November 12, 2008

Why Bailout Bill should pick the banking team

Posted in Banks · 126 comments ·

Now the Government needs its own people in the banks … they must be independent, not some patsies

Why doesn’t Bill Cullen choose the directors the Government wants to put on the banks’ boards? We could have a special ‘Apprentice’ programme, which could pick the new “Untouchables” who will shake up the way our banks are governed.

Given the toothless compromise that is being proposed by the Minister of Finance, the ‘Apprentice’ format would undoubtedly lead to a better outcome. Make no mistake about it: over the next few weeks, the decision made about the future of the Irish banks will be the most momentous financial decision in the history of this State. If we get it wrong, we face a depression rather than a mere recession. If we get it right, there will be light at the end of the tunnel.

Let us remind ourselves where we are. Lamentably, the clarity of the initial days following the guarantee (when the Government looked to be in control) has given way to six crucial weeks of indecision.

The guarantee — which was innovative but also risky — can only work if it is followed by two other initiatives. The risk that the Government’s guarantee would be called upon can be minimised by a successful recapitalisation. To make the recapitalisation successful, the State needs to know exactly what is going on inside the banks. In order to see clearly, the Government needs its own people in the banks. These representatives of the people must be single-minded and focused.

Most importantly, they must be independent, not some patsies who have been vetted by the banks’ present management who got us into the mess in the first place.

Rather than parachuting his own men into the banks (as this column argued a few weeks ago), the minister has allowed the banks’ management to have a say in the process. He says he will propose a list of 24 independent directors of whom 13 will be picked — not by him but by the banks’ management!

This is a joke. The only problem is that the joke is on us, because if it does not work, we the taxpayers will have to stump up for the guarantee. So having saved their skins last month with the guarantee, the State should be driving the agenda, rather than prevaricating.

The issue here is not about personalities, nor recrimination, it is about the process.

The reason the process is so crucial is that we will only get one chance at the recapitalisation. When Ireland goes to look for money on behalf of our banks from the capital markets in the next few weeks, we had better get our figures right. The banks’ management can’t be trusted to do this. Every time one of them has tried to “come clean” by giving an estimate of just how bad things are, the reality has been much worse.

In its simplest terms, the write-off that our banks will have to make, will be much greater than any of them are suggesting at the moment. And the reason they are prevaricating is that their jobs are on the line. The new owners of the banks will be partly international investors, partly the Irish State and, hopefully, partly Irish investors who will participate in raising new cash for our banks.

When the new owners are in place, they will fire the management. Therefore, the game is a struggle for survival on the part of the boards and management on the one side, and, on the other, a struggle for clarity on the part of the new investors of whom the State will be a big player.

The people charged with getting to the bottom of this mess and putting manners on the bankers — as well as getting the best deal for the State — are the State’s anointed directors. This is why these lads can’t be chosen by the banks, which are largely responsible for this predicament.

If the minister doesn’t want to put his balls on the line by choosing, what better way to choose than by the ‘Apprentice’? We could have a special ‘Apprentice Banker’ programme, orchestrated by Bill Cullen and shown on TV3.

The hopeful directors advanced by the minister could face Bill and a panel of our choice and be asked to perform the type of tasks that bankers will have to execute in the downturn.

The first task might be to analyse the balance sheet of a former high-flying, but now bankrupt, property tycoon.

Rather than protecting the developer, the apprentices would be asked how best to deal with this person’s ailing balance sheet on behalf of shareholders. Should the business be wound up and sold on at a much cheaper price for the lands which are the assets in the business? Or should the bank prevaricate and try to save a man that the board members regularly play golf with?

On the other hand, the apprentice might also be asked whether it is wise, for all concerned, to mark the value of the asset now when there is essentially no market? If the apprentice marks down the land, the value of the land will be obviously way below the value when “normal” conditions re-establish themselves, so there might be economic sense in keeping the developer afloat for a while. There’s the dilemma.

Like the TV3 programme, there will be numerous simple banking tasks demanded of the apprentices. They will make alliances, reveal petty jealousies and we, the public, will see how their characters stand up to the pressure. After all they will be paid to represent us.

We will see them in various pressure situations and then the big decision — Bill Cullen will sit in judgment of the best candidates. After Bill has whittled half of them out with the “you’re fired” line, the public will be reminded of the remainders’ talents.

Then the moment of truth. The public will be asked to decide. Given that these candidates will be acting in the public interest, paid by the public and work for institutions that are guaranteed by a public guarantee, why not let the public decide?

We could have a nationwide vote, sponsored by the now nearly bankrupt Australian venture capitalists that own Eircom, with the prize of a much “sought after” apartment in Bulgaria to see who might represent the people on the banks’ board.

Spread out over three nights, on TV3 — a national broadcaster owned by another hard-pressed British venture capitalist outfit — the nation would be transfixed.

If you think about it, a candidate chosen by Bill Cullen and the people in a public ‘Apprentice’-style process, has at least as good a chance of sorting out the financial institutions as a hopeful anointed behind closed doors by the cozy cartel of bankers who conspired to blow the boom. More to the point, it would be compulsive television. Just the type of thing we’d tune into on these winter nights.

  1. The problem that exists within any long term organisation is that the mindset remains steadfast in its resolve to keep going the same way. Independent directors should also come from diverse backgrounds and not just previous bank management.

    How else are these boards to explore options that may be right if they refuse to see beyond thier limited expertise and experience. These are extraordinary times, extraordinary problems that may need extraordinary thinking.

  2. John ALLEN

    ……there was a wise aoulde fox called …’prevaritique’…..who lived …in the central massif area of …eerlandique…….and who saw …the light at the end of the tunnell….only to hit the uncoming train to dublin from galway ….now he is plastered …in paris

  3. Dave L

    You’re sharper-than-usual cyncisim show’s pretty well that you’re as fed up with this situation as the rest of us.

  4. Dave H

    How about a banking Dragons Den… banks go before the Dragons with their business idea, financial plan and valuation of worth.

  5. MK1

    Hi David,

    The only vote that people really have are for politicians. Alas, we only get to vote for them once every 4 or 5 years and there is no way that any politician can accurately represent the views of the people in the constituency it represents. The political system is equally, if not more, faulty in comparison to the global capital system which is sufferiung a major “headache”. The political system in most so-called democratic counties is NOT democratic, it does not represent our views on all issues and it is NOT accountable. It is systemically inept. The problems are many. Alas, most voters dont even realise.

    You mentioned “Untouchables” a few weeks ago. We already have them: the banks, the politicians. We cant look to them for a system and structural solution. They wont provide one. They will muster on and try to patch things up.. They got us into this mess in the first place. We (lemmings going over a cliff, or a herd of buffalo) voted them back in. Our fault.

    We perhaps need a ‘revolucion’ …. whatever its called, we need to give this county a major kick up its you know what.

    > The only problem is that the joke is on us

    You said it …… and it has ever been thus. Until the people really organise themselves into better political and representative institutions and make all things and people accountable and vote wisely, we will continue to have problems.

    We as a nation have at least one million things to fix …….. the list is getting longer if anything. The system is badly broken on many fronts.


  6. Robin

    In order to be able to chastise, punish and reform the banks for irresponsible lending, the government needs to be able to sit in some position of moral authority on this matter.

    The problem is that they lost any possible moral high-ground when they wilfully sponsored sub-prime lending to help developers shift their ludicrously overpriced stock at the expense of ordinary working people.

  7. Deco

    The Willie Walsh episode in Aer Lingus, proved that the most capable problem solver, is the very thing our political establishment detests the most. Willie Walsh was a threat to North Dublin FF. He was too good at his job, and was outside the North Dublin maFFia – so he got shafted.

  8. Magsy

    David seems to be whistling the same tune over and over again about removing the management from the banks and replacing them with government appointees. Why would the government do a better job of picking people to head the banks through this fiasco when they have demonstrated only complete ignorance and incompetence themselves? Also, what does that say about Irish businesses anyway that the government is forced to come in like a scolding parent and send all the naughty managers and board members packing? In the US the heads of the banks fell on their swords and admitted they screwed up. Where is the contrition in Ireland? It doesn’t exist here because the heads of the Irish bank know that the Irish government will act as their protectors and step in where necessary. It is this lack of responsibility on behalf of management and over-reliance on an inept government that scares off potential investors.
    Also, not happy with the government providing a guarantee for the banks, you further suggested last month that our government should raid the pension fund to recapitalise the banks and get them running again – what on earth for?! As we integrate further with Europe these small peripheral Irish banks are not going to be able to swim with the bigger banks in the UK and on the continent so why should we continue throwing money at them, especially money that has been set aside for our pensions? These banks have to evolve and grow and chase after business in Europe and the US. The fastest way to grow is to merge or acquire other banks. We can’t keep protecting our banks. Not only is it a bad deal for consumers, it sends a mixed message to potential foreign investors that while Irish banks may be inept they have the backing of the government. How long before our government’s rating is downgraded?
    On another note, why aren’t property developers who are having their properties seized being tried and put in debtors prison like the 1000+ ordinary Irish citizens who owe much less?

  9. It is a difficult task if not indeed nigh impossible to change what has become an inherent part of Irish society, and not Ireland alone obviously.
    I’m talking about the clan, nation, clique, jobs for the boys; you voted for who would pump money in the right direction regardless of the overall good of the action.

    The government wants the rich/investors/banks to start generating (lending again, it‘s so pathetic when that is the root cause of our problem) wealth again quickly. They don’t want to know the truth of what has really happened. Market capitalism (as we know it) has collapsed and nobody has a clue how to fix it or replace it other than to carry on, and stress to all not to take big risks, maybe little ones, baby steps or some such bull shite.

    Government should be at all times involved – hands on – with business and banking for the good of the country and primarily its most important asset, the people.
    Funny it’s what I imagine Government to be in the first place: the Caretaker.
    What do we have ministers for for heavens sake.
    Why haven’t the ministers for finance throughout Europe not resigned. Gordon Browne should have been the first to resigned for he – was the finance minister through the entire period of reckless lending and borrowing. No he didn’t notice anything awry.
    O I’ll stop now. I am entirely depressed with the whole debacle at the moment. The idiocy of governments.

  10. Ger Kennedy


    Sounds like they’re not listening any more.

    Are we facing into a Japan recession like scenario? (15 years of fun) It looks like our private school boys are looking out for one another. Those school/rugby/golf roots run real deep. Don’t understand it myself. Maybe you should do an article on the power of these ties.


  11. Furrylugs

    The only thing I took from that article is that DMcW knows there’s a depression on the horizon for Ireland unless we see action. There’s not much action.
    Here we go.

  12. John ALLEN

    David…I have to disagree with your TV Programme Suggestion……… serves no purpose .Have you ever watched the Monks in Glenstal Abbey …television does not play a serious part of their lives …instead they pray and listen …….not once…..they do it all the time ……and no one else is present only themselves and Devine Authority……and …pure silence ……..somehow they always get things right and are always successful…..they ask….they listen and ….they act on the issues ….they are reasonable people …with extraordinary strength and vision….music helps too …could you rethink again ?

    • b

      I swear to God if I find you I will pull your full stop key out. Get away with your wacko nonsense.

      Cullen isn’t the man for the job. We need someone like the late Red Adair. Brave and with answers. But there isn’t a hope in hell of fresh blood being injected into the bank system in Ireland. Competent people are kept out by the establishment and the “management” thats in now is now in lockdown and protecting their own asses.

      We will have a depression and it is our own inept fault.

      Can the people who said I was an eejit for not buying a house please raise their hands so I can give them a root up their arses. This thing was a long time coming.

  13. Ste

    If the Japanese recession thought us anything then it is that ‘Battle Royale’ style show is the only way to go in a situation like this.

  14. John ALLEN

    ……..thats your prognosis furrylugs….now whats your …proposal ?

  15. PF

    I think selective democracy would be a great idea. Everyone must pass an exam before they can vote. It would remove a lot of the retarded crap from Irish politics.

  16. PF


    • Lorcan

      PF, on a point of order, that was Tim.

      If you do not like the contributions of some posters then, fair enough. But expressing your displeasure in such libelous terms does not reflect well on you.

  17. Furrylugs

    These are an interesting bunch to stimulate new ideas.

  18. paddy cullen

    Michael O’Leary should lead this brigade !!! FACT ……..

  19. David

    Hi David,

    I think you’ve overplayed the point that the banks are choosing the directors. This is not entirely true — as you say the minister is proposing 24 candidates and the banks are then choosing 13 from that list. To me this means that the majority of the control remains with the minister as the banks HAVE TO choose from a list and cannot propose any candidates themselves. The job of the minister is to make sure that ALL 24 candidates can do the job and represent the interests of the tax payer. If he does this job correctly there really is no problem with the process.

    Damn – I just defended a FF minister 

  20. Ed

    PF – Churchill must have thought along those same lines when he said -

    “The biggest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter”

  21. coldblow

    I’d summarize it as follows:

    The government needs to sort out the banks but won’t. The people need to sort out the government but won’t. The directors are prepared to let the banks sink so long as they can milk them to the bitter end and the government are willing to let the country sink provided they can protect their friends and sectional interests. The Irish state is the enemy of its people. The world economic crisis, although an aggravating factor, serves as a smokescreen and as an excuse. The Irish situation is fundamentally different from that of our neighbours. While FF bear an obvious burden of guilt the other parties don’t provide an alternative (and never have) as they too represent sectional interests rather than the country as a whole. While the Irish people are no strangers to ignorance and stupidity, at a gut level they recognize political realities more keenly than elsewhere and perceive where their own interests lie as their livelihoods have always depended on it. Even at the height of the hysteria they could smell a rat but preferred not to think about it. Most still prefer to fight for their own share of a shrinking pie than to take the risk of seeking a constructive alternative. I’d also add here that capitalism, suitably regulated by robust liberal institutions still represents the only way forward.

    So was there nothing more to the conomic miracle than the FDI wheeze and unlimited credit?

    My thinking at present is heavily influeced by Raymond Crotty. We seem to be back in 1987 as described in his book “A Radical’s Response”:

    “The political reality of the SEA was that, given the premises on which the Irish state was founded; given the values and principles that the four political parties, which between them controlled 95% of the seats of Dail Eireann, had upheld and advanced throughout their existence; given, so to speak, consistency with the course of Irish politics since 1922, the scope for manoeuvre in Irish politics had become tightly circumscribed. It was circumscribed by the utter failure of those politics over the sixty-five years of independence, which in April 1987 had become more obvious than ever before. Notwithstanding a ruinous rate of emigration, confined now largely to the brightest, the best and the most expensively educated of the Irish youth, and notwithstanding government deficit financing equivalent annually to 14% of GNP, a quarter of a million people were unemployed. And notwithstanding the government’s attempts to control expenditure which had given rise to the disastrous levels of emigration and unemployment, the state was continuing headlong into a public debt that, relative to GNP, is already the largest in the world… The core central fact, which determines every move of the Irish political establishment in 1987, is dependence. The Irish state is now absolutely dependent on the £1 billion which comes to it by way of EEC grants and subsidies of various sorts; and on the further £1 billion which the state can annually borrow abroad, mainly because of its being a member in good standing in the EEC.”

    What happens if the emigration safety valve is no longer available?

  22. Fergus

    David wrote:
    “Rather than parachuting his own men into the banks (as this column argued a few weeks ago), the minister has allowed the banks’ management to have a say in the process. He says he will propose a list of 24 independent directors of whom 13 will be picked – not by him but by the banks’ management!

    This is a joke.”

    Below is a post I wrote following an article you published on October 19, entitled “Bank guarantee will mean survival of the weakest”.

    “David, you might be upset at clause 2.6, and you might be right, but….what about clause 31? “…….A covered institution shall…appoint at least one but no more than two non-executive directors to its board from a panel approved by the Minister during the period of the guarantee.”

    So the banks look at a list of “untouchables” drawn up by the Minister and his advisers (the governor of the central bank, the financial regulator and all their golf buddies from the UCD BComm class of ‘71) and they pick and choose which one or two of these “untouchables” is to come onto the board and “kick ass”, as it were? ”

    What can I say? I am glad you’re finally up to speed with yours truly. Any chance you could offer me a job? I’m up to my neck in mortgage repayments, and I desperately need the extra cash!

  23. Deco

    There is far too meritocracy, transparency and accountability in the idea to see it approved by the powers that be. These are all the features that are missing from the process at the moment. There is no accountability, there is no transparency. And if the committee is to be staffed in the same manner as the entire state system, there will definitely by no meritocracy.

    Unfortunately in Ireland, the joke is the reality and the reality is the joke. The committe supervising the banks is likely to be staffed with all sorts of stooges and insiders(who always get described in the media as ‘a safe pair of hands’). This is a country where the ex-Prime-Ministers ex-girlfriend got a state job, for which she has neither suitable experience nor suitable qualifications. And since she got the job she did no work. Somebody commented recently concerning state funding to independent bodies – the funding is to stop them functioning as independent bodies. We are becomming an increasingly monotone society. A society where organizations and individuals can say what they like as long as their comments are within the confines of what the political establishment and the media accepts. This used to be a free country. But our politicians don’t like competition. Willie Walsh is competition. So Ahern undermined him, and sent him packing. So is Michael O’Leary, Bill Cullen, and just about anybody who is i) doing their job properly, ii) doing their own independent thinking and iii) knows what is going on. Those of you who had to leve the country probably fit all three categories.

  24. BurrenRocks

    Surely with all the Irish banks laiden with the irish property millstone for years to come there is an opportunity for a new upstart bank – What would a ryanair bank look like anyway?

  25. In the Irish system of crony capitalism, Lenihan would likely appoint FF stooges.

    Even if he tried to be objective, he might be inclined to appoint some banking pensioners but with nothing to lose and connections with serving managers via the golf club, previous employment etc., how different would they operate?

    An alternative of bringing in overseas people wouldn’t look very good in an economy where foreign firms are responsible for 90% of its exports.

    The regulators have clearly failed and attracting back John Fingleton from the UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) may be a better route to take.

  26. John Q. Public

    How could anybody decide who is fit for the job of running a bank in such short space of time? You would need to monitor bank managers in a boom only, but there won’t be one of those for a long long time.
    Why not just look at where the banks went wrong, have proper regulations drawn up and adhered to. Put a limit on lending and especially investors buying up houses in bulk. I saw that RTE programme last night and it showed an estate with 40% of the houses owned by investors who get more advantages (vat back etc.) and suffer less that the PAYE worker.

  27. Deco

    coldblow, thank you for your contribution. It is chillingly accurate. A lot of Irish people did smell a rat. Generally I would say that the looser ends of our society smelt the rat. But the mainstream of the generation under the age of 35 fell for it. This is what happens in manias. The confidence factor in the Irish property charade was immense and overbearing. Now the market was collapsed. But the mental state has not yet adapted. People are now living beyond on their means, but on a reduced budget.
    There were several canaries in the coal mine on this sad episode of Irish history. And the media quickly provided the necessary “analysis”, “explanation”, and “move on” rabble rousing to keep the sheep moving. Official Ireland was having a “house party” and nobody would be allowed break the delusions. It was unpatriotic and unIrish to sit there sober, and call it what it was.

    David, George Lee, Morgan Kelly, Eddie Hobbs, Colm McCarthy, Eddie Hobbs, Robbie Kellehir, Alan Aheane etc.. might have been giving critiques of the entire mindset that caused people to waste money they had not earned on stuff they did not need. But the Taoiseach, the Government, ALL the political parties, the banks, the auctioneers, the professions, the entire public sector, the President, Dublin 4, Kildare 4 etc., the media, and an entire generation under the age of 35, were in no mood for listening. A critical mass of the population was in party mood. Like a herd of lemmings they were not to be diverted or stopped. There were moments when the sceptics got close to revealing the entire sham. When somebody called out ‘iceberg ahead’. But Official Ireland rolled out the counter insurgency, rolling out authority figures, manning the defences, dismissing the rumours, and quashing the dissent.

    No that it has been shown to be a massive sham – “Official Ireland” – - has lost all credibility and is being increasingly ignored.

    • b

      I am just under 35 and I smelt a rat in the property sector back in 1999. I never bought, never even looked at a house in this time.

      It had to come down some time. I was derided and looked down upon.

      Who is laughing now!


  28. John ALLEN

    ………at this point do we hear ourselves laughing …..or are ……….others laughing at us…..and if they are…..that is very very dangerous now …we have everything to lose…….unless it is too late already……we are now in the mode of….fear ……moving to….desperation ….before we meet….PANIC……………….only then to …..cry

  29. Furrylugs

    But we’re still treading water chaps. The rest of the world has moved on apace for the last 4 weeks. We’ve done nothing but sit back after the bank bail-out. The banks are sitting back, indemnifyed, to see what entrails they can feast on. There is no social response a la Citigroup in the States. Sounds like the Pres-Elect is throwing a little muscle around already.
    There’s little doubt Obama will go protectionist with the exception of the G7.
    China, as I think Lorcan reminded me some weeks ago, will form an internal market of some sort. Etc Etc.
    Looks like the Czechs are with the people here and not the ruling elite after last nights embarrassing meeting with Mr Ganley.
    In the absence of hope( After next Easter) people will grab onto any party. If Libertas declares for the European (Local???) elections here, they could wipe out the smaller parties and rattle the cosy cartel. Expect more from Libertas soon.
    Remember that one reason the border stayed is because 1m Protestants voting together would smash our system. 1m voting for Libertas would have the same effect. We knew what to expect from the Rev Ian, but we haven’t a clue about Libertas.
    But we’ll still be broke.

  30. Philip

    Guys, I do not think there is any recession. My commute time has ramped in the last 8 weeks – meaning more cars on the road. They can’t all be going for interviews.

    I do not think anyone has any idea what is going on in this country. Probably just as well. Certainly CSO, Government and Banks know nothing either. I suspect there is already a thriving black market. Still loads of cash transactions going on. And Aldi and Lidl will be coming opening up 50-60 shops between them. Swap shops are blossoming all over the place.

    My point is…Have you ever noticed your typical irish audience at some seminar or other? Or Irish employees in these Multinationals. They tend to be reluctant to ask questions even when invited. We are a cynical lot and make up our own minds and do our own thing. We really do not care about the bank management or goverment becasue we know that the bravehearts usually have a sticky end. Survival and me feinerism will dominate proceedings. It’s not so much that the Banks and Government have closed ranks on its citizens. It’s that the citizens are starting to walk away from the social contract. Black market and passive aggression will just dominate for the foreseeable future. Choose your friends wisely.

    • Malcolm McClure

      Well said Philip. My guess is that hubris will carry us through until about Jan 20 2009. Dell have been told to repatriate their profits –or else. Obama will take no prisoners and our vaults will be sadly depleted.

    • b


      The commute has got longer because it is winter. Nobody in Ireland can drive at the best of times but when it rains it all grinds to a halt.

      This and the stupid and dangerous habit of letting people in.

      I agree about the passive aggression and the black market. We have ignored and gone around the system for years because the system does not and has never worked for us.

  31. Ed

    Brian Cowen takes Enterprise Ireland under his wing – Is Tullomore to be the new centre of excellence where all our problems will be solved ?-

  32. Malcolm McClure

    David: Sadly, your ‘Apprentice’ reality TV show suggestion is a hopeless one. The august process of Government doesn’t like being shown up as a motley collection of culchee nincompoops when confronted by big business sharks. Why do you think that the Mini-CTC Tribunal was hurriedly shut down? That was reality TV of the most gripping genre. Much better than ‘I’m a celebrity– Get me out of here’. The sight of Denis O’Brien and various shady CIE types making mincemeat of government watchdogs on live TV created too many waves for the Ship of State, who capitulated just as it was getting really interesting. It will never again make the mistake of washing its dirty linen in public.
    I wonder does RTE still have the tapes of that tribunal? I doubt it; they’ll be long destroyed, by order of one side or the other.

  33. Philip

    We are witnessing the culmination of mounting incompetence.

    The Peter Principle (I think) says people rise to their level of incompetence until the company as a whole becomes incompetent. Modern day methods of dealing with this is to outsource the lot to organsations that claim they can do the same but for less with the company head plonkers just looking after the brand. Hollowed out company with no competence (fully outsourced and without loyalty) hanging on for dear life until the next flip opportunity.

    And so it is at a country level where we are seeing with our current bunch of incompetents in similar activity. I am beginning to see we are being outsourced courtesy of the Lisbon treaty because the idiots here cannot run anything of any real value – merely draconially administer nonsense health and safety and environmental issues. Banks, Government and their various vacuous support institutions are uncomfortable with customer/citiizen interation. Their powers of positive assertion are non existant. Far better we be run by the Germans/French and the take the credit for being the admin landlords. It make the blood boil now that I see exactly what is happening. I’d nearly start voting for SF if I am not careful…or maybe even Libertas…we really so screwed up.

    The weakness in David’s argument is that he’s assuming the government wants to govern. They do not. They just want a jolly…just like they had for the last 10 years – courtesy or Clinton/Greenspan and our wonderful German savers.

  34. Deco

    Philip – the people have learned that they cannot rely on the political, financial and media establishment to tell the truth. Therefore we have everybody going their seperate ways. The most glaring example is the people who park the car in Dublin Airport, and leave the country – supposedly for good. Their bank rating will be finished in this country-they will never get a loan again.

    The property and the financial sectors are ruined. But we should have the testosterone to let them go. Let them fail. Save the part of the economy that is working-the export driven private sector. Then at least we can be certain that there will be enough money coming into to country to get things back in balance in five years time. And then we can start using our resources wisely as a society and never again ‘throw money around like a drunken sailor’. Which is literally what has been going on in this country since we got out of this crisis.

    If the cabinet does not draw up a plan to perserve the export sector then this society will sepnd two generations in complete misery. Shane Ross is the only public representative that grasps the urgency of the situation. None of the other idiots in the Kildare Street circus seem to grasp it. Nobody in Dublin 4 grasps it. And unfortunately, that is what we have been stuck with as regard the ‘Official’ mainstream leadership in this country. A consensus amongst a bunch of delusional idiots who attacked anybody who stood up and told the truth. The leadership of this country now have us staring into the abyss !!!

  35. Deco

    {The weakness in David’s argument is that he’s assuming the government wants to govern. They do not. They just want a jolly…just like they had for the last 10 years – courtesy or Clinton/Greenspan and our wonderful German savers.}

    On examination of the various government ministers, and all those that have served since the mid 1970s, it sounds like you have a very valid point there. I mean what is the point in putting a primary school teacher like Mary O’Rourke in charge of the ESB, plus CIE, plus Bord Gais, etc. I could go on – but I think you get the point.

  36. @ Furrylugs I would not worry about Libertas and Declan Ganley if he hadn’t stepped up to the plate we the Irish electorate been the bunch of sheep that we are would have just voted as we were told.
    Declan Ganley could be our Obama and I for one think we need a man like him to bring Libertas together now and even run candidates for the local elections.
    As you would see the ma(FF)ia bringing out their spin doctors for sure to tell us ……….well who knows

    • Furrylugs

      Yes Brendan, agreed, but the word of caution was where do Libertas stand. We can’t have another Schickelgruber riding in on the back of popular discontent.

      • I know what you’re saying but FF AND FG are condemning anyone who suggests we shouldn’t vote for Lisbon. They seem to have forgotten that we’ve voted against it. Like the French voted against the EU constitution before the Lisbon makeover and so did the Dutch.

        This is being portrayed as a no-brainer decision in the same way that GW Bush portrayed the invasion of Iraq. Our politicians will be just as guilty if they manage to convince the electorate to throw away the right to self governance. Personally, I’d rather neither FG nor FF was in power after the next election but if they must be they need an ally that doesn’t roll over and play dead when they announce their next harebrained scheme.

        I’m delighted that Vaclav Klaus made his points so directly to Micheal Mairtin and the rest of the FFascitstas who suddenly became very interested in “diplomatic protocol” when someone had the temerity to question their sycophantic foreign policy.

        This government is a total disgrace. 18% approval rating. Lost a major referendum last year because they backed the wrong horse (their own) and insulted the Irish people with the message that you didn’t need to understand something to vote for it. Political defections caused by cack handed decisions in the budget and no imagination about how to proceed. Even when they try out a good but risky initiative like giving the deposit and lending guarantee they fail to reform the bank boards that led us into this stinking mess.

        We might not know exactly where Ganley is coming from but we’re very familiar with the mess the current shower have led us into.

  37. A quick note to all posters here…. I am over in the US this week and well they are suffering , what we should do is each week pick on one FF politician to hit with emails and tell them not only will they not be getting our vote but none of our families votes come the local elections and see what response they send to us. As I have wrote here before it’s time to move on now from the 1916 bunch who have been riding and playing to us for decades. Or when is enough really going to be enough !

    • Furrylugs

      Brendan, I mailed my local TD last week about the false figures issued regarding the Corrib Gas Field. No response.
      Multiple mailshots may work but will take some organising.
      I’m as angry as you but I’m circumspect about it.
      If the bulk of the people here can put up with this crap, let democracy prevail and I’ll head away.
      DMcW called a depression today and I can’t argue with him.
      But they’re welcome to it.
      I didn’t cause it and my family deserve better.

  38. John ALLEN

    Rain Frog – I was watching a wonderful programme about the animal kingdoms recently and its amazing how simple they seem to know how to organise themselves in times of danger …….its natural……/ in a desert area in USA rainfrogs are known to suspend life and hibernate under the sand while the hot sun shines above ….their skins are silky and moist always and above the ground the sand is parched dry and hot ….I watched a small pond of hundreds of tadpoles squirming in the depleting water while the scorching sun shun heavy gradually evaporating the remaining water ….they seemed all so helpless and destined to doom …..and that was immenent ..however nearby was a large Rainfrog …..alone watching with a concerned eye …and went into an adjoing larger pond that had an ajacent running river ….he engineered his body to excavate the upper sand between the larger pond and the depleting now dry pond and was successful in directing the flow of water into that area where the tadpoles were ……they all swam away to the river …safely
    Are there any Rain Frogs in Ireland ?

  39. Deco

    John ALLEN – ‘rainfrogs’ as you called them, have been ridiculed and scorned by our mainstream consumer culture. They ‘did not get with it’. I recommend that you you check out the “Century of Self” on utube. You were not supposed to think about ‘rainfrog’ behaviour. You were supposed to be shuffled along with the rest of the lemmings, into the consumerist dream chase. Watch as those who believed in it search for explanations. They say that men will fight and die rather than change their mental model. From what I have seen of Irish people, this is entirely true.

  40. John ALLEN

    ……Island fever is a curse…….you saw what happened in Iceland

  41. Deco

    John ALLEN – ‘rainfrogs’ as you called them, have been ridiculed and scorned by our mainstream consumer culture. They ‘did not get with it’. I recommend that you you check out the “Century of Self” on utube. You were not supposed to think about ‘rainfrog’ behaviour. You were supposed to be shuffled along with the rest of the lemmings, into the consumerist dream chase. Watch as those who believed in it search for explanations. They say that men will fight and die rather than change their mental model. From what I have seen of Irish people, this is entirely true.
    If you want an insight into how consumerism ‘works’ have a look at the Century of Self – insighful – basically the field of psychology has been adapted and corrupted to get earnings out of peoples pockets while simultaneously making them sheep.

  42. The director appointment scheme is a fop from the government to appease the people after their clear and risky bail-out of the Irish financial sector. 1 or 2 executive director’s appointed from a list of people the banks could possibly have drawn up themselves.

    We need some outspoken and tough characters put in there who have the time and experience to improve the banks operations and call it like they see it. They need to actually understand the banking and financial services sector rather than be celeb business figures which already fill our bank’s boards anyway. Serious insight and knowledge is required here. We really need bankers who’ve managed to steer clear of the irrational exuberance of the past few years. Bankers who are somehow not bankers…

    They need to avoid knee jerk reactions and populist pandering while somehow remaining entirely independent from the politicians that nominated them, worryingly enough. This all appears to be a tall order!

  43. Ed

    John Allen, I would suggest that you read “The Evolution of Cooperation by Robert Axelrod” According to “The Edge” U2 owes it success to this author. Brian Cowen’s take on patriotism is simply brazen cronyism and has damn all to do with any type of genuine cooperation for the well being of our people as a whole.

    Ferrylugs, I would have reasonable confidence in Mr. Ganley – He’s outward looking and into the big picture. Our present lot are rooted at the parish pump and unless there’s a vote in it, it has no value. That why the building/construction industry has such a hold – any fool can understand it.

  44. John ALLEN

    Ed – thanks I will …..I suggest you buy my book ‘ Da Wu Yu Code ‘ penned by Dee Noblesse……..( thats me on world stage ) …..this will blow ur mind out……not the same way …irish politicians do it though …it will make you …think

    • roc

      Interesting :) Is it from your imagination? Or, Churchward, Steiner etc inspired? I thought you were an accountant?! Nice wan anyway ya mad coot.

  45. Furrylugs

    I think that the 1st panic phase has passed. Paulson isn’t going to buy up the toxic debt anymore. He’s going to buy the banks instead. The ones he can afford I’d say and let the rest perish. He’s not going to bail out anyone thats not critical to the US either.
    Ominous for us. It’s the start of the “Obama” cycle.

  46. MK1

    I agree with Magsy and coldblow.

    The idea that government-appointed and bank-selected directors could change the running of the Irish banks is folly. All such new directors could do is see high level helicopter views and reports on data that they are given (which may be wrong of course) and appoint management and hold a few managers to accountability. They are unlikely to do the latter. Its a smokescreen I’m afraid. David, your idea of bringing in a team of so-called Untouchables wont be realised.

    The problems within the banks are endemic and have been culturally created and fostered over decades. What always amazed me when I worked in a bank was how little the vast majority of employees within the bank knew about banking, economics and monetary systems. That fact has now come home to roost as near to 100% of banks have been caught up in this credit bubble. Lambs to the slaughter. Putting their erros onto the costs of the taxpayer is non-sensical. They should be let collapse like any other business. Banking in Europe will survive. Yes, the EU may have to save the last 2 or 3 banks when only 2 or 3 are left in the EU. But we shouldnt be saving the first fallers.

    Burrenrocks> there is an opportunity for a new upstart bank

    Except that you cant get a banking licence to operate in Europe that easily. You need to have capital deposited with a central bank for a long-time, 10 years, and have to jump through various other hoops before a central bank would even contemplate giving you a banking licence. Its a closed market, and not open to real competiveness. The EU have given the banking sector this special derogation.

    John Q. Public > Why not just look at where the banks went wrong, have proper regulations drawn up and adhered to

    I agree. The lessons in the mistakes of the very recent past need to be learned and changes enacted. We have so far heard very little about that. Prevention.

    Philip> I suspect there is already a thriving black market.

    There always has and always will be whilst the government and society takes it with a pinch of salt. How many times in your life have you been inspected by a tax inspector at your place of work where thehy have asked staff what their RSI/PPS number is? I know my answer is zero! Nor in all the places I have worked have I evetr heard of such an inspection happening. Sure, when they phyiscally see 100 Romanians working on a Gamma cosntructuib site they go in, but its only when its obvious to a dog on the street. There are no inspections in general nor a threat of any. The reason is that we (the government) dont employ enough inspectors to do so. As there is no deterrent to the black market – hence it thrives. Obvious really.

    Philip > The commute has got longer

    Apart from us needing a more scientific study on all commute times, perhap one reason for your observation is as people are forced to change jobs and there is less choice, they perhaps have to get them in less favourable locations to their homes, and therefore must commute further and hence longer. However, I suspect the reasons may be more mundane and involve bad weather, incessant road works and more school runs from ‘lazy’ mothers. Maybe people are going into work later too. I know from my anecdotal evidence that the 7-7:30 slot has a lot less traffic on it noiw than it did a few years ago.

    Malcolm McClure> Mini-CTC Tribunal – That was reality TV of the most gripping

    Yeah, I knew some of the people involved as well. Without prejudicing anything in legal terms – guilty as sin is my conclusion. People had their pockets lined. It was closed down due to the judiciary though, not due to Business Ireland jousting with Political Ireland. It could have been restarted ala the Moriarty one but wasnt. The political appetite for doing so was less as there seemed to be enough tribunals going on and they were taking long enough.

    Philip> We are witnessing the culmination of mounting incompetence. The Peter Principle …

    Yes, incompetence is everywhere.

    Philip> The weakness in David’s argument is that he’s assuming the government wants to govern. They do not.

    Agreed, they do not. There is also an argument that they CANNOT. We need a systemic change in our political system perhaps to do so.

    As I’ve written in my previous response here, we have loads of problems to fix in this country.


  47. John ALLEN

    roc……its Victor HUGO……the French revere philosophers …………./ they are persecuted here and by you too

  48. Philip

    I think MK1′s observation of the enforced longer commute is the correct one. The lack of early traffic could also mean people are loosing interest in their work. Satisfaction is getting lower. It could also mean that a lot of early bird businesses are going to the wall. More likely it reflects the drop in manufacturing activity when early shifts were the norm

    We now have longer commutes rather than increased numbers of cars causing congestion. Car Hours on roads has increased for all the wrong reasons. And this tallies with the fact that public transport numbers on buses has fallen off recently as well. Public Routes rarely go where you want them and our density of routes relative to our housing sprawl is too low. That’s planning for you.

    I wonder will there be a sudden falloff in traffic after the new year? Eventually the number of commutes will fall off and each commute will get longer but quicker.


    • Liam

      real quick on the commute: its seasonal, goes like clockwork. When the schools and universities etc go back, and as soon as its gets cold, every bugger gets in their car. Not only that, the system is so precarious because of the additional volume, the slightest thing screws it up, a breakdown, a minor bump, and of course the bloody ditherers who slow down to a crawl in the rainy darkness with their eyes an inch from the windscreen… Typically, my drive to work goes from a nearly steady 23min in mid-July to a minimum of 35min by mid November, and am not in Ireland either (but a country with an only slightly less shoddy public transport system, but a more stable banking system, for now anyway). I think your all being a bit over sensitive to this as a symptom of something greater.

  49. Nono

    This is not only an Irish problem. Here is what you can read on a French magazine this month:
    “Everything falls apart, yet nothing changes. Billions given to the banks, the people responsible for the mess are still in command and the elite still doesn’t understand what’s the problem”.

    Sounds familiar?

    I think in many “democratic” countries, we have ended up in a 2 main party system: the right and the left in France, the Conservatives and Labour in UK, Democrates and Republicans in the US and FF and FG in Ireland. Yet, very little opposes these parties anymore. People have been clued up to that fact long ago, hence the low participation rate in elections. Whether you vote black or white, the same politics will be applied. Why? Is it because the same lobbies manipulate those in power? Is it because in the past 20 years the same perception of what capitalism should be about (constant growth, self-regulating markets, globalisation) has sneaked into most of our politicians minds? I don’t know, but I can sense revolution is on its way, it won’t be pretty and it might take a long time to get back to stability but expect some serious changes in this world.

  50. John ALLEN

    Furrylugs – I agree with all your comments ……nevertheless I disagree with your notion now that the fist phase of the panic has passed…….we are only …’ in fear now ‘ and that has not yet matured …..soon we leave that and arrive into…..Desperation ………and early in new year …maybe feb…..if the your money is not already devalued and /or frozen …we arrive into….PANIC ……..before we Capitulate …and lose our shirts / blouses ( furrylugs )…….that road continues to….Despondency……….Depression…..( book your summer ryanair flights now that will carry you through )

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