February 25, 2009

Cabinet could learn from attitude of corner shops

Posted in Irish Economy · 289 comments ·
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slumdog ex-millionaire“Good job, we got these new trains before all this struck,” said the stationmaster as he threw his eyes up to heaven at Killarney yesterday afternoon. Good job indeed.

I was down in the Kingdom to speak at an event organised by Centra, the convenience shops people, about trends in the economy. Some 15,000 people are employed in Centras around the country, so these people are at the coalface.

And having spoken to a few shopkeepers, it struck me that if you gave them keys to the Department of Finance for a few weeks, they’d have the place sorted out in no time.

The same goes for the staff at the Malton Hotel in Killarney. They were wonderful and on the ball. Again, they were not waiting around for something to turn up. The sense you get from their resolute attitude was that whatever else, Killarney and its tourist industry was not going to take this recession lying down. They are cutting costs, working harder and marketing as best they can.

These people, of all ages and from all parts of the country, underlined the fact that there are plenty of things we do well here in Ireland; among them tourism, food and hospitality.

As we hurtled though the Cork countryside past Millstreet and Rathmore on decent new trains, it’s hard not to agree with the stationmaster. It looks like it’s going to be a long time before CIE place more orders for trains the way its finances and those of the State, in general, are headed.

But maybe one of the reasons for this is the general fatalistic attitude towards our plight. I have yet to hear an innovative idea from the Department of Finance since this crisis began. In fact, I heard more creativity from Suzanne and Cathriona who run the Centra in Dundalk about the plight of the country than any of the people that are supposed to be getting us out of this mess.

Suzanne and Cathriona are both clever, young women with a no-nonsense approach to business. They are trading in Dundalk.

Can you imagine a more difficult place to run a convenience store at the moment?

Dundalk has been decimated by the fall of sterling and the flight of shoppers to the North. Yet they were cautiously upbeat.

The reason convenience stores like Centra are interesting for Ireland is that, like us, they are more expensive than the competition. We have to compete with other larger countries while they, too, are threatened by bigger supermarket chains.

In addition, unlike Centra owners elsewhere in the country, these two women are competing in euros against a weakened sterling 10 miles away. Let’s not stretch the analogy, but the underlying message from Ireland’s shopkeepers is good housekeeping. Yes they concluded, it’s difficult but you just have to be smarter, work harder and get noticed.

When the conversation switched to the economy their answers were pure business common sense.

They both saw our problems first as a “cashflow” issue. Both women agreed that we were running out of cash and this could only be solved by getting in more money either by increasing turnover and cutting costs, selling assets or borrowing to tide us over.

They agreed that borrowing wouldn’t be a problem if you were sure that the problem was short-term and you had a plan in place that could envisage paying back the borrowed cash. They were discussing this as if it were the most straightforward thing in the world.

Imagine such clarity from our politicians?

They agreed the most important thing was to act quickly. If it was their shop and they allowed cash to haemorrhage, they’d be closed.

Suzanne said you had to trade through the difficulties. Cathriona said they’d figure out which part of the shop was not working, where they were losing most money and either they’d try to change it or shut it down.

This process would start with examining the balance sheet every day, down to the minutiae. They’d then try to fix the problems by cutting costs and hoping to attract in more business, but if that failed they’d have to close it down.

Can you think of our politicians or, more pointedly, the highly paid bosses of our semi-state companies, being so matter of fact about loss-making state assets?

At the same time, Suzanne said they would sell anything they could because they’d have to raise the cash to keep the shop open. This is the smalltime shopkeeper’s equivalent of privatisation.

Yet no-one is talking about privatisation on a larger scale. What is the State doing running all these fine trains from Killarney to Dublin? Or what business does the State have owning 30pc of Aer Lingus?

The way to financing a fairer society and spreading the pain, is selling assets that cost you money, where you could raise revenue and invest this in places where the State works well, such as the school system.

Both Cathriona and Suzanne were adamant that while you were doing all this behind the scenes, it was crucial to remain open for business and give your customers every possible reason to come into the shop and not go elsewhere. Similarly, we need to be sending signals that Ireland is open for business.

The longer we wait, the more the competition in Europe will have caught up with us. We have the advantage of being small and nimble in theory, but that’s no good if we are slow and lugubrious in practice.

The moral of the story is more Centra less Central Bank; more corner shop less Cabinet. Our state needs to learn the discipline of good housekeeping before we have to shut up shop completely.


  1. wills

    Hi Bloggers,

    And the answer is,

    Manufactured debt……….

    • wills

      HI David,

      Article is pointing to a solution.

      Good housekeeping, start with CREDIT = UTILITY

    • wills

      HI David,

      Article is brilliant.

      Good housekeeping begins with CREDIT = UTILITY

      • wills

        Hi David,

        I suggest your article will be a turning point for Irelands cultural and economic future.

        You are fixing the fate of this country as it is, bolting it to the door.

        Ireland can show the world housekeeping skills.

        We can be the first to restore credit to its utility function use in the modern world and show
        the rest of the world what a community can achieve in a real sense using credit as a utility.

        We are been handed here a tremendous opportunity here everyone.

        Us bloggers here can set the pace, set the’ restore credit to its utility function ‘project in motion here.

  2. Brilliant cartoon and another damning article. Was it Joan Baez that sang “When will they ever learn…..”

  3. DH

    Lets face it, the Cabinet could learn from an abacus and a Montessori teacher.

  4. gadfly55

    My specialist grocer, at the top end, with family service for a century, serving delicacies beyond discount multiples whose every square mm pays every millisecond for its space, summed up the incompetence of the government and corruption of the financial/developer culture in 3 minutes. If only Lenihan could present himself so cogently, competently, we might have confidence, but no one does, and Couglan’s performance on RTE radio 1 this morning was more delusion, telling us everything is under control, that another 4 billion euros in cuts to government expenditure will be made next year, that tax increases must be considered in a mature way “in the context” of jobs, that we should not talk our way into reducing confidence in the country, that the government have managed the public finances, protected the banks and jobs, and are determined to maintain conditions for the creation of new jobs. The most frightening aspect of this crisis is that the government actually believes they are part of the solution, rather than the core of the problem.

  5. wills

    Hi David,

    Article is pointing in the right direction.

    Good housekeeping start with CREDIT = UTILITY.

  6. David,

    You were nearer the mark when you were advocating leaving the euro. There is no way small town common sense will suffice in this crisis. Britian and Germany do ‘shopkeeper’ better than us and they are our competitors. We will have to do much better than that.! We will have to use our best distinctive traits – creativity and daring. Abilities that admittedly have been repressed under our recent stress load. And it is just as well we have these gifts because the Irish are completely absent the gene that enables us to delay gratification – no matter the future cost.

    So, what cunning plan can we adopt that outplays our competitors and still sticks within the rules of the game – just.? There is always another option, as the ad says. If it is too dangerous to leave the euro and go back to the punt (and it definitely is), we could keep the euro, and add another currency to make up the shortfall of money. This currency can be designed to suit ourselves; to solve our particular problems in this particular global emergency. EMU has no restriction on a complementary currency as long as it is not convertible to euros – and that is easily done. This currency will have to bigger and smarter than an old fashioned LETS scheme – but with government support that can be done too.

    We call it the ‘quid’. See http://smarttaxes.org/2009/02/18/the-liquidity-network-proposal-%E2%80%93-a-quick-guide/ on the Smart Taxes website http://www.smarttaxes.org. Or for more comprehensive discussion on the main feasta website link to http://www.feasta.org.

    Emer O’Siochru

    • gadfly55

      This is total hysterical delusion capable of completely bankrupting the country when the 400billion euro still in Irish banks flies out the country, because there is already a flood of money leaving the country.

      • The article cited above states that “Negotiate with your employer” whether you’re paid in Euro or “quid”, or the proportion of each. Hmmm, let me think…when most people have huge levels of Euro debt to service, I’m betting we’ll be asking to be paid 100% in Euro. Maybe I’m missing something here, but this looks a crazy proposition.

        Quid? You need a better name anyway, cos most people I know refer to Euro as quid.

        Sustainable taxation should begin with asking why there is a black hole in the public finances. Huge money invested, service levels abominable. For example, the train fare from Limerick to Dublin is 58 euro return. And I need to pay 30c when I get to Euston to use the Jacks FFS! I can get to London on Ryanair cheaper. Ryanair is taxed, CIE is subsidised. That makes me really happy about paying more taxes!

  7. gadfly55

    A nation of small shop-keepers with common sense in a global economy of shadow banking, financial fictions, and systematic extraction of greatest profit for a diminishing elite on a planetary level, with consequent destruction of the middle classes by political paralysis and progressive penury, and you suggest the model of attempting to compete with TESCO and WALLMART by hard work, ingenuity, personal service, and good intentions, never mind currency fluctuations. Why don’t you consider really radical possibilities for communities to cooperate in providing their needs rather than relying on brands, advertising, and corporate control of supplier and processor pricing by the few remaining global giants. The system as we know it is killing us, look at the testimony by Sully yesterday in Congress. The airline industry for its workers has been destroyed by relentless managers driving down costs, as though this were the holy grail of human existence. This failure of the market to understand the human dimension of work, of community, of family, of meaningful life-time, has created the wreckage in which we, our children and grand children will suffer relentlessly until the exhaustion of this collective submission to Mammon is relieved by some awakening to a more balanced and sustainable way of living.

    • wills

      Hi Gadfly55,

      The means to achieving a more balanced and sustainable way of life i suggest we all look too

      using CREDIT IN ITS UTILITY FUNCTION.

  8. DarraghD

    I remember around 15 years ago, I was involved in a local amateur drama group and one year, we put on a three act play in the local parish hall for three nights, and every night, we got a full house. So the director approched us about running the play for a further two nights, a suggestion to which we all agreed, high as we were on our recent success. On the final night of our performance, some of our cast turned up drunk, but unfortunately it did not become apparent that they were out of their minds on the sauce, until they got onto the stage and started sniggering and forgetting their lines and banging on the set looking for a prompt.

    Listening to Mary Coughlan this morning brought back painful and frightful memories to me of that night when our cast turned up drunk on stage. I remember some of us sober actors trying to lure one drunken actor close enough to the curtains at the side of the stage, where we might have been able to grab him and haul him off the stage, while another sober group member desperately fiddled with the ropes at the side of the stage that would lower the curtain on the performance, until we had a handle on what had just happened.

    It’s sad sad times we are looking at here folks, and only in Ireland would a government minister try to tell a country that is close to bankrupcy, that finances are in control, while out of the other side of her gob, say that we should not talk down the country as we will not be able to borrow to run the country. Sorry Mary, but if the finances are in control and what is going out has now been equated with what is coming in, then we won’t need to borrow for current expenditure. The reason we have to, is because the finances are not in control.

    • Deco

      DaraghD – you know there was a joke from Russia during the 1980s….
      “When you hear the official denial….then you know for certain…you can be totally certain…that the even really DID occur”.

      It is a bit like that at the moment with regard to the official pronouncements on the state of this country.Everyone from McAleese down to the ex-CEO of IFRSA who morality is in the drain, and all the scoundrels in between, is telling us not to be worried, to trust authority, that everything is fine. Well do you not believe in this “Everything is fine” pronouncement.

      Everything is fine – is a warning that something most definitely is not, and they would rather that you were not suspicious about the real state of affairs.

      • jim

        When I listen to Mary Coughlan Im always reminded of Jacob Frenkel(vice chairman AIG) similar approach to logic.Quote “The left side of the balance sheet has nothing right and the right side of the balance sheet has nothing left.But they are equal to each other.So accounting-wise we are fine”.

  9. ……there is a better song with better lyrics…..

    I’ll Faut Savoire

    by Charles Aznavour = you have got to learn

  10. eddieTheRed

    Speaking of innovative solutions to the state budget crisis has anyone considered the possibility of legalising the supply of canabis and taxing it? I realise it’s an extreme measure but I would have thought at the present time that with our demographic profile shifting so quickly towards a maturing baby – boomer profile that the idea might have more support than is generally appreciated.

    If estimates of the extent of Irish peoples use of canabis are accurate then such a tax could bring in up to €2 billion or more per annum. I’m not a drug user myself but I know from friends who do use drugs that the business is considered extremely lucrative.

    My Dad used to say that if people ever gave up drinking alcohol the government would legalise canabis instead – he only ever meant it as a joke but I wonder if it’s an idea whose time has come?

  11. SamB

    The wonders that we can create when we act together!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQ3d3KigPQM

  12. SamB

    ……. All it takes is a bit of inspiring leadership!

  13. Mise Eire

    The article reads a bit like a primitive schoolteacher`s rant at the boys in the corner to be just like the teacher`s pet.

    But Cathriona & Suzanne have an eye to where they have to – knowing their own business. And those quaiities sure are needed.

    Still, for me it is the way pensioners were put in the middle of the negotiating ground between the IMO and government shows more of what we have to deal with here – it is a cabinet surrounded by lawyers and bereft of morality. That is the position of departure for this government: since that stroke they`ve floundered in attempting to regain the moral authority to govern. Add to that the fact that they flout the very idea of democracy by letting 11 months pass between the death of Seamus Brennan and the by-election for the replacement TD and you have further proof of what is NOT being progressed here.

    I think we all would like to find out why education works, but health and transport don`t. There are natural motivators, like love of the job & the parents` interest/follow-up (as opposed to departmental memos), the fact that there is not much limitation on the numbers of people who can qualify for teaching (fairly balanced supply-demand, although severely imbalanced gender-wise), and probably lots more items.

    Selling off public infrastructure at knock-down prices won`t serve the nation. Radically reforming the structures could, but as the health sector is showing, the wrong reforms are destined to fail – through a combination of resistance, unworkability and simple & pure mistakes in implementation. It is undoubtedly time for serious surgery (you can replace organs and add limbs, as well as amputating where necessary) to the public apparatus in a way that makes sense for the nation. Some management by consensually based objectives (and common sense) and the oft-quoted but less oft-implemented joined up thinking is critical. Time is even more-so.

    What about a citizen`s reserve to promote efficiency in public sector spending? Even RTE could do worse than start a program – a bit like Prime Time – following where the money goes. The media isn`t covering any of this systematically. Rather than show how 7 billion should be allocated, the focus is on finding out 10 names who we are at risk on for 4% of that or 0.1% of the banks` total balance sheet, so as to link them with any individual in Fianna Fail, the Greens or the PDs (but obviously especially any government minister). Is that really what is giving the country it`s biggest kicks at the moment – as if political guillotines and tribunals will provide alternative employment for the Dell workers in Limerick?

    Let the cabinet start thinking like Cathriona & Suzanne alright – and let them do proper sums, but let`s not limit ourselves to being a cornerstore nation. We need to be an export nation, and that means exporting manufactured “!things” and services, and working together to keep the country moving. We`ve upskilled since the eighties – but we seriously need to prove it to ourselves. I remember a govt report back in those times looking at reasons for the lack of Irish entrepreneurship. Guess what came near the top? Back then tthe diagnosis was we were a “nation of knockers” – an Irish person would rather go abroad & take a risk than face failing to the catcalls of his neighbours. Getting off the cycle of demotivation is going to make or break us over the next few years. The media and not just the politicians could seriously play part in this too. And forgiveness can well be part of the solution.

    • gadfly55

      The strategy of FF is to make this fraction of a far flung sub-Artic island a safe place for hot money and FDI, and look after the Ulick McEvadee’s of this tribe, the risk takers and organisers and entrepreneurs who can make things happen. The FF tribe was dominated by Squire Hockey, aspirant Celtic chieftain who jumped onto Stephen Roche’s Tour de France victory by unceremoniously descending on the winner’s platform in his Charvet shirt while the rest of us had to make do. The only way this country can recover is a long battle with the complacent and smug tribe of FF lackeys, fellow travellers and cute hoors who have made a packet, and as quickly evaded taxes by off-shoring their winnings in the scam of a lifetime. These people, and their spawn must be challenged and defeated at every crossroads, at every meeting, at every opportunity for the people to show there is an alternative to them, to their idiocy, to their domination of the establishment in the face of anything good, right , just and true.

  14. Philip

    @Wills – Discuss CREDIT IN ITS UTILITY FUNCTION. What does that mean specifically.

  15. Malcolm McClure

    David: Brilliant cartoon; then Wills gave us his Danny Boyle ‘Tigger’ impression, jumping up and down with his multiple immediate postings. Calm down Wills.

    Back to business. I agree that small solutions made locally can translate into large solutions nationally. You didn’t mention how much the Dundalk Centra is paying in loan interest as a proportion of their profits, or how many other small supermarkets are competing locally, never mind 10 mile away in Newry. I know of another small Irish village with about 2000 people in the winter catchment area that has six newly refurbished small supermarkets, all presumably operating with bank loans–and good luck to them. In summer visitors from the north bring a lot of their groceries with them. Shameful, but who can blame them with the combined effect of exchange rates and much higher basic food costs in the south. Not to mention “luxury” items –up to six times higher for fruit corner yoghurts for example.

    On the national level things are likely to get worse. Did anyone consider the implications for Ireland when Obama said in his address “In this budget, we will end education programs that don’t work and end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don’t need them…… and we will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.”

    Good bye to all our American MNCs: Pfizer, Dell, Apple, Intel. etc.?
    That would be equivalent of withdrawing credit from Centra by their bread, milk and newspaper suppliers.

    • gadfly55

      As always, the most significant news of the daily cycle with the most profound effects, is overlooked by the more dramatic, human events comprehensible by 12 year olds. The 55billion generated by American companies, howsoever, in Eire, will inevitably be reduced by the simple expedient of termination of tax deferral on foreign earnings by the Federal Government of the USA. The Obama administration need the tax, and intend to incline US corporates to repatriate their jobs, or face punitive taxes. Consider the pressure now exerted on Swiss banks to disclose American account holders and quickly you will arrive at a perspective when American executives working in Eire, are no longer inclined to continue their activities, regardless of special tax arrangements in the Finance Act, 2009.

  16. Deco

    Yes – what corner shop would send one of it’s main players to the SuperBowl, like what happened concerning the Minister for Health (and bad lifestyle). The purpose being to outsource a lab test to another country…..and send 100 jobs overseas in the process….I suppose she was shopping around…

    David’s article is a common sense appeal for institutional reform in the state sector and the IBEC managed sector of the economy. Basically as taxpayers, as workers and consumers we have an imperitive to get our insititutional entities reformed. To make this happen the first thing that has to change is the law. It will have to be implemented. (The behaviour of P. Sneery, Anglo, Permo, Ernst-yo, etc.. seems to suggest that nobody in the professions ever worry about the law being actually implemented – the law, like taxes, crime, bad infrastructure, and deprivation is just another aspect of life that is never a problem for the priveleged elite).

    The Law in Ireland is at the root of all our problems. The Law has been designed in Ireland as a means of ensuring that privelege continues to exist, inequity, imbalance and corruption – provide you can afford a legal team. This is not just an Irish problem. But in Ireland right now it is the source of the problem. Just look at the Freedom of Information Act – a complete oxymoron – Information is not free – you pay 1000 Euro to get the accounts from FAS. You pay again for CIE, and then again for the ESB. All are rotten with nepotism, waste and corruption. But as long as the nonsense is hidden,we will see an inability to see these organizations run with even a fraction of the intelligence applied to the Centra shop in Dundalk, or in your neighbourhood.

    Basically we are institutionally challenged as a society. Or maybe it is that we are a society where the institutions are intellectually challenged. Just look at the fools running Aer Rianta, or Irish Rail.

    We need a new generation to take over and throw out the old stale priveleged classes. No need for blood in the streets. Just introduce the meritocracy in Ireland’s public and private sector. Most ofthe people running Irish companies and the Irish state got an education at a time when it was a considerable privelege outside the scope of 70% of the population-where boarding school, and stale universities were bastions of idle, spoiled wasters. Then they introduced they own revolution – the generation that eliminated meritocracy from the structures. End result rampant nepotism.

    The current predominant mainstream philosophy of Irish Management has failed. Kerry Foods, run by small farmers in Kerry, is worth more that all the Dublin 4 banks put together. There is only one institution of privelege still strong on the ISEQ – CRH. CRH gets praised in the media,especially on RTE/the Irish Times, that sounds eerily familiar to the praise heaped upon Permo before Permo was shown up to be an outfit of clowns. But Phoenix Magazine has been warning us on CRH. When CRH falls, this will leave the ISEQ in a funny state. A bunch of outsiders, foreigners, Irish people living abroad, and provincials determing the valuation of the ISEQ. All from far more humble beginnings than the clowns that we seen on the back page of the IT business supplement every week for the last fifteen years.

    Ireland will have to learn humility, before common sense becomes intellectually possible. Preserving the priveleged old school tie networks, is delaying the reform of our institutional entities. For us to reform our democracy we must be tough on all the political parties-to force them to force through the reforms. And we must be especially careful of politicians acting that they are ‘concerned’ or ‘feel your pain/anger’. Results. That’s what we need results. Results in terms of the removal of all the scoundrels, and removal of all the restrictive laws on the citizens knowing what is really going on. Let’s apply the upcoming local/MEP elections to get rid of the liars. And we must see for ourselves. The media has been proven to be a complete joke – apart from Phoenix all along, and the Sunday Indo for the last three years(thanks to Shane Ross).

    We want New York style treatment for the crooks.

    • Colin_in_exile

      Deco,

      Very funny analysis of our dear minister for dessert trolleys.

      I agree with your NY treatment for the crooks – they should be whacked!

  17. Philip

    Love the cartoon. But the article is a tad facile. Although I do feel the basic point of the government not minding the shop – as it were – is well put.

    I just came from a meeting where jobs are being offshored to leverage cost advantages elsewhere. I’d love to see how our shopkeepers would handle an requirement of dropping their prices by 90% just to keep business here. The jobs in question required deep IT technical knowledge with 10 to 15 years experience. To make it more interesting, the guys being replaced were in Ireland, France and Germany. The off shoring would be to Brazil, Poland, Romania, India or China. And you are dealing with masters educated people across the board.

    This is what Obama is up against. This is what a company that wants to remain competitive in a global context is up against.

    So, if you do not mind, all this facile chit chat about needing to innovate, root out inefficiencies etc etc etc needs to end. Look at the global context. Start to understand the monster you are dealing with.

    As I said before, the purchasing power of the currency we use is completely mismatched to our productive capacity. And it’s affecting all of Europe. It is having it’s biggest effect on those with highest debt (us).

    • paddythepig

      Philip,

      Good on you for highlighting this issue. Somebody needs to. Globalisation forces are rampant in companies which are subject to open and international competition, and a lot of very skilled labour is being seriously undercut by highly educated and competitive labour forces from emerging economies. This point is not at all understood by the powers-that-be in Ireland, especially our Government and unions.

      This factor will continue to drag on our high-cost economy ; the temptation for profit-driven organisations will be to move elsewhere. This will have a knock-on effect on other non-profit driven sectors of the economy, like it or not.

      Working in an organisation that avails of global relocations is a real drag. Many very well educated people in Ireland are in such organisations, looking over their shoulder, never able to relax and enjoy their work, always wondering when the axe is going to fall.

      I do think that innovation is a way out though. ‘Hanging on’ in these organisations is, in my experience, not a good idea. Better to cut ties if possible, and to own something created by yourself. This kind of switch needs to be encouraged, and is a very good area to target financial aid. If you fail first time, the culture should be pick yourself up, and try again. It is this culture which has made Silicon Valley so successful.

      Paddy

  18. Deco

    The reason convenience stores like Centra are interesting for Ireland is that, like us, they are more expensive than the competition.

    Which is something IBEC don’t seem to grasp. They are still trying to prevent any questions being posed concerning the market rigging that exists in this country.

    The answer is Article 45 of the Irish Consitution. (Thanks to FurryLugs for bringing it up a few weeks ago).

    To bring down costs in Ireland, we need to cut out the price fixing which is driving up the cost of living to unsustainable levels. All that nonsense about why a printer that costs €70 in Germany will cost €110. Ireland is not a country condusive to people starting their own business because of costs and the costs imposed by excessive regulation, and price fixers for ridiculous tasks. If a factory wants to build an extension in Ireland it costs more to for architectural services, approvals etc..before the earth is broken, than it costs to build the thing in Poland. Then of course we have the workers in Limerick being told they are uncompetitive. I am sure the workers in Limerick regard themselves are barely making enough to get by.

    Apply Article 45 to the Economic Rent Infrastructure and that will get our costs into line everywhere.

  19. FF Ard Fheis @ W/E – there is a small corner shop opening in citywest and I think we should send our ‘ advisors from this site ‘ to show the meaning of successful governance and where the real leadership should be sourced …….who are the volunteers tim….furrylugs….deco….etc ??

  20. SamB

    So much for the O’Bama cheerleaders! I never did get the fawning sycophants. It always struck me as a cult. This has been flagged for the past 6 months. Times are now really going to get interesting.

    A friend remarked recently that he could never understand the Irish who kept remarking that, “it was great that summer was coming”.

    “If they love it that much,” he wanted to know “why would they not move to where the sun shone? – Why wait in the winter in the hope of a few summer days to come?”

    A question many will be asking in the near future with the retrenchment of the US multinationals back to base with the loss of the rest of their Irish jobs.

  21. Deco

    There is one thing people should bear in mind. In every country in Europe the standard of food gets better the further south you go. I would ask if anyone would have evidence to disagree. And yes the stingy Scots do eat better on average than the English. It is probably no wonder that food is cheaper in NI, it is not of the same standard. And as a general rule, the further south the healthier the people are.

    This makes me really wonder about the wisdom of people buying food in the North. But for toilet roll, car parts, washing powder, etc.. it is a different matter.

  22. cozzy121

    I know I’ll regret this but, wills please explain what you mean by “CREDIT IN ITS UTILITY FUNCTION”. You seem to be interested in it.

  23. Deco

    I meant the English eat better than the Scots. Now I can get to offend both parties….Maybe I should eat better, and I would be able to think better :)))

  24. Johnny Dunne

    David, generating a couple hundred million by selling off assets such as stake in Aer Lingus in a depressed market won’t solve our problems. Although, it would be interesting to see a ‘Balance Sheet’ of state owned assets and liabilities. I’d say in the current market we may be seen ‘insolvent’ even considering the vast 1 million acres owned by the likes of Coillte. Therefore, we shouldn’t be too hasty is selling off state assets at bargain ‘long term’ prices.

    Just like looking at where the ‘shop’ is costing too much, here is a list of government spend by department in 2008…..

    Health & Children €13.75 billion
    Social & Family Affairs €9.40 billion
    Education & Science €9.03 billion
    Transport €3.19 billion
    Environment, Heritage & Local Government €3.16 billion
    Justice €2.59 billion
    Agriculture & Food €1.66 billion
    Enterprise, Trade & Employment €1.45 billion
    Finance €1.40 billion
    Defence €1.06 billion
    Foreign Affairs €0.98 billion
    Arts, Sport & Tourism €0.71
    Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs €0.49
    Communications, Marine & Natural Resources €0.26
    Taoiseach’s €0.19
    Total €49.31

    There is a budgeted 10%+ increase in current expenditure in 2009 (before pension levy and notional €2 billion savings). Therefore we will be spending €55 billion and borrowing €20 billion+ before investing in capital projects!

    There must be loads of costs which could be taken out or better value got for non ‘customer facing’ opportunities to save 100’s of million…..it wouldn’t take very long for Suzanne and Cathriona to find a billion!

  25. Deco

    200 Million will be thrown at the FAI (Farce Association of Ireland) and a very rich IRFU to help them build a second stadium which is completely unecessary. The second stadium will be the real Bertie Bowl. Part of the Bread and Circuses mentality. And that is without consideration of the 200 million already spent on that project. And there will probably be another 100 million of PAYE funds thrown into it in 2010. That is 500 Million Euro for a complete ego scheme.

    I think that the 200 Million would be better spent providing vocational training for unemployed construction workers. We have over hundred thousand construction workers who are trying to get into something else so that they can feed their families. All they are getting from Bertie Ahern is a legacy based on waste, and insults to the nation’s intelligence, like a celebrity Taoiseach, and a policy platform based on the philosophy of “Bread and Circuses” government. So we need to quit the Bread and Circuses mentality immediately. We have had enough of the circuses :[

    • Colin_in_exile

      The redevelopment would not have been required if the GAA had given reassurances that all rugby & soccer internationals can be played at Croke Park. IRFU & FAI could not adopt a hostage to fortune approach in these circumstances.

      p.s. Does anyone know when Croke Park will be finished? Hill 16 looks absolutely ridiculous when compared to the rest of the ground.

      • Deco

        The GAA did open Croker to Soccer and Rugby. But I think I remember Bertie Ahern giving the GAA 180 Million to play four games per year in the Stadium Ireland Complex, when it was at planning stage. Because the government reneged on it’s side of the deal, the GAA got 180 Million for nothing. We were told that Ahern was “Committed to Sport”. Well of course he was – it was our money not his he was throwing around in a cavalier fashion.

        If Ahern had left the GAA to their own devices, there wouldnot have been 180 Million of taxpayers money given to the GAA for no reason – only to force them to improve the raison d’etre for the Bertie Bowl. The GAA (which includes people who are from all political backgrounds and several prominent trade unionists) was trying to keep the overall political intereference out of it’s organization. It was a case of the GAA trying to blocade a surge of corruption from seeping in from the front bench of FF.

        It all comes back to the clown that somebody here called Bertie {useless} Ahern – was it MK1 or Ire_in_exile – I can’t remember. But the term has stuck in my mind – because it seemed fairly accurate…

        • Colin_in_exile

          Deco,

          I agree Bertie made a pigs breakfast of it, just like everything else, but my point was that without any cast iron guarantee that all future rugby & soccer internationals will be played at croke park, IRFU & FAI had to go ahead with their own plans.

          GAA are under no obligation to host rugby and soccer internationals. I personally think the government should not have funded the redevelopment of either stadia. The GAA, without government funding, would have had to arrive at a decision where they would have had to do a long term deal with IRFU/FAI, thus meaning a redeveloped lansdowne road would have been scrapped.

  26. Lorcan

    This just out, Ireland’s latest debt offering.

    Not the cheapest one ever for us. Let’s hope they get it away.

    “Terms are as follows:

    Amount: EUR4 billion
    Maturity: March 5, 2012
    Coupon: 3.9% Reoffer Price: 99.694 Payment Date: March 4, 2009 Spread: 170 basis points over mid-swaps Debt Ratings: Aaa (Moody’s)

    AAA (Standard & Poor’s)

    AAA (Fitch)
    Listing: Dublin”

  27. MK1

    Hi David,

    > The reason convenience stores like Centra are interesting for Ireland

    The problem with using Centra or any convenience store as an anology to Ireland’s cost base is that convenience stores dont actually compete on price! They compete on convenience (location) mainly, functionality (range of goods), hours opened, etc. Price is in fact the last thing they compete on. Only the rare shopper would vow not to return to a convenience store based on an over-priced product and many shoppers that pass by are captive customers. You either buy the milk or you dont. You dont go to another shop.

    There are convenience stores all over the world. Indeed, as you pass through airports you will notice that convenience stores (or anything) based within them are doing well enough thank you very much even though they have been over-priced and known as such for decades. The reason, the human species are browsers, we eat on the hoof, breakfast roll man as you correctly observed, we like convenience, we dont have a back-pack on us on a Monday with enough food to last us for a week.

    We are far too lazy for that …..

    MK1

    ps: didnt read other comments yet.

  28. wills

    Hi crazy121,

    will do, watch this space, you wont regret it, i promise’
    And….. Whatever on anything else, i implore.. i am
    not a conspiracy nut, in fact i am carryig rather a
    distinguishable track record.

  29. ….. figure out which part of the shop was not working, where they were losing most money and either they’d try to change it or shut it down”

    Yes, the banks should have paid for their – own – mistake. Strictly regulated, and the bail out money used to support the Suzanne’s and Catharine’s of this world.

    That’s the major problem, the elite minority money makers of this world are as we see clearly now are a burden on the majority.
    They never contribute (no social obligation) enough (tax) and any contribution is clawed back, and when they lose, they get our hard earned contribution.
    You don’t have to be as clever as Suzanne and Cathriona to know something is radically wrong with that model.
    As they said cut/close down that which does not work, and push ahead wit what does, leaving no room for slackers (investors/bankers) making money (no matter which way the wind blows) out of bad business, good business, and no business at all.

  30. SamB

    Rumours are circulating that AIB is about to be nationalised ….. Anyone got inside info?

    • Lorcan

      We hardly need inside information when David Begg (who sits on the board of Directors of the Central Bank) stands on a platform in front of 120,000 people in Dublin last saturday and says AIB and BOI will be nationalised within weeks.

      He might have been playing to the crowd a little, but who’s going buy an Irish bank share or bond after hearing that? He might have had his ICTU hat on at the time, but the way I heard it on Monday was “Irish central bank director set to nationalise AIB and BOI”

      If it wasn’t going to happen before he opened his mouth, it is certainly going to happen now. I’d be surprised if either of them lasted the week, but my prediction from ages ago was Paddy’s day and they’ll certainly be ours by then.

  31. Drafting a Speech for Brian Cowen

    This is where I’ve got to so far….

    “People of Ireland, Friends of Ireland,

    I come before you today, in the first of a series of four talks, to tell the truth. It is my job as your elected leader to put the responsibilities of office before any sectional or personal interest.

    You, citizens and friends, have delivered to me a strong message. You are feeling hurt, damaged, vulnerable and at risk in the crisis that faces us all. You have lost trust with your government, with Fianna Fail, and with the culture of politics and finance that we have been giving you.

    I now see you are right. I will only regain your trust and hope by making a clean breast of the past and my part in it. You have the right to expect that from me. If I can’t convince you that I have seen the errors of my ways, I will not deserve to lead you and I will stand aside.

    Let me say, without reservation, I have not led you well. Fianna Fail has not led you well. I take responsibility for that and apologise unreservedly. For this reason, I have today asked Brian Lenihan, minister for finance, to stand down as a symbol of our honest intent to put things right. Brian is not the only guilty one who has failed you badly. I myself shoulder the greatest responsibility for the crisis in public confidence. I’d like to thank Brian for going with the interests of the nation in mind.

    He will cooperate fully in the analysis of what we did wrong when we come to investigate openly all our collective failures.

    For now, I ask you citizens to accept this act as the first of many I will lead to restore your trust in our country.

    Today, this first talk, is a day for giving you the overview and showing you that the Brian Cowen of the Galway Tent, the Cowen of the back-slapping consort with bankers is over. I am as guilty as anyone of defending Fianna Fail against the national interest. I’m not going to blame others. I’m offering your my chin. I will lead you from now on with a different spirit and heart. With your help we will restore the confidence the world wants to have in us.

    Irish people the world over are watching how we deal with this. Frankly, I think I have embarrassed them. I will never be an Obama. You all know that. I too wish I had his communications skills. But I’ll tell you what I have to offer you now – my heart, my sincere contrition.

    In future talks I will talk you through the economic outlook and what we can do about it. …”

    And that’s as far as I’ve got so far…

  32. By the way, I’ve set up a Facebook Group inspired by David, dedicated to thinking for the future here….

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=52113863620

    I invite you to consider joining the group.

    I’ve emailed David to let him know about it, and he’s sent me an encouraging reply.

    PS – sorry I don’t know how to hyperlink here.

    • Tim

      Paul, I signed up, but it was a terribly complicated process; and I still arrived at nothing. Please, fix this, because I have to leave David’s site right now, because, it seems that he is in favour of the privatisation of public services.

      I will return here, occasionally, to promote my contrary opinion, but, I am sickened by what I have read today and I have to leave.

      I hope it is a ruse – I hope that David does not mean it, or that I have misunderstood; But if David is turning into Margaret Thatcher, I am gone. I am more disappointed in David than I am in Brian Cowen.

      Take care, all.

      • mishco

        Tim. You’re a teacher and you disagree with David when he advocates “selling (state) assets that cost you money, where you could raise revenue and invest this in places where the State works well, such as the school system.”? Er….OK.

  33. Garry

    The article seems to be to be a call for the state to sell anything it can to keep the wolves from the door…. plus the dig at the ineptitude of the current government..
    All I can add on that is that if one doesn’t have an plan, then biffospeak —- We must internalise and contextualise the new paradigm going forward —- covers a multitude. It might even be preferable to leave biffo mumbling away these days than speak plain English.

    But I am a concerned with the sell everything approach. I know we need money but the world is dividing into creditor and debtor countries or maybe even regions/camps.. Sovereign wealth funds could end up owning nearly everything in the next few years. Lets make sure the debtor countries don’t become the gimps for the creditor countries, lets not sell stuff right now that we might need tomorrow… By all means flog off the plasma screens, the ipods the bling but leave the roof intact and hold on to the garden.

    Oh and can I add my voice to the list of people looking for willis to explain the slogan on credit.. but preferably not in sonnet form and without saying the word conspiracy.

  34. SamB

    Let’s take our focus off the local corner shop for a minute – parish pump policies and economics won’t solve this problem. The issue is so big that only governments can do it.

    A decade ago I led a bunch of 3,500 investors in a class action against a large number of insurers that had “immunity from suit”… a whole other story – so to cut it short, they settled with us for 3.2 billion. They did it by putting all the policies that they had liability for in a warehouse and setting “fire to them” thereby netting off the spiral of liabilities that they could not cover.

    This is what needs to be done in the current situation. The banks are almost all nationalised. The governments need to temporarily nationalise the rest, cancel all the Credit Default Swaps and other liabilities by having a bonfire, netting off positions and starting off with clean new banks again, recapitalise them from public funds and go back to running the buses (the only thing that they are capable of doing – and not very well either)

  35. pera

    I am not sure if I agree with a country being run as a convenience store. A government have to consider more things than a convenience store has to, so the comparison is a bit to simplified for my taste. Although there is a slight fear lurking at the back of my head that by applying some of these principles the government would probably be better run, but I hope it is not true.

    As mentioned in a previous post a convenience store does not have to focus on costs in the same way as a supermarket.

    When it comes to privatization I disagree with David. I believe certain things are of national interest, such as railroads, Energy, infrastructure. These things are usually better handled by government.(although there might be exceptions to that) In addition entrants to this market will find it very hard to compete, so even if privatized, it will go from a state monopoly to a private monopoly. But if Ireland does decide to go down the route of privatisation, I hope that they keep the infrastructure and powergrids under state control to make the playing field even for new entrants, as should have been done when eircom was privatized.

    The 30% stake in Aer Lingus makes no sense at all. 10, 33.4, 66.7 or 90.1% would have made some sense, but I dont think I ever will understand why

    I have over the past few days been trying to look to where Ireland can go now, and I have been trying to understand why it is in the situation it is now. The focus on cost in the economy is not necessary a good focus. I can understand why that is important. The first part of the celtic tiger was caused by attracting FDI, and Ireland was competing with the rest of the world in low corporation tax, low labor wages and maybe and overly accommodating regulatory regime. But the multinationals came here because of costs, and it was obvious that they were going to leave the moment they got a better deal somewhere else. Pharmaceuticals takes a bit longer to leave as it is so highly regulated, and they have to focus on production almost whatever costs, while they still have their patent.

    So unless Ireland wants to compete with China, Poland etc on costs, I personally think the focus should be shifted. Ireland needs to start creating its own industry and expand its markets. There are plenty of European countries who do not have an abundance of natural resources, but have still been able to create thriving economies out of difficult economic situations. I have tried to think of reasons why this is the case. I have thought about the effects of Ireland being a former colony. Land owners and the church has had a lot of power, and these are two groups that traditionally have preferred status quo.

    I am starting to think that Ireland never had a shift in society that in most other countries came with the industrial revolution, which meant that an establishment, only interested in preserving the status quo, held complete power. In times of trouble, people, who maybe in other countries would have stayed and started building up the economy, had to emigrate, with the blessing and encouragement of the establishment. The establishment who did not see this as the disaster it really was for many people and the country, but probably more as an easy solution to a problem. This time emigration might not be an option and that might be the first building block to a sustainable irish economy and society.

    Many commentators have now started saying that we should not focus on allocating blame and prosecution, but rather on rebuilding. I disagree, there is no point in attempting to build anything new based on the same mold. The system needs to be cleaned out. There needs to be a focus on integrity and transparency, wrongdoing has to be followed up and have consequences. But it seems as if cronyism and nepotism is so very strong in Ireland, so one fear would be that any attempt to clear up would only end up in a tribunal. (How you can have a tribunal investigating politicians who are still in power and expect anything out of it, still baffles me

    My wish list would be:

    1: Basic integrity
    2: Transparency
    3: Accountability

    But as I discussed with a friend. Cronyism and corruption has been allowed to fester for so long in Ireland because we are all implicated. Everybody seems to think that it is ok, because someday, that is going to get me ahead in the health queue, get the planning permission for the extension, get a loan in the local bank, get my kids into the right school, get tickets to a hurling semi-final, get the pot holes fixed in my road etc..

    So how can the wish list above come true?

    I just hope that someday, we will not be looking to the running of a convenience store as a template for running Ireland. Just to make this post even more incoherent, I suspect that Ireland could go towards the bad state solution instead of the bad bank solution. might be a way out of the crippling debt burden that Ireland through its state guarantee owes to the foreigners

  36. StephenKenny

    SamB
    The problem with going anywhere near these instruments, including the bad bank idea, is that you have to value them. And that is the problem. No one wants to. No on dares to. Value them, and you can actually calculate exactly how insolvent you are, leave them under a pile of expanse claim forms in the back room, and you can sort of spread vague rumours based on their original values.

    Remember, CDSs are used to bring sub AAA instruments up to AAA. If you net off two matching contracts, then two people are holding instruments that were AAA, and now suddenly aren’t. Many funds are only allowed to invest in AAA rated investments (thus the reasons for CDSs in the first place). So now you have companies that have to sell their newly non-AAA investments.

    The question that keeps coming up is why is it that these super high-powered government task forces go in, all guns blazing, promising to have things sorted out in two ticks, only never to be heard of again? The speculation is that they go into a super-secret room, in the depths of some bank or other, look at some of these things, and say “Ah, I see, well …….. tell you what, let’s form a committee to look into it further……..” and they all sneak out during the night.

  37. Tim

    David, If you are suggesting the Thatcherite/privatisation agenda with this:

    “Yet no-one is talking about privatisation on a larger scale. What is the State doing running all these fine trains from Killarney to Dublin? Or what business does the State have owning 30pc of Aer Lingus?”

    ,,,,, then, regretably (because I thought you were GOOD), I am out.

    • Lorcan

      Unfortunately Tim, David is being pragmatic, as usual, rather than good.

      Perhaps his point is that there are no inviolable sanctuaries from the coming economic storm. If we are not willing to look at everything and at least discuss the merits of holding or folding, then we are not doing the required due diligence on ourselves.

      Or maybe he is Thatcherite scum.

      Either way, at least he stimulates debate.

  38. Philip

    @Pera – well done for realigning the key issue at stake in Ireland. Ethics, Morality and Accountability. I think that just because we are in a mess, it does not mean we try and sort that out while the root cause is still not addressed.

    We should forget about messing with banks or methods and focus on the key issue. Accountability and Blame which sticks.

    All the wonderful theories for engineering a recovery will be hamstrung by the legacy that still fails to be addressed and stunts our development as a nation. We need justice and finality – until this is addressed, we will remain without reputation and a 2nd rate colony.

  39. malone

    David

    You laud the centra people as been wonder buisness people and they have the right attidude and that we can learn from them

    The only thing they know is how to line their own f……. pockets

    They and Spar are the biggest rip off merchants in the whole of Ireland

    quick example Chocolate Lion Bar Centra €1.04 : Independent Shop : €0.75

    Londis 0.80

    (As was mentioned bzy other people)

    Are you really on the side of money grabbing scum like them ?

    you say the top brass in the Banks are rotten , but yet these Centra people who you speak so highly of seem to have one or two things in common with the Bankers who you say should be deposed

    What side are you on ?

    • Lorcan

      Malone, if you get a chance you should read The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford. Does a good job on shop pricing policies, and a reasonably entertaining read too.

  40. Tim

    Mise Eire,

    “I think we all would like to find out why education works, but health and transport don`t.”

    I will say why, and it may well be the last thing that I contribute to this forum – I was leaving, until I read your post, which gave me hope:

    Education works because the teachers BELIEVE in what they are doing (nurses do, too, but bear with me) – remember the “hedge-school mentality? Meitheal-system. They are, certainly, not doing what they do, purely, for the paltry salary; and they have few administrators to defer to. Maybe the principal or deputy principal of the school must be addressed by the teacher; the one financial administrator does not, really.

    Now, look at the number of pencil-pushing administrators in the health sector and transport? MORE administrators than frontliners.

    That’s our problem. Simple.

    • StephenKenny

      Hi Tim

      Some tasks simply require more administration: Medical processes and records are far more complex, and mission critical, than those found in schools, for example.

  41. StephenKenny

    Malone

    David was applauding the attitude of the staff to difficult times, not their pricing practices.

    Retailers charge different prices for the same product for various reasons. You often find it related to the local property taxes and rents, to competition, to snob value, and probably other things.

  42. Tim

    Furrylugs, Lorcan, Deco, MK1, Philip, JohnAllen, MalcolmMcLure, wills, even BrendanW,

    Thanks, guys – its been a hell-of-a-ride! You have all expanded my thinking on this site and I will always appreciate what you have done. If I am wrong, and David has not turned “Thatcherite”, I will seek to return and hope to be accepted; but, as it appears now, I cannot remain here and will not. March 15 still, Furry.

    See ya on PaulOmahonyCork’s new blog – if I can figure out how to work it.

  43. Aidan

    “competitive”
    A small word but one it seems our political system has forgotten the meaning of. The sooner the word is up in neon lights and looked to for guidance every time some idiot has a bright idea, the better.
    We do not need to try and compete with China but we most definitely need to be competitive with Britain and America ( who are now going to print money and devalue their way out of this mess ).
    The fact is Irish people want and need value. Anyone who says it is not so, take a drive down the M1 to Newry and sit in your car for 3 hours with all the rest of the “bargain hunters” trying to buy cheap groceries and booze.
    It is now time to forget about all the side shows about the golden circles and fat cats. What they have done is done and their day of reckoning will come ( Hopefully ) through the courts.
    Time is not on our side and right now our biggest problem is the competitiveness problem which is being caused by a complete and total lack of will.
    So maybe its time to leave the fat cats who number into the hundreds for another day and start sorting out the fat rats who number the hundreds of thousands now.

  44. MK1

    Hi Tim,

    I would hang around here a while longer if I were you, as discourse is useful.

    In terms of David’s privatisation suggestion, I would definitely be against that. Not on a principalled basis per se, and I agree that there are arguments for what should and should not be ‘public sector’, but from a purely economic point of view – because now is the wrong time to sell the ‘state silver’, as it were.

    A fire sale of state assets isnt going to help, unless we are completly scraping the barrel and are talking about famines, basics, etc. Indeed, the state’s actions in recent months/weeks has been to nationalise (the opposite of privatise!) financial institutions which should have been, according to private enterprise principles, allowed to fail.

    So, if you are anit-privatisation, then the recent moves shoule be in the right direction at least for you with more likely on the way, AIB, BOI, ILP, etc.

    Philip > I think that just because we are in a mess, it does not mean we try and sort that out while the root cause is still not addressed.

    I agree with that Pera and Philip. Its not a case of doing one or the other, we need to do both.

    Lorcan, thanks for that list of the depts spending, a helpful reminder of just how much doo-doo we are in, and how out of whack the state coffers are in terms of all tax intake (government income) and all government spending. Tim, have you any suggestions?

    If I was in power I would move to increase taxes straight away, we have no choice really, we cant wait (yes, add more excise duty on alcohol for now, against my other plan!), AND reduce public spending. It just has to be done.

    Tim, I agree (where you posted elsewhere) that private (all citizens) debt and that of businesses is huge per capita in this country. Damien Kiberd has been flagging it for several years now (David McW, do you chat with Damien much these days). They are a separate problem though.

    And we need to tackle all problems …. ALL of them.

    Sleep well tonight children of Ireland, because the future Ireland may be an all more difficult place …..

    MK1

  45. SamB

    Stephen,
    I think you missed the point. What I am suggesting is that as the governments (UK, USA. Ireland etc) own the banks, they go into a room and forgive all the interbank debts; basically net them off, or bankrupt the banks and start again. The Jews do this every 7 years, see:
    http://www.bankruptcylawnetwork.com/2007/09/12/the-sabbatical-year-and-the-forgiveness-of-debts/

    In fact the Lord’s prayer was originally translated as ” Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” – “trespasses” was about stepping on other peoples property.

    In fact there is what as known as the “Jubilee” year which occurs every 50 years and extends even to Christian culture (Pope John Paul announced the year 2000 as “The Great Jubilee Year of 2000″. See:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jubilee_(Christian)

    What I am suggesting therefore is that 2009 should be a “Jubilee” year and the banks (in the hands of the governments) should forgive each other their debts and let the chips fall where they may. It would put this whole mess behind us and would be a big step in bringing us back into a normal business environment.

  46. SamB

    Hi Stephen,
    I think that your are missing my point. What I am advocating is debt forgiveness on the basis of the Jewish “Jubilee”. See:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jubilee_(Christian)

    I believe that the banks (as nationalised and owned by the governments (USA, UK, Ireland etc) should net off their debts and forgive them. Let the chips fall where they may. They can then sell what remains of the banks back to the markets and allow the rest of us to return to some degree of normal business and banking relationships.

    Until that happens the banks won’t deal with one and other – because they don’t trust each other and nobody is sure who is infected and who isn’t. They need to forgive the interbank debts and have them written off or forgiven. There will be winners and losers. Some will be bankrupt and others won’t – but at least it won’t fall back on the the usual suckers …… us.

  47. jim

    On the Markets……the NTMA managed to get a 3 year 4billion bond away yesterday at 125bp over mid-swaps,a bit lower than the 170bp advertised,a bit of a saving.So that combined with january 6billion gives us 10 billion or 40% of expected borrowing requirement of 25 billion for 2009.The 125bp is high but with the Banks guarantee and re-cap, its to be expected .we have become more vunerable.The bids were around 5.2 billion,thats a bit of a so,so.I dont know about anyone else but It scares the shit out of me until I see them bids in and thank God we had no silly buggers with ridiculous bids.For now its bag em and tag em.Downside rumors that Irish Banks were some of the bidders,dont know at present.AAA still holding up,any drop in that and we’ll lose at least 5% if not all the institutional investors funds.So chins up people no need to launch the life -rafts yet. Question;;; if the Government gives 7 billion to to Banks as re-cap and they use some of it to buy Gov.bonds when do you reach a zero sum game.Answers please on a post(card), winner to be announced on paddies day.First prize council seat on Offaly C.C. 50k plus other expenses.P.S that,s not really the prize,I made that last bit up.Ye all know Offaly C.C’S are worth more than that.Pillars of society I say…..whole family’s of them,….pillars….ask the Taoiseach if ye think Im lying.Oh YE OF LITTLE FAITH!!!!!!FULL COUNTY.

  48. Dear SamB,
    That’s exactly what I said, in a corner shop way.
    I agree with David in that we have to see (“corner-shop”) commonsense, most of us because we don’t understand mathematical models – leave them to Paul Kruger) but even he has to translate them into what is practical, and that is the real task.

    I said it before and I’ll say it again get rid of the failed model altogether, it’s as clear as day.
    Stimulus after stimulus and still commonsense is avoided.
    Obama is beginning to be a headless chicken, around and around when nationalization is the only way out, but you know and I know that could bring real violent conflict, and that’s what is being avoided: the consequences.
    1. Denial: the country’s in a healthy state, no recession
    2. Anger: angrier media, people, and …..
    3. Bargaining: stimulus, bailout, regulation, recapitalization (don’t mention nationalization)
    4. Depression: (the real consequences) has not been accepted yet, and it will continue to get worse.
    5. Acceptance
    ————————
    I have drawn this picture here many many weeks ago; I for get on which post.
    The five stages of grief – as introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying“:
    ————————
    I was hang out at the corner shop. Come on down (to ground) and talk plain commonsense; that way we might get somewhere.
    First thing is to bring down the present government, and take back real active democracy from the EU. Back to the gym or parish hall or whatever, and roll up the sleeves to fight for you say in policy making- get involved, and that will be hard work, the work we’ve al been remiss in carrying out, but look what happens when you leave what you should be doing to others. Simply you get ripped off.
    We’re angry because we damn well know it.
    All the Unions must amalgamate if there is to be strength in the chain. That’s a number one priority.
    To be cont.

  49. Tim,

    For god’s sake wake up this morning in a different mood. Your point of view is invaluable over here and, even if David disappoints you that much, you should still stay here.

    Think about it. It sounds as if David was elevated too high, and now he’s come crashing down. Re-consider. If all we have to depend on is David, we are truely lost. Alone David is an interesting voice crying in the wilderness. Worth hearing. But it is us who have to do the work. You are one of us.

    Has David ever made a mistake? Will he be mistaken again? Has he been misunderstood?

    What I care about is your voice. Remember all those complementary things you said about this forum. We’ll all have days when we’ll feel like abandoning ship.

    My next piece may well abhor you, but I trust you’ll still talk to me.

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