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The Briefcase: Double Irish with a twist of Keynsian economics and... new iPhones OMG OMG!

This was the week in business.

Image: Eating money via Shutterstock

Another week, another 157-step plan for international taxation reform from a Parisian economic think-tank.

Here’s everything that’s been happening in business as approved for human consumption:

Need to know

Everyone’s talking tax

Tax cuts, tax reform, tax havens, it was all tax, tax, tax this week.

With next’s months budget roaring down on the Dáil like a debt-hungry Godzilla, there was plenty of chat about who, if anyone, would win the tax lottery amid the warming economic climate.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny had these sober words to contribute to the debate:

“What we did say in respect of the Budget was that the tax burden of 52 per cent is too heavy in respect of middle and lower income workers — and that starting in this budget we would begin to reduce that burden over the next number of budgets.”
Meanwhile, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar was keeping mum after last week telling voters in more lyrical lingo to expect “an extra fiver or tenner in your payslip every week”.

Fine Gael Think-In. Minister for Health Source: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

But it was those crazy kids at the OECD who really rocked the apple cart this week when they unveiled plans to crack down on multinationals (Google, why are you looking so sheepish over there?) using legal loopholes to ensure they paid little or no tax in many countries where they did business.

The expression “Double Irish” – a reference to a particularly sneaky, though legal avoidance scheme – got quite a few nods, although the OECD’s Pascal Saint-Amans was quick to point out his fellow number-crunchers in Paris didn’t have it in for this humble isle.

He told the Irish Times the country’s tax system has been “abused” to shift money to tax havens like Bermuda and any international moves to cut down on international profit shifting could actually help because of the “single Irish” low corporate tax of 12.5%.

mYIyyuCi The OECD's Pascal Saint-Amans is a big fan of Ireland. He even tried a Guinness once. Source: Twitter

And…

We’re obsessed with iPhones, but no-one gives a toss about Sony

It was a tale of two smartphones this week as the predictable queues of Apple fan-boys and fan-girls formed around blocks worldwide as the new iPhone 6 went on sale.

Tents, mattresses, lounges, cardboard boxes, from Berlin to Brisbane – you name it, someone dragged it out to sleep in and/or on for the chance to be one of the first to get their hands on those new, bigger screens and… um… barometer?

Apple iPhone 6 Apple fans camp out in London. Don't these people have jobs? Source: John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Still, it wasn’t all fun and games in the iPhone lines – as one Chinese international student in the Sydney queue demonstrated.

The poor young woman burst into hysterics after police pulled her from the line, which she had reportedly kept cutting in and out of.

But, more seriously, the white-knuckle excitement Apple can apparently still generate does show the continued strength of the brand – something some pundits had questioned after the death of the company’s talismanic founder Steve Jobs.

We’re talking this kind of excitement.

Japan Apple iPhone Source: Shizuo Kambayashi/AP/Press Association Images

The company’s last mobile release,the iPhone 5s/5c, hit about 9 million sales in its first three days on sale – a figure it took arch rival Samsung more than 20 days to hit with its flagship Galaxy S4 and S5 gadgets.

Meanwhile, poor Sony recorded a €1.3 billion “impairment charge” when it wrote off as worthless all the goodwill it had built up in its mobile phones.

The company predicted it would only sell an anaemic 43 million units worldwide this year. No wonder this guy’s looking so glum.

Japan Sony Sony CEO and president Kazuo Hirai. Source: Toru Takahashi/AP/Press Association Images

Nice to know

  • Gold mining is a step closer to becoming a reality after explorations company Conroy Gold and Natural Resources unveiled its plans to dig a potential 500 tonnes of the shiny stuff out of Co Monaghan and surrounding areas
  • Michael Noonan is a happy man after news this week that the economy is growing even faster than everyone thought – potentially a rate of 4.5% this year

Michael Noonan Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

  • The banking inquiry is having cold water poured on it before it even properly gets off the ground, with fears raised that it could be scuppered thanks to the timing of next year’s election
  • Pay packets are still going down seven years after the crash, although average earnings for those in the IT and finance sectors are heading in the other direction. Lucky sods

Now you know

One for the road

Spare a thought for this unfortunate bloke in Perth, Australia, who dropped his brand new iPhone 6 moments after being the first to get hold of the device.

Oh, did we mention he did it live on national television? Crikey, mate.

Source: BuyMeForFree/YouTube

READ: The €1 trillion question, queues for houses, and the charm of Michael Noonan

READ: The biggest landlord in the land, wage rows and Limerick’s new oil barons

About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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