TDs on candidates put forward for Taoiseach.

None of the four leaders that were nominated to become Taoiseach – Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Féin, Micheál Martin of Fianna Fáil, Leo Varadkar of Fine Gael or Eamon Ryan of the Green Party – conjured up the 80 votes required to win. This is due to the lack of success thus far in inter-party discussions to form a coalition or come to any sort of agreement on how the next government should look following the general election on February 8th, which returned no clear majority. The results of the nomination process instead simply give an indication of the level of support for the main parties’ respective candidates among TDs.

Leo Varadkar received 36 votes in favour of his becoming Taoiseach, Micheál Martin received 41 votes, Mary Lou McDonald received 45 votes and Eamon Ryan received 12 votes. With none hitting the 80 vote threshold, the Dáil will now be suspended and Leo Varadkar will remain as a caretaker Taoiseach.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald benefitted from the support of 5 Solidarity People Before Profit TDs and a handful of left-leaning independents. The Social Democrats chose to abstain from voting for any candidate for Taoiseach, criticizing the process as a “popularity contest”, which is a dent to Mary Lou McDonald’s numbers as she would have been hoping to secure the support of all smaller left-leaning parties. However her party will surely be buoyed by today’s result as they enter into the coming negotiations, however long they may last.

In the election for Ceann Comhairle, Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ó Fearghaíl beat independent Denis Naughten and was re-elected, meaning Fianna Fáil’s seats are on a level with those of Sinn Féin at 37. Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath stated that he believes the loss of the seat will have little impact on their ability to play a key role in the formation of a government.

Fine Gael, with their 35 seats, appear intent on leading the opposition in the next government, with TD Richard Bruton suggesting that such an outcome would present an opportunity for the party to reflect on their weaknesses. TD Simon Harris reiterated his party’s position of ruling out any potential coalition with Sinn Féin, and stated that the impetus to form a government was on “the party that has won the most votes – Sinn Féin – and the party that won the most seats – Fianna Fáil.” Leo Varadkar, however, has not ruled out the prospect of his party forming an alliance with Fianna Fáil.

Micheál Martin believes that talks in relation to the formation of a new government could last up to two months, which has recent precedent given the 70 day wait for the formation of a new government in 2016. Fellow Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath is more optimistic and suggests it is more a matter of weeks. Fianna Fáil maintain that they have ruled out a coalition government with Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin, however, suggest they are open to negotiating with all parties.

Meetings between party leaders will intensify in the coming days as the Dáil is suspended and discussions on how to form a government begin in earnest. There remain numerous possibilities on the outcome of such talks. There may be a minority government made up of left-leaning parties led by Sinn Féin, a minority Fianna Fáil and Green Party coalition bolstered by a confidence-and-supply agreement with Fine Gael, or perhaps a Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael alliance. It’ll be a long road of debate and compromise and intra-party bickering. And if discussions end up fruitless, we may be headed for another general election.

What Is the Circular Economy and Why Should We Care?

The world’s population is expected to reach nearly 10 billion in 2050, according to the United Nations. Yet, the earth’s resources are not limitless. Basic economic principles tell us that more demand, without a simultaneous increase in supply, results in higher prices. While this economic model of price determination is pretty straightforward, it highlights a pressing problem that humanity faces: the scarcity of resources. Our current economy is largely linear – we collect raw materials (take), turn those materials into products (make), use the products (consume), and discard them as waste when we do not need them anymore (dispose). This take-make-consume-dispose approach however is not sustainable.

The Solution

The circular economy is a systemic approach with the aim to eliminate waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems, according to the Ellen McArthur Foundation. There are several components to a circular economy that make our economic system more sustainable:

  • Maintain, prolong and share: By making products more durable though design, maintenance and repair, and by making products accessible to other users, the need for creating entirely new products that require resource input can be removed.
  • Reuse and redistribute: Certain materials and products, especially technical ones, can be reused multiple times or redistributed to new users. Sometimes, there may be a need to slightly change or enhance a product or material, but online marketplaces like eBay showcase that this is viable and already being done.
  • Remanufacture and refurbish: Both approaches refer to the restoration of the value of products. When a product is remanufactured, it is dissembled and rebuilt, with certain components being replaced when necessary. This results in an as-new condition of the product with the same warranty as an entirely new product. Refurbishment on the other hand refers to a cosmetic process where a product is repaired as much as possible but usually without dissembling it or replacing components.
  • Recycle: Recycling is an already well-known process where a product is reduced to its basic material level that can be used to manufacture new products. However, recycling is a lower-value process compared to the previously mentioned processes. This is because recycling results in a loss of embedded labour and energy, the costs of remaking products entirely are higher, and recycling inevitably results in material losses.
  • Cascades: The Ellen McArthur Foundation describes the cascades process as “[…] putting used materials and components into different uses and extracting, over time, stored energy and material order”. This is done until the material is ultimately returned to the natural environment as nutrients. An example of this, according to the foundation, is a pair of cotton jeans that first is turned into furniture stuffing, then into insulation material, and ultimately returned to the soil as nutrients after being anaerobically digested.

The circular economy promises many benefits for the environment and the whole economy. For example, increasing revenue from circular activities and more productive utilisation of resources may result in overall economic growth. There is also the possibility of job creation across industrial sectors and SMEs, and through increased innovation and entrepreneurship. The environment may benefit from lower carbon dioxide emissions, a reduction of primary material consumption, higher land productivity and enhanced soil health due to more nutritious fertilisers from natural sources rather than chemical ones.

Also, businesses and individuals can benefit from the circular economy. By lowering the cost of remanufacturing and introducing new revenue streams, companies can increase their profits. Also, by using more recycled inputs, a company can reduce the risk of volatile raw material prices. Moreover, the circular economy demands new business services, such as supply chain logistics to support the reintroduction of end-to-end products into the system, and new sales platforms to facilitate longer product use or higher product utilisation.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation even suggests that a circular economy could result in a €3000 increased disposable income per EU household by 2030. Also, a circular economy could result in products that are better tailored to customer needs, resulting in more choice and higher perceived quality. Moreover, longer-lasting products would increase the convenience for customers since hassles with repairs and returns could be avoided. By introducing a circular economy in the food value chain, healthcare costs could be lowered that are related to pesticide use. Additionally, lower air pollution, lower water contamination, lower antimicrobial resistance and lower foodborne diseases, achieved by a circular economy in the food sector, could save up to 290,000 lives by 2050 that would otherwise be lost due to outdoor air pollution.

The Future

Currently, only 9% of the world economy is circular, according to the Circularity Gap Report 2019. However, the scarcity of resources makes a transition towards a circular economy all the more pressing, especially with a growing global population and other related issues like climate change. Major global brands (e.g. BlackRock, Google, 3M, Heineken, IKEA, McDonald’s, Apple and Microsoft), universities (e.g. UCL, Arizona State University and TU Delft), cities (e.g. Brussels, Milano and Toronto) and governmental bodies (e.g. the Danish Business Authority, the Scottish Government and the Republic of Slovenia) have already opted to learn, share knowledge and put ideas with regards to the Circular Economy into practice by joining the CE100 Network. The circular economy creates exciting opportunities for companies, organisations, the public sector and entrepreneurs alike, and it is likely that we will see a variety of innovative circular economy initiatives on both local and global scale in the not-so-distant future.

Demi’s Basic Business Questions: What is Corporation Tax?

We often see headlines about Ireland’s low corporation tax – some are critical, others ecstatic about it. A pretty common question people have is what exactly is corporation tax, and how does the tax big corporations like Google and Facebook pay affect someone like me, the average college student. The aim of the following article is to give a bite-sized introduction to corporation tax and give some guidance on whether it is to be loved or hated.

Firstly, a definition. Corporation tax is the tax companies pay in countries they are resident in on the profit they earn from their business. In Ireland, the tax is at 12.5%, significantly lower than other countries. The average corporation tax rate in Europe is 25.3%, for example. 

Similarly to when we looked at why it is not feasible to print more money in order to combat financial crises, we are brought back to one of the fundamentals of economics – the law of demand. Generally, when something costs more money, less people want it. When something costs less, more people want it. Pretty reasonable, right?

The law of demand can easily be applied to our low corporation tax scenario. If it costs less money to make profits in Ireland (due to the low corporation tax), more corporations will want to set up here. It is argued that this is a positive phenomenon as it leads to Ireland becoming an international hub for multinational companies. Where there are increased companies, there are increased jobs. This reduces the number of skilled young people, university graduates etc. emigrating in search of work. Increased employment boosts the Irish economy and is often something to smile about. 

However, on the other side of the coin, those who are against our competitively low corporation tax level make strong arguments. They point to the profits that corporations such as Twitter and Facebook make and suggest better use for those profits, such as contributing to social welfare schemes. It is also argued that we are putting ourselves at an advantage at the expense of fellow European countries. The discrepancy between corporation tax rates is so high that it is a significant challenge for them to compete. This can be seen as unethical. 

There are numerous points to be made on either side of the debate but it is up to you decide where your opinions lie. 

If you have any more Basic Business Questions you are interested in me tackling, please do not hesitate to email me at dadenira@tcd.ie

Yours in Learning,

Demilade

Meat Substitutes Are on the Rise, but What Does This Mean for the Meat Market?

Every day, more and more people are abandoning meat as part of their diet in favour of plant-based meat substitutes. The movement towards meat substitutes has been spearheaded to the mainstream by Millennials and Generation Zers as a statement against animal cruelty, an acknowledgement of newfound evidence linking meat products to certain cancers, and the harmful impact the production of meat (particularly beef) has on the environment. While the movement grows in popularity by the day, the business world carefully observes how the meat market is projected to develop.

Markets and Markets projects the meat substitutes market to grow from US$4.6 billion in 2018 to $6.4 billion by 2023. With billions of potential revenue still up in the air for the next few years, companies are flocking to fill in the gap in the meat substitutes market.

Startups specialising in the production of plant-based substitutes have seized the market opportunity presented to them. Beyond Meat, a publicly-traded meat substitute producer based in the United States, currently has a market capitalisation of over US$6 billion. The company became one of the most successful companies that went public in 2019. Although its valuation has decreased since a massive peak in the summer, Beyond Meat is poised to be a leader in the growing market. Its success demonstrates the massive potential in the meat substitutes market.

After Beyond Meat’s prosperous year, other producers of meat substitutes have been under pressure to separate themselves from the pack in the meat substitutes market. Impossible Foods is a popular producer of meat substitutes that is not (yet) public. One of their notable moves was their partnership with Burger King, who rolled out the Impossible Whopper near the end of 2019. Considering how well-marketed the Impossible Whopper was leading up to its release, the massive success of Beyond Meat since its initial public offering (IPO) may have compelled Impossible Foods to make a move that would increase their own publicity.

However, it is not just newcomers who are seizing opportunity in the market for meat substitutes. Massive meat producers have begun to produce their own plant-based meat substitutes. Such a strategy is a recognition that plant-based substitutes are no longer a niche component of the meat market. If the world’s established meat producers want to continue their dominance in the market, creating plant-based substitutes appears to be a must.

As the market for meat substitutes grows, the competition between startups and established companies will generally lead to one side triumphing over the other. In an age where globalisation is more of the standard than the exception, the large meat companies are advantaged by having the means to creating a globalised network for producing and distributing their products. However, public perception heavily favours the startups over the established companies. The growing awareness around the treatment of animals by meat companies has accelerated the growth of the plant-based diet movement. Ethically conscious consumers will resist buying plant-based products from the very companies that compelled them to abandon their meat-eating ways in the first place. Also, unlike the large meat companies, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are dedicated to sustainability and have embraced environmentalism as a core value. While the startups have broadcasted a clear mission as a part of their penetration into the market for meat substitutes, the large meat companies are simply reacting to demand without any substantive value at the core of their change in strategy. As the value-oriented Millennial and Generation Z consumers incorporate a larger and larger portion of the global consumer base, the dedicated actions of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods should prove to outlast the reactionary actions of the large meat companies.

Considering that the plant-based startups seem poised for massive growth, the plant-based movement is officially here to stay. The value-driven approach of the startups will propel them into dominance of the meat substitutes market. Rumours of Impossible Foods going public after the success of Beyond Meat shows that investors are willing to engage in the meat substitutes market and also trust the startups to dominate the market in the future over the established meat producers. The sudden growth of both Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods also indicates just how much social movements can dictate the actions of businesses. Both companies’ focus on the environmental benefits of eating plant-based has resonated with younger consumers and has developed an appreciation of both companies’ efforts. By the day, consumers care more and more about what a company stands for rather than just what it sells, and the rise of plant-based producers and their disruption of the meat market is a practical example of just that.

The Globalisation of Sports Competitions

What is globalisation?

To begin, what exactly is globalisation? It is a commonly used term but it is worth noting that it also delves into other disciplines, not just business. When asked, different individuals give equally different interpretations of their definitions. Taking it from the business point of view, we can consider it to be the concept of treating the world as a single, integrated marketplace. However, if we asked an economist, they could say globalisation is more or less an expansion of global trade. In contrast, a sociologist might interpret globalisation as the sociocultural changes which stem from the international migration of both people and information. A political scientist could potentially define globalisation as the integration of laws which govern the interaction of states and global institutions. Given these differences in the definition of globalisation across different disciplines, understanding if sports have become truly globalised is not an easy task. 

Background

Without a doubt, international sports competitions have a long history. The first international sports match was a cricket match between the U.S.A. and Canada in 1844. The first international sports competition was the first modern Summer Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. However, its origins date back to Ancient Greece. The ancient Olympics do not count as international though because only men from Ancient Greek city-states and kingdoms were allowed to compete. It is worth noting that many early examples of international sports competitions took place in generally wealthier European or American countries and cities. Keeping the Summer Olympic Games example, it can also be observed that the subsequent seven editions took place in other European cities with the exception of the 1904 St. Louis Olympics in the U.S.A.

In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in hosting rights to international sporting events. This can be observed through the 2010 FIFA World Cup, 2018 Winter Olympic Games and 2019 Rugby World Cup. 

All of these events had one thing in common – they were the first of their kind to be hosted in their respective countries and/or continents. The 2010 FIFA World Cup was the first to take place in the African continent. That summer, South Africa hosted 32 international teams and their fans. Last year, Japan became the first Asian country to host a Rugby Union World Cup. They hosted 20 international teams and their supporters over the September-November period. PyeongChang also became the first South Korean city to host the Winter Olympic Games in 2018. Hence, we can clearly see the more recent globalised trend in the hosting rights of large sports competitions.

Advantages

Naturally, we expect a diversification in host nations to possess a myriad of benefits, and they do, of course. Usually, these large-scale sports competitions take place in equally large cities. Hosting such a popular event and experiencing a large influx of foreign tourists can have a significantly positive impact on the host nation’s economy. During their stay, visitors pay to be spectators at the event but also stay in local accommodation and cover their necessary daily expenses. A Deloitte report estimates that Rugby World Cup visitors alone can directly contribute between £200-810m GBP into the host nation’s economy. Large companies, especially in the hospitality industry, certainly benefit but local, small and family-run businesses also benefit from such a large inflow of tourists. 

FIFA reports that during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, 3.4 million foreign tourists visited all eleven host cities. That is a remarkably large number, without counting the number of tourists that went to less than the eleven Russian host cities and the 3.4 million Russian fans who travelled to all eleven host cities as well. Another benefit would also be the increased cultural awareness and cohesion that is fostered at these types of events as locals get to meet other foreign visitors and vice versa. In this aspect, sport really does become more globalised both in a sociological aspect but also commercially as event tickets are sold to people from all over the world. Taking the example of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, SportsPro reported that the final between England and South Africa saw a record attendance of 70,103. Official ticket prices sold for maximum 100,000 Japanese Yen which is roughly $900 USD, without counting resold tickets. Two Category A tickets even sold for an estimated $31,700 USD on a ticket reselling website.

Host nations can also potentially exploit a boost in their international rankings, if they defy expectations and perform above what was expected of them. Japan, as host nation of last year’s Rugby World Cup is a great example of this. Japan has qualified for every edition of the tournament since 1987 but did not experience great success. In all of the editions before 2019, they were always knocked out of the competition at the pool stage. Japan’s ranking in rugby union increased slightly after the competition. They went from ninth to eighth best in the world. A relatively successful host nation who surprises their fellow competitors can inspire other countries as well. Why? Seeing another country with little experience in both hosting large sports events and competing at the highest level in the chosen sport could potentially encourage another country with a similar background to want to host the next edition. An unexpected but successful host nation could lead to a large surge in popularity in the particular sport, as seen by the large surge in Japanese rugby fans after seeing their country’s success. 

Disadvantages

However, there are downsides to allowing countries with little hosting experience to organise a huge, international sports competition. Such large sports competitions are often surrounded by equally large scandals or money mismanagement accusations. Brazil, hosts of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, were surrounded by scandals regarding the two competitions. The Brazilian government was lambasted by both national and international media for abandoning the infrastructure they built exclusively for both events. Last year, Business Insider remarked that Brazil spent $3 billion USD in building new stadiums for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. One particular stadium, the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, cost the Brazilian government between $220-300 million USD, as well as the lives of three workers who died during construction. This stadium now sits on an abandoned and derelict site. In 2017, Business Insider again reported that the Olympic Village apartments built for the 2016 Rio Olympics (and worth $700 million USD) were abandoned. They were meant to be turned into luxury condos and sold after the Olympics but only 7% were actually sold. This of course, further infuriated locals. 

The next edition of the FIFA World Cup is due to take place in Qatar in 2022 although that has already been met with fierce criticism of the alleged human rights violations of migrant workers working on Qatari stadiums. Amnesty International estimates that there are 1.7 million migrant workers in Qatar. They are allegedly paid less than what the recruitment agency in their native countries promised them and have had their passports confiscated so they cannot go back to their respective countries. These examples reflect a failure in achieving globalisation from the political science perspective as regulations in these countries are not as fiercely imposed such as the ones in Europe for example. Experienced European host nations are usually not met with such large scandals as they have a more accomplished background in organising such large-scale competitions. 

To conclude, these statements raise the question of whether inexperienced countries should be trusted with such a large responsibility or not. The attempt to globalise sport by reaching other audiences is predominantly welcomed worldwide but certain failures in previous competitions undermine the potential success of the concept of globalised sport. Can inexperienced countries provide the necessary infrastructure such as enough public transport routes and accommodation to withstand the very large volumes of incoming spectators? For the most part, this is usually achieved but unethical abandonment of this infrastructure once the competition is over is unfortunately often a recurring event. These are complex questions which have led to numerous debates on the matter and varying opinions which are of course, a product of personal interpretation. However, one thing is certain, the increase in the diversification of hosting rights of international sports competitions has undoubtedly started. The real question is whether it will continue or not.

“The Power of Diversity”: 3 Takeaways from the SMF’s Leadership Perspective Series

Last night was the concluding conference of this years Leadership Perspective Series, organised by Trinity’s own Student Managed Fund, the first of its kind in Europe. The speakers invited to this conference were, for a lack of a different expression, very diverse. Declan Curry, a Northern Irish journalist, moderated the discussion between panelists Heather Melville (Director and Head of Client Experience for PwC UK), Brian O’Sullivan (CEO of Fulfil Nutrition), Cecil Martin (Sky Sports Broadcaster, Motivational Speaker and Former NFL Fullback) and Amanda Pullinger (CEO of 100 Women in Finance). Between the many questions asked by audience members and the former NFL player Cecil Martin asking everyone to stand up and stretch, the conference was an incredibly insightful experience into how leaders look at diversity and how they have been affected by it.

1. Diversity of Thought

This was probably the most talked about topic of the night. Each speaker offered a unique perspective into what they believed was the most vital type of diversity: thought. Overall, the panelists agreed that diversity of thought implies the breaking of the fundamental barrier of following the easiest path and rejecting challenges to one’s own ideas. O’Sullivan mentioned that at the start of his time with Fulfil Nutrition, he noticed the company had, unlike industry giants with very rigid structures, a culture that incentivised openness to learning and challenging ideas, which in turn led to the creation of an extremely diverse team. Cecil Martin also added to this in that his recommendation was to ‘strengthen as many “muscles” as you can’, in the sense that one should be involved in as many things outside their own skillset as possible. In other words, in order to grow as a leader within business, one needs to grow in other areas which will then feed unique ideas into an organisation. Pullinger approached this idea by accepting that as leaders, business people need to acknowledge the fact they don’t know everything, and that for a team to be successful, being diverse in terms of age, gender and specially ethnicity is essential, as research has already shown.

2. The Power of Visibility

During the discussion, it was stressed how important it is to have role models, who give visibility to minorities across a range of senior positions. Melville mentioned how not being able to see people like yourself in these positions makes it almost impossible to see yourself up there, and that the path you would need to take is practically invisible. Organisations should be, in theory, fishing in diverse talent pools for new positions but directorial boards of most large corporations still tell a story of inequality that is becoming less and less antiquated as new generations enter the workforce demanding diversity as a basic pillar of organisational culture. Pullinger’s 100 Women in Finance launched an initiative to put some of the world’s very few fund managers, who make up for an alarmingly small proportion of total fund managers across the world (around 7% and numbers haven’t changed much for 30 years), in the frontline of the media, in their website and even supporting a handful of these fund managers to pitch at American news channels. Pullinger said that the results were clear from the get-go: the women brought diversity to these panels on television, and with that came new ideas and discussions. Being exposed to the general public allows these women to become role-models, and inspire a younger generation of soon-to-be female leaders.

3. Authenticity

Another recurring theme throughout the night was authenticity. The panelists agreed that believing in oneself and being confident in the skills one acquired during college and with extracurricular activities are what can set apart a successful candidate when it comes to job hunting. The best talent comes in the form of diverse candidates that have been able to gather skills in a wide range of specialties, which makes them able to reach a level of problem solving that will be hard to replace with AI. Furthermore, Melville commented that knowing one’s self-worth is extremely important as you rise through the ranks of the organisation. It’s important to be grateful , she says, but it’s even more important to know that you’ve worked hard and that you deserve to be where you are and that it was your skills and competence that are leading you through the corporate ladder. This becomes especially relevant when the discussion turns to diversity policies and quotas that may not necessarily pick candidates based on their skills, but rather as a tool for image improvement.

Finally, it appears that organisations have realised that diversity is something that has to be rooted in their cultures for them to remain relevant for the generations to come, which will continue to demand more diversity at the bottom as well as at the highest ranks. Without this diversity, any company will face the risk of becoming obsolete and inefficient when compared to those who have truly embraced it. These will be the companies that will head into the future with an enormous advantage, as their leaders finally begin to realise the power of diversity.

Use criticism to develop yourself!

By Neha Verma

At some point in life, we all face criticism personally or professionally. Criticism doesn’t come easy and at times it is difficult to acknowledge the same. We often get bogged down by the criticism so much that we ignore what we can actually learn from it. So instead of retaliating or being defensive; pause for a while think critically and then respond – though easy said than done.

I am amongst those who would become extremely uncomfortable when criticized. My initial reactions were driven emotionally. I would carry the distress caused by criticism throughout the day and affect my work. Over the time, I realized that we don’t have control over others; how they judge and form an opinion about us, but we can definitely learn to respond in a better way and display our maturity.

If you are going through difficult time combating criticism, I have listed a few suggestions to face criticism bravely:

  • Criticism opens a whole new perspective which you might not have thought of. Life is a process of continuous learning and we learn best from our flaws.
  • When you accept criticism, you show humility towards the fact that you are ready to acknowledge your own weaknesses.
  • Criticism helps enhance your emotional quotient. You learn to listen.
  • Criticism makes you strong; you will learn to tackle difficult situations and people.
  • Criticism enhances your problem-solving skill and makes you a rational thinker.
  • Learn to let go unconstructive criticism, do not dwell on it for a long time and create a stressful environment for yourself.

We are often scared of being judged and are obsessed with the thought of what other people think of us. Most of the time, we receive unsolicited criticism/feedback and we tend to misinterpret the intention behind it. Criticism challenges our disposition and to maintain a calm demeanor becomes relatively difficult. But, remember you are being critiqued because you created something. So, next time when you are criticized, remember you and your work are being noticed. Don’t let opinion of others stop you from doing what you believe in.

Training is an investment, not an expense!

By Neha Verma

Training is an integral part of any organization; it equips the employees with skills required to perform the job. Every organization invests in training their employees that are responsible for giving results. Most organizations/businesses consider training as an expense when it is actually an investment.

There are numerous reasons to invest in training, like; improved quality or in other words reduction in errors or defects, enhanced productivity, increased motivation, helps in retaining the talent pool, capacity building, groom the leaders, etc. Training helps in building capacity within an organization and investing in people is vital as this is the workforce which can bring excellent profits to your business.

In the times of economic crisis, organization often control its budget by cutting down on non-core or non-billable activities, and unfortunately training is one of such activities – if not cancelled completely. However, training can help both employees and organizations in such challenging situations. With the advancement of technology and globalization, there are various methods to reduce the cost of training whilst maintain its effectiveness. Virtual classes, use of instructional system designs, video conferencing and other technological improvements have helped revamp the training making it cost effective. In this era of globalization, where organizations are spread across the globe, such advancement in training delivery techniques are highly cost effective and have reduced the need of face to face training.

Training should be designed to focus on immediate business need and to cater the various talent pool bespoke training or curriculum is the preferred way of keeping at pace with the organizational changes and needs. Training should be pragmatic in approach and directly applicable to day to day activities which will help organizations to measure ROI. An efficiently trained staff with improved skill set will have high productivity and quality, efficient at their job whilst feeling recognized and valued by management.

As leaders and managers, you are responsible for the success of your organization, and developing your people to increases your chance of success. For any organization, people are one of the biggest investments and they should not be left to rust.

Meet the team behind EiSHT – a start-up strengthening young people’s soft skills

EiSHT is a social enterprise created by a team of management professionals and avid volunteers who together possess years of experience in recruiting, training and developing young people. Caroline O’Connor initially came up with the idea in January en route back from an event with Naas No Name! Club.  What began as a means of helping young people achieve their goals in getting their first summer jobs has evolved and adapted to what the market seeks.  It has become a programme to help arm young people with the skills, competence and self-awareness required to adapt to the rapidly evolving workplace.  “We want you to have the skills, confidence and competency to be the High Potential Leaders of the future and to realise your superpowers”. 

EiSHT was born – Emotionally intelligent, Skilled, Happy Teens – from paying attention to the recurring concerns of teenagers and young adults under 25 and of recruiters, trainers and managers of under 25s.

What sets this programme apart is that it is founded on the core pillars of employability, professionalism, self-awareness, gratitude and social citizenship.  It focusses on soft skills, which are not part of the second level curriculum, to build resilience and adaptability going into third level and beyond.  It will be delivered through a combination of self-organised learning on their online platform, psychometrics, workshops, and coaching.  “Where we are in the 4th industrial revolution, this programme will help to secure the options and opportunities for young people in the humanisation of work”.

Caroline O’Connor was elevated to the Short Term Enterprise Allowance in the summer.  Intreo supported her completion of that programme and enabled her to come to Trinity via Springboard to join Tangent on the PgC in Creative Thinking, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.  “It’s been an avalanche of progress and proved that once you make the first terrifyingly challenging decision, everything else starts to fall into place and so many doors have opened”.  Caroline, mother of two, has over 20 years’ experience in hospitality and FMCG.  She has been involved with No Name! Club since senior secondary school and has run the Naas club for the past four years. 

The organisation works with TY to 6th year students on a programme of social confidence without peer pressure of alcohol and other drugs.  Conor Dalgarno is the web designer, developer and technical genius behind EiSHT.  One of the first .IE registrars, Conor works with start-ups consistently through this ownership of Silkweb Group.  Aside from being a classic car owner and enthusiast, he is the voluntary director of youth rugby with Navan RFC.  Aoife Sheehy is their coach, mentor and psychometrics whiz from their partners in Thomas International.  Aoife was on the UCC Ignite Incubator with her previous employer and is fellow volunteer of No Name! Club.  Caroline brought the team together with their shared core drive to make a social imprint and improve opportunities for young people.

Partnerships with Thomas International, Dulann.com, Silkweb Group and John Murray Headshots have propelled this idea into a fully supported, scalable solution.  The team is charging on, with help from the TES team & Incubator, the Tangent team and others.  The next stage includes rolling out further trials in second level education and development of the web platform.  The whole programme is scalable and can be exported – the key for the team is to continue to prototype and reiterate each stage of the process to its customers. Results from trials have so far proved that the team is set to make EiSHT a social success. 

“We have a deal!” But where to next?

Just as fears of a no-deal Brexit were reaching their peak, news came from Brussels yesterday that a deal is finally reached.

Last Thursday Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the UK, had a semi-formal meeting with Leo Varadkar in the Thornton Manor. Although no one really expected this would lead to any kind of breakthrough, the results were rather surprising. When the two came out of the private meeting room with a smile, declaring that they see “a pathway to a deal”, the exchange rate of pound sterling gained more than 2% against the US dollar on that very day. One week later, the EU passed the new Brexit deal.

Yesterday was definitely a day to remember in both the UK and the EU’s history, but after the cheerful moment, we need to stop and think about what could happen next, and what the implications are.

Firstly, the deal is not final. It did pass a difficult hurdle – coming to an agreement with the EU. However, the hard journey through the British parliament has just begun. Boris Johnson has two days to seek allies before the unusual “Super Saturday” session in the House of Commons. Although Boris believes the deal is of the best interest for both parties and is quite confident about the results of the voting, analysts hold different opinions. Sporting Index, a lottery company who successfully predicted the results of previous Brexit votes, have sent out an email estimating the “Yes” vote would be 313 while Boris needs 320 to pass the deal in the British parliament.

In one scenario, the deal will be passed in the British Parliament this Saturday. This will mean no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the rights of EU citizens in the UK will be protected (as will those of UK citizens living in the EU). The UK will leave the customs union as a whole, while Northern Ireland will still remain an “entry point”. For most of us life will remain the same, except we might notice that grocery shopping seems a bit more expensive. Establishing the UK to EU “entry point” on the island is set to make Ireland more of a focus area between the two, which will give rise to both opportunities and challenges. Dublin had already seen big names such as Travelers Insurance Company moving its European business to Ireland to avoid risks associated with Brexit. If the deal is passed and Brexit is official, more London-based international companies will start seeking new bases in the EU, and Ireland is no doubt one of the most appealing options.

If the deal is not passed by the House of Commons, the Benn Act will require the PM to seek an extension of the Brexit date from the EU. For businesses in the UK, this will amount to another period of uncertainty and continuous economic stagnation. For the past three years, uncertainty has caused numerous British companies and investors to suffer, and has seen the bankruptcy of long-standing companies such as Thomas Cook. The Benn Act may appear to be inconsequential for the EU from a political perspective – or even beneficial. However, given the significance of the UK in the global market, the ramifications of further uncertainty for businesses operating there may result in harm for industry in the EU.

Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace

By Andrés Soto Ramos

Key Points:

  • Importance of diversity in the workplace
  • Diversity and inclusion?
  • Healthier organisational climate:
  • Prevents knowledge inbreeding
  • Enhances employee engagement
  • Encourages open communication

Enough has been said about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In the digital era that we live in, organizations are under heavy scrutiny of society and can face severe brand image damages if they are caught not following inclusive practices.

We can see an example of this in how U.S. companies have been quick to dismiss any situation in which racial profiling or any kind of abuse to minorities has taken place in their establishments, that are often resulting in the termination of the employee that caused the issue. But business should not advocate for inclusiveness only because it is what our society expect, they should also consider the positive impact in the bottom line of fostering diversity and inclusion within their organisations.

What exactly is diversity and inclusion? These two words are often (wrongly) used as synonyms in advertising or company communications, but it is important to remember that they do not have the same meaning. Instead of going into the dictionary definition of each, we can explain these with a simple metaphor that has proven useful to clarify this subject in corporate environments; diversity means that everyone is invited to the party, and inclusion means that everyone will also be invited to dance. Therefore, diversity an inclusion (D&I) in the workplace translates to building a talent pool of individuals from different background, gender, age, creed, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, languages, education, etc; and to nurture an environment in which everyone feels safety in sharing their opinions and that allows them to have access to the same growth opportunities.

While this feels again as an overly romanticised definition that companies can use as a sales pitch, organisations that adopt D&I practices are bound to reap on a wider and more valuable set of benefits that come from a healthier organisational climate:

Prevents knowledge inbreeding

Just as the organisms in an ecosystem have higher disposition to a set of diseases when they share a common gene-pool, organisations that hire and promote individuals from similar backgrounds to management positions are prone to adopt ideas within an identical line of thought, therefore reducing the chance of bad ideas being scrutinised and discussed, and limiting the innovating output.

Enhances employee engagement

Companies around the world invest millions of dollars per year in workshops and teambuilding activities to promote employee satisfaction. But since most modern workers will spend at least a third of their day in their workplaces. Satisfaction and engagement can be also improved by fostering a safe climate in which different opinions are respected and equally taken into consideration. Individuals will show higher attachment towards organisations that genuinely value their contributions.

Encourages open communication

Companies with a diverse workforce that is empowered to openly communicate and share their opinions are most likely to display efficient conflict resolution within their work groups. As well as better problem-solving techniques due to the flexibility that comes with open-mindedness and respect for others’ opinions. In opposition, individuals that feel threatened or judged will refrain from communicating the issues they perceive in their companies due to the fear of being prosecuted by their peers. Consulting data and reports on diversity and inclusion have consistently proven a strong correlation between better financial performance and the adoption of D&I practices. Individuals and managers must not ignore this evidence and advocate for inclusive companies not just because of the positive advertising that can be generated because of this, or simply to follow what can be considered a trend in modern human resources practices. Building a truly inclusive workplace can become a real competitive advantage for organisations, with a direct impact in their climate and overall company performance.

Saudi Aramco’s impending IPO is set to be the largest in history

  • The oil giant’s mammoth IPO, to be formally announced this Sunday, is set to earn $40 billion for the kingdom.
  • Saudi Arabia is pushing forward after delays caused by international scandals, drone-attacks and fears of an economic downturn.
  • Investment banks are sharing in $450 million in fees paid out by Aramco in exchange for help with the listing, to the dismay of environmental and human rights groups.

Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco has been planning its initial public offering (IPO) for about three years. The energy company is the most profitable in the world, making $111 billion last year – more than the top five publicly traded oil companies combined. On Thursday the government is expected to give the official thumbs-up for the IPO to go ahead, and a formal declaration is to take place this Sunday.

The Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s hope is that selling 3% of the shares in Aramco will raise money (estimated at $40 billion) for the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, and the proceeds are going to be used to diversify the Saudi Arabian economy away from an over-reliance on oil. This means it is projected to be the largest IPO ever, with the next highest being Alibaba’s 2014 IPO which raked in $25 billion.

A portion of the oil giant’s shares will be floated on the domestic stock exchange in the capital Riyadh, called the Tadawul, with general plans to pursue a listing on an international exchange at a later date. Why is it that such a lucrative opportunity for the kingdom has taken years to come to fruition?

Intense global backlash related to the murder of the outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia’s government, Jamal Khashoggi, last year almost certainly spooked international investors and resulted in the oil company pushing back its IPO. But more recent crises have heaped uncertainty on the nation’s oil industry specifically.

On September 14, two of Aramco’s largest refineries at Abqaiq and Khurais were attacked by drones, paralysing about half of the nation’s oil production (output plummeted by ~5.7 million barrels per day, which equates to about 5% of global oil production) and destabilising global financial markets. The U.S, a host of European countries and Saudi Arabia itself blamed Iran for the bombings, although the Yemeni Houthis declared themselves responsible.

Aramco states that it has recovered production to pre-drone strike levels, at about 10 million barrels per day. This remains shy of its full capacity of 12 million barrels that it expects to reach by the end of November. While this suggests the oil giant may be resilient in its ability to rebound back to its preferred output, the attacks nonetheless reveal major vulnerabilities in the firm’s infrastructure. Its seeming unpreparedness for threats of this nature no doubt worried potential investors, delaying its IPO.  

On October 7th, one of the Big Three credit rating agencies, Fitch Ratings, downgraded Saudi Aramco’s credit score by a notch given these concerns over security. In addition to all this, at the beginning of this week the price of a barrel of Brent crude measured at less than $60, and this is below the level prior to the drone attack. This signals universal fear among investors of an impending global economic slowdown.

Nonetheless, it’s full steam ahead for Aramco’s entrance to the public market, and in its effort to sweeten the deal for hesitant investors the firm is offering $75 billion in annual dividends. The kingdom is also going to pay between $350-$450 million in fees to professional advisors in exchange for help with selling its shares. This equates to about 1% of the expected proceeds of $40 billion, which is a lower proportion than many engaged in the project were anticipating. For comparison, Alibaba paid $300 million to its pool of investment bankers, coming to about 1.2% of its $25 billion proceeds.

Among those hired to sell Aramco’s shares are ex-Trump national security advisor and partner at Goldman Sachs Dina Powell, and ex- United States congress representative Eric Cantor. According to Bloomberg, “The roster of bankers reads like a who’s who of finance, underscoring the importance of Saudi Arabia a year after the murder of government critic Jamal Khashoggi prompted a brief spell of skittishness over doing business with the country.”

A question hovers over the company’s valuation. The Crown Prince originally desired a valuation of $2 trillion – but this looks to be overly ambitious. A recent Economist report which took the dividend yield as a reliable metric for valuing an energy company found that a valuation of about $1.2 trillion is closer to the mark.

The listing has incited criticism from a swathe of environmental advocacy groups (such as Earthworks and Share Action), discouraging potential investors from financing “the biggest single infusion of capital into the fossil fuel industry” since the passing of the Paris climate agreement in 2016. It has also attracted the ire of human rights watchdogs, who blast Saudi Arabia’s abysmal human rights record in a letter sent to nine international banks associated with Aramco’s IPO (such as JP Morgan Chase and Credit Suisse). The antipathy is only set to escalate following the formal announcement this coming Sunday.

The Network Effect

By Brid O’Donnell

Key Points:

  • Be Brave
  • Prioritize Questions
  • Know when to move on
  • What’s next
  • Execute the follow up

Networking is hard, but necessary to be successful in the business world. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind as you begin your networking journey.

  1. Be Brave

Networking can sometimes feel like a game of luck, at a certain event, you may meet strangers who you can develop into good friends and allies or else you don’t. However, you can increase your luck by putting yourself out there as much as possible. Regularly try something new and be curious. That can be intimidating and challenging, but a good networker is continuously expanding their networks and leaving their silo. Thus you must put yourself in new situations, and you need to be ready to make the first move, a lot.

In the same thread as being brave, be the person who introduces people. Networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships; you must ask yourself what you can give, as opposed to thinking about what you want out of this connection. Often the answer to what you can give the other person is connections to new people as everyone needs a hand at networking. By bringing people together, you not only help other people network, but you are also signalling to those around you that you are a leader and creates a good reputation for yourself.

  • Prioritize questions, not stories

Everyone has stories that they enjoy telling. It is fair to say that you need to know your own story, aka your elevator pitch; the 60-second round-up of who you are, what you do, and why you do it. It’s important to make sure you get exposure and make yourself memorable and interesting. Thus you should prepare your story in advance and be ready to say. However, it should be brief and quick. After you make that introduction, the focus of the conversation should not be on you, but everyone else and the best way to achieve that is by asking questions.

Therefore, along with preparing your own story, you should also have a good list of go-to questions; broad, open-ended questions that help develop the conversation further. They are useful to fall back on when you are jumping into the deep end with someone completely new. However, don’t treat these questions like a checklist. Think of questions on the go, adapting to how the conversation unfolds. This shows that you are an active listener, which is a vital skill in networking.

  • Know when to move on

It often gets overlooked, but at a busy reception, it is easy to get end up in a conversation that has received its full potential; however, you feel too awkward to end the conversation. Don’t be afraid to shake their hands and say “Thank you for your time; It was so nice meeting you” or something similarly polite. You don’t need an excuse like I need to go to the bathroom, you need to acknowledge that you enjoyed the conversation and leave. If you are feeling like the conversation is nearing its natural end, the other person most likely feels the same way and appreciate the chance to start other conversations.

  • Next Steps

Introducing yourself to someone and having a chat isn’t enough to consider them a connection. Even adding them on Facebook or LinkedIn isn’t enough. You need to recall and formalize. I’m forgetful, especially when it comes to exact details, and the best advice I have ever received is to get a contact book or rather a personal CRM. Of course, you should take note of the person’s name, organization, background and contact details but don’t forget the small things. If you spoke about a certain topic or the person has a particular interest, include it. Even the stuff which seems irrelevant, like if someone mentions that they are a fan of Arsenal, remember that. Later on, when you reconnect, your contact will appreciate you remembering the small irrelevant things. There are many CRM apps out there you can use, but a well-designed spreadsheet could also suffice.

  • Execute the Follow-Up

The last step to networking is the follow-up. Emailing or reaching out to a new contact on LinkedIn soon after your first meeting can reenforce your first introduction and creates a new channel of contact. Use this opportunity to thank the person and show your appreciation and delight at meeting them. A specific thank you to someone can create a lot of goodwill and don’t be subtle about it. Finally, remember to keep your word and be thoughtful. If you said you would check something for them, follow through. This shows that you are reliable and quickly builds trust. As for being thoughtful, don’t be shy about sending people articles or clips that you think will interest them. This stage of networking can quickly become relationship-managing, and it can seem slow going, but networking is about continuous efforts that lead to future successes.

If you are interested in developing your networking skills further, Trinity graduate Kingsley Aikins has established The Networking Institute (www.thenetworkinginstitute.com) and has worked with major global corporates in finance, accounting and consultancy as well as governments and non-profit. Visit the website to pick up even more tips and advice on networking!

Luckin Coffee: Legend or failing unicorn?

Luckin Coffee was founded in 2017, yet has already established more than 3000 wholly-owned shops in China. The coffee chain successfully completed its IPO in the US this March, only 18 months after the founding of the company, raising $561 million. You may have never heard the name, but it is quickly becoming a key competitor in the ~$10 billion Chinese Coffee retail industry, and threatens the current leading player, Starbucks.

   To differentiate themselves from Starbucks, Luckin Coffee self-describes as a Coffee-Network or Coffee Technology Corporation. In its prospectus, the word “technology” appears 88 times, followed by the third most used word “network”, which appears 79 times.

Technology is clearly the key to its operations. Luckin states that AI enables them to analyse their customers’ behaviour and select better services and products tailored for each individual based on big data. The Luckin Coffee app also plays a major part in their operations. In fact, all purchases of Luckin Coffee are made through its apps (iOS, Android and Wechat’s built-in-apps), and no cashier can be found in any of its shops.

   As opposed to the company itself, the founder of Luckin is probably more famous. Zhiya Qian, the former COO of CAR (China Auto Rental), is known for leading the “subsidy war” in China’s car rental industry and won a large market share for the company. She strongly believes that her success in the car rental industry can be replicated in the fast-growing Coffee retail industry.

   The inner logic of this marketing model is simple. The initial approach is characterised by the use of large amounts of subsidies to break into an industry, in order to build customer loyalty and seize market share with rapid expansion. Having achieved this, the company makes use of “internet thinking” and reduce subsidies to turn losses into gains when most of the other competitors are no longer competitive. Luckin is still in the first stage, as it is still quickly opening more shops and offering huge discounts such as 81%-offs, and pricing the cost of a cup at around 1 euro to attract customers (while the general price per cup is between €4 and €6). The money burning strategy is no doubt doing its job, but the problem is how long can it last?

   In the financial statements from the prospectus, for the three months ended 1st March 2019, Luckin’s total revenue reached $713 million. However, the net loss is $110 million higher. This financial data is a dangerous signal that the speed of growth of the company might not be able to justify the money they have been burning in a foreseeable period of time. Data shows that if Luckin continues losing money at this rate, the company’s cash flow will be in severe danger and may not survive for another two quarters. This may be one of the reasons driving this start-up to rush to hold an IPO. Despite its financial state, Luckin still holds a positive attitude towards its strategy, claiming they will not slow down the rapid chain growth and will continue subsidising its products.

Last month, reporters found some Luckin Coffee shops have started to sell “convenience store food”. Meanwhile the company updated its business scope, adding clothes, shoes, hats etc to its product line. Is this a sign that Luckin Coffee is transforming into a comprehensive new retail chain to save its cash flow? The answer will be seen in no time.

The Economic Impact of UAV Technology: Regulatory Approvals Paving the way for a Billion Dollar Industry?

While the concept of an unmanned aerial vehicle (hereinafter UAV), also known as a drone, delivering products may seem futuristic it is set to become a reality. Given that, the Irish Aviation Authority (hereinafter IAA) have shown a willingness to support drone airspace. This is hardly surprising when considering that, according to Goldman Sachs, UAV technology is estimated to be worth $100 billion, in market opportunity, to the worlds’ global economy by 2020.

With the fastest area of growth projected to be in the commercial and civil sector. For instance, a study conducted by PwC has suggested that UAV powered business operations could potentially be worth $127 billion. While, UAV technology, which is of military origin, is likely to be as ground-breaking as similar products of military origin, such as the internet and GPS. It is questionable whether its value will be derived from its hardware which has low production costs and is, therefore, unlikely to drive industry growth. Since the technology used in this area can be easily reproduced, growth in this area is likely to be in services that operate and manage drones. For instance, Amazons’ drone delivery service, PrimeAir, which has been described as ‘ground-breaking’.

Although UAV’s have the potential for enormous market opportunity, regulatory approval is needed to start operations and to generate profits. For instance, in the U.S the Federal Aviation Administration (hereinafter FAA) must grant an air carrier certificate before commercial UAV operations can be commenced. Though Wing Aviation became the first U.S company that received FAA approval other companies such as Amazon, and UPS are still awaiting approval. In Ireland, Manna, which aims to facilitate “3-minuet food delivery” using UAV technology, should become a reality by Q1 of 2020. While the Small Unmanned Aircraft (Drones) and Rockets Order S.I. 563 of 2015 outlines that UAV registration is mandatory in Ireland for vehicles over 1kg.

It is submitted that since drone airspace is a new concept a more comprehensive framework will be needed. For instance, in April 2019 an Airbus A320 landing in London Gatwick had to swerve to avoid collision with a UAV. However, the IAA has indicated that persons operating drones illegally will be subject to the full rigors of the law. Moreover, in June 2019 the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 & Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947 published European rules on UAV’s to ensure that UAV operations across Europe are safe. Given, the novel nature of commercial UAV activity safety has been a paramount concern for regulators. 

Due to economies of scale UAV technology is predicted to play a larger role in our everyday lives. Furthermore, there may be financial incentives for using this technology. For instance, in the construction industry, when lease agreements are in place, the lessor would likely qualify for tax deductions. While data privacy concerns and infringements of General Data Protection Regulations (hereinafter GDPR) have been raised. These concerns may likely be mitigated if commercial UAV’s operate using Lidar, Sonar, and GPS without cameras. The impact of the UAV regulations and whether they will bring harmony and economic growth to this area remains to be seen.

Foreign Language Skill: How it opens up a world of Job Opportunities?

Key Points:

  • English is not enough!
  • Speaking another language makes you stand out from the crowd.
  • Helps to discover new cultures.
  • Helps to meet new people.
  • You develop 4 key skills; listening, reading, speaking and writing.
  • Speaking more than one language increases your brain capacity and causes you to have a better memory.
  • It’s an impressive achievement to speak a foreign language and you’ll have better options for your future!

Today’s world is full of different and very interesting cultures. So why not to use this opportunity and learn something new – a new language. Having this skill, will help you in so many ways:

  • Open up a world of Job Opportunities

In English speaking countries it is important to stand out. You can do it by learning another language.

The world is changing fast. More companies than ever are doing business around the world, but they can’t do it without hiring globally minded people who can speak at least one foreign language. Ever wanted to be like those people you see in the airport travelling to foreign countries “on business” all the time? That can be you.

  • It’s great for traveling

Knowing more than one language opens up your vacation destination possibilities. Traveling to a foreign country becomes much easier if you can speak the language of that country.

Getting to a comfortable speaking level in a foreign language is a great motivator to get you out there – practise!

  • You build multitasking skills

Multilingual people, especially children, are skilled at switching between two systems of speech and writing easily. According to a study from the Pennsylvania State University, this “juggling” skill makes them good multitaskers, because they can easily switch between different structures. (Employers love this one)

Interesting Fact: It is also known that people who spoke more than one language made fewer errors in their driving tests.

  • You stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia

For monolingual adults, the mean age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4. For adults who speak two or more languages, the mean age for those first signs is 75.5. Studies considered factors such as education level, income level, gender, and physical health, but the results were consistent.

  • You become smarter

Learning a second language improves your memory and increases your attention span. The process of becoming bilingual exercises your brain, challenges you to concentrate and boosts your problem-solving skills.

Bilingual students tend to score higher on standardized tests than monolingual students, especially in the areas of vocabulary, reading and math. As you learn to switch from one language to another, you improve your multitasking abilities. Bilingual individuals have also been shown to be more logical and rational, be more perceptive and aware of their surroundings.

  • It boosts your creativity

Researchers are also concluding that multilingual speakers are more creative than monolingual speakers. Learning a foreign language improves not only your ability to solve problems and to think more logically, it also makes you experiment with new words and phrases.

Leveling up your second language skills forces you to reach for alternate words when you can’t quite remember the original one you wanted to use. It improves your skills in divergent thinking, which is the ability to identify multiple solutions to a single problem. This is exactly what kind of people employers are looking for!

  • It builds up your self-confidence

You’re about to teach yourself to believe, “yes, I can.”

Confidence increases when a new skill is mastered, and learning a foreign language is no different. And let’s face it: confident people are more interesting than those who are unsure of themselves. The techniques you use to develop a second tongue result in a greater sense of open-mindedness.

In order to master a new language, conversations with native and fluent speakers are essential. If you’re shy but want to meet new people, using the excuse that you want to practice your speaking skills is a great opener and a doorway to making new friends, expanding your horizons and broadening your life experiences. Plus, who doesn’t want to be more interesting?

  • It aids in self-discovery and self-actualization

It is an interesting outcome, not at all something that you list as your expected result when you embark to learn a new language. But trying to understand a language and the heritage that goes with it will put you in a position of self-discovery. It makes you come to terms with how you view the world and other cultures.

So which language are you starting to learn first?! In Trinity we have a choice from Russian to Spanish, from Polish to Italian and many more. Don’t miss this brilliant opportunity to have something unique along your creative business mind!

How the Internet of Things is Changing Business

John Fink

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a relatively new term used to describe the relationship between modern digital technologies; it is a paradigm under which consumer technologies record data about their usage and operation and share it with relevant devices for certain purposes in a sprawling network of interconnected machines. The power of the Internet of Things is in task automation, by using the data recorded from usage analytics, devices within the IoT can satisfy simply and repetitive tasks with minimal to no human input. It allows for your home thermostat to know when you’ve arrived home based on your phone’s location data, and warm up your house for you; Or it sends you an email when the postman was detected as arriving at your front door through your IoT security camera. The potential for what tasks can be automated, and what quality of life improvements can be developed, are vast in scope.

The market for the Internet of Things is rapidly expanding. Research, development, and marketing of IoT enable devices from major tech developers has seem a massive uptick over the past decade, and it’s slated to grow ever larger, you may be familiar with several AI personal assistants that have become more popular in previous years and are often bumbled with modern smartphones and speakers. As of late 2018, Forbes predicted that world spending on Internet of Things technologies will reach 1.2 trillion in 2022. This growth in popularity and creative application of IoT devices has not only affected consumers but has also changed business in more than a few ways. How businesses interact within themselves, with other businesses, and with customers all have the potential to change with IoT technology, and many already do. Using them, data about internal operations and external interactions can be unified within one interconnected network of devices for easy access and organization. Here are just a few of the ways that the Internet of Things has affected business.

  1. Product Management: Using scanners, cameras, digital ID tags, sensors for pressure/impact/temperature/humidity, and computers to manage them all, buyers and sellers in the IoT world can track not only the location of a shipped or stored product, but the conditions of its storage and handling. Grocers can ensure that perishable food was stored at the correct temperature throughout handling, and a window pane installer can ensure that a tempered glass screen was not dropped at any point while shipping.
  2. Operations Management: By connecting devices to your workflow that measure the frequency of the completion of a task, it can be quantified how productive certain measures are without the need of a human observer. Scanners, switches, and computers that record the use of devices on a worksite can compile their data into an accurate summation of workplace efficiency. In a complimentary light, devices like smart locks, lights, and HVAC systems can help to automate certain simple tasks, increase security, and decrease waste.
  3. Customer Management: Through IoT enabled consumer devices, notably the popular AI personal assistants that are found on smartphones and speakers (Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant), businesses can interact with their customers, and make sales, on a completely unprecedented platform, with an unprecedented amount of ease in making a sale for both buyer and seller. A good example of this is the Domino’s Pizza Alexa skill, by downloading it, you can shout at your Alexa enabled TV or speaker to order your favorite pizza without even requiring you to pick up your phone. This benefits Domino’s in that no employee time (and therefor, company money) is utilized to make the sale.

These are just a few of the ways that IoT devices are changing business. Several modular and bespoke technologies/software have been released recently with the aim of increasing consumer and business interconnectivity with the internet of things. Such devices are the raspberry pi and other popular small computer kits, the Amazon Alexa skills kit, AI assistant control interfaces like the Google Assistant Home, and more. There is a great opportunity now for businesses not only to integrate these technologies into their workflow, but to develop services that utilize the consumer versions of these technologies to increase their level of customer interaction.

Seanad Calls for Irish Government to Offer More Support for Irish SMEs

Paddy Ryder

The Seanad in recent days has called upon the Irish government to introduce additional supports for Irish SME’s. There are three classifications that compromise the SME sector: micro enterprises, small enterprises and medium enterprises.

A micro enterprise is an enterprise that has fewer than 10 employees and has either an annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet not exceeding €2 million; a small enterprise is an enterprise that has fewer than 50 employees and has either annual turnover and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding  €10 million and a medium enterprise is defined as an enterprise that has between 50 employees and 249 employees and has either an annual turnover not exceeding  €50 million or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding €43 million.

The supports recommended by the Seanad will impact all of the aforementioned enterprises. Such supports include further entrepreneurial education in primary schools, specific supports for female entrepreneurs and the introduction of a new junior ministerial role to represent SME’s. The new ministerial position will enable the shaping of SME policy and help to foster the growth of small businesses in traditional sectors. It is hoped that exposing primary school students to entrepreneurship will lead to more economic activity and similarly, that new supports for female entrepreneurs boosts female leadership.

The Seanad found that typical SME concerns included rising business costs most notably the costs of rent, insurance and rates, competitive recruitment, Brexit uncertainty and continuous delays in the roll out of the national broadband plan. Ireland’s tax system was also highlighted as a difficulty with CGT rates significantly higher for SMEs in Ireland than in the UK and other jurisdictions. The EIS scheme for investment into early stage business is also less attractive in Ireland than the UK equivalent.

The EU and US rarely see eye to eye on matters of trade and commerce, but both see SME’s as the backbone of their respective economies, meaning SME’s are the cornerstone of commerce across the globe not just Ireland. Having said this however, the role of SME’s in Ireland is particularly important given that 99.8% of business activities in Ireland are represented by SME’s. This translates to 238,000 businesses, employing more than 1.3 million workers in Ireland, almost half of the entire Irish workforce. SME’s are therefore the main source of jobs in the Irish economy, thus, the new Seanad recommendations are a welcomed proposition and it is hoped that the recommendations can positively impact the Irish business landscape creating conditions that allow Irish SME’s to flourish.

Read the full report at –https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/committee/dail/32/seanad_public_consultation_committee/reports/2019/2019-05-16_small-and-medium-sized-businesses-in-ireland_en.pdf

These 10 Companies Control Almost Everything we Consume

It’s a scary thought isn’t it. All of our favourite brands owned and controlled by no more than 10 individual companies. How is it possible for such a small number of companies to be associated with every single major food and drink brand that we have ever come across and who are they? Some of them you will most likely recognise and some maybe not. 6 of these companies are American, 1 is Swiss, 1 is British, 1 is French and there is also a British-Dutch company.

Oxfam released the information as a way of spreading awareness about the huge concentration of market power in the industry so that people would be aware of who owns what they are buying, ultimately in an effort to push these companies to make positive changes. Let’s take a look at them:

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  1. Mondelez
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Mondelez made about $25.9 billion in snacks in 2017. They own all of Cadbury (which incorporates a huge number of chocolate bars such as Crunchies, Freddos and Twirls) as well as other consumer favourites Oreo, Milka and Toblerone. They also own Sour Patch Kids and Kenco.

2.Unilever

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Another one of the well known companies that make up the 10 we will discuss. Unilever owns a vast wide-ranging catalog of brands including Lyons, Knorr and Hellmans. They are also the single biggest ice cream producer in the world with Magnum, Cornetto and Ben ‘n Jerrys under their belt. Unilever accumulated $51 billion in revenue in 2018.

3. Coca Cola

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Next on the list is soft drink giant Coca Cola. Coming in at a revenue in 2017 of 35.41 billion, the company is in charge of Coke, Sprite and Fanta. It is not just soft drinks that they own however as they also control Smart Water, Innocent Smoothies and Honest Tea.

4. Nestlé

The Swiss company made a staggering $90.8 billion revenue in 2017. These guys produce a lot of the chocolate we consume that Mondelez doesn’t under Cadbury. This includes KitKat, Smarties, Rolos and Aeros. They also own Nescafe of course but one that you mightn’t have been aware of is Polo mints being owned by Nestlé.

5. PepsiCo

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As far as drinks go PepsiCo owns Pepsi, Gatorade and Tropicana fruit juices. Interestingly they also own and market the Starbucks drinks available outside of Starbucks stores. Surprisingly Walkers is owned by PepsiCo, meaning that they control the production of Walkers crisps, Doritos and Cheetos. They recorded revenue of $63.53 billion in 2017

6. General Mills

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$15.62 billion is how much this company managed to make in 2017. They did this through their companies that include Green Giant, Old El Paso and Nature Valley. Not to mention the fact that they own 25 different cereal brands, one of which is Cheerios. Haagen-Dazs is another company owned by General Mills and they also own Parker Bros., the makers of Monopoly.

7. Kellogs

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Kellogs made $12.92 billion revenue in 2017, smaller compared to the rest of the companies in this domain but certainly not something to be scoffed at. This company produces Kellogs alongside over 30 other different cereals. Pringles, Nutri-Grain and Pop-Tarts are produced by Kellogs as well.

8. Associated British Foods

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The only solely British company in this group received revenue of roughly $19 billion in 2018. Probably owning some of the lesser known brands in the group, the company is in charge of brands like Twinings, Kingsmill and Ryvita Biscuits. They are however responsible for the export of massive American brands such as Tabasco hot sauce and Skippy peanut butter.

9. Mars

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Apart from the obvious, Mars owns pretty much any chocolate that isn’t Cadburys or Nestlé. Chocolate such as M&M’s, Galaxy and Snickers. What’s less obvious is their ownership of Wrigleys, which produces a plethora of chewing gum brands like Extra, Hubba Bubba and Orbit. Wrigleys also makes Skittles and Starbursts. The brands that few people would know are owned by Mars include Uncle Ben’s and Dolmio. $35 billion is how much revenue Mars made in 2017.

10. Danone

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In 2017, Danone received roughly $27.5 billion in revenue. Bottled water brands Evian and Volvic as well as yoghurts Activia and Actimel are owned by Danone. They also sell medical nutrition products such as Cow and Gate.

So there you have it. These are the 10 companies and the brands that they own. I’m sure you’ve heard of most if not all of these companies. However, it is still a little overwhelming to see just how many brands they own between them. Hopefully you got some interesting insight into who actually owns what brands and if you’re anyway similar to me, you will find it difficult to eat your Uncle Ben’s microwave rice knowing that it is made by the same company as your beloved M&M’s.

Differences between Hard and Soft skills? Why are they so important for employers?

  • What are the skills employers are looking from the graduates?
  • How can YOU learn those skills and become a better candidate for an internship or a job?
  • What are the differences between soft and hard skills?
  • Why are they so important?

What are the Hard skills?

  • Hard skills are the tough skills.
  • They show your knowledge about the job and your ability to do the work right.
  • They are specific to each job and are basis of job requirements.
  • They are quantifiable and are often learned in school, through earned certifications or in previous work experiences.
  • These skills can also be considered “resume keywords,” which are words recruiters use to search for applicants. Each resume should use the exact hard skills found in the job description.

What are the Soft Skills?

  • Soft skills are interpersonal skills.
  • These are much harder to define and evaluate.
  • They show how well employee can interact with customers.
  • They are non-measurable and so not specific to any job or career.
  • Soft skills are “people” skills.
  • These skills are personality traits that help define character but offer less proof of experience than hard skills.
  • Soft skills include communication skills, listening skills, and empathy etc.

Hard Skills List  

Examples of Hard Skills:                                        

  • Data Analysis                                                
  • Planning Skills                                               
  • Accounting
  • Financial
  • Software
  • Word Processing
  • Writing

Tips I recommend to improve your Hard skills

  • It is not a surprise that almost every type of job is in a strong connection with computers. Examples of basic computer skills are the ability to work with Windows, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook Express and Windows Share Folders. If you need education or additional learning for these essential computer skills, here are some helpful courses:

1) Microsoft Excel Course – Excel from Beginner to Advanced:

2) Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint Training With Certificate Data Analysis

  • Analyzing some kind of data is a common part of many job positions and responsibilities. There are many reasons to learn data analysis: want to start a new career, want to develop your hard skills in your current career, or you want to know how to use, collect and present data for any purpose. If you have one of the above reasons, here are 2 important courses that can help:

1) Complete Introduction to Business Data Analysis

2) Data Science A-Z: Real-Life Data Science Exercises Included

  • Knowing Foreign Languages: Although English is the official business correspondence language for many countries, it is a big advantage to know other languages. Examples of the most required languages are German, Spanish, French, Chinese. So, is it the time to go and start learning a new language? And the answer is – Yes. It will make you a better candidate for any internship or a job. Check out some courses here: https://www.duolingo.com/courses

Soft Skills List

Examples of Soft Skills include:

  • Leadership skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Problem-solving
  • Creativity
  • Time management skills
  • Willingness to learn

Five tips I recommend to improve your Soft skills

  1. Build self-awareness – Understand why you react to certain situations and certain people in a certain way. In order to develop any self-management skill, you first have to understand yourself.
  2. Change yourself not others – Some people might think or say that improving soft skills can help you manipulate other people actions. However, it is not true. Improving soft skills is all about changing yourself, your perception, your approach to situations.
  3. Understand other people’s motivations – Any action that cause a conflict and trigger yours or other person’s insecurity, will create a difficult or unexpected situation. By proactively trying to put yourself in their shoes before any interaction, you could communicate better and can better manage your reaction to unexpected situations.
  4. Start Easy and Relax –You cannot improve all your soft skills over one night, so identify one soft skill you want to start with. Start researching (books, blogs, etc…) and practice on that one skill. Once you make progress on one soft skill, it will give you the confidence to improve more on others a step at a time.
  5. Practice, Practice, Practice – Sadly soft skills are not something you can just study in a book to get better, improvement takes practice over time. Improving soft skills is fundamentally about changing your behaviour toward yourself and others. Every next interaction you have with people at work is an opportunity to practice a soft skill!

HARD Skills vs. SOFT Skills

A combination of hard skills and soft skills forms a well-rounded job applicant. While hard skills are quite different than soft skills, together, they create a good balance between hard knowledge and interpersonal attributes. Hard skills show mastery and proficiency while soft skills show communication and relational abilities.

The balance of hard and soft skills is important. Hard skills help the applicant get past ATS while showing experience level and qualification for the position. Soft skills make the applicant human, showing leadership, empathy, and character. Both of them added together can make a perfect employee or a graduate.

So, which skills are more important – hard or soft?

Of course, both of them are equal. Balance is the key and the best answer here. So, make sure that your resume and/or CV contains enough skills of both types! Good luck!

3 Lessons Every Young Entrepreneur Must Learn from Taylor Swift

I’m sure you must have jammed to ‘Shake It Off’ at some point in your life.

Or cried to “Love Story”.

Or danced to “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together”.

Or screamed the lyrics to “Blank Space” (it’s not ‘Starbucks lovers’!).

That’s Taylor Swift, who has a song for every mood.

She’s turning 30 this year, and has already been in the music industry for 13 years; that’s right, she began her career at the age of 17! Since then, she has made a successful switch in her genre from country to pop, and has won over 400 awards, including 10 Grammys. She has sold almost $935.4 million worth of tickets through 6 world tours. If you’ve watched her ‘reputation’ tour on Netflix, you know exactly how powerful she is and why she deserves to stand where she does today.

I’ve loved Taylor for years; but only now do I understand the influence this woman has over, well… the music industry!

This is what every young entrepreneur (or human!) must learn from Taylor Swift:

  • Don’t be afraid to start young

By the age of 9, Taylor knew she wanted to be a singer. She would have her mother drive around various record labels and studios in Nashville, where Taylor would walk in, give her demo cd, and say, “Hi! I’m Taylor.. I’m 11.. I want a record deal.. Call me!”. She was signed by various records by the age of 14, and finally released her first album, Taylor Swift, at the age of 17. Her debut album won her massive recognition, and helped her understand her target audience and future moves at a young age.

If you think you’re too young to start something, you’re wrong. The sooner you start, the more mistakes you make. And the more mistakes you make, the sooner you learn from them and the better you understand how to not make them again. Starting young is a boon; allow yourself this ‘extra’ time to learn through practical experience because this is what will propel you farther.

  • Make sacrifices

Love Story, one of Taylor’s most highly acclaimed song, was written in 15 minutes as she sat on her bedroom floor. That song came alive only because she decided to give up something else and spend her time writing it down.

If you want to create a difference for your own self, you have to give up things that distract you from your goal. What sets you apart from everyone else is how you decide to spend your time while others decide to hang out or party. It’s not wrong to party obviously, but you must realise when it is pulling you away from your dreams. If you have a goal, be certain about it and take action towards it. Spend your time wisely by making sacrifices every single day.

  • A combination of skills stands out

When Taylor first started sharing singing demo cds with record labels, she hoped they would listen to her voice and give her a deal. But she soon realised that everyone in Nashville had the same dream as her, and she was doing the same thing as everyone else. That’s when she decided to stand out of the crowd by writing her own songs and learning to play the guitar. Today, Taylor writes, sings and produces her own music, while also playing multiple instruments. What helped her along the way are her exceptional conversational skills, marketing strategies, persevering self-advocacy and brilliant stage presence.

If you want to stand out, you must be exceptional. One way to do that is to have a combination of skills. The best way to do that is to have a powerful combination of a hard skill and soft skill, or to have complementing skills. If you can learn and combine various skills and use them to enhance the one skill you are best at, then there’s no stopping you! For example, if you like writing, learn a bit of video editing or graphic designing. If you have an idea for a startup, learn pitch development and the art of effective written and verbal communication. (We really need to update the quote “Jack of all trades……”)

Whatever be your opinion of Taylor Swift, you can’t deny the staggering numbers she has achieved. These 3 attributes are what helped Taylor Swift get where she is now. So, why not give them a shot?

Career Choices: What’s Hot in Dublin?

John Fink

The Dublin Economic Monitor indicates in its most recent edition (February 2019), that as of Q3 2018 the employed workforce of Dublin measured at 696,200, the highest value since records began by the Central Statistics Office in 1998. Obviously, there is no shortage of available labor and as such, it takes talent to impress employers. Corporations seek the best from a wide pool of potential hires, and to stay competitive anyone seeking future employment will need to hone their professional skills to satisfy the requirements of the corporate world. Taking courses or reading literature on a new skill auxiliary to that of your primary studies might one day make the difference between you and another candidate for your ideal career, or help you discover a completely unexpected career path. Trends on sector growth in Dublin provide valuable insight into what industries are expanding, thus making new hires and from that one can approximate what skills might make them a more valuable member of the workforce:

Read more

Why Can’t Entrepreneurs Ignore Geopolitics?

Today’s top entrepreneurs are always learning to deal with fast and inevitable changes. All the entrepreneurs or startup firms are expected over time to adjust entry mode and mode of service when resolving market dynamics and regional & global parameters. The various situations of global geopolitics, according to several analysts’ claims, would allow diverse startups and innovators to work together to counter multiple geopolitical uncertainties and risks. For the growth and advancement of an entrepreneurial venture, other than geographical position and time, global factors involve many other items such as world population distribution, the effects of international developments such as the cold war, post-cold war results, regionalisation, and so on. Related effects happen for some significant events, such as changing state relationships, foreign trade disputes etc. Thus, the diverse dynamics in geopolitics may be clustered in several lines to construct a global model in terms of the potential for innovation and entrepreneurship.

To illustrate, a significant geopolitical change was observed in the post-cold war period with the fall of the USSR and the democratisation of Eastern Europe. The transition offered tremendous opportunities for creativity and entrepreneurship. This is an age we are living every small and big entrepreneur are concerned about geopolitical risks and opportunities. For instance, concerning various geopolitical situations, Israel has concentrated on numerous developments in different sectors, including defence, security, cybercrime, and software; thus a considerable amount of development has occurred in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the nation. In such a geopolitical environment, with the help of numerous government policies, VC investment schemes, systemic developments continued to take place, contributing to the rapid growth of technical entrepreneurship, particularly in Tel Aviv.

Furthermore, in the current scenario, globalisation is another critical aspect of making a geopolitical decision. The economic effect of interconnectivity, resulting in new trading partners, monetary and labour movements, and global governance, especially in this field of globalisation. To assess the reach of innovation and entrepreneurship worldwide, especially in emerging markets, a proper study is needed through the lens of geopolitical variables such as global globalisation, intergovernmental institutions, ever-changing political structures, etc. The value of understanding the notion of globalisation should be taken into account when relating geopolitics and business practices.
The definition of globalisation often raises the scope of the market environment worldwide, and therefore, there is often a risk of rising uncertainty. Therefore, careful consideration of the benefits and challenges from globalisation is necessary for long-term viability to fuel creativity or build a model for startup growth. Globalisation leads to more vigorous competition in the industry. It is a dominant geopolitical dimension which is shaping the worldwide scenario of entrepreneurship.

Therefore, in the modern world, geopolitics related questions are very significant. For any international entrepreneurship opportunity, various geography-related questions are specifically relevant. Such enquiries are supposed to provide a framework in terms of exploring the extensive nature of geography and how it could create impacts on environment-oriented variables like cultures or local politics.

In brief, it will not be wrong to say that in the upcoming future, various geopolitical changes are going to influencing entrepreneurship scenario worldwide. For instance, after the current geopolitical shock, i.e. Covid-19 pandemic, it is expected that the world could experience a wave of innovation by the efforts of various entrepreneurs.

This is the Crisis that Monetary Policy Will Miss

Dubbed ‘The Great Lockdown’ in a recent IMF report, the sudden halt of the world economy has sparked an imminent recession unlike anything we have seen since the second world war.

The estimated loss of global wealth is $9T (equivalent of Germany & Japan’s economies falling off the face of the earth for an entire year) and IMF project a 6% decline in GDP across Europe & the US – twice that of the 2009 global financial crisis.

However unlike 2009, interest rates today are at record lows, rendering any change from here ineffective. This means we need to print money to generate liquidity and spend money to fuel growth, both of which are problematic.

Why do Interest Rates Matter?

Interest rates are set using Monetary Policy which refers to the actions undertaken to control the money supply of a given currency in an economy. In each case, a central bank determines the minimum interest rate in which a currency can be borrowed. Monetary policy is set by the European Central Bank (ECB) in the Eurozone and the Federal Reserve (Fed) in the US.

The lower rates are, the cheaper it is for businesses to borrow which then incentives investment and fuels economic growth.

It is one of two primary tools used to achieve macroeconomic goals and is fundamental in stimulating growth. Without strategic monetary policy, inflation can go out of control (currency loses value) or a recovery can be stalled. For this reason, the UK choose to set their monetary policy independent of the Eurozone via the Bank of England.

Where is Monetary Policy at Today?

Prior to the Global Financial Crisis, monetary policy across the west was in fairly good shape. At the beginning of 2008, interest rates were 4.2% in the Euro, 5.25% in the Dollar and 5.5% in Sterling. This meant that once the crisis hit, central banks were able to lower rates and effectively fuel growth to curb the downturn.

Today, 12 years on, rates are lower than ever; 0% in the Euro, 0.25% in the Dollar and 0.1% in Sterling. This gives central banks virtually no ability to use them to generate further liquidity using interest rates during this crisis.

To put it simply, borrowing money can’t get any cheaper than it is today meaning that central banks can’t reduce the cost of borrowing to tackle this downturn like they could in 2009.

As a result they’ve turned to what’s called quantitative easing (QE) to increase the money supply. This is another word for printing money and is highly contentious as it creates inflation (decrease in the value of money) which may go out of control if not strictly measured. As a result it has a very limited capacity to generate liquidity.

Outside of QE, economies are reliant on fiscal policy to restore growth.

Fiscal policy refers to the use of government spending and tax policies to influence economic conditions, namely macroeconomic conditions such as growth. It is set at the domestic level by national governments. Although the 3 economies in question are aligned on the issue of low interest rates, they face different problems individually when it comes to fiscal policy.

European Policy is Limited

ECB rates have been at 0% since 2016. If they go any lower they will be paying people to borrow money,  if they go any higher the Euro Area will be shocked with tighter rates than have been seen in the last four years and economic recovery will be inhibited. So as it stands, the ECB can’t do anything for Europe with interest rates.

This means monetary policy is reliant on QE. Which has recently hit a major roadblock in Germany where a recent ruling stated that the ECB’s QE Program is excessive (destabilising) and that the German Central Bank must cease cooperation with the ECB in the next 3 months unless they can prove otherwise.

This puts the ability of the ECB to tackle a downturn in serious jeopardy. Given that Germany is responsible for a third of the Eurozone’s GDP, a cease of cooperation will make the ECB’s policy ineffective.

This means that Eurozone countries must turn to fiscal policy for stimulus.

In the EU, fiscal policy is primarily set at the domestic level – meaning it’s up to each national government to choose how they’ll spend their money. Undoubtedly there will be an effort to coordinate spending in Eurozone countries to minimise the downturn’s impact across the continent. However, such efforts have historically been politically contentious and will likely be no different this time round. Coordination means that smaller countries (Ireland, Greece etc.) will have to base their spending on that of the larger countries (Germany & France). If one country fails to emerge from stagnated growth, other Eurozone countries will feel the burden.

With nationalism on the rise in Europe over the last half decade, we may see sharp resistance towards EU intervention in fiscal policy decisions, threatening the stability of the Euro entirely.

The UK still has to deal with Brexit

With interest rate constraints the UK has also resorted to QE, recently announcing a £200bn purchase of UK government and corporate bonds. However, they still need to finalise Brexit agreements before they leave the Customs Union and Single Market by the end of the year. This may be prolonged but will inhibit fiscal policy going forward.

Limitless QE and High Debt in the US

Similarly to the ECB, the Fed can do little with interest rates to aid growth from here,  turning to QE as for liquidity generation. However, it has slightly more independence than the ECB when it comes to its monetary policy. As a result, they’ve announced a limitless QE program. This effectively means they will print as much money as they believe is necessary to achieve their macroeconomic targets. The stock markets have reacted well to this announcement as it increases the likelihood of high returns. However, the stock market is not the economy, printing money has historically never been favourable and if the Fed isn’t careful they may devalue the dollar beyond their capacity to control it.

To destabilise matters even further, US officials have announced that they are considering writing off some of their debt to China. Such a move would be catastrophic for their credibility and will send the bond market into panic, this would be unprecedented.

Aside from issues with QE, fiscal policy in the US is also under constraints. As it stands, the US national debt is at a record $25T. This has more than doubled since 2008 and stands around $75,757 per person. Evidently, this is becoming less sustainable as time goes on and seriously calls into question how the US government can reliably borrow any further

In either case, an effort to restore growth now will be paid for in the near future. Undoubtedly, the debt is a long-term issue to be faced by millennials, of whom are currently already burdened with $1.6T in student loan debt (owed by 40 million borrowers). Whichever approach the government chooses to adopt, it will make the macroeconomic situation increasingly unsustainable. If the government are not responsible today, the US public will have to pay for it down the line.

In essence, to reboot the economy, the US government will need to spend more money, mounting on their ever growing, unsustainable debt which may lose all its value should QE go out of control.

The Outcome

In Europe & the US monetary policy is restricted to QE as a mechanism for generating liquidity. This is limited at best and destructive at worst.

The West will have to fight this battle without the monetary tools we’ve had in the past – which means national governments need to strategically set their fiscal policies to coordinate a quick recovery across both continents.

In Europe, this involves a coordinated effort among distinctively different economies who are each faced with their own problems and political pressures. In the US, it likely requires an increase in the ever-growing national debt which will have to be paid for at some point in the future. It is hard to imagine a sustainable “V Shaped” recovery in such a global climate. If there is, it will entail a lot of borrowing.

Economics can be convoluted and politics can be misleading, which has taken this conversation out of mainstream news reports. Monetary policy will not be able to help us out of this crisis and extensive efforts to do so could make it worse. Fiscal policy will take on all the responsibility for recovery, which implies increased debt and a need for smart spending.

Whether or not the economy gets back on its feet next year, interest rates will eventually have to rise, and government debt will eventually have to be paid back. In order to do so, we need long term strategic vision and strong underlying growth. If not, we may see the demise of the Euro over the next decade and potentially the Dollar.

The sooner we recognise this, the better we can act. The longer we ignore it, the less we can do.

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