March 30, 2009

The Icelandic conundrum

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Greenhouses ripening bananas are one thing you don’t expect to see dotted about the freezing Icelandic plains where the glaciers sweep down to the volcanic plateau. The greenhouses, which shelter the hardy Icelandic ponies from the bitter east wind, are powered by geothermal heat, which bubbles away under the lava.

This is, after all, a volcanic island and, as a result, energy is practically free. The Icelanders figure it is cheaper to grow their own tropical fruit than import it. Evidence of this geological bounty is everywhere. All around the country, geysers blast steam from under the angry ground, heating homes and generating free electricity.

These extraordinary sights can be seen vividly from the air on a clear day. This morning’s plane from Reykjavik to London is full of bankers and their lawyers who are trying of get their money back.

They have no chance, because Iceland is bust. Like Ireland, some Icelanders went on a borrowing binge, buying assets everywhere. The assets have collapsed in value, the cash is gone and there is no money left to pay the debts.

That such a thing can happen in the country the UN judged as having the highest standard of living in the world last year presents a huge dilemma for modern economics. The conundrum is this: good countries can go bad. Let’s explore this idea a bit more and then come back home to see whether we can learn anything from the Icelanders.

Two years ago, Iceland was judged by Transparency International to be the least corrupt country in the world. The place is totally bilingual, and life expectancy is the best in Europe. The prime minister is the world’s only openly gay leader, and it has the oldest parliament on the planet. The country has no enemies. It doesn’t even have an army.

So how did a country with the highest level of educational achievement in Europe, free energy and a brilliant health service come to be regarded as a financial pariah? How come financial markets can judge a place like Iceland as delinquent and yet regard a place like Dubai – where women don’t have the vote and an immigrant underclass slaves away with no rights – as a safe haven? How do we explain this quandary?

Traditional economics suggests that countries that are corrupt, badly managed, illiterate and intolerant are the ones that collapse. In the morality tale that normally accompanies economics, we are told that countries that spend huge amounts on arms and not hospitals and schools are likely to fail.

In this black-and-white world, it is easy to label failed countries with weak currencies as crony capitalists, cowboys, kleptocracies and the like. These tags satisfy our desire to see the world through a safe moral prism, where clear-thinking economics alone is sufficient to lance the boil of bad governance.

In the past few years, much of the ideology that accompanied the idea of free markets, free capital movements and globalisation had as its political handmaiden the assumption that the less regulation there was, the better for society in general. Indeed, for ideologues the objective of free markets would be to deliver a peaceful, high-income society that looked and felt like Iceland. In the event, free capital movements and light regulation, far from securing a society like Iceland, practically destroyed it.

This dilemma presents the great ideological fault line of the next generation. We in Ireland cannot opt out of this discussion because this is what our next election (which will come, let us hope, sooner rather than later) will be about. Make no mistake about it: the Great Crash of 2009 will have serious political ramifications and, for Europeans at least, they will centre on the ‘Icelandic conundrum’.

The crux of the issue may be that financial markets do not move in a smooth, organised fashion. In fact, they behave in precisely the opposite manner, gushing and gurgling irrationally, rendering everything endemically unstable.

I’m thinking about this as the bankers beside me are trying to figure out away to ensnare the Icelandic population and make them pay for the greed of a few individuals who broke the country.

Some 20,000 feet below lie the Westman Islands, a great volcanic archipelago named after the Westmen – the Irish -who were taken here as slaves by the Vikings in the 10th century. This story explains why 30 per cent of Icelanders have Irish, not Norse genes. What’s more, considerably more Icelandic women than men have Irish genes, because the Vikings did what it said on the tin: they raped and pillaged, taking slave concubines home with them.

Strange as it seems, Icelandic would have been the language of Dublin 1,000 years ago. This is what Dublin would have sounded like. There are still echoes of it today. Just think of our street names. Anyone familiar with Stoney batter in Dublin, which was a Viking ghetto in medieval times, will recognise the name Oxmantown Road. The Oxmen were the Ostmen – the men from the East – who lived in Ostmenstown – the Viking ghetto. Ostmenstown later morphed into Oxmantown.

The Irish and the Icelanders are genetically and historically linked. But more crucially we are now linked prospectively, because we are both faced with the Icelandic conundrum. If free movement of capital can almost destroy a perfectly formed society that has achieved the highest standard of living in the world, then should capital be heavily regulated?

Maybe there is another connection to the Westman Islands that might allow us to see the dilemma more clearly. The islands are volcanic places. An Atlantic Vesuvius gurgles away beneath them. It erupted in 1973, leading to the mass evacuation of these descendants of Irish slaves, chaos, fear and ultimately resettlement.

An interesting way to look at financial markets is that they behave like volcanoes. The markets, like the earth’s inner molten core, are a cauldron bubbling away under the surface, full of pressures, strains and tensions.

Like volcanic activity, we can monitor this, but can never predict where or when it will explode, dragging banks, currencies and ultimately countries with it. Nor can we predict the ferocity of the explosions, the tsunamis triggered by them or the devastation or scale of the clean-up operation.

The crucial difference is that we can control the markets in away that we can’t control the earth’s lithosphere. Maybe, if we want to avoid the Icelandic conundrum, where very good countries go bad, all we have to do is control the irrationality of the markets by heavy regulation.

One thing which is clear, as I lookup the aisle to first class on this plane, is that the future of Ireland and Iceland should not be left to the snake-oil salesmen in Prada, who are nothing more than the well dressed foot soldiers of a tattered ideology.


  1. Malcolm McClure

    David: What interesting conversations did you have with Icelandic economists?
    The Sunday Times has a down-beat review of Ireland’s economic plight that has influenced public opinion in UK as I was told about it by a friend in Scotland.
    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article5980940.ece
    It includes the following comment:
    “Simon Johnson, the former chief economist of the IMF, points out that debt market investors now rank Ireland as the most troubled economy in Europe. He is urging the world’s leaders, who meet at the G20 summit in London this week, to come up with “a plan of action for Ireland. We need it and we need it now. Does the European Union come in to help? Is this a job for the IMF? And don’t tell me, ‘The Irish have to sort this out for themselves.’ Eventually, the world always comes to help; check your notes on Iceland.”

    • Garry

      Eventually, the world always comes to help…. Serbia, Ethopia, Somalia, Darfur …..

      I can see it now. G20… food shortages in Africa, artic ice melting, Gordon Brown trying to save the world, Barack Obama’s first steps on the global stage, China and the US arguing over how much that few trillion $ of US debt is going to be worth, Russia threatening the EU with oil and gas embargos, OPEC’s oil out put irreversably declining etc etc etc, protectionism on the rise…

      and on the agenda… how to maintain living standards in Ireland before God help us, those poor poor Irish politicians and public servants have to endure the horror of living on the same amount as those in the UK.

      • Malcolm McClure

        Garry: Of course you are quite right. At present we don’t even belong to the G20 ‘Big Boys’ club, even though recently we had an “overall quality of life unmatched anywhere in the world.” and were supposedly “the fourth richest country in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, ” –Our plight is a tragedy of Shakespearian proportions; – a tragedy, according to classical principles, is a fall from high degree because of a great flaw, in our case, the flaw of hubris.

        The key issue for Ireland at the moment is the second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. At present we are semi-detached members of the EC even though our entire future welfare depends on it. Back in December Michael Martin stressed that Ireland would get concessions in return for bowing to EU pressure hold a re-run referendum after Irish rejected the treaty in June.
        “Work remains to be completed with our European partners over the coming months and any second referendum is conditional on satisfactory conclusion of that work,” he said.

        We haven’t heard much about the referendum recently, and our negotiating position has weakened since December. EC membership helped put Ireland on its feet and has insulated us, so far, from the fate of Iceland.
        Can we have an informal poll here about whether we should support the Lisbon Treaty?

        • Philip

          No Vote from me. I was a yessir and voted accordingly. Am beginning to see how we have lost our decision making ability since this bust materialised. This just confirms it. It’s been an education lreading the bloggers here. WhiIe I try not to be a pinko anti-EDI greenie tree hugger, I find I am managing between pragmatism & fairness. My premise is simple. We are a huge resource to the EU and while I am tempted to say that any lot other than our lot are the best to manage it, I think we need to suck in and realise what we have and what it takes to keep it. I think a vote yes is a vote of “Cry Help”. Very bad precedent for any future relationship.

          • Ruairi

            100% in agreement Philip. We are smart enough, with 30 years experience in Europe, and 15 years of wealth improvement, to have more longterm confidence in our resources and our abilities. That doesn’t mean we shoudl jump out either. I just think we should do things for proactive positive reasons not reactive negative scenarios being painted. Ireland, in its current position in the EU, is no weaker legally than any other nation. This goodwill nonsense only goes so far. If its a complete free handout gig, why are Hungary and others in so much bother and requiring IMF aid for damage caused by EU entry rules?

            We need to think strategically about Lisbon and put the cap back into the back pocket,

          • Garry

            A yes vote for me, its a real shame we didnt vote yes the first time around.

            We would still be in much the situation if we voted yes. But the EU (and by extension ourselves) would be better positioned right now, had we voted yes.

            If we had honest principled talented leadership in Ireland we could have an alternative. But we dont, theres no point in discussing that. Might as well be dreaming about Biffo winning an Olympic medal as of him providing honest, principled and competent leadership.
            Even then, the ideal scenario would be to have Irish people punching above their weight in Europe for the benefit of everyone. Instead, being Irish will be a handicap for principled, talented people in EU institutions.

            The craic is only starting, now is a bad time to be isolated from the herd.

          • coldblow

            I voted yes last time round for the first time. I noted at the time that John Waters seemed to have done the same, and he’d campaigned with Crotty and the rest for a No in 86. I’m a don’t know at present and might remain so right up to the referendum depending on what seems best tactically. There are principles involved and it seems inevitable that sooner or later we will all have to start living by them but perhaps right now isn’t the best time to start worrying about that and we can leave the job of finding solutions to the bigger, more responsible nations (hope I don’t regret saying that).

  2. MK1

    Hi David,

    Yes, the wider implications of the Icelandic ‘meltdown’ are food for thought.

    > If free movement of capital can almost destroy a perfectly formed society that has achieved the highest standard of living in the world, then should capital be heavily regulated?

    Well lets go back to basics. If markets are completely unregulated, we end up with a gun-toting society, just like the wild west and in fact worse. If we have no laws it reduces to pure barbarism, that is the nature of the beast, the human. That’s capitalism in its extreme 100% form.

    Soceities for many decades and indeed millienia have been attempting to control our lowest denominator trends. We ‘regulate’. eg: We pay taxes, of course we are forced to do so and the human nature to avoid doing so is still there after thousands of years as the McCaughey example shows. Human’s have not developed that much! We regulate many aspects of society, self-interest groups, marketable products and services, etc.

    We regulate financial service companies and credit. What has clearly happened is that the regulation has not worked. The system has failed. But where did the system fail? Has it in fact been broken for a long time? Yes, it has. Is fiat money an unworkable system? Is multi-currency workable, floating rates or are fixed rates the only game in town, long-term? But can any system be devised that is long term robust and where humans wont try and get around it?

    The thing about economic and financial systems, is that we dont have a ‘best practice’ model. We cant say lets follow Model A, and long-term things will work out because it worked for the Mayans for 1000 years. You see, we (as humans) are experimenting as we go along. We are making it up as we go along, literally. We dont know the full set of consequences as we go along. We plant the seeds of ‘destruction’ long before the s hits the proverbial fan. We have theories. We know basics of supply and demand, but we attempt to control it. We have systems that play on aspects of human nature, such as slight inflation versus deflation, etc. But try as we might, it has been beyond us to control a perfectly fair economic system for 6 billion people. We still have death. We still have starvation. We still have poverty. We still have major equalities. Have we created a better society for all 6 billion people than we had 100,000 years ago when we were in caves? Its open to debate!

    So, what do we do next? Well, we need to start changing things, and thats on a global basis (which is really the rich country club). Ireland can be a part of that. But it remains to be seen whether 20 “ill” countries are able to agree to sef-diagnose, and repair themselves and the system. So far its fire-fighting mode and a globally coherent set of solutions have not unfolded. In fact, like free market forces, its each country for themselves.

    MK1

  3. tony_murphy

    David,

    Spotted this interesting Article on the web. There is oppurtunity in Iceland right now

    http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/mt/archives/2009/03/could_troubled.php

  4. MK1

    Hi wills,

    wills> My post is getting at the fact that the worldwide credit crunch origins lie within the credit production system all global economies use,.. the loan transaction / banking practice of manufactoring debt method,. and i am asserting that this system is the gateway to the great ponzi credit bubble swindle,… and for some bizarre reason most people seem think ah sure this is all we have and sure we have to make and do and if you clear out management we will be fine, or, if we clear debts into skip all will be fine, and i am suggesting, hey, why dont we do credit production the right way around the way its meant to be done, were everyone wins,…
    mk1 i am saying,…. the great global ponzi credit bubble swindle was not an accident. When gold standard de-coupled from dollar in 71 and gave way to the dollar world reserve currency system, the technicians were engineering a global fiat paper based world curriencies, this is on record. All economists worth their salt know that this fiat paper is the death blood of ponzi credit bubbles, and so this was set up,.. and why wouldnt they…, they had a chance to do so and grabbed it… their greed won out and the people in the loop made a ponzi credit global system to enjoy the goodies it has subsequently proven to divy up to a select few.

    I fully agree with you that the end of the gold standard and fiat systems brought us into a new era, a new system, and with unknown long-term consequences. I agree that the credit ‘production’ system in the way that it has been mis-managed has created massive ponzi problems. I also agree that the clearout of banking management, etc, is not the solution, that it wasnt ‘these people’ that created the mess. Some clearly derived excessive benefits though. So we agree on a lot, and I’ve mentioned all of these aspects in previous postings.

    I think the only part where we disagree on is the ‘conspiracy’ aspect. That this was somehow designed. My hunch is that this is less design and more like ‘unforeseen’ consequences as a result of 1000′s of decisions and ‘economic system creation’ issues. A death by 1000 cuts if you will.

    Credit has always been there like a tap. Systems have been put in place to control that tap and its rate, yet time and time again, we make judgement errors in the execution of controlling that tap. It kind of reminds me where a toddler turns on a tap at the kitchen sink and cant get it turned off once it is close to overflowing. So, in terms of economic systems, we are at the toddler stage.

    So much to do …….

    MK1

    • Philip

      I think there is no conspiracy issue here. That said, it is in the interest of the finance community not to stop the balling rolling as it is. Given their power and influence, human nature will mean they will aim to survive to the detriment of the rest of us. In that context, it could be a viewed as a conspiracy to corrupt the course of correction necessary to see us out of this mess.

      • Philip

        Am a bit more jumbled than usual in my thinking…Conspiracy was not the genesis of the whole problem. Howver it is now at the core of its continuation – is what I mean.

    • wills

      @mk1;

      thks on feedback on my post…

      mk1 the ‘ol conspiracy stickie tab is a delicious opt out for some on my postings and i can safely say i hope anyway you are not offering me that categorisation but rather questioning as to my assertions on pre planning behind ponzi doomsday device.,,,, that its all down to ‘death by 1000 cuts’, the meltdown..

      Let me add,. in spirit of debate,.. this….

      There is no way did the collateralisation of debts racket running up the deritiatives multi trillion dollar doomsday blackhole happen by accident, by a few gamers riding the crest of a speculative wave and not looking into the ‘furtures market’….

      Titanic comes to mind,… if you dont keep eye out for iceberg everything will be ok cos its iceberg safe, scientific denial in place
      now lets turn the computrs on and get whizzing the algorithms and rake in the cash,.. forever and ever and ever and ever,.. nope dont think so, any one working in deriviatives as i did i hasten to add all knew it was betting on the horses and one day the horse would fall ta the fence and loose,… its law of averages at work,.. and these guys in the banks took it upon themselves to believe they figured out a way around this and we have all now found out that they didnt and now we are been sold the idea across the media that this melt down was a combination of factors and dominos and i say its snakes and ladders and i want my taxpayers money back please and these spivs can use their plunder to pay for their tab at the bar.
      Okay,.. i best clarify where im coming from on the

  5. Philip

    You know, what people need to ask themselves is exactly what kind of a democracy they live in when one day you think you’re rich and liberal and all the nice things that came with being Icelandic over a year ago. The majority of people there – ordinary people – thought they were living their life reasonably sensibly. Now, someone has reached into their pockets, took what they thought was theirs and said – tanks…(like that insurance fraud ad). Icelandlic sovereignty really is now just a name. (and by the way, same goes for the rest of indebted nations around the place). Even the notion of a country going bankrupt and though it was some legal entity like a corporate enterprise needs to be profoundly questioned. Someone is being screwed here and it’s not the guy to said “tanks”. This is a profound affront to the man on the street.

    On a slightly parallel but related topic, I was listening to Richard Bruton talk on Morning Ireland. Fine Gael are suggesting that Ministers be buyers of public services rather than budget owners. The idea being to make the PS more business focused and perhaps given managers more ownership of their respective budgets. It sounds like a good idea in terms of building accountability and putting a competitive zing into the PS, but I cannot help seeing this evolving into an ultimate selloff into privatisation of other public interest utilities like education and health – behold the disaster of Eircom. Mind you he was a bit short on how the ministerial procurement process might configure itself…

    It seems to me that behind all this has been a tendency of those elected to be overwhelmed by the intricices of their office. The dogma which has evolved over the last few decades was to give the work to the guys who knew what they were at and accountability would be guaranteed by their need to make a profit out of it. I have seen this happen on many outsourcing contracts. Rather than outsource what they profoundly understand (so they can focus on the complicated stuff), they outsource what they do not understand. Once outsourced, they forget that the outsourcer will always do the least possible for the max profit and a tight management of communications ensures no awkward questions will be raised.

    Come to think of it, this outsourcing has been going on for centuries. Bankers have done it for Finance Depts in countries. As an analogy, generalised electronics manufacturers have done it for original manufacturers. You know what happens? They come in cheap, control the market and remove your control of the knowledge and then you loose complete control of the wealth generation of your operation. In the same way, a nation looses control of credit generation by allowing someone unelected to sell the land under your feet as a futures commodity. That’s what has happened in Iceland. Time has come to start asking very very awkward questions.

  6. gadfly55

    Excellent essay, as in thinking in print, playing with ideas, analogies, connections between perceptions, beliefs, concepts, structures of thought, systems, the natural and the human. This essay can be read several times, considered at leisure and appreciated repeatedly for the thought it provokes. Now, consider that money is a utility, like water, like electricity, like public transport, like waste disposal, like education. But then I can hear you already suffering under the effects of privatisation of these public services. Problem one. We have suffered the Reagan/Thatcher/neo-con domination that public is bad, private is good. Flip this, public is good and we all pay a bit all of the time, private is bad because we all pay too much, catastrophically, while an elite gets ahead all of the time. We are shareholders in society, in humanity, not in any company. The rising tide, does not raise our canoe, but is channeled into a canal to be privatised for power generation, and sold back to us when we are floundering when the tide goes out. The ponzi scheme of he markets has sucked the world into the get rich on money and intellectual property, or property itself, as a new landlord class dominating the entire planet under the law with the power of military force to compel enforcement of contracts. This is the game, and the people of the world are being trained and compelled into paying off interest, royalties and rents forever. What do any of you bloggers have to say to that fact, the costs paid to the private sector for your necessities, for your utilities? This period of unparallelled self absorption in the pleasures and distractions of personal pleasure will come to a spectacular collapse, and it has already begun. David, you really need to expand your reading into a much broader historic perspective.

  7. SLICKMICK

    Financial institiutions as well as the Government pay 6 figure salaries to Economists and Accountants in return for accurate forecasts and sound advice.Seeeing as these so called professionals have screwed up-how come they get to keep their well padded jobs?.It isn’t just chairmen and CEOS’ who shoud bite the bullet.Is any politician in Ireland in favour of ditching the Euro?.FG and Labour are just as inept as FF.

  8. banger – that was well worth reading . It seems that martin armstrong is proposing is to allow the euro to free float for each country and allow the international market decide the price of each country’s euro printed .This can only mean that the Irish Euro as denominated with the letter ‘T’ – is in tatters no matter what happens .

  9. Malcolm Mc Clure – I enjoy your post .I am reverting to what we wrote yesterday and your comments above today.My point is to build up a new law that we can call our own and that we all can have confidence in and have trust in .If that can be successful good business will follow and Logic is restored once more .Most points on the site refer to failure of current regulations etc and I agree .I believe history repeats itself and has something to offer to feed us on the long journey back to good times again.My proposals on the Brehon Law is to restore a body of law that we can call our own and reshape it to our modern requirements and needs.I believe that can be done and it’s name is one that we should be happy to be part of and a connection with our culture and history.
    In your above comment you mention ‘the flaw of the hubris’ .That statement may be a point in your statement now but it has no reference to a body of any law past or present .I am saying why not write a new body of law with a new sense of ideals and intention and from the people as practiced in The Brehon .
    Contact the Brehon Society in Dublin and activate them to initiate an Added Value to our Economy.It is badly needed NOW.

    • Malcolm McClure

      John Allen: I agree that we need a much stronger Justiciary to form a resolutely independent third pillar of government. I suggested in a previous post that this needs to be constituted as rigorously independent from the Legislative pillar. It should be responsible for the delivery of all forms of Justice, Policing, Regulation, Planning Appeal, Land Registry and Conveyancing. In addition it should be the guardian of the people’s interest as Ombudsman.
      The legislative branch should be responsible for formulating laws, regulations and planning guidelines etc. These should be largely based on existing laws with much stonger regulations about daily reporting of all significant financial transactions to the Financial Regulator. The Legislative Branch would be reponsible for Fiscal matters (Tax and Government Expenditure) while a Central Bank would be directly responsible to the ECB for all monetary matters.

      There is no need to pretend that this structure owes anything to the Brehon Code as it plainly doesn’t do any such thing.

  10. michaelg

    David, what is your source for this statement?
    “What’s more, considerably more Icelandic women than men have Irish genes, because the Vikings did what it said on the tin: they raped and pillaged, taking slave concubines home with them.”

    Surely, even if Irish women but not men were brought back to Iceland a thousand years ago, those women had male and female offspring in equal numbers? So how can Irish concubines explain the genetic disparity that you write about?

    I am sure you would not invent a statistic to suit your narrative, so I would like to understand its basis.

    • He probably means mitochondrial DNA – only passed from mother to daughter. See ‘The Seven Daughters of Eve’ by Bryan Sykes for more details.

      • michaelg

        Hello Adam,
        Yes, perhaps he read (and misunderstood) some analysis of the transfer of Mitochondrial DNA. To be accurate, this is passed from mother to both son and daughter.

        I still do not see how it can be said rationally that there are more women than men in Iceland with Irish genes.

        • Hello Michael, yes thanks for correction. Mitichondrial DNA passed on from mother to children of either sex.
          As you say though, the percentages still don’t make sense.

  11. IMO

    Given the fact that they have 30% Irish genes, are the women living on the Westman islands good looking…?

  12. michaelg – it’s a simple answer. 50% of the women in Iceland have Irish genes and 25% of the men have Irish Genes .When a man has a son he transfers his male gene to his son and when a woman has a daughter she transfers her female genes to her daughter – this is how nature works.

    IMO – I have been in Westmann many times and in the summer the islands quadrouple in population because of summer festivals and camping etc .It’s time to set up a GAA branch there any takers?

    • michaelg

      Thank you for the Biology lesson, John.

      I regret to inform you, however, that what you describe is not how nature works.

      Here’s how it works, in case your mother didn’t include genetics in “the talk” to you: each child gets a combination of genes from both mother and father, on average 50% from each. Some are passed on the maternal side (because of mitochondrial DNA, as mentioned above) and some are passed on the paternal side (on the Y chromosome), but that does not affect the overall picture.

      Again, even if, as David claims, there was an influx of Irish women but not men 1000 years ago, there is no logical way that this could result in there being more women than men with Irish genes in modern Iceland.

      • Malcolm McClure

        There is a clear explanation of this in Brian Sykes’ 2006 book ‘Blood of the Isles’. He says (pp236-237) that roughly two-thirds of Icelandic Y-chromosomes (male descent) were Scandanavian, while the remaining third were from Ireland and Scotland. However the origin of the mitochondrial DNA (female descent) is reversed with only a third from Norway and two thirds from Scotland and Ireland. It is hard to account for the Gaelic origins of third of Icelandic Y chromosomes without contemplating that their male ancestors were taken from Ireland as slaves.

        • michaelg

          Hello Malcom,

          I don’t have this book to hand, but from what you’re saying, the author reports that there is more Irish female DNA than Irish male DNA in Icelanders — presumably this is true of Icelanders who are both male and female.

          In other words, it is reasonable to say that Irish women contributed more to current Icelandic DNA than Irish men, because of an early influx of Irish women, but this is NOT the same as claiming, as David, did, that in current Iceland, “more Icelandic women than men have Irish genes”.

          By the way, Brian Sykes may have used the following source:
          Estimating Scandinavian and Gaelic ancestry in the male settlers of Iceland. Helgason A, Sigureth ardóttir S, Nicholson J, Sykes B, Hill EW, Bradley DG, Bosnes V, Gulcher JR, Ward R, Stefánsson K.
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10931763

          That paper states that:
          “This supports the model, put forward by some historians, that the majority of females in the Icelandic founding population had Gaelic ancestry, whereas the majority of males had Scandinavian ancestry.”

          However, David appears to have confused the FOUNDING population with the current population!

          • mishco

            When I read David’s comment on the larger number of Irish genes in Icelandic women, and studied the cartoon at the start of the article, I thought those Vikings looked up to throwing their male offspring down the well (or into the geysir) in order to preserve a surplus of pretty Dublin gals both for themselves – and for the male offspring of those not fortunate enough to have picked their own colleen directly from the fields. This practice could have continued for centuries, but I daresay it would have been documented. I’m sure John Allen could elucidate.

  13. liam

    David,

    “the snake-oil salesmen in Prada, who are nothing more than the well dressed foot soldiers of a tattered ideology” thats quite a statement, bravo.

    Slightly OT, but possibly of interest in the context of controlling the markets: I was lucky enough to speak with someone (senior) from a UK based multi-national bank the other day. Their investment in technology for automated trading was for me astonishing. Latencies in excess of 500µs are for them a problem. To put that in perspective these computers (well, server farms in fact) are making a trading decision in 1/1000th of the time it takes you to blink, and these trades are mostly unmediated by humans. While the value of an individual trade may not be large, the number of trades that are made my machines as a percentage of the total is probably in excess of half of all trades on average.

    The algorithms behind automated trading use highly sophisticated and advanced mathematical models to make decisions. At their core they are mostly using some variant of Nash’s Game Theory to determine the optimal trading strategy: in essence they are optimised to maximise the benefit to the individual agent, not the maximum benefit to all participating agents, i.e. they maximise the ‘wins’ for an individual portfolio. With all of the machines running and trading, the system is in a (Nash) equilibrium state. This is fine when things are on the up, but all it takes is one or two humans to skew this equilibrium and the whole system implodes (and companies, countries collapse). This is pretty much how normal human agents behave anyway, the machines just take the panic and uncertainly out of the picture and reduce the time scales to frighteningly short durations. Its possibly the biggest difference between this crash and what we have experienced in the past.

    But a common factor with previous market crashes: in the case of the silicon machines as well as their moist, fleshy counterparts, there is no ‘cost factor’ associated with reducing the total value of the market to 0.00.

    • wills

      @liam;

      brilliant post there liam. Can i add in there it is precisely this quantum mathematical programming courtesy of rocket scientists hired from ivy league colleges that spearheaded the collateralisating of debts into assets into deriviatives 600 trillion black hole which is what actually caused the ‘credit crunch’ which should be called the ‘doomsday device’,…

      • Philip

        Ah no Wills, it’s just due to a lack of computing power. Intel did not get their latest quad processing Xeon chip out on time. Some mean git of an IT director thought they were saving the bank a few bob by putting off the required inventment. Anyway, once they crack commodity quantum computing, we’ll all be saved.

      • liam

        Hi Wills,

        The financial algorithms you refer to aren’t directly related to profit driven trades, they are sophisticated risk models based on pattern extraction from prior activity. They use amongst other methods, a lot of Bayesian statistics to evaluate risk. Their weakness is not the methods in themselves, rather that they exploit data from too short a time base, certainly not long enough to spot long term boom-bust trends. For example a five year trend might seem like a long time, but as we now know, one really needs to look at the economic equivalent of geological time (i.e. 20-50 years) when evaluating long-term risk.

        The trading machines are looking over events that are statistically significant on micro-second time scales, mainly for seeking arbitrage or other advantage that will extract profits from minor variances on penny stocks. Not worth employing a human to do, but if you can have hundreds of thousands of automated trades, those penny stocks make it very profitable, making the computing power essentially free.

        You are correct though when you say CDS’s, repackaged sub-primes etc were validated by mathematics. But if you look on the right time scale the maths will always show you what you want to see.

        I wouldn’t blame the machines per se, nor their programmers. But as David points out, the overall consequence of the market system as it stands today is to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. This is true no matter who or what is doing the trades. I really only have a very amateur understanding of this stuff, but like I have said before, give a choice between explainations that involve conspiracy on the one had, and stupidity+greed on the other, stupidity and greed are a _very_ safe bet.

  14. Ruairi

    “In the past few years, much of the ideology that accompanied the idea of free markets, free capital movements and globalisation had as its political handmaiden the assumption that the less regulation there was, the better for society in general. Indeed, for ideologues the objective of free markets would be to deliver a peaceful, high-income society that looked and felt like Iceland. In the event, free capital movements and light regulation, far from securing a society like Iceland, practically destroyed it.

    This dilemma presents the great ideological fault line of the next generation. We in Ireland cannot opt out of this discussion because this is what our next election (which will come, let us hope, sooner rather than later) will be about. Make no mistake about it: the Great Crash of 2009 will have serious political ramifications and, for Europeans at least, they will centre on the ‘Icelandic conundrum’.”

    David, this is the PD fee market virus that has stained Irish politics considerably since its birth and PD wannabees in FF have allowed that ideology to continue to punch above its mandated weight by using left of centre and traditional FF votes to push through this failed vision of Western society.
    Let’s have the backbenchers of FF stand up and stand for what they were voted in for, who they were voted in by, what their party was founded for. Kitefliers were recently spotted with customised Harney tails on a Cowen kite. To even countenance the admittance of Mary Harney into FF because they ‘work well’ with her tells me all I need to know about Brian Cowen’s current state of mind and underlying ideology.
    Will the ideologues in FF please stand up before the next election and cop yourselves on. Stand for something. Stop playing politics with every issue. Lay your dwindling reputations on the ideological line.

  15. Garry

    Its an interesting article David but I would caution against heavy regulation…

    There is a clamour for more and better regulators. Yes it would be great to have them; it would be also be great to have more and better Christains. The problem is regulators are human…. Moreover they are not all seeing, all powerful people who only do good…They are essentially dull, predictable but hopefully reasonably intelligent people. In practise, their ranks are full of people who dont fully understand their industry; but who can apply rules, and use words like compliance, best practises etc.

    If a good green/red light test can be devised for regulators to accept/reject something, they are fine… Just dont ask them to go beyond this they are equivalent to the QA function in manufacturing plants but who have somehow sold their role to us as that of guru.

    The problem is we do ask them to go beyond QA, to setting policy and making relative judgements.

    Take Paddy Neary, our former financhial regulator. Would you put him in charge of designing the generation nuclear reactor, performing brain surgery or doing anything that required complex analytical skills, making complex judgement calls or prioritization of information? even preparing a multinationals accounts…Of course not, though he would make an adequate tester of PCB’s in a factory somewhere.

    Yet that classically educated idiot has presided over a system whose failure has cost this nation up to half a trillion euros. Though for years, it was obvious to everyone in the financhial industry he was an idiot, his position or status as a regulator made him untouchable.

    Beware the siren song of more and better regulation; its like wishing for a benevolent dictator

    • Philip

      It’s always a problem with regulation – paraphrasing the roman saying, “who polices the police”? But I think no one is asking for massively increased regulation. We’d like something a little above zero and with some active grey matter as well as you so nicely qualify

  16. malcolm mc clure -I agree with what you say .However I disagree that you should imply ignoring brehon laws completely .The spirit of the laws and our culture are entwined from centuries and that cannot change and nobody can make that happen for any reason .Just like genes there is a history written into the ancient behaviour of what we are .The Magna Carta and Brehon are twined at the hip insofar that the power of the people decide not the elected few at the top as in the Lisbon treaty proposals.If we want a great state we should build one with the best laws in the world and only then success follows.
    Would you change your ancient historical name to ( say ) Hans Kluggar ?

    • Malcolm McClure

      John Allen: Thee are serious difficulties with what you propose when it comes to family law, which is where the application of Brehon law might be thought most appropriate. If it were applied to family matters such as marriage, divorce, adoption, contraception, abortion and inheritance it could lead to conflict, not only with EC law but with Catholic precepts. It would require a completely separate judiciary, like that being proposed in UK to cater for those wishing to be judged by Sharia law in family matters.
      I think that this course would open an unneccessary and superfluous can of worms, which is why I am against the idea.

  17. wills

    @David;

    I found the article a good read, thumping good assertions and my thoughts now follow…..,

    “financial markets………, gushing and gurgling irrationally”
    Nope,.. i suggest any possible suggestions along these lines, and i think you are playing devils advocate here david on this one, are fatuous to the bone of a one pound sirloin steak. These gurglings and gushings are forces under the tight control of brilliantly informed clever clogs banking magnats.

    I would contend the elemental laws of global finance are securely buttoned under the tool boxes of the gilded ruling classes under lock and key bound up in the centuries of knowledge these elites have stocked up in their economic recipe books to play around with depending on the winds blowing with technological advances to which these elites have first dibs on.

    “financial markets behave like volcanoes”….,
    Yep would agree with you on that thumping assertion. Would like to add though these eruptions are cleverly calculated and calibrated to precise pressures in order to unleash the desired outcome of scarring on the landscape., these financial engineers of mass destruction are not nihilistic and the elemental forces of capital currents whooshing through the plumbing come under very secure hidden supervision by shock doctrine doctors transmogrifying cultural values and the like in the creation of new economic markets for the likes of for example gm food or, the next line of tranquilizers, or chip implants for a new contactless currency.

    “financial markets… do not move in a smooth organised fashion”
    Yep agree with that, absolutely,.. so much so that most people are now fully settled on the notion that to suggest to have markets run any other way than chaotically means you maybe a conspiracy theorist (which i am not by the way). This erratic movement of finance currents works beautifully with brainwashing communities into taking consumerism models as the natural normal life for all to be living, and its here i defer to johnallen on brehon laws, alot to this, but we do need jails, and a smooth organising of finance gives us credit in its utility function, but thats no good then for these loopers cos they dont get their slaves, they then have to do an honest days work.

  18. Tim

    wills, you explained all, there. Thank you.

    Will you, please, expand on your final paragraph? I found it a little obtuse.

    Break the last paragraph down for me. wills, give me the “ladybird” version – even though it wil, take you some time (sorry).

    Please help me to understand?

    Thanks.

    • wills

      @tim; okedok,.. below might help,………

      ‘Free capital markets gushing and gurgling away irrationally, rendering everything endemically unstable’, guided by the steady hand of expert financial engineers, piped into local communites to introduce a slow motion explosive demolition.., they work their ‘cash giveaway bonanza magic’ on the local populace, in different guises, easy credit, ponzi bubble gold rushes,. nourishment toward unleashing….

      excessive spending, materialism and consumerism. Overtime, the populace is hooked onto a consumerist based model of lifestyle and breda is paying1000 euro for a handbag..,

      Then whammo….., come the day… the free capital movement redirects and the demolition begins, transferring great wads of wealth right up into the coffers of the feudal lords who are piss1ng themselves with laughter at the shear brillance of the power of capital flow in action and its ruthless effectiveness in pulping long standing traditional values amongst communities and enslaving all into debt/slave purgatory, killing self reliance and independant mind body and spirit and destroying the community sense of place and spirit and setting up deeper and deeper cravings for more and more consumerism to kill the pain.

      • Tim

        wills, thanks a million for the break-down; you are very kind. What would you think of letting the banks sink or swim, while convincing our government to run Anglo for us with credit as utility – a kind of “National Credit Union” for the people, on a not-for-profit basis?

        • wills

          hi tim,
          setting up credit as a ‘public utility’,. a paradigm shift tim,.

          Okay lets see,.. to carry this change through successfully may involve treading on very comfortable toes so would be met with much resistance from the start. The real politic to this is a challenge and on your propositions above i can say this,….

          Letting the mainstreet banks fail is seperate to credit/utility implementation. So what i am saying is, gov sets up an agency, brand new agency and its remit is simple,. to oversee credit provided as a utility to the people of Ireland. I wont go into the details here. Lets call it, ‘Credit-utility supply Agency’ its remit is to make available credit in accordance with a simple set of principles anchored in a45.

          The main street banks are left to fix themselves using their own devices and initiatives,. and what we will see there is fast action on the private owners behalf cos they will ‘have to do something or sink’. So i would suspect the main banks if left to fend for themselves would quickly cut down opersting expenses etc all the usual stuff and tidy their act up and smallify and reemerge, and feel better for it due to doing it for themselves. Of course uncertainity will be part of the shrinking and upheaval in economy and so on but thats already happening anyway. Business is contracting anyway lets be honest.

          Let Anglo go the way its owners want, with no help from taxpayer.

          To bail banks out now using taxpayers cash is destroying confidence between gov and people,. this relationship must be kept intact cos it is melting away to much and this is how social unrest comes about and this is not productive.

          So, i would say, leave all to the reality their balance sheets and gov spend energy and resources on a new credit supply paradigm. People will follow, people love fairness despite all and will love the idea of credit provision been made a utility once it is explained properly., So leave the banks to the bankers and gov do its stewarding as invoked by constitution to see over the welfare of all our citizens, including non natives,. we must get credit to the weaker members, we must educate to them how to use it, it is not a priviledge, it is for everyone to use to become a stakeholder in the community.

          Credt production has been hijacked by the school bullys, it is there for all to avail of…

          • Tim

            wills, but, the taxpayer is now the owner of Anglo, so not sure we ahve a choice there; but we could probably take back the taxpayers’ 7bn from aib and boi

  19. jim

    Neary was just weak and gave continuity to a regime that had already undermined the Irish Economy.Neary was only appointed in 2006,so at that stage the System was already rotten to the core.Liam o Reilly was the first Regulator appointed in 2003 when that office was set up after the Government had commissioned the mcDowell report and went onn to create the offices of Financial Regulator and also Financial Ombudsman.(detached from the Central Bank). 3 seperate entities.Remember after we joined the Euro the Central Bank lost control of Interest Rates and thats when the Vultures really upped their game.The architects of Irelands downfall were the following in no particular order…Charlie mc Creevey,Bertie Ahern,Mary Harney and her PD cohorts,Sean Fitzpatrick and Anglo Irish Bank,Michael Fingelton,Goggin,Sheehy,Boards of IL&P and EBS.Cowen for his failure to implement change when he took over Finance,Hurley for His failure to call a halt as Governor of the Central Bank despite his recent protestations of not being listened too( you should have made your resignation public on moral grounds if you cared anything for this Country over you job).These are the people who created the climate for destruction.Not one of them have a leg to stand on when the evidence is put before them.The facts,figures ,evidence is backed up from here to the Caymen Islands and all exotic locations in between.Economic Treason for no reason other than greed and power.Regulation and accountability are needed to protect the Country from people like these.Remember their always lurking around looking for the next loophole or access to the accounts.Vigilience is the price we pay for Democracy.!!!

    • coldblow

      Let’s not forget, either, the ignominious role of the press and media in all this (I don’t know how culpable academe was), after all these were the watchdogs, the people conducting the “national conversation”, the purveyors of deafening non-sense ambient muzak.

      • Tim

        coldblow, maybe have a look at Moore McDowell, UCD “Economist” and brother of the former PD Minister; He performs very interesting swings and flip-flops in the media down through the years.

  20. Malcolm Mc Clure – I accept the serious difficulties but they should not stop us ‘to make a change in our existing body of laws’.We need to adapt someway in fact anyway otherwise we are forced to submit to another alien law system that is not our own doing .We can make choices that will allow the change to be easier .It’s ‘the spirit of the law’ we want to hold on to .It is a choice we have only NOW.
    We adapted before .When the Vikings arrived they had wepons that gave them the advantage to win in war only .When they captured the Monks in their captivity the monks adapted by learning the norse tongue and making it a written language using letters that were in usage then and new ones.Among the new letters included were the two letters Þ and ð devised by the monks to be pronounced ‘th’ as spoken in Norse at the beginning of a word and end of a word respectively .The monks ingrained the secret of the teachings of christianity in those letters from the gospel they preached and adapting to the new sound of ‘th’ that eventually became common usage in english .These letter were used by the first german bibles and written by Irish Monks .
    The secret of their gospel was ‘ the word of God as in the breath of life ‘ and ‘crucification’ respectively . Thus Catholicism /Christianity became the religion of Iceland .Both won but differently.You can call this an economic exchange .
    If our nation is to govern it must have the best laws in the world .We must adapt to make that happen .Otherwise the next genaration will experience more of what is happening to us now and nothing will have changed .
    Your response above reminds me of an Italien Joke .The Cote D’Azur of France is known as Little Italy because that area was once part of Italy and the people living there are of Italien Blood but speak French only. So the joke goes ‘ if you ask an Italien in Italy what is a Frenchman their answer is ‘ an Italien in a bad mood’ .

    • Philip

      If you ever to manage to read that book by Margaret Atwood – Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth. (I have only read reviews). Seemingly, It looks at debt as a form of social narrative and the management of debt is how we as a society create fairness and from that, the necessary mechanisms for stability. It articulates the role of debt in religion and our relations with one another. Maybe the Brehon Laws had a more stable mechanism before the foreign influences came in. Influences that were perhaps more successful in the short-term but had long term instabilities.

      My view (such as it is right now) is that unsustainable growth based economics and social narratives are coming to an end with perhaps disasterous results. We need a new narrative (maybe one from the past as you allude to) that provides a basis for longer term stability and a greater focus on inner growth. The cruel joke is that evangelising such an idea is probably oxymoronic.

      • Tim

        Philip, interestingly, Gene Roddenberry developed this concept in 1959 with the philosophy of life that he set as the back-drop to “Star Trek” – now, don’t laugh yet!
        The concept is that in that world, human beings have abadonned money and wealth acquisition and focus, instead, on self-fulfillment through the development of their individual skills and talents. The “Federation” provides everything that people require and the people all contribute to the general good according to aptitude. The better they are at their “job”, the more they contribute, the “higher” their rank in that society – nothing to do with chasing money. They pursue self-actualisation instead.

        • wills

          @tim,
          abs;utely,. all it takes is reducing the unease people have over thinking nothing will be there for them.

        • paddythepig

          Most people think they are good at their job, even if they are useless. Due to their vanity, people are ingenious at ‘appearing’ to contribute, rather than actually contributing. Regardless of whether money or rank is at stake, people will still embrace one-up-man-ship.

          This is an interesting and noble idea, but there is no guarantee that the same hierarchy would not emerge, and that it’s end product would not be as unjust .

          Paddy

  21. Mischo – there is no mention of the Faeries in Westmann .They also travelled from Ireland .There presence is steeped in Icelandic folklore .
    Neither is there mention of the troyan work carried out in Reykjavik by The Irish Sisters of Mercy over the years in education and hospital care or the Irish Priests who held parish appointments there .
    Another place in Ireland with an Icelandic name is Helvick near Waterford and it means ‘Sunny Bay ‘.

  22. Tim

    Folks, I’ve just been reminded by Primetime that the biggest Bank robbery in Irish history, the Northern Bank €25 million, is actually LESS that Mickey Fingers’ pension. Interesting, that.

    Look at how those boyos were pursued.

    Look at how fingers is pursued for just €1 million.

    Interesting, that.

  23. jim

    So FF has decided to host it’s website in the US and not Ireland,ah well its only costing 12 grand a year to do so…..So much for the smart Economy waffle…….(.Vigilience.)

  24. David MCWilliams,

    There’s something very biblical about your picture. Who survives: the good man or the bad man? How come Job got the toughest time of all?

    I’ve been holding on to what I think is your central question this time:

    “Maybe, if we want to avoid the Icelandic conundrum, where very good countries go bad, all we have to do is control the irrationality of the markets by heavy regulation.”

    Maybe. Certainly we have experience of what’s happened under a non-existent touch regime. Not simply no regulation, but active encouragement of bankers to stop being so prudent. “Come on, join the party. Don’t be an old fuddy duddy…”

    Lashing of bonus. Everyone keeping the score according to their bonus. Is it any wonder that the time for heavy regulation is at hand?

    I think we’ll have to go for plenty of regulation.

    Certainly, in Ireland, people are so used to bending the rules that ‘heavy’ rigid regulation by someone who has no Irish relatives and, preferably, can’t speak English… might help.

    Light regulation was introduced in order to provide certain people with opportunities to accumulate wealth they couldn’t have achieved otherwise. It worked brilliantly for them. All the organs of state fell into their orchestra and played their composition.

    Mr Lenihan and Mr Cowen are doing a fine job of perpetuating that system by ensuring the complex web of intrigue is still disguised.

    Not one opposition leader has come out and demanded an end to the legal protection being provided by the office of corporate enforcement. Those names remain under wrap, thanks to Mr Lenihan’s excellent strategy of making the investigation a police matter rather than a parliamentary one.

    We have heavy leaders. Weighed down with their care for political cover up and survival in government. Our heavy leaders are not minded towards heavy regulation. They’re not even discussing it in public – that’s all European stuff, that we don’t need to bother with.

    Our heavyweight leaders carry the weight of the world on their shoulders without complaint: they have every intention to staying on, like the Bishop of Cloyne.

    Not for them retirement to the gym.

    • Ruairi

      Hear hear Paul. well said.

      The 2 Brians play at being Mr Angry, just like Gordon Brown and Barack Obama, a few token gestures and sacrificial lambs here and there. The punters, especially the ones who are desperately exposed to the property market falling off a cliff, lap it up like dumb puppies.

      Maybe we’ll even get Neary’s payoff back! That would balance the books nicely. But what about Liam O’Reilly and what about FF frontbenchers who oversaw this charade?

      There’s no fools. If people vote again for emperors with no clothes, they’ll get exactly what, and maybe more than, they deserve . . . . And that goes for FG too. Same hymnsheet, just different payslips/ bank accounts

  25. [...] Iceland… that’s where David McWilliams has been, thinking… [...]

  26. Tim

    Paul, I’m afraid, we ARE going to “go bad”. We just have to accept it, face it, and DEAL with it.

    It might be that the “Big Boys” are getting their money out, off-shore, to a “safe-haven”, or whatever, and leaving us minowes to pay for it, as taxpayers;

    The fact is that they always WIN; and they are now. We will pay and we will be FORCED to, on April 7th.

    That is our LOT, I’m afraid – unless you own alot of gold and have a private jet – you can bet the Boyos do!

    Everyone is looking in the wrong direction at the moment: “Cowen earns more than Obama”, etc.;

    What does a banker on €3,000,000 a year care for Cowen? Nothing! Nada! Niet! Why should he?

    Cowen is a minnowe-pawn in this game. You and I and Grace and David an Lucy, our children, do not “count” in this game. We are expendable. So is Cowen.

    Governments come and go – they have liked Ireland for a long time because government has been stable: FF has ruled for longer than any other party = nice and stable.

    Now, the pooch has been screwed and the flight of capital is obvious.

    Our “Leaders” mean very little – we are small.

    There is a bigger picture being painted, here.

    And “the little Green country” with the shamrock and the 70 million diaspora, is small fry.

    That’s why I think that David’s article on the Daspora is important.

    They could save us, …… if they wanted to …….

    And we NEED to be saved.

    • wills

      @tim,,

      Now that i would say is putting your cards on the table,. as is JIm below doing…. the picture on this credit crunch is becoming clearer and clearer by the day and it ain’t pretty,..

      Can i suggest though the following….. on this bleak picture we are been served up day after day after day,..

      First, negative self interest is on show in all its ugliness, fully exposed, the rot behind the slick is there for all who want to see it for what it is.. some suspected its scale but now we know,.!!

      I suggest this is a positive step,. we are all the wiser coming out of this, albeit poorer,.. human behaviour in all its vice is now revealing itself in full disclosure,.. in all the sectors of society,.. and we are finding we are living amongst more maniacs than we thought was ever possible… we are living on planet of the apes….

      Now that we know the truth we can do something effective about it,.. this is significant,..

      • wills

        @tim,

        On the credit/utility,. in ref to our taxpayers money tied up in banks, i can only say this,. get busy undoing the arrangements and reverse about turn the cash into the state coffers.

        We set up the public banking system, irrespective to everything else. The gov hold the constitutional legal charge to coin currency and credit and should just get with it and implement.

        • Ruairi

          @ Wills & Tim,

          sign up for this event and keep an eye on the grassroots campaign that Money & Markets are suggesting. This is what I was making a heartfelt plea to David about in a different post: -

          Give us a beach-head or a piece of ground to defend that we all gather around and say no further. Taxpayers’ money is our money. For Gods’ sake, let some big ships sink (they’ve taken enough water, thank you) and let’s get the pain out of the way and get back to real wealth production and at the same time review our credit production systems with a view to separating retail banking from all other obscene activities.

          http://www.moneyandmarkets.com/financial-terrorism-and-you-32944

  27. jim

    To summarise where we think things are and have been in Ireland in recent times!!!!…1 Throw money at the Banks,and throw Budgets at the people.,,,,,,,2. Privatise profit, socialise debt……..3. All the information for the crony.s ..no information for the people except edited FOI requests at a price…… 4.Interest roll-ups for the wealthy, stiff demands for the people……5Tax avoidance for the wealthy, Tax at source for the people……6 KPMG et al advice for the wealthy, Joe Duffy phone in’s for the people…..7.Lobbying for the vested interests, wait and see what we have planned for ye,for the people…. 8 Private subsidised health for the wealth, best of luck in the A&E for the people…..9 Private subsidised Education for the wealthy, stressed out ,prefab grind for the people….10 High net worth for the wealthy, no net left for the people…..11 Tax exileship for the wealthy.wage slavery for the people…….12 jobs for the wealthy,no jobs for the people……. and onn and onn, the list becomming longer by the day.Spin and misrepresent it anyway you care to but that’s how the Markets,CDS’s,Bond buyers,Europe,Potential Investors,Diaspora,et al see’s Ireland…..It use to be just another bananna Republic,but now its a bananna Republic with the bananna skins of previous and present adminstrations littered all over the country ready to upend the unsuspecting visitor or investor.The diaspora Im afrid will remain in exile and will not be taking calls (lines are busy). Investors will demand a high premium.Europe will give a heavy sigh in dispair,etc etc,.Thats what happens when the interests of the few out weigh the interests of the many. The thing is ,when the veneer is stripped from the few and people realise how incompedent, self absorbed,uncaringingly greedy and talentless they really are, they will just scratch their heads and wonder, how in God’s name they ever wangled their way to control a whole Country.It’s been true of every Dictatorship,jumped up Empire and golden circle that has fallen throughout History.I suggest Ireland should demand new elections, and elect candidates with clear and workable solutions to the present difficulties,including the rooting out af all croneyism,cowboys,nepotism,or any other ISM that stands in the way of true Democracy, that is based on merit, and works on behalf of all of the peoples best interests.Dont accept this bullsh.t of not being able to afford an election at this critical time because the truth is that Ireland cannot afford not to have an election.Scoundrels will cling to power in every area of life in Ireland until they are forced out by the people,They will use this time to shore up their own positions at the expense of the people.Elections now,and then the work of root and branch reform.Its as simple as that and let no one bluff ye out of it. Ignore the Spin. Everything depends on it. As a side note I dont put too much faith in Ratings Agencies but its obvious from their downgrade to AA+ negative watch that they dont give a shit what budget FF produce next week, they have no confidence in their long term ability to aid recovery.

  28. mishco

    @ Jim: “I suggest Ireland should demand new elections, and elect candidates with clear and workable solutions to the present difficulties,including the rooting out af all croneyism,cowboys,nepotism,or any other ISM that stands in the way of true Democracy”

    I would agree with you Jim if I had heard of some Irish people having stated the wish to be such candidates. We can all name a few clever analysts
    who propose smart solutions, but how many of them – or their followers – have said they are prepared to stand for office at a coming election?

  29. Before the expiry moment arrives on the above article I want to say the following as I believe it is relevant :

    Dingle – is an old Icelandic word and name .You can find a place called Dingle in Southern coast of Sweden near the Norweigen Border .I was there .It’s landscape is similar ; and

    Kerry Cute Hoorism – those wise monks on Skelig Rocks that freely left to travel to Iceland following the path of the colourful Puffin bird arrived in a coastal land in Iceland and Westmann that was very green .They had already been to Greenland before the Norse and knew it was inhospitable .When the Norse arrived in Iceland they were directed elsewhere and told that the land of Greenland was better and that Iceland was inhospitable. Their actions are additional laws of Adaption that the monks can teach us .Thus the confusion in in those countries names; and

    Currach Boat : this boat is not originally an Irish word and it’s mother boat arrived from Africa and is the basis on which the Viking Boats were designed and the names given to various serrlements along the west of Ireland

  30. Rockall Basin – we may have to revert to this matter in above again if we want to increase our soverign claim over the vast natural resourses beneath the sea beds to the north west .

    • Dilly

      Soon enough it will all belong to the EU State, and the North Amercian State. The great transfer of wealth is in full play, our landlords are taking control of everything.

  31. Moon Talk – as I said in an earlier article the Great Suction begins tomorrow and make no mistake gradually all of you will notice it .I mentioned that a Great Change will occur and an experience that has never before happened.A progressive pull will increase daily until it’s peak the 10th and afterwards it disapears.
    During this crossing the experience will materialise on a plane of a great sense of Frustration where ALL personal initiatives will be Blocked and Opposition looks us all in the face .It is very stark .Emotions will run high near and far away from you .
    Advice : Slow Down – Drive Slowley – Eat Less – Drink Less – postpone decisions – dont buy unless you have to .

    Later after this passing we will encounter a new Moon Wobble but this one will be different to the last one we had on Jan 20th the day Obama flustered his words …….I have lots to tell you about this so lets wait until after the 10 th.

    • Philip

      I take this to be very positive. Because all I see here are loads of frustrated people – little people with no power. The idea that there’ll be a lot more frustration and a big opposition means FF and the lads are shagged and an election will be called for sure on 8/9th April. Far away? Maybe the revenue commissioners are starting to knock on the right doors at last…caymans may not be the haven it once was.

      • Philip

        This should be submitted as an Idea. Everyone would benefit in every way pissible. “Advice : Slow Down – Drive Slowly – Eat Less – Drink Less – postpone decisions – dont buy unless you have to”

  32. coldblow

    DMcW characterizes the traditional economic thinking (as he sees it): the successful countries have good health and education etc while those that collapse are corrupt, illiterate, badly managed and intolerant. This is both easy to grasp and essentially right. But under the deregulated, Washington consensus it didn’t work like that. The IMF would impose strict cuts, presumably included health etc, as a condition for a loan. They wanted to see fiscal rectitude, privatization and the like (correct me if I’m wrong). It’s much easier to see now how all this was wrong. Those who spread this ideology (but that’s far too grand a word for it) betrayed either a stunning ignorance of the ecology of capitalism and just about everything else at every conceivable level or a conscious cynical manipulation of the situation for the benefit of a tiny vested interest. Either way that constitutes corruption, poor management, intolerance (of dissent) and illiteracy (financial and ethical). The really amazing thing is how people went along with this, especially those who really ought to have known better. Well, at least it’s amazing for a place like Iceland, Ireland being of course a different matter.

  33. Philip – the moon is @u already …..slow down

    • Philip

      You know something? The moon / lunar/ looney element has been buzzing around for quite a while. And it can be difficult to slow down. There is a lot of anger out there born of frustration and a lack of control. The confidence (and you can feel it in this blog even) is much weakened. Ambiguity dominates. There is a great hunger for certainty and simple solutions over boring diligence and the drudge of fair handling. You just have to watch out for false gods. (Trappatoni may be the current dissappointment…who next? :)) and to all Bloggers here…keep up the great work on your well thought out comments.

  34. Tim

    Ruairi, “David, this is the PD fee market virus that has stained Irish politics considerably since its birth and PD wannabees in FF have allowed that ideology to continue to punch above its mandated weight by using left of centre and traditional FF votes to push through this failed vision of Western society.”

    I agree; our problem soon, however, is that this is the same ideology that the Lisbon Treaty sucks us into: globalised free market. Articles 113-118. So, do we vote yes to get the ECB to save us from the damage this ideology has conspired to cause, or do we vote no to try and free ourselves from being locked into the next crisis – and it WILL come, because the ideologues are hell-bent on reviving the same old system.

    I have been trying to discern from the treaty itself, but am thusfar unsuccessful, if there is any truth to the “No” campaign’s assertion that a “yes” will mean that we agree to never again being allowed to vote in a referndum on any future changes the EU bureaucrats want to introduce.

    Can anyone help with this, please?

  35. Tim

    Josey, thanks for the link to Max Keiser – straight talkin’ stuff!

  36. Thee

    Would a single world currency solve this problem – make it impossible for currency traders to profit from others’ grief?

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