New bubbles, new babies and new growth promised at this year’s Kilkenomics Festival

Sean Keane

Reporter:

Sean Keane

Described as “Davos with jokes” (The Australian), the highly popular Kilkenomics Festival returns to Kilkenny for a fourth consecutive year, with the strongest line up of speakers to date including renowned American behavioural economist and Wall Street Journal economic ‘agony aunt’, Dan Ariely.

Described as “Davos with jokes” (The Australian), the highly popular Kilkenomics Festival returns to Kilkenny for a fourth consecutive year, with the strongest line up of speakers to date including renowned American behavioural economist and Wall Street Journal economic ‘agony aunt’, Dan Ariely.

After the turmoil of recent years with bank bailouts, spending cuts and the Troika this year’s Kilkenomics Festival asks what we have learned from attempted solutions to get back on track - and how they’re affecting all of our lives.

The festival’s opening session, New Bubbles, New Babies, New Growth, New Hope, sets the tone for the weekend questioning if the housing boom in Dublin, a baby boom and the tentative signs of recovery augur well for the future of the Irish economy.

The packed festival programme which will run from November 7th - 10th, was unveiled in Kilkenny today, (Wednesday October 9th) and features familiar faces including economists David McWilliams, Deirdre McCloskey, Constantin Gurdgiev, Max Keiser, Louise Cooper Ronan Lyons and funny men Colm O’ Regan, Karl Spain and Kevin Gildea .

The big international catch this year is Dan Ariely, the behavioral economist who is tipped by some for a Nobel prize and is the author of two New York Times bestsellers: Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality. Ariely will deal with everyday financial and economic conundrums, dilemmas and woes, and will attempt to offer constructive solutions. He is also delivering The Raymond Crotty lecture on the theme: ‘The Honest Truth About Dishonesty’.

Also travelling from the United States is distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English and Communication at the University of Illinois, Chicago, Deirdre McCloskey - a former associate of Milton Friedman who transitioned from male to female in 1995 and has also been an advocate for transgender issues since.

As part of a new national media partnership this year sees Newstalk’s Pat Kenny host a special edition of his show live from Kilkenny’s Set Theatre on Friday, November 8th, featuring many Kilkenomics contributors as well as the day’s top news and current affairs.

According to festival co-founder, David McWilliams, this year’s festival strikes a more optimistic tone than previous years.

“Our core aim is the same - to remove the jargon, political squabbling and elitism from economic debate and to provide the festival goer with information in an accessible, innovative and entertaining way. With our unique mix of speakers we successful do this with fun and humour, taking confusion out of national economic issues.”

“Ireland is in a different space this year and we will try to capture this through our talks and discussion. We will be teasing out whether we are moving out of the doldrums and into a brighter space.”

Other festival highlights include:

· Boom or Bubble: The Future of Irish Property - Ronan Lyons, Constant Gurdgiev and Colm O’Regan will cut through the property porn and estate agents spin to get to the truth of the matter.

· Babynomics - Dermot Whelan, Sinead Ryan, David McWilliams, Cormac Lucey, and Stephen Kinsella will examine the economics of Ireland’s new baby boom, asking what are the expectations of the generation that has been born into recession.

· Is Big Business Killing Sport? The Economics of “Moneyball” - Award winning sports writer Simon Kuper, rugby legend Denis Hickie, Fintan Drury, Michael Moynihan, and Karl Spain ask if big business is killing sport, if mega-transfers are a waste of money, why England always loses and why the GAA loves a replay.

· The Human Wreckage of Recession -Donal Ryan author of Man Booker-nominated novel The Spinning Heart talks to Colm O’Regan about his story of the human cost of economic devastation in small town Ireland.

· Ten More Ideas to Help Ireland Recover and Grow - The best and brightest of contributors will convene at the end of the weekend to discuss what we need to recover and grow.

A new development this year is the Young Economist of the Year competition with David McWilliams and SAS seeking economic leaders and thinkers of the future though a secondary school competition. The festival will take place at various venues in Kilkenny city, November 7th to 10th inclusive. Tickets are available online now at www.kilkenomics.com.