February 4, 2009

Uncertainty is spreading like a virus in a creche

Posted in International Economy · 166 comments ·

Social PartnersOn Monday afternoon Killiney Hill was full of delighted children, squealing at the sight of snow. Many had never seen snow before. The children screamed as they threw snowballs and rocketed down the side of the hill on makeshift sledges.

However, the most striking aspect of the scene was not the unexpected snowfall and the dozens of children, but the huge numbers of fathers with them.

These men, all in their prime with young families, mortgages and up until recently careers, are the newly unemployed face of middle class Ireland. If something is not done quickly, their number will swell to hundreds of thousands.

While much of the media attention has focussed on partnership, the most terrifying news this week was the collapse in car sales.

In January, car sales fell by 67pc from 47,609 to 25,929. The Irish car industry is going bust. The economy is seizing up. No-one has any cash and companies without cash-flow are going bust. This week alone three friends of mine told me they are going out of business.

While the Government and the social partners play musical chairs in Government Buildings, out in the real world, the Irish economy is moving steadily towards bankruptcy.

No-one in the partnership charade seems to realise that to pay the bills, we have to generate income. We only generate income if we can sell our goods for a profit and with some of this profit pay tax. If this is not happening or if we can’t sell, either at home or internationally, the State runs out of money and we default. This is a process that is well under way here and no amount of interviews with the Taoiseach will obscure this.

Let us be clear what is happening here and why this has got nothing to do with a pay round. A pay round is based on the old economic of inflation.

The dynamic is grounded on the premise of keeping costs down, so that the difference between costs and final prices is sufficient to make decent profit. But this misdiagnoses our problem. Ireland’s problem is that a monumental housing and debt bubble has just burst. This has causing the forced sale of assets which has caused an enormous contraction in the nation’s perceived wealth.

Deflation takes hold and it causes people and companies to go bankrupt which leads to the banking system imploding and the economy moves into a depression. As people feel that deflation is around the corner, they put off spending until the future when they feel they will get a lower price. So how do we get out of this?

The first step in getting out of the problem is realising what your ailment is. Old-fashioned economics tells us that when the price of something falls, the demand rises. Well this is not always the case here. In fact, these days because the country is gripped with fear, when the price of something falls, the demand does too. To understand this better, let’s construct a little picture of what is going on in the economy.

Let’s be trivial and call the dilemma of the Irish economy, the ‘Midnight at the Olympia’ model of deflation. Do you remember Midnight at the Olympia? Cast your mind back to the early to mid-1990s before the pub licences were liberalised. One of the few places you could get a late drink was Midnight at the Olympia where you could pay a tenner and get two extra hours drinking if you could bear listening to the likes of Smokey.

So there you are, pint in hand sitting down happily with a mate. Just then the bloke in front of you stands up. You have to stand up. The bloke in front of you puts his girlfriend on his shoulders and you now have a 14-foot Triffid waving wildly in front of you.

A girl beside you asks if she can get on your shoulders. You now have a complete stranger sitting on you, your pint is spilling all over the place, you can’t see the accursed stage and all you came for was a quiet drink.

I could go on, but you get the picture. The minute the bloke in front of you stood up, you were doomed. He did not realise that when he stood up, he forced you to react. In fact he was totally unaware of your presence at all.

Then you stood up and this had a negative impact on a person two rows back and so on. Deflation works in precisely the same way. You decide not to buy a car because you think prices will fall and, unbeknownst to yourself, your decision affects someone else, who because you won’t buy concludes that car prices will fall further and he doesn’t buy.

This takes hold all over the economy and very soon the price of everything is falling. Like a theatre where everyone ends up standing because of the actions of one person, an economy can experience a reinforcing deflationary spiral as everyone pulls their horns in.

Economic insecurity and uncertainty works like a virus in a creche — once one child gets it, everyone does.

This is what is happening in Ireland and it threatens to overwhelm the Irish banks who will see a wave of defaults this year initially on mortgages but then on credit cards, car loans and all forms of short-term credit deals that propped up the bubble economy.

The problem is that the only way we can prevent the economy from contracting in a deflationary spiral is to engineer inflation by pumping money into society, dramatically easing credit conditions and forcing people to spend.

This means, when our banks are frozen in a zombie-like state, expanding government expenditure. Ireland has chosen to do the opposite and deflate into deflation. Expect more idle fathers on Killiney Hill and every other public space in the country as the Irish economy moves now into freefall.

  1. Don

    Interesting article David.
    But whilst it is apparent that we have talked ourselves into a large part of the “Irish” take on the worldwide recession, what strategies would you suggest to get us lemmings out of it?
    I am not talking about the high level “expanding government expenditure”. What, in real terms, would you suggest?
    Going on a major infrastructure building programme?
    How about freezing prices at current levels to send out a signal that there is no better time to buy than now? Would this start people spending again?
    It appears to me that everyone is waiting to see what happens, therefore nothing is happening.
    Except that the wait is costing people jobs as the whole economy goes into suspended animation.

  2. Malcolm McClure

    Actually, car sales fell by 46% not 67%. The garages that are going bust because they are not selling new cars should turn their attention to hiring mechanics to fix older cars to get them through the MOT test. If that was a s stringent as in Northern Ireland, a lot of old jalopies would be off the road tomorrow. and folks would be obliged to by new replacements.

  3. MarkC

    My initial reaction when I read this article was that is crazy not to believe that we need serious & sweeping cutbacks in the public sector.

    Then I thought about it, and began to see the deflationary argument that David is putting forward. It kind of makes sense.

    Now I’m torn. Thing is, Ireland is not like China or the US. Because our economy is so open, it doesn’t respond to giving domestic stimulas in the same way. Putting more money into people’s pockets won’t make too much difference.

    On the other hand, getting into a situation where we end up defaulting on our debt a la Argentina would surely be the end of Ireland’s international reputation as a place of business for a generation.

    Maybe deflation will take hold like a virus here like you describe. It is certainly a possibility in the property market. In the wider economy though? I don’t think so.

  4. Dilly

    But, did business owners hedge their bets on the economy only going one way, through over borrowing, and over expanding, did they take their eye off the ball, because many were too busy patting themselves on the back. Is this not why many of them are now folding ?. Where will this money come from, will the IMF have to step in ?.


  5. phoebebright

    The only way to counteract uncertainty is to provide some certainty! Obama understands that (and we live in hope that he will be successful) but our government and the UK governments do not. We get the sense they have the same level of fear and uncertainty that we do, so what ever they do, it doesn’t help.

    So who can give us the kind of quiet leadership that can calm a room of screaming kids? I don’t think it matters where they come from. It could be an individual or a group of people, they could be from business, politics, community or relgious groups. But someone needs to start talking sense we can understand and believe in and take us back, as David says, to the basics of the economy. If money does not circulate the economy shrinks, and that is bad news for all of us.

    If nobody steps forward, maybe we have to start looking after ourselves. Richard Douthwaite and Feasta is working with a group of people to look at how a complimentary eCurrency might keep the economy moving if there are problems with the supply of Euros and create an opportunity to spend money into they economy.

    In the meantime, I would like to see the government focus on the priorities of what we need (rather that what we want), which are in my view:
    - keeping people in their homes
    - support businesses sectors which supply our basic needs – food, energy, communications, basic transport
    - fund infrastructure projects which will benefit us in the long term – particularly a secure renewable energy infrastructure

    And, I think they would be wise to clarify the problem and ask for our help is solving it. They can’t do it on their own, we have to do it together if we want to build our own future. Otherwise… Well how bad is it in Iceland?

  6. IanMellor

    I’m a father of 5 living in Dublin and commuting to the UK to work but I came home to play with the kids in the snow, I haven’t lost my job yet.

    This thing about fathers without jobs brings to mind something that was bandied about in the early 80s even before the IBM PC, that was that computers would cause mass unemployment.
    I heard an estate agent talking on the phone in the snow yesterday, not sure if he was a father. He was talking to a potential client about a house and I wondered what his use was to the economy. His like many other jobs in the service industries can be easily be replaced by IT. In fact, his working will only have a negative effect, as his function seems to be hyping up the prices which is good for the seller but they also have to buy!

    Working in the IT industry for 25 years I believe it is only now that IT is really reaching critical mass and this current shake up will expand the use of IT and the first to go will be the middle men and dealers and I don’t think they will ever come back. I’d love to know your opinion on this.

    As for Ireland’s future, I haven’t like the way it has been going for years, with incompetence, greed and corruption. If I was in power I’d make sure the Gardi and the army are looked after, these are the “fundamentals” for any banana republic.

  7. gibbonm

    Hi All
    Just read this, in the Irish Times. I am blown away by the size of Ireland debt in comparison to other large countries like the US and Japan. How could this have happened?. No wonder Irish bonds are the riskiest in the EU. Are we potentially ruined for a couple of generations?.


  8. Garry

    A) We don’t have the option of printing more money, that will require ECB agreement and they are more concerned with inflation, so we cant just inflate away the debts along with savings. Whether they are right or not is another question but hyperinflation cant be too nice as it seems to have left the same folk memory on the Germans as the famine did here.
    B) Realistically how much more can we borrow and for how long and where would that leave us..

    They are not great options are they?

    At this point, it would be nice to be transported into a Carlsberg commercial with option C :)

    anyways back to work!

  9. gadfly55

    The Lucey-Gurdgiev article in the Irish Times yesterday gave the figure of 790billion for personal and corporate debt, excluding financial. Include financial and debt rises to 1594 billion. Government debt is 77billion, but all the media focus is on government. There is 300billion due for payment by July. The hard figures from the IMF tell the story. The Irish debt is one sixth of American debt, it is greater than the debt of Japan but Alan Ahearne believes we can restore competitiveness by cutting incomes so we will export our way out of this pit when the upturn comes, whenever that is supposed to be.

    Until we understand the facts, opinion and anecdote are distractions.


    Unemployment increased by 36,000 last month!.At this rate there will be 600,000 on the dole by year end.Iceland is in much better shape!.How come unemployment in the 6 counties is only 40,000?.At this rate there will be more people unemployed in Ireland than Australia (population 21 million).This is madness.WILL THE LAST PERSON TO EMIGRATE SWITCH OUT THE LIGHTS?.Cheers.

  11. David,

    With 33,000 added to the Live Register in January, the news is very grim. That is the monthly equivalent of 2.5m in the US, which would create a firestorm.


    As for ramping up public spending, before reforms and paring costs to sustainable levels, wouldn’t it be akin to giving an alcoholic a crate of whiskey on condition that he stops drinking?

    Besides, who is going to fund it if we lose the confidence of int. investors?

    Pressure should be put on Gormley to force a general election in order to bring focus to the political debate. It would also have the merit of providing a chance to have a government with a mandate.

    Cowen is a totally unfit leader in these times of peril.

    The US economy could be in trouble for the next 3 years and unless there is a level of national consensus on what’s required, there well could be riots in the streets.

    • paddythepig


      You are spot on, congrats on your excellent website. Ireland cannot ramp up public spending ; the markets know we don’t have the underlying true productive capacity to merit affordable loans on the scale David is suggesting. Also, they have every right to doubt our ability to put borrowed money to good use ; look at our recent track record.

      Ultimately Ireland needs to become more productive. Eliminating public sector waste would be a good starting point. Private sector waste should be dealt with by the market – unless, ahem, the private sector wasters just happen to be kept afloat by the taxpayer. In the interests of the country, these privileged private sector leeches need to be given a serious financial haircut.

      Unfortunately, I don’t see anyone in the Dail fit to lead in these times. Kenny is a disaster. Gilmore is good at the consternation, but bereft of ideas.


      • G

        Paddy – Good comment – apart from BS, Ireland produces very little, economy built on construction, inflated property and financial services- well enough said about those.

        Labour have no depth in their squad – nothing on the backbenches – maybe we should consider a presidential system, where we elect the best candidate and he picks the finest people from here and abroad to run the government, that would give me a lot more confidence than seeing Mary Coughlan’s Palinesque calls for ‘cuts in revenue’.

        I am just waiting for cheap RTE programmes (from highly paid executives) with cameras at Irish airports entitled: ‘Home and Away: The Irish Diaspora’ or pretentious gardening programmes set in Irish homes abroad, ‘yes, Marcus, we are delighted with our sunken garden’.

        What a country.


    Why no apology from fitzie?.

  13. Harve

    With the economy the way it is and the weather we have been having it is looking more and more like Iceland everyday. To date, it appears that everything that has been attempted (mostly in a lack-lustre fashion) by the government has not contained the problem. It is time for a government of national unity that is not led by members of a select grouping of parties but instead draws-upon the best talents of all our people. It is time to have the likes of David in this government, taking the decisive actions needed to address this serious situation. We also need people like Michael Smurfit, Niall Fitzgerald and Peter Sutherland. We need the best talents in the Dail including the likes of Eamon Gilmore and Brendan Howlin to help us out of this mess.

    As Al Pacino in the movie Any Given Sunday said “Either we heal as a team or we’re gonna crumble – inch-by-inch, play-by-play till we’re finished….We’re in Hell right now … and we can stay here get the shit kicked out of us or we can fight our way back to the light, we can climb out of hell – one inch at a time”

    In fact, why not view this link on YouTube, cos I think that we are all gonna need some extra motivation to “go the inches” that we will need to go in the coming years in order to get this country out of hell.



  14. cozzy121

    David, after being amazed by your ability to try and find silver linings in this mess, in a number of your articles, it seems, by the tone of this article, you are seeing no light at the end of the tunnel. It appears that this governments stupidity has killed the last sense of hope you had.
    I think your next article should examine what actually happens when the IMF pull the plug on us?
    Will the money we have in our bank accounts now worthless?
    Should we turn up to work the following morning after this country is announced to be a defaulter?
    Will goods that we purchased online using a Mastercard or Visa, brands in use all over the world, probably from abroad, be stopped from being sent to Ireland?
    Will other EU members stop Irish “Economic Refugees” from claiming benefits in their countries?
    “he Irish economy moves now into freefall”, please some advice, on what happens when it hits bottom.

  15. To any impartial intelligent observer

    The “Celtic Tiger” essentially was

    1.A Credit fueled Housing/Construction Facade
    2.An Unprecedented expansion of Public Expenditure with disproportionately lower returns for each tax euro spent
    3.Export of multinational products that were shipped/value added through Ireland.
    4.Expanded Service Industry supporting all of the above activity.

    Ireland 2009
    Economic Vacuum in Place of 1.
    Severe Contractions in place of 2, 3 and 4.
    Unprecedented Job Loss’s as a result of all the above activity.

    Any independent intelligent observer can see that the Government are responsible and should be held responsible for 1 and 2 above. Unfortunately due to the political realities of the country the Government are not only refusing to accept responsibility but unbelievably been actually given, the credibility (by a lot of people) to address the economic crisis they are significantly responsible for leading the country into.

    If you then consider the fact that they continue to pay themselves in excess of the political leaders of all the worlds leading industrialized nations , not to mention the inequities of their dealings with the failed Irish banks. The conclusion is clear, Ireland’s Celtic Tiger has been exposed for the cheap credit fueled facade masquerading as an economic success story by a crony/unaccountable political system it really was.

    Would you like the opportunity for a vote to directly elect the executive. Right now, you can only really vote for a local representative to Parliament. The fallacy of the system is that a Minister for Finance must also retain an official obligation to act as a local representative for the suburb he/she resides in, therein lies the problem. The consistently prominent political families have that whole local system sussed , it is obviously beyond coincidence that the three most influential political offices of this State are currently held by three people whose succeeded their fathers into such prominent political positions, when looking at other Party’s the same picture emerges. No current alternative party for Goverment is anything but a collection of season dail seat holder devoid of any tangible proffesional experience outside of running in local elections. We as citizens of a country with a smaller population than most global cities, should have a vote for a local representative to parliament and a separate vote to elect an executive to make the critical decisions of the state. A directly accountable executive that operates outside of the restraint, that the necessary aggregate of local and inter party power bargaining confines existing political candidates within. We need an elected goverment, solely elected by a majority of the citizens of the country and not a government that is produced after all the local political and inter party power bargaining has been concluded.

    No independent intelligent observer could say that successive Irish goverments have been anything but incompetent. On the other hand we are not all incompetent, we have incredibly intelligent, capable citizens who have proven their competence internationally but again its easy to see why they would never dream of getting involved in the Irish political system as it now is.

    The point of all of this , is that we can pontificate on the right economic strategy, but ultimately we (in a democracy) need competent people to create, implement and oversee such a strategy. We clearly don,t have such people leading us, only the most naive could put any credibility into the Idea that those significantly responsible for the current economic crisis are the ones likely to lead us out of it. We need competent government before we will ever build a real sustainable economic success story.

    • IanMellor

      Quote from the Big Lebowski “we have our best men working on it now”
      I would agree that competence or ability is not based on your fathers or grandfathers position, political or other. Otherwise we would have a monarchy, but the people vote for them because they are comfortable with them. Oh yes these guys got us into this mess, either through incompetence or deliberately, either way they are not the best people to sort it out. But I don’t know who can. We need an election or coup (it looks that serious) to remove them if they won’t go quickly. Who else is there, I voted for the greens but they might as well be cabbages! The IMF will run the place soon. Size does matter and I think in such a small country personal interests get mixed up in politics too easily. I would get involved politically if it would be helpful in the same way I would join a PTA but our political landscape is full of wide boys. The only people I have known that showed an interest in joining politics were openly in it for their own betterment. Without our own currency we are just like a large multi-national that is going bankrupt, there is no room to movement. I think I’ll get my Smiths albums out and contemplate the future!

  16. The Dude

    Its over lads we are finished the IMF will have to be called. did any one watch pimetime last night did you hear dermot ahern this man has not got a clue.
    did anyone see mansergh on TV3, a bizzare youtube moment the irish people will watch in the years to come in london bedsits
    we are finished
    the cuts that have been made will soon be wiped out by a rise in the social welfare payments
    But there is more, much more to come we have only now reached the start
    we are FUBARED
    Ireland could end up like kosova, semi free but controled by the EU
    We need an election ASAP
    Zanu FF must go

  17. Dilly

    I saw Ahern on Primetime, he made no sense, and left me very down at the end of a pointless program. I realised just how out of touch with reality the Government are. But, I missed Mensergh on TV3.

  18. gadfly55

    Cowen says 400,000 signing on by year’s end, and considering his record of projections we can add 15% to this, and watch the malign cycle spin at 50,000 euro per second down the toilet as revenues collapse and expenditure rockets for social welfare. Long term, indefinite term, post apocalypse term. The private debt of 1594 billion is sinking the country, not government debt, not yet, and it won’t be allowed as no one will lend to the government or the banks for years until the globe adjusts to the post Anglo-American investment banking model. The new realities of the BRIC economies of production and internet professional services will be pounding sense into the Paddy Whackery signatories of 125% mortgages for 40 years. The rest of us will pay forever for the sins of our bank and political masters. Resign yourself to it, or plan a way out with hard currency before the Irish euro note is not accepted anywhere.

  19. David,

    Hello from New York! I just finished your book “The Generation Game” this morning and it made for great reading. I’m a little late in reading it I know. Upon finishing the book I was left with a great sense of optimism which I’m afraid has been slipping bit by bit from your weekly articles. What a difference two years can make, eh?

    From what friends tell me at home, what I see in New York and the tone of your most recent articles I have become somewhat pessimistic. Many Irish immigrants in New York tell me it’s worse than they have ever seen and even the most upbeat seem somewhat concerned.

    My instinct is to ask you for some light at the end of the tunnel or silver linings but please don’t. Watching rte.ie and listening to the radio online it seems very few are being honest at home. The Irish government appears to make one wrong decision after another. If there is one thing the Irish have difficulty with is facing up to reality.

    Keep up the good work David

  20. gadfly55

    1744euro per second for a year is 55 billion, that’s a lot of people throwing cents into the wishing well. As much hope as we have, and by similar magical thinking. Over 150 million a day at that rate. Department of Finance and analysts calculating Ireland’s prospects know the variables in the storm of unemployment, rising Government liabilities including guarantees to banks, and the protectionist retrenchment of the global economy. Bad news at Blackrock, where is Spencer Tracy when we need him?

  21. Sabres of Paradise

    barack obama is to announce today that the CEO of any bank getting bail out money is to get compensation, ie salary and pay of no more than 500k USD a year, thats about 400k in euro.

    As the government has bailed out the two untouchables in AIB and BOI , lets forget about the Titanic on Stephens Green (Anglo)

    Will Cowen enforce such restricitions on the pay on these boys.

    AIB Capital Markets paid out bonuses to staff on friday and no word yet as to what the top cop Colm Doherty was given , last year he was only paid 800k in a bonus , god love him .

    And it will be from this area of AIB bank that houses all the “risky Plays & players” that the big hits will come from , seeing as it has year on year been the biggest generator of income for AIB.

  22. Sabres of Paradise


    Obama hits the boys on wall street , like the way the market has hit bank shares, knocked their pay down by 75-80%
    The boys on Wall Street will have to formally disclose every little perk they get…
    The American tax payer is going to see where its money is being spent.

    In good auld Eire, were we back slap each other and put our heads in the sand and do the three monkeys, see no evil, hear no evil do no evil.

    Good auld Big Bad Brian Cowen wants the Bankers to take 25% cut….

    Yep, he isnt justing hitting them , them with the cap in hand, them living in big houses in D4.

    Fcukin WANTS them , here is 8 billion and PLEASE take a 25% cut on your yearly compensation lads, ah go on, lads, do it for me , please?

    Obama is a man, a man who can clearly see his balls, and has told the Wall Street gang how it is …..
    You dont Fcuk with me lads or i will have all your balls , you hearin me lads ?

    Were left with a man who hasnt seen his balls in decades , asking the bankers to take a cut…………………….
    and we wonder why Moodys have down graded us….

  23. Ciaran

    I understand what you’re saying about deflation. Interestingly Philip Lane (TCD economist) has suggested that a fall in prices in Ireland will constitute disinflation rather than deflation due to our membership of the euro. His http://www.irisheconomy.ie blog is useful on this. I think we need a devaluation and that can only come about through a fall in prices and wages, wages first!

  24. barry

    David, I don’t suppose you’ll lose much sleep, but having read todays piece I am considering unloading your RSS feed from my list.

    I am not a economist, which is why, up to now, I have read your pieces with great interest, they spoke sense.

    However, even my risible level of economic knowledge allows me to understand that the present crisis will ENSURE that people in Ireland won’t buy things, especially cars. Why? a) because they are overpriced and b) in the crisis ambience it is a ‘put it off’ item, especially if it is a company vehicle (except of course if you are Mr Cowan).

    I read in the background that one of the reasons put forward by the SIMI for the downturn was imports from the UK, again my understanding of economics says – price of the £ goes down, UK cars are cheaper anyway, ergo, higher imports.

    Can we have some arguments from your economic song book about how the banking sector as presently constituted can be closed down and replaced by a better managed and regulated system of ensuring the economic survival of our little country. I am beginning to realise that no-one knows what we need to do, I used to think you did…..

    Bye, Barry

  25. jay

    Do I take it from this Article that there is no longer a Midnight at the Olympia? I used to have great fun their.

  26. StephenKenny

    I was reading Paul Krugman’s blog recently (Winner of this years Nobel Prize for economics), and inspite of lip service paid to ‘structural issues’, it seems to me that the entire effort is in looking for a cunning slight of hand, that will set us all in the road to riches. Do we reflate, or do we deflate? The arguments are raging. We hear about Keynes’s ‘paradox of thrift’ – David describes it very nicely above – if people stop spending, then people lose their jobs as a result, so in turn stop spending, and so on, and so on. So we then hear about ‘stimulating demand’ to get the economy out of trouble (someone gives you money, you spend it in the shops, the shops, and suppliers, take on more staff, who spend it in the shops, and so on, and so on).

    My take is to look at the economy as a company: If we want to expand, then we sit around in the cafe, with a bunch of laptops and corporate data, and look at what’s happening. If we’re honest, we might decide that we should, finally, close down that Betamax factory, and is it really necessary to have 40% of the staff working in HR? however sophisticated the valves are, should we really be spending 80% of R&D on new ones?
    The problems we have are fundamentally structural, they are most profoundly structural.
    We know where the problems lay, in broad terms (we should, we’ve talked about them enough), we know, in our heart of hearts, that some things will have to be cut, and other things invested in.

    Using the language of economics is just plain misleading – i.e. we get led into thinking in the wrong way: We don’t want to ‘stimulate demand’, we want to build a thriving software outsourcing industry (for example), which will, as should be stating the bleedin’ obvious, ‘stimulate demand’; We want to become a technical centre of excellence – which we could do via a significant increase in technical education – which would also ‘stimulate demand’.

    If we’re not careful, we’re going to end up, as the old sore has it, ‘stimulating demand’ by having half the workforce being paid to dig holes, and the other half being paid to fill them in, or equally unfortunately cutting our costs by laying off those guys in Valve R&D, and ending up with a lot of unemployed valve researchers.

    If someone says they can fix the economy by this cunning financial manoeuvre, or that one, while we all sit in the pub, then it’s just too good to be true, and so it is.

  27. Colin_in_exile


    You say “So there you are, pint in hand sitting down happily with a mate. Just then the bloke in front of you stands up. You have to stand up. The bloke in front of you puts his girlfriend on his shoulders and you now have a 14-foot Triffid waving wildly in front of you.”

    So the problem starts with the guy in front of you. What should you do? Tap him on the shoulder and tell him to sit back down again. Problem solved. If he refuses, explain to him the consequences for everyone. If he still refuses, pour your drink over him. He leaves the show to go home. Another problem solved.

    By not addressing the problem, you make matters worse. Its even worse than “peace in our time” antics by Chamberlain. People should show more courage when faced with anti-social behaviour. But its back to Kevin Myers’ analysis of Irish people, most have no appetite for moral solidarity.

    Yes, it was the same with salaries, everyone wanted more money than the other guy who they value less, instead of being happy with the money they were receiving. Again with holidays, yer man down the road had a great holiday in the algarve, so you go and try to have an even better holiday to rub his nose in it. The list goes on, your house, your holiday home, your car, your wedding reception.

    At least the nonsense will stop now.

  28. johninmunich

    Increasing public spending so that Ireland builds an infrastructure to last sounds like a great idea in theory, but the money would most likely go through the usual black holes. And who would lend it to us?
    What people looking for a national executive need to remember is that for every Beverley Flynn or Michael Lowry there are tens of thousands of people voting them in. Even if Ireland were to have a national executive, do you think these people are going to vote for a party which works for everyone or the party which works for them? Local politicians will still get elected by promising to “have a word with the big fella about yer parish pump” and hence the voter will vote gombeens to the national executive.
    We`re not big enough for Europe to really care about our impact on the Euro apart from the psychological effect of a Euro member hitting the ropes. They would by and large leave us to rot. Bigger problems would be Italy and Spain.
    I would be delighted to see the EU roll in to town though to start knocking some heads together but I don`t see it happening.

  29. begekel

    I am afraid Brian Cowen does not have the balls to do that which needs to be done. He is fiddling while Rome burns. Obviously Government spending is massively out of sync with revenues and equally obviously if we do not reduce spending our creditors will think Ireland is a risky bet and may stop lending to us.

    Let us compare what we ‘give’ ourselves vis-a-vis the UK

    Unemployment benefit for a single person is about 210 euro — in N Ireland it is about £60

    If you have 5 children in Ireland you get €941 per month in children’s allowance if you have 5 children in the UK you get £290

    Minimum wage here is €8.65 per hour in the UK it is £5.73. For those under 18 the UK rate is £3.53 — here it is € 6.06 per hour

    The old age pension here is €219 per week in the UK the pension is £90.70.

    I am afraid we are being very lavish with the money we are borrowing from our creditors. Brian Cowen needs to reduce all of the above and not by 10%. But he will not do that and so I think he should have a name change to Brian Coward

  30. Lesley

    I am a dreaded public servant. I joined at a salary which I could not negotiate despite over 10 years’ private sector experience (value for money at least for the public, way-hey, but hardly of the private sector spirit!). A school leaver would have got the same rate but probably not got the job, it was my decision to go “public sector”, so no regrets! The consolation was in a few years in the job, with increments I would be at a credible level and by retirement I should have been ok. I base this on buying back years (AVCS), now that is no longer an affordable option with my current effective pay cut. I also pay the higher rate towards my pension @ (6%). My earning capacity 5 years after Graduating University wasn’t far off what it is now but as I said, my decision to go “public”.

    I conceed the government has to put their house in order first, public sector workers form part of that house. However you have been hoodwinked by all the spin and missed the point. The public called for public sector blood and they got it. Now one day on from the breaking news of pension levies and the public are calling for employment stimulus or some magic Celtic USP. The decline is a consequence of short sighted taxation policies based on development levies, stamp duty, property as a productive product, greed and a lack of competitiveness. All that time wasted public sector bashing, when heads should have agreed a big picture solution.

    Local authorities have been totally left out of the media frenzy about the public sector. Our services are not law enforcement or saving lives, therefore not worthy of comment, I nearly thought LA’s weren’t included in the bereatment. LA’s administrate EU and government policy on a local level and deliver housing services, waste management, water, waste water services amongst others, google your own LA if you don’t believe me, as it is your Council you call when you have an immediate problem.

    The OEDC deemed Irish LA’s pretty efficient by European standards and are not over staffed comparatively. With all the extra on-going EU directives local authorities are obliged to implement, most LA’s are hard pressed to do so, when funding doesn’t increase to match service requirements. The public has not been given a fair picture in this regard, the question is unless more services are to be cut, what more blood letting can be done from a local authority perspective?

    Why is it now, just one day on from the pension levy announcement, Fine Gael and Labour are now pointing to the wider picture of job creation (Duhh)? Why does everything have to be so tunnelled visioned? Are we the public so thick, we can only cope with one sound bite at a time or is it the politicians that can only cope with one concept at a time or is it the media who are canny enough to realise one resounding headline will do? This is not a case of compartmentalised festers, it is one big cross infected sore of a bleeding mess.

    Now the opposition are doing the softly softly about how inequitable the latest round of pension levies on public sector workers are. Arrah here now! They called for it and would have done the same themselves. The largest body of these workers are middle income earners, to get the most returns, it makes sense to hammer them the most. I think they could have levied the top earners a percent or two more and left the 15K crowd at a half a per cent as a token.

    Oh dear, now the opposition and media (mediosition) are worried about deflation now that public servants won’t be spending on fast new cars, boozy lunches, quarterly bonuses, picking up the tab at Lillys and daily Spa treatments. Opps sorry the blood letting has made me dizzy, those were the private sector flash executives who created the bubble that burst. What I mean’t ferrous sulphate infusement later; is that as I thankfully failed to get on the property ladder, I shall continue to pay rent and save for a fantasy home, I shall forgoe lattes, tuna baguettes and will make my own lunch. I did but will shop in Lidl and Aldi even more. I will tell chuggers to get lost for the first time, I will get off the bus stop a fare zone earlier, I won’t be going abroad for two tacky weeks in the sun, I will spend alot more spare time on courses to ensure my future employment. I will go to the library and borrow books and learn to sew. I haven’t been spontaneous in the shops because I too am scared and am saving. I will shop in advance for Christmas presents when I see a bargain. And I am a lucky one because I have a job.

    Although I am no sadist, I am rowing in and taking the pain, we all have to pull our weight, I just hope its not more good money after bad and that it is not in vain. I expect more pain to come. This is only the start, I just hope it is not too late.

    I could see things were going pear-shaped 18 months ago, that’s why I am still a FTB, why did the Government remain in denial for so long and so unapologetic to date? Am I genius or are they just out of touch?

    Might our leaders have just come in harder earlier? We need sustainable government funding, I can’t see any other way than a property tax now and a widdening of the tax base now and an increase in capital expenditure not a cut. Can we wait for the Commission on Taxation’s report in the summer to suggest what taxes are fiddled with? It could be too late by then. David tell them……..what about the Swedish economy miracle recovery?

    Would following that example mean leaving the Euro zone/nationalising all the banks? Does this mean shareholders will have to suffer again? What about our deposits if we leave the Euro, will their be a Gold Rush?

    Calling for public sector blood was months and weeks of knee jerk time wasting and gesturing!

    Now it is crunch time. All the parties should row in and form an expert panel of leading Economists and pundits and be advised by those who forecast correctly. It goes without saying vested interests, corrupt Bankers or incompetent Regulators need not apply. Time is of the essence. Or does the government actually have some mad plan that they are keeping close to their chest that will save the day, or are we just being hopeful?

  31. Tim

    Furrylugs, recant and return, please. We need you.

  32. Malcolm McClure

    begekel and Lesley: You are welcome. Your contributions based on fact, observation and experience, with only minor grumbles about the government, provide insights that brings this blog to life again.

    Those who have lived through the last 15 years in Ireland have marveled at what was happening, and wondered who was paying for it all, because it was patently obvious that it wasn’t money generated by the local economy. Yet a huge array of good quality houses, motor-ways and other permanent assets were built. They are a credit to all concerned and we should never forget that. Of course we all got carried away with it all and we put the reality that it would need to be paid for one day to the back of our minds.

    We are all on a bus with a debt bomb on board that is running out of control. Now we are approaching that famous scene in the Keanu Reeves movie ‘Speed’ where the motorway bridge hasn’t been built yet. Will Jack (David McW) get the passengers off the bus safely? Or will Payne (the two Brians and their banker buddies) successfully collect a huge ransom from us and ride off into the sunset?

    Tune in here for the next thrilling episode.

  33. Johnny Dunne

    36k joined the dole last month, but the media still put spin on it that’s it’s only 9% (of what!). That’s 320k people ! Not long ago this country employed 1 million. Brian Cowen said we still have ‘alot’ in employment. He announced today there is 1.8 million people in work, that’s down 15% from the high of 2.1 million! I believe this will head back towards 1.4 million workers as the economy is no bigger than the early 1990′s when you take out debt and big MNCs.

    There could be upwards of 500k on the dole very soon with the rest emigrating. The only way to turn the tide is for ‘major’ taxation changes incentivising businesses from all over the world to trade through Ireland. Then it’s all about ‘guerilla marketing’ to announce lowest taxes ‘guaranteed’. That’s the only way a knowledge economy will make a meaningful impact here, creating some confidence for consumers to spend and people to fill up empty properties. Only two ways to get money borrow or ‘sell’ something – we all need to start plying that old trade. If not ourselevs someone else, I mean there products / services.

    Unfortunately, I can’t see any appetite, leadership or vision to do announce and more importantly ‘implement’ something truly innovative, ‘entrepreneurial’ and controversial to separate Ireland from the crowd of struggling EU economies.

    I suppose David there used to be some great gigs in Dublin in the 80’s / 90’s in pretty crap buildings — McGonigles is now empty shops and office blocks — very soon theywill be giving it away to anyone who can pay some rent….

  34. ah Killiney Hill that brings me back to my days strolling through ould Dalkey but David I think your trips into the choclate factory and all those late dinner speaking events you have attended over the years is now in your latter years begining to affect your eye sight as the fathers you saw playing with the children were the public and civil servants who just took the day off under the excuse of the Heavy snow fall nothing to do with the melt down now happening out side of Dublin suburbs.
    Your allergies and smilies are becoming part of the dynamics of the cultural change of tide that is happening domestically here while it is at a greater advancement on main land Europe yet our National media is not publishing these sights nor are they really showing what is happening in south America or Asia. And Why ?
    Well because Ireland is run around Drink whether it is The pint of Arthur or a few half ones and here starts our troubles. I’m not saying One should not take a Drink or part take in one with company as for as long as Man himself has been on this planet ,he has found drinks and herbs to take him to illusionist visions. And this is what has happened here to us in Ireland we collectively got drunk on an illusion that We were the Envy of Europe , now today in February of the year two thousand and a nine how ironic has that vision become.
    We do not Need People back spending again , why should we kick off the madness and self interested consumerism society we had developed into. What we need now is certainly a few bad years if only to sort out the wheat from the shaft so to speak , as here now we have too many middle management and Yes folk doing nothing and getting over paid for their admin skills and we have to see more tales been told by Shane Ross on what else was spent in the other departments. Let the Garages close, vast majority of them had become greedy and went for the best margins on what they could get from us, if their not smart enough to offer good services ,that’s their look out. Why should we spend any more on new cars when the roads here wreck them, so lets get the roads fixed first , then maybe who knows a few more might up grade. When you have a society that pays a fire man 70,000 euro just because he’s doing the same job for seventeen years , you have gotten something wrong. While we will pay a junior chef 15,000 for cooking our food.
    It’s time we as One and collectively sobered up and wake up to whats happening the very basics of the economy of Capitalism has show us there will be lows followed by Highs before within the cycle of time it flattens and will rise yet again. What we have to change this time before we begin to Rise again is a social shift among our political classes and Established Ireland .We do not need to pay for Pat Kenny or Gerry Ryan as there are thousands others out there who would love to be presenting a show on the telly on a Saturday night and why Our Biffo gets more take home than Obama , ..jesus I wonder is it because he’s Black he doesn’t get as much as our Brian. …Ah well at least we have now china and our spring beginnings now just another two dates and then the evenings will become longer and within the push of a child’s swing the summer will be here.
    Then We NEED to throw out ALL these old Family county councilors and continue to re develop this little bit of Europe .

  35. Lorcan Roche Kelly

    David > This is what is happening in Ireland and it threatens to overwhelm the Irish banks who will see a wave of defaults this year initially on mortgages but then on credit cards, car loans and all forms of short-term credit deals that propped up the bubble economy.

    This is becoming the problem that dare not speak its name. It was highlighted by Moody’s last week when they put us on credit watch and I’m sure it will be brought up again by which-ever rating agency decides to actually downgrade us in the next couple of weeks.

    So is it time to look for a solution that dare not speak it’s name? Is it time to seriously consider taking action on our national debt? (and I’m not talking about paying it off)

    Niall Ferguson’s latest article is well worth a read, with this in mind. A sanitised version of it appeared in today’s FT, but here’s the link to the full article.


    Governments are turning to Keynes for solutions to their problems, but Keynes’ solutions did not foresee economies entering a downturn with the kind of debt overhang that we now have.
    By adding to our future debt burden we are discounting future growth, because much of that growth will have to be used to pay off the massive national debt we are planning to amass. Instead of letting future generations reap the rewards of their labour we are busily making a peonage for them.

    Interestingly this practice is illegal under article 1(a) of the United Nations 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery.

    “(a) Debt bondage, that is to say, the status or condition arising from a pledge by a debtor of his personal services or of those of a person under his control as security for a debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied towards the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined;”

    But I think they were refering to individuals here, surely it couldn’t be used by a country as an excuse to…..

  36. jim

    Just when you think fatigue set in ,its time for a simple formula,and here’s one we prepared earlier. yd=C+I+G+X-M where yd is the national cake,aggregate demand gdp call it what you want. Its made up of (C) consumer spending/consumption whatever. (I) is private investment in buisness of all sorts. (G )is government spending from its tax take on various things. (X-M )is the difference between exports X and imports M. Now if I had a magic wand and made yd bigger what would it mean?. If i spread the money evenely accross all,consumers(C) would have more,there would be bigger investments(I) bigger government spend(G) more exports than imports(X-M) or happy days all around.yd has to grow every year to improve everyone’s quality of life or so its assumed.Think of yd as our friend and now go to the flip side and see what pisses our friend off.They are 1.(C) consumers dont spend or hoard their money(ouch) 2.(I)Investors dont invest through lack of confidence or lack of money supply whatever.3.(G) government tax take is down and has to borrow(borrowings are usually a negative when for day to day spending) 4.(X-M) to many imports and not enough exports.Economists add bits and pieces to the above formula to make it more accurate(tweaking) and their still adding bits but the thing to remember is the above formula gives a good broad idea of how economy’s are added up.As I mentioned borrowing can be a negative unless its put to productive use and can add to yd (so long as you remember to deduct the repayments.)Lastly (thank god you say) we have the negative of inventory that builds up but remains unsold or not exported,it can be manufactured goods,houses,commercial property,etcetc.The key to understanding what impact our decisions have on the economy is to simply ask yourself “will it make yd bigger or smaller” and finally a word of caution dont try and increase any one item above at the risk of causing problems for some of the other items (social harmony).

  37. StephenKenny

    I’m starting to bore myself, but I’ll say it anyway: Then what?
    So, we get a bail out, adjust debts (without bankrupting the lenders), we get Merlin to magic away our financial problems, for the moment, I care not how.
    Then what?
    I could only find UK figures, but since 1999, full time retail employment has grown by about 3.3% a year, and part-time quite a bit faster. That means that the number of people working in shops has risen 40%+ in 10 years. Forget the executive nose massage companies, and the seething hordes of interior designers and freelance photographers, once we lose all this financial bubble frothy employment because we can’t borrow much anymore, what’s everyone going to do?
    These arguments, even if they succeed (and I don’t believe for a moment that they will), are predicated on moving the economy to some stable state. If we get rid of all the debt, and stop all this crazed borrowing, then we’ll be fine, they say. If we were trundling along, with a reasonably well balanced economy, and suddenly we’d had a startling 2/3 year borrowing and spending binge, then we could probably get away with hit: Embarrassingly chuck all the empty gin bottles into the neighbours bins, and then get on with our nice, well balanced lives. But it was a 15 year party of legendary proportions, where every third person ended up being a gin salesperson. Just sobering up isn’t enough, we need to detox, and find where we left the house, never mind the car.

    • jim

      Time is a great healer my friend,the 80′s are an almost forgotten memory to me now.Im sure back then it seemed like there was no tomorrow.I hope we learn from our mistakes this time around and not repeat as many in future.People are never as rational as we give them credit for (if you pardon the pun).lol

      • StephenKenny

        Time, as you say, is indeed a great healer, but I’m not too comfortable with the 70s/80s as as succour. The US led the world out of that time with the serious beginning of the credit expansion which we’re starting to deal with now. I can’t see anything vaguely similar happening this time.
        For the US & UK, this lovely time of easy credit has been going, as you say, back to a time that people can hardly remember – 1980 essentially. I would hazard that easy credit is gone for a generation.

  38. [...] David McWilliams has expressed concern about the risk of deflation in Ireland and recommends that we “engineer inflation by pumping money into society”: you can read his article here. [...]

  39. SamB

    The government could use the taxpayers billions more fruitfully by offering free flights to the tourists to come to Ireland for the summer. At least it would generate some employment in the tourist industry and garner some taxable income.

  40. MK1

    My Midnights at the Olympia were altogether different David. I preferred the woman beside me to do her sitting on me *after* the gig, if you catch my drift.

    David> The problem is that the only way we can prevent the economy from contracting in a deflationary spiral is to engineer inflation by pumping money into society, dramatically easing credit conditions and forcing people to spend.

    Deflation can, if rapid, cause further stagnation as you point out. However, we do need the excessive costs to come out of our economy, and this, even if painful, IS whats needed to be done. Mild deflation is just as similiar as mild inflation on the human perception level. If I was the ECB I would aim for a range of ‘inflation’ of -2.0% to +2.0%. People wont necessarily horde cash at such a levels and people do have to live. They will need to eat, they will need a place to stay, they will need possessions, energy, transport, health, etc. People will spend on what they need rather than things that they dont need. That is altogether better, dont you think?

    Someone asked what will people do. Well, they need to do something else. When we had 25% of our economy tied up in a construction-led bubble, it was a mirage, it was a ponzi scheme as David frequently pointed out, it couldnt last and it didnt. Now the trickle down effect means that vaste swathes of people will have to do something else. For the moment, that means unemployment, and the rapidity of the credit bubble burst means that there is little that any of us can do as this has got its own momentum.

    If I was the government, I would use some of those unemployed people and employ them on a part-time basis, to be just above what they are getting on the dole. Say 20 hrs per week. In that way they could do something and produce whilst the state pays the same amount.

    In terms of the Public Sector costs reform, yes, Cowen’s performance in delivering the ‘decision’ was not stellar, not leading per se, but I think everyone should appreciate that a decision was made, even if it could have been made a month or so ago. Its also true that the lower end workers are picking up a sizeable ‘pension’ levy. But nevertheless, this is one nettle partially grasped.

    This PS pension problem was there all along but was masked by our Celtic ‘Tiger’. What has changed in the last decade or two is demographics and people’s longevity. The better heallth system and health people have, the longer they will live and the more it will cost in state pensions. And state pensions were being paid for by *current* contibutions. Unlike a 401k plan, it was akin to a pyramid scheme as well. Now the change means that PS workers are footing 14% or something, whereas whats needed for the pension benefits people will get is something like 25%. So its still underfunded. In time, the government will have to reduce the benefits the PS gets and make the PS pension system self-funding.

    Now that PS has been hit, the government MUST hit those at the mid and upper levels of the private sector. Perhaps anybody that has paid CGT in the last 10 years should be asked to pay another 5%. State owned/propped up banks should have a complete root and branch pay review with kassive mark-downs. Semi-states as well, especially the ESB which has been ripping us all off for decades and they also know it!

    something done, loads more to do ….


  41. Garry

    Yeah Lorcan, Debt is the problem, it always has been and it always will be………. both for the individual and for a country… Sure credit is fantastic, but its a weapon that has to be handled very carefully. I know f all about economics but 2 things are very clear to me..

    1) the speed of our reaction to the downturn was dulled by excessive credit… Those in the know knew the game was up in spring 2006. ECB rates rose, banks did sell and leaseback deals, houses started to take a little longer to sell. But because credit was still so widely available it took 2 years for the fact that the game had changed to filter through…It took so long that some people who had spotted the problem then thought it had sorted itself out.

    2) The speed and momentum of stuff hitting the fan right now is because of excessive debt and leverage. Our situation seems to be getting worse quicker than in other places in Europe. Im putting it down to people/companies are more highly leveraged here so we cant absorb any shocks.

    On deflation, people aren’t holding back buying a new car because they’ll save a grand in the autumn… That said I think theres a lot of people who have held off property who are still holding off waiting for more drops….

    I think some way to stop debt from crushing us (instead merely continuing to enslave us) for the next 10 years is key.. If we don’t figure out some way to contain this, we will find every move we make to will be blocked by debt. I dont think the politicians understand this yet, really understand this, yet there are politicians alive who can remember how powerless they were in the face of overwhelming debt in the 80′s…..We must only increase public debt if it is sure to help us get out of this mess, otherwise the magic of compound interest will block off all escape routes. So is the NDP going to do that for us? Or would we be better off instead to give 50,000 people a couple of extra quid a week to plant a few trees? They would spend the money locally

    and also its worth remembering life will go on, there’s always an upside even if the best I can think of is we wont have to listen to Mary McAllese complaining were losing our souls to consumerism

    • G

      “and also its worth remembering life will go on, there’s always an upside even if the best I can think of is we wont have to listen to Mary McAllese complaining were losing our souls to consumerism”

      here here! the woman pulling close to half a million, living rent free in a mansion, allowances for everything from toilet roll to the latest outfit – the only struggle she has is getting off the ski slopes.

      But I will say it until I am blue in the face, the Irish keep on taking it, time to look in the mirror and call people on it!

      Those imperial post boxes that were painted green after independence, should have been pulled up and melted down, the court houses used by British magistrates should have been torn down – maybe after 90 years we are finally finding ourselves, there is an incredible opportunity to begin a New Republic based on equality for all!

  42. DarraghD

    I agree with David about the fact that we are all standing up in the venue, but I don’t agree that it is necessarily because one man somewhere in the middle decided to stand up. There is definately a “let’s kick the cat” menatlity going on in Ireland at the moment, especially in relation to the motor industry. There is some kind of a perverse joy being taken by a lot of people when they hear of a business going under and in particular when that business happens to be a car dealer. I think the “them and us” undertone to all of this is striking. “Them”, being the car dealers and publicans who were taking helicopters to the Galway Races and buying shares in football clubs and racehorses, and “us” being the mugs who have been paying for all this by having to pay over the odds for everything in the country for the last ten years.

    The shoe seems to be definately on the other foot now and the celtic cat is being kicked all around the room and this is why we are all standing up, hoping that the cat will fall within our radius and we will have a chance to kick the cat in the direction someone else so as to continue the hiding we want to collectively give the cat.

  43. Diletta

    Goodness I had some of my best night’s ever at Midnight at the Olympia… I remember working at ‘Christmas Rocks’ and being on stage with Something Happens… and clapping my eyes on either the lead guitarist or the bass player…. me in a brief moment of groupiedom!!! And then another night watching the wonderful Crowded House… one of the best gigs I was ever at…. Ah Halycon days… or Hailikon Days as my dad heard a taxi driver say to him once….

    Furrylugs have you abandoned us?


  44. Furrylugs – a search party is looking for you ……we are unable to stitch a sentence together since you left on your space craft ……….have you lost your dun aengus readings ?

  45. liam

    DMcW: “The problem is that the only way we can prevent the economy from contracting in a deflationary spiral is to engineer inflation by pumping money into society, dramatically easing credit conditions and forcing people to spend.”

    Well, there appears to be more than one way to skin that particular cat:

    Although this kind of thing won’t help with the general economy, it has the potential to encourage exactly the type of entrepreneurship that the economy desperately needs in order to conduct a recovery.

    There is rather a lot of comment about what should be done, what could be done, but it seems illogical, based on past performance, to assume that the Government will do the right thing. it seems that if you want to make a change, its up to the rest of us who can, to do so.

  46. Malcolm McClure

    Take a look at Mary Coughlan’s eyes in the latest picture from today’s Dail debate on the economy:
    I get the impression that there’s ‘nobody at home’.
    That’s not good enough, Mary, you’re supposed to be helping get us out of this mess.

    • Deco

      Malcolm – had a look at the picture. I noticed something even more revealing.

      Is Dick Roche asleep in the Dail ?? It appears so to me.

      Would this be because the data that Brian Lenihan is reading is just not of any relevance to him ?? Even more to the point – how come nobody in the media noticed this.

  47. Philip

    I for one see a bright side to this. This is an FF killer. It is an ould Irish attitudes killer. There is no emmigration escape valve.

    The cold weather has another few weeks to go. Spring weather may bring a new growth of freash ideas.

    Sorry I cannot be more concrete or helpful than that. The reports, news and analysis are now confirming THE worst fears.

    BTW, who to say that the IMF will have any ability to do anything for us – we’ll just have to take our place in the queue.

  48. Europes Growing Crisis Puts The FEDS at RISK

    check the following now :


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