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Thursday 18 September 2014

The Punt: McWilliams in shrewd venture

Published 04/02/2014 | 02:30

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David McWilliams
David McWilliams
David McWilliams

ONE of our favourite economists has just launched an interesting new venture.

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Commentator David McWilliams, the man behind the Kilkenny festival Kilkenomics, has rolled out his own self-penned, subscriber-only daily economics update. The bulletin, Global Macro 360, looks at everything from currency fluctuations to the Federal Reserve with a bit of Irish flavour thrown in.

"In the last year, maybe because people's pensions are getting hammered, requests are coming into my website or via Facebook or Twitter on a daily or even hourly basis," said McWilliams. "As a result, I have decided to write you a daily update on how I manage my money day to day, what I watch, who I listen to and how, after absorbing all this, I act.

"The note is for your information as a supporter who has been reading my writing for years. It is not advice; rather it explains my thought process."

The Punt is impressed not only by McWilliams's entrepreneurial spirit but also by the economics behind the venture itself. Annual membership costs a cool €500 – or as the man himself put it, "the price of less than three pints a week".

It's a perfect example of the niche subscriber model that is proving highly profitable for those who are succeeding at it. If Global Macro 360 gets just 100 subscribers this year, it will generate annual revenues of €50,000. Shrewd thinking indeed.

BEN WON'T REST ON HIS LAURELS

BEN Bernanke isn't one for putting his feet up and enjoying time away from the spotlight, it appears.

The former Federal Rerserve chairman is to join the Brookings Institute, a political think-tank based in Washington. His new position may not place him quite so much in the limelight as his eight-year tenure heading up the US central bank; no doubt it will be a somewhat less fraught existence, but it shows he's not wasting any time looking for job offers to come to him.

Mr Bernanke stepped down as Fed chair on Friday. His tenure coincided with the financial crisis and involved some fairly radical policy experimentation in the face of what Americans dubbed "the Great Recession".

He will join Brookings as a distinguished fellow in residence at its economic studies programme, the think-tank says.

"Brookings scholars have a well-established reputation for contributing innovative ideas and trenchant analysis to economic and other public policy debates," Mr Bernanke said.

"I welcome the opportunity to engage in that vibrant community through research and writing."

How keen his Fed successor Janet Yellen is on Mr Bernanke's enthusiasm to remain so fully engaged in the cut and thrust of public debate remains to be seen.

MEA CULPA FROM O'LEARY - AGAIN

WE'RE being played. But the media is always happy to talk about Ryanair, and Michael O'Leary knows it. Speaking to investors yesterday, he was asked numerous questions about the Ryanair makeover.

"The negativity that surrounds both Ryanair and myself tends to be confined to Ireland, the UK and Spain.

"Those are the markets where we are spending some considerable time . . . and me, myself, going 'mea maxima culpa'," he said.

"We've garnered enormous press coverage in recent months (yes, The Punt is aware of the irony as it pens this piece), as a result of the change – some of it sceptical."

But he assured listeners that the conversion is real. Commenting on a possible new aircraft order with Boeing, he said that talks are on-going but added that after the win by the Seattle Seahawks in the weekend's Superbowl in the US (Boeing has its manufacturing base in Seattle), a temporary suspension in negotiations is probably warranted.

"We don't expect to have any intelligent conversation with Boeing for at least another two or three days, until they sober up again," said Mr O'Leary.

Irish Independent

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