The existence of the Clearing House Group within the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Dublin is unknown to most people in Ireland. It is made up of top civil servants from the departments of An Taoiseach and Finance, the Irish Banking Association, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America and KPMG. It draws up the legal framework within which companies operate within the IFSC. If you imagine a group of professional criminals sitting around a table with top civil servants drawing up the legal framework for dealing with bank heists you'll have some idea of the work of this group. They draw up the laws within which they then operate as a group. A recent edition of the Live Register looked at its work.
Austerity is not just bad for the economy. The latest evidence shows that it is also bad for people’s health. Austerity has led to rising suicide rates, increased rates of disease and dramatic reductions in access to healthcare for people unable to pay for such care from their private resources. A new study entitled ‘The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills’ concludes that "Recessions can hurt, but austerity kills."
This study shows that countries that cut their health and social protection budgets, like Greece, Italy and Spain, have seen far worse health outcomes than nations like Germany, Iceland and Sweden, which maintained their social safety nets and opted for stimulus over austerity.
The authors of this study are David Stuckler, a senior research leader in sociology at Oxford, and Sanjay Basu, an assistant professor of medicine and an epidemiologist in the Prevention Research Center at Stanford. In an article in the New York Times they stated: “As scholars of public health and political economy, we have watched aghast as politicians endlessly debate debts and deficits with little regard for the human costs of their decisions. Over the past decade, we mined huge data sets from across the globe to understand how economic shocks — from the Great Depression to the end of the Soviet Union to the Asian financial crisis to the Great Recession — affect our health. What we’ve found is that people do not inevitably get sick or die because the economy has faltered. Fiscal policy, it turns out, can be a matter of life or death.”