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Inspired by Brexit that can boost Dublin’s finance hub, says Central Bank of Ireland's report and Duff & Phelps's Global Regulatory Outlook (GRO) report.

Ireland and UK are similar because English is an official language (Irish is the other), and Ireland uses common law. But Ireland has a codified constitution unlike U.K.

Like What single change would have given the best chance for Iraq to win the Iraq War?, I copy and paste the customary disclaimers.

  1. The financial hub can be anywhere in Ireland, not just Dublin. But it can't be in Northern Ireland that belongs to U.K.

  2. The new financial hub just has to be way more powerful, financial than London. London doesn't have to lose its world city status.

  3. The smallest single change must be justified realistically and must involve the least amount of changing the world as we know it in 2020. So Ireland can't just suddenly abolish all taxes, or suddenly discover secret nuclear weapons faster than everybody else.

  4. The change has to be a single event, or a collection of compact, tightly coiled events occurring in a short time period. History should appear similar to what happened in real life.

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    $\begingroup$ As with your other question, it's really quite off topic here! Before asking more off topic questions, please check out the tour and the help center and learn what Worldbuilding is all about! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Dec 20 '20 at 23:51
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    $\begingroup$ How far back in history are you willing to go for this 'change?' Because my impression is that London's rise to pre-eminence began several centuries ago. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    Dec 21 '20 at 1:18
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas hello. why is this off topic? there have been many "what single change would have caused X" questions. $\endgroup$
    – user81426
    Dec 21 '20 at 2:16
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    $\begingroup$ The problem here is that financial centers develop from trade centers. Trade centers exist because of convenient transportation and both legal and police/military protection. Ireland, being a smaller island than the U.K., would never develop a trade center greater than London because costs to ship to/from Ireland would always be greater than to/from London per-person-served. I'm not sure this could ever happen unless it were forced (e.g., Ireland becomes the military strength back around, oh, 750A.D.) and even then it wouldn't make economic sense. $\endgroup$ Dec 21 '20 at 3:16
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH of course. That's why this question, like so many on WB, show a radical lack of thought. Just looking at Google Earth would show why Southeast England will always be more prosperous than Ireland. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Dec 24 '20 at 0:00
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Ireland as Global Switzerland:

Post WWII and up until 1970's Ireland is courted by US and nascent EU. Ireland plays hard to get and never enters Europe as a full member, but remains very close, e.g. Swiss model. AND, also, for whatever fictional historic reasons, at some point Ireland enters NAFTA. (North American Free Trade Agreement).

This could give Ireland a globally unique status as having access to both European and US finance flows. Ireland allows corporate entities to choose which jurisdiction they report in, allows holding companies to own multiple subsidiaries with their desks just across hall from one another, permitting gaming of the different accounting, tax, reporting, legal governance, and other rules.

With a snowball effect, you could have ASEAN (ASEAN Free Trade Area) or some other global trade entity invite Ireland to join them a decade or so later because it makes sense.

WTO and UN naturally have their headquarters in Dublin. Coexistence of multiple trade and tariff regimes makes Dublin or Cork the shipping hub for Europe.

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    $\begingroup$ And ‘Chinese walls’ get renamed to ‘Dublin fences’. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Dec 21 '20 at 19:21
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  • Option 1: Push factors.
    Sometime after 1923, there are events in the UK which prompt the financial industry to leave, and events in the US which mean New York doesn't simply take over. So assume that during the Great Depression, first the US and then the UK resorted to more socialist (or at least more welfare-state-like) policies. Populists called to "tax the rich who caused the mess," and there were property and stock-transfer taxes. Capital looked for a new home and found the ROI. A similar course of events could have come directly after WWII, or during the Oil Crisis, but it would take time for the new financial center to mature fully.
  • Option 2: Pull factors.
    You excluded Ireland abolishing all taxes, but it could decide to tread very lightly on financial market regulation and taxation. That would at first make Ireland yet another Crown-Dependency-style tax haven, but Ireland has the size that bankers and their employees can live there, not just rent a letterbox. A bit of googling says that commercial buildings depreciate in 39 years in the US (a tax fiction, but it is some number to use). So say that the decision was made in 1981, and banks have plenty of time to move their offices. That's also roughly the worklife of a banker, so no clerk has to relocate -- simply use natural growth in one office, natural shrinkage in the other.
  • Option 3: Big Bang.
    In 1940s, Germany tried operation Sealion. This failed, for all the reasons discussed at length, but during the early days the financial offices were evacuated to Ireland. They were not allowed to return until 1945, and by then they had gotten used to their new offices.
    (That's the weakest of my bullet points.)
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  • $\begingroup$ I feel like these brush over the "one smallest change" requirement - for the British policies to restrict financial services they would either have to be willingly shooting themselves in the foot or have another flourishing sector (manufacturing is petering out at the moment) both would require pretty huge changes. $\endgroup$ Dec 21 '20 at 9:01
  • $\begingroup$ @LioElbammalf, really small changes won't do it. It has to be something drastic. And as to the Brits shooting themselves in the foot, that has been known to happen. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Dec 21 '20 at 10:29
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Your small change has to happen during the cold war and it has to do with the relative willingness of governments to look the other way and take the money.

London is built on Russian money, both during the cold war and more recently allowing the Oligarchs to launder their money through the systems. If the British governments over the years had been more hostile to Russia and the Irish government more willing to look the other way, it's entirely reasonable that the Russian cash could have flowed through Dublin instead.

Except it doesn't work so easily. In practice the Russian money flows through Britain's offshore satellites so it isn't so simply traced. Ireland doesn't have such facilities available, so could never hide it as easily. What you'd really need is for Ireland to have been the expansionist imperial power and have accumulated a collection of tax havens to expedite money laundering.

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  1. Post-War UK goes full on USSR-loving Socialist, which collapses the economy.
  2. Irish leaders, being smart, welcome UK refugees -- hundreds of thousands of other middle and upper class Brits migrate to Australia, Canada and Ireland -- as the Conservative Party is outlawed.

The fatal flaw is that the Irish hated the English just about as much as the English disdained the Irish. Thus, even though Irish leaders might have been foresighted and looked upon this as an opportunity, too many citizens and Leftists would fight it tooth and nail.

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Suppose Charlie McCreevy were born in 1909 instead of 1949, and became Minister of Finance in 1957 instead of 1997, but implemented the same strongly pro-business policies as he did in our world. Since there was no robust hi-tech industry in 1957, the Celtic Tiger would have been based on another market. Given the global cultural environment of the 1950's, the Irish might have gone into advertising and marketing, or international banking, or both.

By establishing and working in 1950's style ad agencies, senior Irish businessmen would have quickly learned that morality and ideology have no place in successful corporate operations. If they learned this quickly enough, and transferred that knowledge base from their advertising sector to their banking sector, they might have actively recruited Soviet Russian clients during the cold war.

With no European Union or Common Market to lure McCreevy away from Ireland, he might have served his homeland for fifteen hears instead of five, and sustained the new advertising and banking sectors long enough for them to become a permanent feature of the Irish economy.

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