May 17, 2009

Why bail out our bust banks?

Posted in Ireland · 227 comments ·

Last Wednesday morning, the dole queue on High Road in Letterkenny extended for about half a mile, out past the social welfare office, up past the Mace supermarket and on up towards the roundabout and De Valera Road. Up to the right is the ghost estate of empty houses which will never sell and will be used to house welfare recipients – locals and immigrants.

This is Letterkenny, or ‘‘Letterkenya’’ as one person described it tome, formerly the commercial hub of north Donegal; now, judging from the traffic, the gateway to Strabane.

Walking through ‘Little Britain’ – the retail park in the town which is home to M&S, Top Shop, Tesco, River Island, B&Q, Currys and Oasis – I wondered what the Long Fella, Eamon de Valera himself, would make of this ‘big box’ imitation of Middle England, populated by lads in Celtic jerseys, located at the bottom of Padraic Pearse Road.

The background noise is the roaring rev of pimped-up, third-hand Honda Civics bought in the North. The boy racers – fondly referred to locally as ‘shams’ – cruise with their ‘shamettes’ up and down Main Street. They proudly display their latest spoilers.

Initially, you think there’s no one driving the car, until you see the reflection of the white Diadora hoodie and the gelled hair brushed furiously forward, peering out just over the steering wheel.

This is the way they like to drive, sunk low into the customised driver’s seat, accelerator revving, Jay-Z blasting out of the boot’s massive sub-woofer, which makes the vehicle look like a cross between a Provo car bomb and the 2FM roadcaster. The Tango’d shamette in her ‘going out’ pyjamas is oblivious to the racket as she focuses on her quick-dry French manicure.

At the overwhelmed dole office, the staff stare out of the cubicles like petrified sentries. People in the queue look lost. They examine the countless forms, puzzled. These folk have never been here before; they are shell-shocked. These are Ireland’s ‘welfare virgins’. Like all first timers, they are a bit flummoxed by the experience. Young men and women who, up until Christmas, had good jobs, good prospects and good lives, are now faced with losing their homes – and, possibly, losing their hope.

Across from the dole office, the local credit union- the only financial institution to come out of this mess with any credibility – is self-consciously open for business.

This is our country. This is Ireland: a fragile nation of unemployed young people, clinging on to existence in ghost estates, driving cars bought in the North for half the price and competing with immigrants in British retail colonies, which are positioned like garrisons on the outskirts of our provincial towns.

Unlike the banks, these people are not being bailed out. They are fending for themselves. There is no Nama that is going to ask the taxpayer to pay for their mistakes. Their businesses were not considered systemically important. They are the ‘outsiders’ and, unlike the ‘insiders’, they will not be rescued.

This brings me to the question of the banks. I listened to Michael Somers’s frank and honest account of the situation last Thursday. If he doesn’t know how the bank bailout will work, who does?

Let’s pose the big question: why are we bailing out insolvent banks? What economic model tells us that we should tax people who are struggling to pay for the mistakes of bankers who are now prevaricating? Could we not just let the banks go – guarantee the depositors and let the rest of the banks’ creditors experience the market? After all, these investors were very happy to take profits in the good times. This is what they did in South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan in the late 1990s.

This market-based approach was also the logic of the guarantee. Last September, the idea was that these banks would raise capital from the market. But they can’t do that because they are insolvent. If they are insolvent, they will recover only if we taxpayers pay for their mistakes. But why should we?

Banking, after all, is a simple business. If these are not good banks, then we will put our deposits in the new banks which will emerge. When you think about it, the issue with our banks is an institutional problem, not a systemic one. No institution, no problem.

Allowing the banks to go would mean limiting the scope of the state guarantee.

This is not only possible but advisable because, despite the guarantee and the state’s injection of capital, the banks are still broken. There is no convincing reason why we should keep insolvent banks afloat. But that’s not to say there would be no problems in re-ordering our financial system.

The bondholders of the banks would have to take a haircut. They might have to settle for 15 cent in the euro, or wherever the defaulted bonds fall to. But if they hold on, the price of this debt is likely to rise as the economy turns around in the next five years. Equity holders would be wiped out, but here again, a debt/equity swap might give them some hope.

I realise that this sounds radical, but think about the alternative. The alternative is to turn the nation into a large ‘debt servicing machine’ in order to bail out banks that we don’t need and which made basic commercial mistakes. The market will solve the problem, and the banks could work through their debts themselves. They lent the money, after all.

Unless you think that a new bank with a clean balance sheet would not emerge, then there is no reason to believe that a new Bank of Dublin, Bank of Cork or Bank of Galway will not replace the old banks in double-quick time. Credit would begin to flow through these banks with their clean balance sheets and new depositors.

The upshot of the Nama approach will be huge bank fees for years as the banks try to raise the money to pay for their bad loans. This alone will hamper the recovery. And government injection of capital means higher taxes. Madness.

At the moment, all political opinion believes that we should breastfeed the banks in some shape or form Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael believe that the weak child should be fed from one breast, half private, half public. The Labour Party believes that both breasts should nourish the child through full nationalisation.

So the right wing believe that the market’s not up to the job and should be supplanted by the state, and the left wing believe that it is right that the poor should subsidise the rich. Either way, we have the same outcome.

Confused? I’m not surprised. But when you see Sinn Féin voters in Celtic shirts with ‘Saor Eire’ tattoos, feeding the British exchequer by popping over the border to evade Irish taxes by shopping in Asda, Strabane, you know we live in a confusing world.

  1. mediator


    Because the real power in this world is not from the citizen up.
    It starts with the financial system or keepers of the system and permeates from there.

    David – its time you looked at the way the world works. If you don’t want to admit that its non fiction then I would recommend fiction in the form of Neal Stephensons “The System of the World”

  2. Fio74

    Let the baks go bust. Take the whole residential mortgage book off them first. Have a no repossession order. Say to international markets we are not going to kick our residents out on street.

    The taxpayer is being asked to bail out the banks and then the banks are repossessing houses of those very taxpayers.

    Something is rotten to the core in this country and it is a disgrace that the government are allowing this to happen. It will be the end of Fianna Fail as we know it. At least one good thing will come from it all.

  3. Garry

    Why bail out the banks?
    A very good question.

    Why is our government bailing out the banks?
    Incompetence and arrogance, they cannot fathom the scale of the problem.

    I think those running the country are like the 3′rd generation running an inherited family business into the ground…. A lot of such businesses fail in the 3′rd generation because of the people running them are spoiled gobshites.

    Look at Cowen, Lenihan and Coughlan. If they were sons of small farmers or factory workers, would they be where they are today?

    Do they not remind you of spoiled talentless kids who, because of their fathers owning the family business, are promoted way above their ability?

    • Gary

      Why is there so many family dynasties in Fianna Fail. The Kitts, Lenhinans, Cowen, Ahern, Haughey, Andrews. Its absolute disgrace, we have effectively a democracy by birth right. Why is Shay Brenan a political novice running for a seat in south Dublin. In his acceptance speech, for party nomination, he thanked the 80 delegates, saying that their decision was “first and foremost” a tribute to his late father “and an acknowledgement of the very significant contribution that he made to local and national politics”.

      He has basically acknowledged that he was given the party nomination, on the back of his fathers perceived achievements. End to Fianna Fail Family Dynasties

      • of course he was.. the idea of anybody getting a free ride to PUBLIC OFFICE because of who their mommy or daddy is or was is absolutely ridiculous.
        i would nearly go so far as to question the legality of it!

      • Garry

        Well the other Dail candidate is a 72 year old brother of the ex Taoiseagh…. all around now, lets get a another pension for the Aherns. And the favours will be called in and the party gobshites will come out and canvass…. all in the hope of a promise of a future dig out from the family…

        We get the democracy we deserve because we have gobshites who support them…. One of them posts here, chairs a cumman and is the unpaid help for the family business.. gets upset because a job he was promised is given to a relative instead (suprise, suprise) but still bends over. I suppose its nice to be close to powerful people even if they are riding you.

        Up to 20 years ago we used to have the hunt around our way. The ex gentry liked to chase foxes on the ex tenants lands and pretend nothing had changed… Till they got told we expected to be able to hunt on their lands in return, or dogs and horses would be shot

        The people doing the hunting werent the worst, the worst were the local gobshites who followed the hunt… They would open neighbours gates and drive around after them. Could never figure out why, it was obvious they were looked on as gobshites by both sides.

        Spot the pattern,

        • wills

          Garry: Politics in the family is not just found in FF. Also, not everyone in politics is corrupt or silently consenting to it. If one reads the poster you point out above one will discover such an individual,. trying to change the ethos from the inside, which is smart.

          • Gary

            The voices contesting the TD’s by Birth Right are not been heard in South Dublin or Dublin Central currently. Trying to change the ethos from the inside is indeed smart. FF will find this much easier if there party is completely decimated and the carers of many TD’s by Birth Right are ended. It looks like our fellow citizens that have supported FF with absolute devotion and loyalty. Feel betrayed and let down by our current predicament. Even more profound is that the government has robbed many of its people there future prosperity and opportunity. This will not be forgiven easily. Former construction workers will likely turn away from FF. There has been only one major party in power through out this hole saga. The music has stopped and FF have found themselves without a chair hopefully for at least generation.

            Politics in the family is not just found in FF !! Agreed.

  4. David – the above you wrote has been the current best graphic example of facts and evidence and your choice of language allows all to connect to the reality we now face as a nation on this isle .The truth you show is frightening in every sense of the word.
    Within the last week at least one qualified professional has commited suicide and already buried.

  5. wills


    With you all the way regarding all point’s in article.

    Can i suggest the following………………………………………..

    Now that it’s clear as the sparkle in julie christies eyes in Dr.zhivago that their is something rotten in the NAMA Rep. it is imperative you and the rest of us who are concerned for the future find out why it is that the banks are been saved to the sacrifice of all else on this island.

    We are now morally obliged to find out the truth. And find it out speedily it is clear this is on a precipice now. When the man in charge is throwing his hands up and declaring his disclaimer on NAMA and he is more in the know than anyone else it seems to me the alarm bells are now sounding and the clock is ticking.

    We need to find out the real reason why the Irish banks particularly ANGLO and AIB are been saved at the behest of common sense and dire sacrifice to all else.

  6. goinghome

    Frank McNally for one would reply that the reason we should bail out insolvent banks is because that’s what God would have us do:

    …”But in all other respects, the plan had uncanny echoes of the Bible’s Parable of the Talents.

    As a child in church, I used to be vaguely troubled by that story. Not by its failure to address the question of ethical investment; or at least to explain how the servants who got the five and two talents, respectively, achieved such suspiciously high returns. And such neat returns too: precisely 100 per cent each. No, my conscience was not quite that highly developed at the age of 10.

    What worried me was the treatment of the third servant, who “digged in the earth and hid his lord’s money” (Matthew 25:18) before giving it back exactly as it was. We are told he had a motive for his caution. “I knew thee that thou art an hard man,” he tells his master afterwards, “reaping where thou hast not sown and gathering where thou hast not strawed; And I was afraid [. . .]”

    At this point, we expect the master to defend himself against what is presumably a gross mischaracterisation. But not a bit of it. His unshakeable self-esteem has clearly cut him out for a career in senior management.

    Not only does he confirm the charges, unblushing, he does so with indignation at his employee’s ingratitude: “Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not and gather where I have not strawed: thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and the [. . .] I should have received mine own with usury.” The parable was confusing enough back in the good times. But today, as we grapple with the worst global recession since the 1930s, the moral of the story is even murkier. Now, the “bad” servant’s actions look even more excusable. Whereas the master and his “good and faithful” servants look like disciples of the discredited “Anglo-Saxon” economic model that landed us in the current mess…”

    The rest is at:

    If we could see some demonstrations of severe reforms in these institutions and the steps being taken to prevent this collapse again, we might retain some faith in the bail-outs. Meanwhile we’re stuck with the drama of the ‘haves’ closing rank.

  7. Zombie Banker Blues

    Bankers and friends eating their children? In Ireland? Absolutely.

  8. Malcolm McClure

    David: This is one of your best pieces of descriptive journalism in months. Instead of gallivanting all over the globe, you went into the more remote parts of Ireland and produced a very evocative word picture of the effects of the downturn on your own countrymen. Well done.

    RTE could make a South Park episode out of your experience as Fianna Fail used to be popular in that part of the county.
    Tim: “Oh my god!– they’ve killed (Letter)Kenny!!
    Deco: “You Bastards!”

    • Tim

      Malcolm…….. Lol.

    • Deco

      Malcolm – Don’t worry – RTE will not offend any of the political parties…It would start a big fight within RTE itself. There are party political supporters of the main political parties in RTE. A legacy of political interference going back to the 1970s.

  9. Tim

    goinghome, weel said!

    I have also been confused by the anomaly between the parable of Luke you cite and the story of the “Anger in the Temple” at the moneychangers.

    I think that both teachings are about fidelity, but in different contexts: the talents one is about fidelity to God himself, in doing the best you can, through actual effort and is a metaphor; the second shows the usury of the moneychangers willingness to exploit even the temple to make profit for themselves.

    It is the second one that we are dealing with here.

    The bankers had a “no holes barred” approach to exploiting debt and people: Credit Default Swaps” and “Securitisation” and “Shorting the Market” mean making money at all costs and on the demise of god-knows-how-many-people.

    Somers does not know what is happening with NAMA – this is a huge problem. It is worse than Cowen’s admission that he had not read the LIsbon Treaty. If they do not understand it themselves, why are they selling it to us? The same answer should be given to both.

    I think that the developers are as shocked as the young people in DMcW’s dole queue; and NAMA may be the new dole queue for the heretofore-wealthy-and-untouchable.

    The developers went to work, buying land and building upon it. They employed a hell of alot of people.

    The banks hired alot of “yellow-packs”, sold their properties and leased them back (what did they know in 2004 that they claim, now, surprised them?) and carried on lending unscrupulously without the rules they formerly imposed and with new “products” that turned liabilities into assets (CDS, CDO, etc…) and shorted eachother on the market, betting, gambling away on the ups and the downs; hedging, overleveraging (actually breaking the law).

    Who is more to blame? Banks or Developers?

    I dunno.

    But I know that the developers were working, at least.

    Were the bankers working?

    Were the Central Bankers working?

    Were the Financial Regulators working?

    Why does Mr Somers not know how NAMA will work? Did the govt not consult him? Why is he retiring in November? Who is to replace him in November?

  10. malone

    Why is the goverment bailing out the Banks ?

    The answer is very simple. The bankers and the govermement and solicitors and the property developers and other vested interests form “the Boys Club” This is the power wielding section of the Irish nation and the law is on its side.
    Does anybody think that Bertie or any of his henchmen or that gobshite from offlay make or made any decisions that reflect common sense in this country for the good of the people ?. They make decisions which help their own kind so the members of the boys club do not lose. The Banks are being bailed out because their club members in top management would be fed to the dogs if the banks went bust They would lose their big fat salaries.They would lose the power which they all crave.and they are determined for that not to happen.
    If the Galway tent could only talk there would be some very red faces indeed and some very worried people.
    I would even go so far to say that the pressures that are exerted on our politicans come as well from an external boys club which is even more highly valued i.e “The Europen elite” ,and let us not forget the quiet words that are exchanged between the White House .and the Dail ?
    Does anybody remember Laim Lawlor , the discgraced Fianna Fail
    TD ?. He was only the tip of the iceberg and in my opinion was made a scapegoats of and if he had told a lot more at the time about what he knew was going on the top bankers and the boys club might have come to earth with a very hard bang a lot time before any credit crunch happened.
    I wonder how much of an accident it was that he was killed in Russia in a car crash ?

    • Tim

      malone, interesting points……….

      ….but, why would the bankers, who ear 100 times what the Taoiseach earns, defer to him?

      100 times Brian Cowen’s salary……..

      Why would they give a toss what he thinks?

      • Because he passes the Laws that protect them…..?

        • Tim

          Furrylugs, “Very good, Furrylugs; now, why would he give a toss what they think……….?”

          (A Mars Bar for the pupil who gives the best answer!).

          • Because he’s compromised.

          • Tim

            Furrylugs, compromised like Garrett Fitzgerald and his mortgage written-off by AIB in the early eighties-compromised?

            or, like, something in Liverpool-and-perhaps-elswhere-compromised?

          • Compromised insofar as a lot of people had a lot of fun in the good times on the back of Will’s Ponzi money and now it’s payback time. It goes something like “Cover my ass or I’ll spill the beans….”.

            Start by cutting off pensioners or cancer prevention to teenagers, continue by rimming anyone left working and then cut benefits to show our international benefactors how ruthless we are.
            Go on tour to see what else the Brigada Internationale want us to do like sell off some more State Silver Gasfields whilst freezing business rates to muddy the waters and maintain power. Start up a NAMA without resources so the Brigada can insert external consultants to steer the flow of investment towards exorbitant profits.

            Meanwhile invent some issue of National Concern like shamrock flu or similar to give the proles something to gabble about.

            Pity the country is so naive.

          • Robert


            Give over with your Garrett Fitz & AIB.

            I agree that it was completely wrong. Nevertheless you’re a typical FF hack (in fact you’re worse as most members of FF at the moment are just keeping their heads down and staying quiet!)

            What about Haughey? – who basically used the funds of depositors of AIB as if it were his own money and had over £1m (1980s punts) struck off by the AIB because he bullied them in his “advice” that he could become “a troublesome adversary”.

            To be honest – you’re an embarrassment to teaching the way you lickarse FF on this site.

    • wills


      I think a forensic examination on the logistics as to why it is that the main banks survival trumps all else in the gov’s eyes it’s high time to find out the fact’s here.

    • Of course he was a scapegoat, everybody knew that at the time. Even I did as a kid as he was a family friend. Thats why he never got a job in the cabinet, shadow or otherwise because he was out there doing the donkey work re: lining the pockets of the big boys. He was always nice to be and gave me my first job working in his constituency office when I left school at 16 in 1989 after doing my Leaving. Thank God I got out of Ireland in November before the Celtic W**ker kicked off in 1990 – or did it? I don’t know, don’t care. He wasn’t as bad as some of the guys who are still around anyway and they deserve a worse fate than what happened to him – a lot worse.

    • CREST

      I just wonder how much more the people of Ireland will take, before they revolt, what will be the tipping point.

  11. A couple of things are apparent aboutt eh current rationale for keeping the banks (AIB and BOI) private. One is the fact that one third of the bonds that were sold since the beginning of the year (to raise the necessary shortfall in taxes) have been bought by the very same banks.

    Now why, if they have no money to lend, would they do that? Well those same banks can then walk into the ECB and use the collateral of those bonds to secure cash.

    Now to square the circle I can’t see why I would borrow from someone to lend to someone else unless there was a benefit to me. The Irish Government are being therefore funded by the ECB using the banks as the vehicle to do so.

    Take them private and you remove the ability of the Irish government to secure that much needed funding and to close any bond raising necessary to keep the cashflow positive as the banks would be govenrment vehicles and thus not in a position to borrow directly fromt he ECB asw they currently are doing.

    In fact this is somewhat like the ILP to Anglo funding circle. So if you are looking for the reason why nationalisation is not the way, or indeed why the government will continue to support banks in private this seems to be the only excuse I can find to do so.

    Unless I am missing something….

    • wills

      Gerard’: very insightful,. but,. is it not the case that the need for the monies the gov are receiving from ECB would be much diminished if the cost spent on the banks by gov was ended.

  12. wills


    Anyone have any idea on Irish banks involvement in CDO’s….?????


    Some interesting parallels between ROI and California here. The kick off solution would seem to be constitutional reform thus enabling people of adequate competency to accede to Government.

  14. mewho

    this site is interesting, if utterly depressing. why, you may ask? well here’s why. i would guess that 98% of contributers here are male. i think that is pretty certain. the type of instant in joke culture in the posts and the almost messianic and hierarchical adoration of the ‘leader’ gives it away. it’s the very very same bozzo culture that wrecked the country but u guys don’t see it. the ‘dun aengus’ ‘moon wobble’ nonsense you go on with. you’ve obviously all gone to the same fee paying schools. god help us. go for a walk you idiots.

    • Tim

      mewho, I did not go to a fee “paying school”; but I am glad that you said it: the most important voice in any room is the voice of dissent, in my view.

      Post again, please.

    • liam

      mewho, welcome.

      Its a pity you find the content here truth depressing, but that is entirely your problem. Re fee paying schools, that kind of personal attack is not welcome, please try again or go elsewhere, thank you.

      I’m here to learn, so please offer something more constructive.

    • coldblow

      mewho, it must have been only after a great deal of soul searching that you finally took the plunge to express those deeply unfashionable and controversial opinions. But I am sure that everyone at some level recognizes that they merely (if sadly) reflect the truth. I hope others will follow your lead so you are not left to the mercy of the baying pc mob all on your own. I too am sick of all these bozzos it just makes u sick! If only there were more people like u who just told it the way it is! Thanx!!

      But the irony in your post is a little worrying. This is no time for doubt or self pity. Take it from me. Look the world in the eye. U CAN do it! U don’t need anyone’s permission just look the world in the eye go on JUST GO AHEAD AND TAKE IT!!!

    • wills

      Meow: what’s wrong with fee paying schools..!!!

    • malone


      You claim that a leader is worshipped on this site and that no dissent
      would be allowed here.It seems that you have never read much of the past articles. Mr McWilliams has been taken apart by some of the
      regular people and some have put up extremely good points against
      this “messanic ” figure Some poeple wish that the critisism was even harsher as that leads to some very lively debate , which is I think the nature of a site such as this.
      :I would also suggest that you take some more time to read through some of the past articles.There are some very clued in people
      who post here.

  15. Tim

    Robert, I cannot believe that you are still hung-up on that…… let it go.

    If I admit freely that I am in FF I am an embarrassment; if I hide it, I am a coward?

    Whaddyawant mate?

    I am NEVER an embarrassment to the teaching profession, by the way.

    I always stand up for teachers – even though it is my other profession that sustains my family because my teaching salary could not.

    I spent my Saturday at my teachers’ CEC meeting in Dublin, trying (in vain) to fight for the rights of our students to the free books scheme…… I know that you work Saturdays in your other job, because you have to, but quit knockin’ me, will ya? I am giving up my time to fight for your students and you and the work I did not do for myself on Saturday, I have to make up, some time, again.


    • Robert


      All I’m saying is that the next time you wish to point the finger at anyone else remember you’re a supporter and voter of the party of . . . .

      “I won it on de horses” . . . .the appointment of Liam Lawlor to chair the ethics committee . . . .Ray Burke . . . . .Charles Haughey . . . . . .the Manchester whip-around . . . . . Junior Ministries for the boys. . . . . . . 50m on e-voting machines . . . . . . nepotism . . . . . . the denial of 10m for cervical cancer vaccines to young girls whilst 7bn is handed to the banks . . . . . the creation of NAMA . . . . . the sacking of 2000 teachers . . . . . 400,000 unemployed . . . . . .the Galway tent . . . . . Blasphemy laws . . . . .the return of emigration . . . . . bankrupting the nation for a second time in a generation . . . . bugging the phones of Journalists . . . . . The Flynns . . . . . corrupt planning . . . . . etc . . . . ”

      People in glass houses . . . .

      • Tim

        Robert, I got that. I “got that” this was your approach months ago. I get it, ok? I know what your attitude to FF is. I know what your attitude to ME is. Please try to look beyond that and see what I am trying to do HERE. Please, Robert.

        Join the dots, instead of seeing the “Red Mist” decend every time someone from FF says something.

        • Gary

          Tim Maybe you should try a new party. Lets face the party you are in, has let the Irish electorate down. They have been the only major party in power during the boom years. Hence they were and still are responsible for the management of the country. Lets face they messed up big time, and ignored the canary in the mine, which many observers and general public heard. For there failure they should be sacked. Failure has been tolerated in the FF front bench E-Voting, P-Powers springs to mind. Ministers who wasted millions back then are still ministers today. If this was in any other industry the person responsible would be fired for the there incompetence.

          At least you will stand up and be counted as a FF solider of destiny. Unlike Tony Fox a councillor in south Dublin. His posters forgot to mention Fianna Fail the party he has served for so long. . I have sent him an email with a link to his contact details on FF website, just in case he forgot who he was.

  16. Lorcan

    David: “Let’s pose the big question: why are we bailing out insolvent banks?”

    Because to not bail them out would admit to lots more than just that the banks are in trouble. It would be to admit that the entire system has broken down.

    Bust banks are not a cause of a broken system, they are a symptom of one. If the system still worked, the banks would not be in this much trouble.

    So, what to do in a broken system?

    Here’s where I contradict myself, but allow me to explain. We should bail out the banks. In fact the government should bail out everybody that needs a bailout. Nationalise the lot. Move everything onto the national balance sheet. Having done this, the government should then fore-close on every debt in the country. Call it a national emergency or something.

    But it would in fact be a Jubilee. Nobody would (could) pay off their mortgage/credit card/car loan in full if it fell due. So everybody that has debt would default, every loan in the country would become toxic. The government would then have to recapitalise the banks to the value of all outstanding debt in the country. The Irish Government would have a national debt running into the trillions. Not much hope on paying that off, so the only option open the government would be a sovereign default.

    I know that lots of stuff would stop working, every ‘transitional period’ has its difficult phase, but I worry now that the road to a sovereign default is one we have traveled quite far down already, so why not take control of the situation? Put a plan into place, and make it happen. Time to get away from band-aid last minute on a Sunday night plans (yes, I see the irony of me writing this on a sunday night) and look to the medium term. We cannot allow our future to be hung on the meat hook of the recent past.

    Zombie banks are bad, but I for one don’t want to live in a Zombie country.

    Last time I checked Iceland hadn’t disappeared beneath the waves. Governments come and go, even currencies come and go, but people need a future they can believe in. Tying our future to the mistakes of the past is giving us no future at all..

    • Hello Lorcan,
      Sobering comments. If we did execute that plan and grab the bull by the horns we’d need some very clear economic leadership which appears to be sadly lacking presently.

      • Lorcan

        The central part of the idea is that the system is broken. So, admit that it is and then clean the slate.

        Clear economic thinking is not needed for this, in fact economic thinking would probably be a hindrance because economic thinking tends to presume that markets work.

        It is a very simple idea. What is needed is good leadership and some national unity.

        • “What is needed is good leadership and some national unity.”

          Absolutely Lorcan. There was never a better time for a systemic change. Look at the reaction to George Lee. If a couple of more Georges sprung up from somewhere people might be galvanised again. You spoke of recession depression or some similar comment in a much previous post and it is difficult to keep motivated whilst immersed in the dross that passes for governance and leadership in this country.

          mewho says above-
          “this site is interesting, if utterly depressing. why, you may ask? well here’s why. i would guess that 98% of contributers here are male. i think that is pretty certain. the type of instant in joke culture in the posts and the almost messianic and hierarchical adoration of the ‘leader’ gives it away. it’s the very very same bozzo culture that wrecked the country but u guys don’t see it. the ‘dun aengus’ ‘moon wobble’ nonsense you go on with. you’ve obviously all gone to the same fee paying schools. god help us. go for a walk you idiots.”

          A lot of truth there. Most of the countries politicians are tired male faces. Look at the posters polluting the countryside. As a race, we’re cultivated to slavishly believe in the “Leader” even in the face of blatent incompetence and then accept whats presented to us as alternatives. The bit about wobbles, idiots and fee paying schools was off the mark if our new contributor had a cursory look back through some posts. Even this blog needs some light hearted commentary sometimes.

          We’ll not have national unity and thereby, national change, if we fail to change peoples perceptions of the democratic process.
          Proportional representation has left us with a succession of gravy train coalitions. As I said before, the fat has floated to the top of the stew and needs to be skimmed off.
          The only peaceful way forward that I can see is by Constitutional reform. The present political dynasties have seen the loopholes in a Constitution written by principled people who physically fought for the State. Bringing amendments forward to close those loopholes would “put a bush in the gap” and prevent the furtherance of the nonsense we have been tolerating for the past 50 years.
          We should and could be another Switzerland with all citizens enjoying an above average lifestyle. We have the nous to do it but we trusted too much and accepted trinkets while the gold was shipped to the “Circle”.

          • Philip

            Lorcan & Furry, as they say at the end of a proof of Theorem – QED. I give 110% to both your well articulated comments.

            The reality is that the banks ARE gone. As I have said over and over again here, the whole lot is going over the cliff. Do not let them take you with them!

    • Tim

      Lorcan, good to hear from you, as always.

      However, I am a little perturbed by the fact that you do not seem as forthright and confident as usual.

      Is there a reason for this on your end, or is it, simply, my paranoia?

  17. Tim

    Furrylugs, I think it is simpler than what you proposed; and even Robert (who is here a good while) did not pick up my “Liverpool” reference. He chose to attack me, instead of figuring it out. And he is intelligent. What will we do? We cannot, the liable laws being what they are, talk straight here.

    Did you know that a sitting member of Dail Eireann cannot retain their seat if they become “Bankrupt”?

    • Oh I picked it up Tim. It’s as obvious as a wart on a bulldogs puss whats going on.
      It’ll all come out eventually though.
      Our opposition has had some mighty chances to do real damage but seem to have shied away from the jugular.
      How deep is the rot?
      Cornix cornici oculos non effodiet

    • Deco

      Yes. That should have applied to Haughey ( a man who loved to wear the Green jersey, and carried the flag in that disgraceful episode of showmanship and arrogance in Italia 90). AIB helped keep that secret. And AIB were never made liable for that either. “Suds” was on the board when they got caught. AIB love democracy so much that they provide all the political parties with directorships, and “support” !!!

      Same applies to BCF, before RTE dropped the 1,5 Million that she owed them, in return for a licence fee increase at the end of the boom. None of the journalists in RTE ever criticise BCF, in case you have never noticed.

  18. Tim

    Furrylugs, please “join the dots”.

    I think that you are the only one here that can. (I have been hinting for too long and must finish, soon).

  19. jim

    So we have 95 customers in total….50 in AIB,15 in Anglo and 30 in Nationwide and between them they owe the affore mentioned 32 BILLION EURO’S….Still not impressed by my leg work on these matters well then take this little gem.AIB were owed 18.5 billion by the famous 50 in 2007 and after making no further advances to this motley crew in 2008 now find that they are owed 19 billion by same in 2009.So hands up the class of 50 and admit who among ye have not been repaying yer Capital plus Interest,ok all hands still up, so I’LL ASK another question,who is on interest only and not paying back same,ok all hands still up.Mr. Sheehy!! Mr.Sheehy!! the class of 50 wont do as ther told,call Principal Linehan and tell Him to bring down our wages again next week.Mr.Sheehy “bhfuill cead agam dul amach go dhi an leithreas” I think Im about to be sick.:-((

  20. Tim

    I bet that none of the bankers is just finished hanging up their children’s clothes over the only heater in the house that is still running.

  21. jim

    “The Banks are well cannibalised” is what John Hurley should have said in 2008.Just imagine ,there are 95 customers out there tonight who owe 32 billion Euro.s….Jebus how much security did they have to stump up to secure them loans…10% …anybody care to have a guess? 3.2 billion in security on a 90% know 95 people all working in Ireland on reasonable pay and they would struggle to come up with 40k apiece.Of course all these loans could have been 100% LTV plus stamp duty plus legals plus what ever your having yourself Ted.OH and can you make that loan non-recourse and a coke for the gosoon ,he’s asleep in the jeep all day and it will liven him up for His Mammy,She’s off getting botoxed for Her shareholder meeting at IL&P…..If someone offers you a non-recourse 100% LTV with all the extra’s covered including interest roll-up,your basically getting a free bet on property prices always rising.It must be grand to be well in with the Banks,Paddy Power would’nt stay in Buisness for long giving out bets like that,and He’s a professional gambler.Im just thinking “would Paddy Power be the right man to run NAMA”.

  22. Tim

    Folks, just posting this ’cause I like it and it might stir things up ‘ cause it’s true and you may have missed it on the last article thread:

    DarraghD | 17 May 2009 2:04 pm

    Just listening to a discussion on the NAMA here on RTE1:

    (1) The proposed head of NAMA is apparently saying he doesn’t have the expertise, the HR resources or it would appear, any ingredient necessary to get this NAMA project off the ground. If this is what the proposed head of NAMA thinks, I can’t understand what he expects to achieve in his role as head of the organisation.

    (2) A new organisation naming itself the IPDF (Irish Property Developers Federation), seems likely to oppose on a legal front, the NAMA and it’s objectives.

    This could all be avoided if the messing with NAMA was stopped and our government went back to first principles here with regard to the problem.

    (1) Nationalise AIB and BOI.

    (2) Post nationalisation, immediately identify developers loans that are in default and cannot be normalised by the borrower in the short term. Call in the loans and take the securities. End of problem, no messing with a NAMA or having to deal with obstructive and lenghty legal arguments and proxy organisations set up by developers.

    All that is happening here is that the banks above, are refusing to deal with bad debt. If you have a car loan and default on the loan, then the bank tells the repo man comes to your house and puts your car on the back of a recovery truck and auction it off to cover your loan, end of problem for the bank.

    It’s that simple, so what’s the problem when it comes banks dealing in a similar way with developers loans??? The longer this goes on, the worse things will get for all of us. We should be asking, “hang on a minute, how much is this NAMA exercise going to cost us taxpayers???” From what I’m hearing, it will employ a couple of hundred staff comprising of solicitors, accountants, administrators, managers, valuations experts, etc, etc, etc., all paid for by the taxpayer.

    We can’t afford cancer vaccines for schoolchildren, but somehow we can afford this, all because our banks cannot deal with bad debts in relation to developers, but you can see recovery trucks every day of the week going up and down the M50 on an hourly basis with repossessed cars on the back of the truck???

    What we are seeing is the “old boys network” operating at the peak of it’s prime. We are seeing the same old Irish way of dealing with the problem, pad it up with loads of bullsh*t and pack it up with three letter acryonoms, bamboozle people with pure bullsh*t, drag the problem a good bit away from the actual cause, and then people will become a bit disorientated and you can do what you want without upbeaval.

    I propose nationalise the banks meediately and any development debt that is in default, call in the loans and associated securities. Take the land and sit on it for a few years like the developers have been doing, end of problem.

    You’re in breach of contract, no need for NAMA’s, IPDF’s, or any other bullsh*t, we take the assets, just like if you default on your car loan, the repo man goes in and that’s the end of that.

    Worth thinking about and not being lost on the last thread?

  23. There is a crisis unfolding in our once beautiful country. Whether you believe in the free market or strict government regulation, the banks should be allowed to fall.

    If you believe that this crisis is the direct result of the free market comprised of greedy people and greedy bankers, then let the greedy market sort it out. Let the banks collapse.

    If you believe that the government should be regulating and that the lack of said government regulation is what caused this crisis, well then why should we believe that the government is either willing or able of looking after us? Let the banks collapse.

    Let the system purge itself, otherwise our grandchildren will still be paying off these bankers debts. It’s that simple.

  24. This is all just outrageous. I am not replying to anyone in particluar although I could. How can you just all take this. I realise that the reason I’m not living in Ireland is because I couldn’t. I would be out on the streets doing something but the Irish are not. I’m in the USA doing what I want, travelling from the Caribbean where I do what I want as well. There are differences between the places but you have to make your own life anyway wherever you are. These guys are robbing you of your past, present and future, no matter what excuses and structures they dream up to explain it all away. I don’t want to make grapic suggestions, it wouldn’t be appropriate nor respectful to our host, nor would it be effective to reveal one’s intentions here on a public forum but you know what has to be done to changes things, do it! even if you have to sacrifice your own lives to save those of your children and the wider community. “These guys” (you know who they are) are worse than the Nazis and the Taleban. DO SOMETHING!

  25. This is a bigger calamity than the Potato Famine. At that time, (allegedly) the solution could have been the rivers but apparently the English (for some perverse reason) were guarding them. No one had the guts or guile to get around that, and I don’t blame them – those were different times. But now there is no excuse, we know who the criminals are (apart from the bank robbers and drug importers/dealers) and it’s time to put aside all the impotent fighting talk of the Irish and actually follow through on our ‘threats’. These things are not to be taken lightly, peoples lives are at stake and some have been lost already. If it kicks off then I’ll be there, if it doesn’t I’m staying where I am. That may sound cowardly but it’s not. I have 20 years of my life invested elsewhere, the Irish who stayed home don’t. They deserve first crack of the grasped whip. I wish everyone the best. I’m hopeful for the world but not Ireland in the short term. As Ronnie once said “and there but for the grace of God go…. the whole lot of us”.

    • Dilly

      People conveniently forget, that the Irish upper class played their part too. They did not go hungry either, just as they will not go hungry this time around. Well, at least they are trying not to, with NAMA, and all the other crony tricks. That is another problem that we need to sort out, that is, our selective memory when it comes to our history.

  26. Crest – I think I can answer that question.During the coming Bank Holiday ( excuse the pun) Week End people will finally be obsessed with the negativity from the Dail and the days following to the following sunday will break the ice .

  27. gadfly55

    One of your best articles, written with an acute eye, and finely honed insight into the political culture. At last, you are calling for the market forces to take the banks down, the inevitable conclusion for any person with regard to the masses, the little people. You misrepresent the Labour Party position, which would put aside the bad loans, as the Germans are now doing, for an indeterminate period, and allow time to heal these losses, rather than having a fire sale when there is no credit, except vulture funds, waiting patiently, the FF solution. The Greens are further into the stratosphere of alternate universes and do not merit comment. FG has now decided the big boys beyond can take the hit, but this is a mere pose if they were actually in power, because a few phone calls from the big boys to Richard, Enda and GEORGE would soon disabuse them of this notion. Clearly the big boys have gotten to Cowen and Lenihan who unashamedly declared their dependence upon their munificence to continue buying this country with profit rather than risk losing a nickel. Your trip abroad focused your mind, and sharpened your spear. At last, you are declaring your side in this battle.

  28. lff12

    A good article, but I do think a huge part of the problem is that the real impact on taxpayers hasn’t yet been felt. I know of one lady, with an awful credit history, and quite frankly, a lifetime of reckless spending and borrowing, who already having lost one house, was given a year to get her affairs into order. That was last August. I spotted her in Gran Canaria waltzing away over a week ago, yet I am fairly sure she is probably even worse off than she was this time last year, completely oblivious to the serious of her situation.

    Now I know she is an extreme case, but there are thousands of people in Ireland like this – a friend who bought a house that is now severely in negative equity is now being tormented by creditors, not of her own, as she has managed to hold her job and keep up to date on payments, but of the houses ex-tenants, who skiddadled owing thousands to credit unions and various other forms of debts.

    The real point I’m making is that it takes 1-2 or even more years for banks to get repossession orders through courts, and these in some cases will be for mortages far above the current market value of the house. Your point on Letterkenny is good but what you forgot to mention was that house prices in such rural areas were artificially raised by massive tax breaks to developers and purchasers of “holiday homes” which are even more vacant than genuinely built homes for owner occupiers or resident tenants.

    The best is far yet to come when banks start having to make decisions on what to do about people who cannot make ends meet. As I pointed out some time back, the response of one of these poor suffering bailed out banks to the Dell closure was to request a full detailed financial report on their financial dealings with each and every person who was known to be working there, an act I find so vicious and predatorial compared to their public tales of woe and misery.

    • Tim

      “the response of one of these poor suffering bailed out banks to the Dell closure was to request a full detailed financial report on their financial dealings with each and every person who was known to be working there, an act I find so vicious and predatorial compared to their public tales of woe and misery.”

      This is the TRUTH, though utterly, utterly DISGUSTING!

      This is what the “free-market-profits-up-wages-down-brigade” will continue to do.

      No compassion, no humanity, just “the bottom-line” mentality.

  29. Deco

    David’s article captures the essence of our dilemma as a society and as an economy. We only have limited resources. The state is running out of money. (Nothing new there – every state finds ways of using up every available penny it gets in taxes.). We do not have the institutional rigour of the Swedes. We cannot do Quantitative Easing like the Brits. We do not even have the savings reserves of the Japanese. And we do not have the efficient state sector of Singapore. Basically for some reason or another we are incapable of paying for the strategy that we are now embarking upon. Basically this is looney economics.

    People – stop slagging off FF to the exclusion of all others. People voted for FF because the alternatives were so mediocre. Can any of you honestly say that any of the other parties in the Dail were any better ? They were all intellectually subprime during the boom. And solidly so. Just look at the Dail record. Some of the antics that went on were just unbelievable.

    None of the opposition parties consistently took the few that we should rein in state spending, cool the property market, prevent the escalation of debt, until the subprime meltdown in the US. None of them. At every turn they had some need that needed to be addressed, or some funding shortfall that needed to be smothered in state funding. The opposition they created. directed government policy to be even more reckless. It was no wonder people left ditherer in office.

    Even more obscene was the media – and particularly the Irish Times which engaged in a campaign to increase the level of nonsense in both the public and private sector. Some of the stuff in the IT was pure fantasy. Dan McLaughlin and Austin Hughes provided economic commentary in the IT business supplement EVERY week, right through the boom. Then we also had the property porn supplement.

    The intellectual feed provided to the Irish people was rubbish. The lesson of the episode is to only trust half what you see and none of what you are told.

    • This type of thing Deco?

      Any primary donations by businesses to one party are always backed up by lesser donations to the others for insurance, just in case of a change of Govt.

      “People – stop slagging off FF to the exclusion of all others.”

      I agree. They all signed up to increased expenses just before the “Pensioners Budget” last October, for example.
      It’s obvious that the tail is generally speaking wagging the dog.
      It was all too comfortable for years and now that we need decisions, leadership and vision, the current crop are caught by the short ‘n curlys.

      We need a General Election to decimate top tier FF, “Bruce” Lee to revive FG, Labour to take a geography lesson(Ireland extends beyond Naas), a revised electoral system and a generation to cause all this to happen. Hopefully at that point, the country could be coming out of this mess which coincidentally will leave me up to retirement age.
      I wonder has adamabyss got much happening in Antigua?

      • Deco

        Furrylugs – I agree. The real problem is the corporate control of the society. In particular the fact that a class of thatcherite greedy little Mussolinis have taken over so much of the institutional state and the private sector. Even the capitalists are getting screwed. And the workers are being screwed to help prevent the capitalists from sacking the officer class.

        Ireland, we have a problem. The entire intellectual contents of authority in Ireland is inadequate. And we need a massive intellectual stimulus package so that fresh, people with a more egalitarean, more transparent and more intelligent outlook are generated to take over. Having a revolution a la Gilmore is no good, if idiots like Joan Burton are running the banks instead of Lenihan. [And unlike Lenihan, they do not have even the slightest reservation of their ability to run the entire banking system]. In any case Tintan has waited all his life to see Ireland ruled an Irish equivalent of the British Labour party – and he is frothing at the lips at the prospect.

        Forget the political class – they are incompetent. I am more concerned about the state of the society that seems incapable of working the wasters out of the system. The entire society needs to upgrade it’s intellectual state and wake up from it’s slumber. George Lee is an important development. Lee knows more about economics than the rest of his party, without Baby Brute. I have studied Baby Brute carefully and watched him produce some uturns over the last twelve months. So Lee is probably better than Baby Brute. Lee will affect FG policy. And after that he will affect FF policy. The initial reaction from FF was shock – they were concerned with the superficial issue that Lee was a TV celebrity and had mass media coverage. But soon they will learn the real signifigance of Lee. Mark my words, FF will be desperately searching for an economist to run for them before the next general election. They will be trying to find a Reynolds or a McSharry. So Lee has already changed things before he even enters the Dail. The election will create a Joe Behan/John McGuinness faction in FF that will eventually get rid of Coughlan, Lenihan etc…An element in FF has already had enough of Coughlan, Cullen, Dempsey, etc…that is the part of FF which will survive this meltdown. Coughlan will get sent to Europe. This is good news for the industrial base of the country. The IDA will be relieved.

        The real agenda of the electorate is to raise the level of competency of the political class. The real agenda of the media is to make sure that the wishes of the electorate do not affect the income stream coming from ‘our advertising sponsors’. The battle is subtle and you never know of it. The people have to be controlled like a bunch of children. One or two might wander onto the internet and find something that they should not see. But most of them will read the print media and get led along the way. They few that find the toys in the attic, will get told to shut up and not spoil Santy on the others. Thing is the electorate are not children. We are fed up being patronised.

        The battle to restrain the electorate so that they are directed like a herd in such a manner as to protect the various corporate interests that place each way bets on the Irish political parties. Who are they ? Start at the ISEQ and work your way down through the list. That incestuous network of cronies, who have dominated Ireland and greatly restricted the intellectual development of our society since the mid-1970s. And they managed to have us thinking all along that we were doing great. The whole thing was a scam from start to finish. IBEC will call the shots. We have a pseudo-republic. As Shane Ross pleads ‘Who elected IBEC ????’

        Those who correct the electorate on the error of their ways get to claim ‘leadership’. The rest of sit there and say to ourselves….’that’s arrogance’. But it has proven a great place to start if you want juicy after dinner speeches, jobs for your relatives, promotions (a la Shay Brennan) or campaign money. When the people get to the point that they can see through all the packaging, we will get our republic back.

        • paddythepig


          Bruton is useless. Lenihan took him to the cleaners last time I saw them head-to-head on PrimeTime. He clearly didn’t see the trainwreck coming ; he had the largest shareholding in Irish banks of any TD. He’s not fit to shine George Lee’s mucky boots.

          He is a good example of the inadequate intellectual content you refer to.


          • Deco

            Paddy – I don’t think Lenihan took Bruton to the cleaners. But given that Bruton was the one with the economics degree, I was puzzled at how he was unable to outfox a lawyer in an argument about economics. That said the ref (Miriam) was on Lenihan’s side.

            I did not know that Bruton held bank shares. I supposed it seemed such a ‘bright idea’. This means he is effectively compromised with regard to banking policy. Key point being that Richard Bruton did not see this coming either. And Joan Burton definitely did not see it coming, for as long as the SSIA scheme was in existence she was lambasting it for taking money out of the economy. Forget the tree huggers, the Chuckeys, and the miscellaneous category.

            Well, there you have it. 160 plus TDs in the Dail. And none of them seen it coming. All useless. Or if they did they were terribly silent about it.

            And only Shane Ross in the Seanad knew what was happening. (We can assume the rest were too busy plotting their way back into the Dail).

            Time for George Lee to go in there and shine a light on it is all. He lambasted the Senators for being useless the other night. And incidentally he was 100% correct. Maybe they might try and make themselves useful now. They apply their powers of persuasion to good use for once, could help Lenihan flog off a few bonds to some entity other than AIB/BoI. Which is turning out to be another one Ponzi scheme for Wills to examine and pull apart to display to the nation.


    Ronan Callely is standing for FF in Dublin North Central and his election poster contains the empty slogan “Time for change”.Seeing as his father has been representing FF for 20 years in the same constituency, this shows the contempt politicans have for the public.Ditto the two clowns standing for the same party in the two by-elections.Emigration (as always), is the only way for Ireland and the political morons to save themselves.What happens to the banks is a sideshow.

    • Deco

      You couldn’t make it up. I seen a reference to this (I think it came from Gene Kerrigan) earlier in the week.

      Shay Brennan does not need a career in politics. He has climbed through the ranks so fast in Anglo Irish Bank, I really don’t know why he left the sector. Maybe he knows something about ANIB that nobody else knows.

      Apart from anything else, I am a bit peeved that the state took over a bank that is full of internal nepotism (as the analysis of Shay Brennan’s career by Shane Ross has proven).

      Nepotism is not just a FF problem. FG, ILP do it also. And it is not just a political problem. It is rampant in the state institutions. And it is not just a public sector problem. It is rampant in all the companies listed in the ISEQ except maybe Kerry Foods and Tullow Oil.

      We have a societal problem. Ireland does not do meritocracy often enough or well enough. Hence you end up with a society run by incompetents. And when you have a society run by incompetents – you end up with al an awful lot of incompetence.

      Which is exactly where we are now as a society. We must starve the cancer of nepotism before it starves us. That is the change we want Junior Callely….and we are going in that direction. You either agree with the people and obey their will or you should get out of the way. Time for change alright….not the sort of change that you are properly prepared for.

  31. JSpain


    It is difficult to fathom that we are still debating do we ‘bail out’ the banks or not. Working in the sector (not in the Irish banks) I would make the following points: (1) you use the word ‘bail out’ this can also imply that the owners and management are somehow excused for past mistakes – this should not be the case. It is not the case for the shareholders and increasingly not the case for senior management, thankfully; (2) if we allow any of our banks fail or default on any of the senior debt and T2 hybrid – this country will be instantly sent back to the dark ages – the state guarantee will be called and the resultant exchequer funding costs will rocket and thats if we could bridge the gap; and (3) there is some scope to and good arguments to allow equity/subdebt bondholders to take pain – these are not guaranteed by the state and the secondary market pricing implies a default. But even here we need to look at this case by case and remember that it is the same pool of investors from which we are fishing and we need to do a hell of a lot of fishing over the next years!! The shareholders and management should take the pain – becareful how we go with the rest.

  32. wills

    Furrylugs: Much thanks on links.

    I am astonished, there it is right under my nose. The links provide the evidence the two main comm banks are in the derivatives business,. now it’s digging to find if these same banks entered into the derivatives casino gambling business and if so the question emerges on the loss incurred by their holdings of derivatives and it’s size due to downturn 2 years and i’m beginning to suspect the banks toxic debts and losses on property loans goes further than property asset price dropping.

    • Ah now wills. You’re getting close to Blasphemy country there. Have you considered special vehicles? Off balance sheet transactions? Intra bank transfers?

      Put a bull in a field and he’ll try his luck with every available target, d’tuigeann thú?

  33. toniforrester

    I listened with interest to your talk here in Letterkenny last week and you did make a few strange comments about letterkenny, however the start of your article in yesterday’s business post does nothing for the image of letterkenny or indeed adds nothing to your article.
    Social Welfare queues are lengthening all over Ireland not just letterkenny, boy racers exist everywhere and your comment about the retali parks is certainly not accepted here in Letterkenny. Over the years letterkenny accepted development and it has grwon hugely as a result, yes it will suffer because of the recession and the exchange rate but Letterkenny continues to fight back. Our business owners are working hard to get through this year and as a Chamber we work hard along with others to promote letterkenny in a positive light. The comments you made about letterkenny in your article are unhelpful and hurtful to people who never felt the full effects of the celtic tiger and who have always had to do it for themselves. I thought you were very well received as a visitor to the 4 Business Expo last week and many of us talked about the message you gave out and as such we are at the very least disappointed that your views on letterkenny had to be so publically aired in the national Press.

    • wills

      toniforrester: i’m not davids agent but i suspect letterkenny’s mention is in terms of a metaphor usage rather than a focusing in on letterkenny itself.

    • Dilly

      I am from the West originally, and David could easily have been talking about where I come from, it is an identical problem, right down to the Celtic top’s. But, I would have agreed with his article, simply because, he is telling the truth. When people speak the truth in Ireland they get attacked. Look at Bertie, telling people to “commit suicide”, or the German ambassador being called “jealous” . People need to wake up !, accept what is wrong, and then we can try to fix it.

    • Toni-
      I see your point about using Letterkenny as a microcosmic example but if it’s any solace, we’re in the same boat down south.
      You should see the state of the N22 between Ballyvourney and Killarney after the Rally of the Lakes. Boy racers on acid. Meanwhile, transit vans head off to Newry or Inniskillen for the shopping and booze cruise.

      “The comments you made about letterkenny in your article are unhelpful and hurtful to people who never felt the full effects of the celtic tiger”
      If you substitute rural Cork for Letterkenny, we could have a twinning ceremony. Most people round here equate the Toigar with unaffordable homes, low quality jobs, high taxes and now unemployment eased by emigration.

    • Malcolm McClure

      In Letterkenny Post on 13th April ” Toni Forrester of the Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce said that the budget failed to help Donegal businesses. “The budget hasn’t done anything to stimulate the economy. We knew it was going to be very difficult for the taxpayer but it hasn’t done anything to help business people in border areas.”
      Ms Forrester did say that the Assets Management Agency, which will take bad loans off the banks’ balance sheets, could work if it was properly implemented.”

      Toni: Clearly you are in the forefront of efforts to succour Letterkenny business through the downturn. David has supported you with his talk to 4 business expo and by bringing your town into the national focus in his column. Instead of complaining about his reportage, why don’t you join the debate here and tell us what Letterkenny is doing to address the problems that David noticed.

      It seems from the Post extract that the Chamber of Commerce considers that Fianna Fail have not helped the problems of border areas with their budget. You obviously disagree with your local FF deputy Niall Blaney, who welcomed the tough measures introduced in the budget as a necessary response to the country’s economic difficulties.
      “The Government has done its best to ensure that the measures are evenly distributed, and that those can afford to pay will pay most, and those who can least afford to pay, will pay least,” he said.

      Will the Chamber of Commerce be supporting FF in the election?

  34. Original-Ed

    What amazes me is how such a small country with such a terrible history allow themselves to be used and abused by a party that are simply a bunch of chancers. Donnie Cassidy and his 200 grand a year form the Dublin Airport Bars without any investment or responsibility (Capitalism Irish style – really something for nothing) – is it just because he’s such great craic or what? that a franchisee gives him 20% off the top. The same Donnie topped the list with his senate expenses of 90+ grand. With FF in power 20 out of the last 23 years, it’s a dictatorship in all but name and that’s why it becoming more of a family business day by day.
    It’s a great number – guaranteed income, pension and expenses irrespective of outcome – there’s the possibility of a Donnie trick on top of it all – where would you get it in the real world? I think that it’s hilarious that we’ve sleepwalked into a type of feudal system where families inherit the right to govern – I thought that all that was got rid of back in 1921, but as they say, what goes around, comes around. Yesterday’s famine commemoration was being used to full effect in an attempt to press the nations emotional reset button – while the innocents become dewey eyed the boys just concentrate on making more hay.

    • Deco

      Dr. Christian Pauls was correct…we have a terrible history, and unfortunately we don’t analyze our own failures enough so as to be able to prevent them happening again. In particular we failed to understand what went wrong with the Irish economy between 1976 and 1986. Because we seemed to repeat those mistakes, and create a few knew ones that were very similar to the 1992 property banking bust in Britain. Plus we made the mistakes that the Japanese made with respect to banking.

  35. wills

    I think Davids article is a signing off on any hope he has on banks been nationalized, let go bankrupt or been purchased by a bigger bank. Thus, it seems he is going in deeper with the shovel to dig up why it is the banks can command such power over the political process.

    This is a step forward. A forensic examination is crucial to have effect on thing’s. This forum is a perfect meeting place to carry this forensic examination out. A deep multi faceted forensic examination on the facts. No media in Ireland is carrying this out. All media are in one way or the other invested into this breakdown and so hands are tied.

    There is no point screaming dumbly at the problem.
    THere is no point dumbly pointing fingers.
    There is no point.

    This banking ponzi fraudulent NAMA stroke is falling apart and it’s crucial at such a point to get the info out into the open in a clear narrative with the facts easily understood by average joe.

    A forensic examination on the facts in a collaborative basis with David’s articles, peeling the layers of the onion getting to the real story for me NOW is imperative.

    David’s a reporting journalist too.

    • Deco

      Well said Wills. We need to look at this problem like real problem solvers. Like as if we really are a knowledge economy.
      No rash sudden decisions. Just a continual peeling away of all the lies and distractions, and then a clear understanding of the problem.
      And then we can fix the problem, and let the vested interests prevent it from being fixed.

  36. wills

    furrylugs: on radio rte , TD’s removed need for receipts for expense claims, 10 years ago. Also, on average it’s reported each TD claims 65,000 per year. 680 euro expense slate a week t attend Dail i think if i heard it right this morning.

  37. wills

    It is very possible the TD’s may have this expense bonanza in the trough malarky explode in their faces just as it did for their cousins in the UK.

  38. Original-Ed

    Wills, are you a FF noise generator? are you employed by them to create clutter ?- a modern form of jamming

  39. Here’s a little beacon from a man that had a track record in achieving change-


    Wealth without work

    Pleasure without conscience

    Science without humanity

    Knowledge without character

    Politics without principle

    Commerce without morality

    Worship without sacrifice.

    – Mahatma Gandhi

    • Deco

      That is pure genius…We have become a ‘something for nothing’ society. And now we realise that on balance, we have less than nothing.

  40. Letterkenny is the Republic’s most northerly town .Trumso is Norways most northerly town and within the Artic Circle.There is no comparrison between the two.Tromso has very very expensive homes, fabulous infrastructure and undersea motorways between the various islands nearby , low unemployment and lots of untility services . Why ?

    • Deco

      I would say that it has to do with institutional accountability, and a legal code that prohibits bad business dealing. But others are welcome to provide their ideas also.

      Any chance that we might try some of that here ?

      • Malcolm McClure

        Norway has huge income from the North Sea oil and gas fields. They developed expertise in building concrete offshore platforms and floating production vessels. They became expert at advising other governments on regulation and taxation of the oil companies. They have a maritime tradition going back to the Vikings, a huge fishing industry, sea tankers, container ships and drill ships. They probably have the most extensive system of terrifying road tunnels in the world. They discourage alcoholism with swingeing taxes. They produced that stupid fat ref who put Chelsea out of the Champions League. Never mind the unmentionable Q word. In humour they make the German’s seem like a national Goon Show. A beautiful Valhalla country, but not a role model for Ireland by any stretch of the imagination.

      • pera

        Deco, even though I have lived in Ireland for quite a while now, I think I quite a high % of norwegian in me still, so I will try and give my perspective, even though it might be a bit outdated.

        I am not sure if it is the legal code or not that provides the accountability and prohibits bad business dealings,because the law itself might be full of loopholes, or if it is the general perception amongst society that stops these things. (or maybe they are just better hidden) There is the law and there is ethics and morals. The following is going to sound strange, but I am just trying to put into words the general feeling among people.

        For many people the thought of somebody using a loophole in the law could be actually worse than breaking the law. Because by using a loophole, you are deliberately trying to cheat the rest of society who have put those laws in the place for the good of everyone. You kind of have the expectation that everybody knows what is right or wrong, so you kind of dont accept somebody pointing out that something was not illegal, when it is obvious to everyone that it was wrong. At the same time we or at least I find some strange joy in following rules, must be the german infuence

        Do you guys remember the Eddie Hobbs 4 part program about consumer rip offs in Ireland. In norway similar shows are shown twice a week throughout the year. So if you have cheated somebody there is a very big chance that people with cameras, microphones and uncomfortable questions will knock on your door

        Another small difference I have noticed is that there are probably more complicated systems in Norway but that the government will followup on this and will go after you if you owe them money, unpaid taxes, child support etc. They will take it directly from you paycheck before you even see it, so I think the government is a tad more invasive and can eb quite pragmatic. This behaviour by government would probably be found unacceptable here

  41. Thought provoking comments here from the NYT.

    If we can get away from the “Bubble”, there’s still a lot of positives going for Ireland but they’ll have to be driven from a local, community based level. Dublin centered policies have failed the West, North West and South West for years.
    Maybe some form of regional business councils would work?

  42. coldblow

    The political philosopher John Gray, in “Enlightenment’s Wake” (1995), has plenty of insights. The following has some relevance to what Lorcan (among others) is saying above. (Warning: long quote)

    “… It was left to the conservatives of the late twentieth century to yoke conservatism, perhaps for the first time in its history to an Enlightenment utopia… It is …deeply ironic that conservatism should have surrendered its scepticism in regard to the Enlightenment at just the historical moment at which the Enlightenment project should everywhere be in evident disarray or actual collapse.

    “The kinship of market fundamentalism with classical Marxism is evident in at least three respects. Both are forms of economism in that their model of human kind is that of homo economicus and they theorize cultural and political life in the reductionist terms of economic determinism… Second, this form of economic imperialism involves a marginalization of cultural difference in human life that grossly understimates its political importance and even distorts our view of market institutions. It occludes our perception of political realities by neglecting their cultural variability — a decisive mistake at any time, but especially momentous at present, when radically different East Asian market institutions are overtaking Occidental ones, particularly those of the Anglo-American varieties, on virtually any measure of performance. In general it encourages the erroneous view of market institutions as free-standing entities, and the mistaken expectation that they will converge on a single model. Third, the economic imperialism of the fundamentalist conception of market institutions suggests a view of society.. in which it is nothing but a nexus of market exchanges, such that allegiance can be secured to a liberal political order that is universal and embodies no particular cultural tradition. In this paleo-liberal or libertarian view, the erosion of distintive cultures by market processes is, if anything, to be welcomed as a sign of progress towards a universal rational civilization. Here paleo-liberalism shows its affinities not with European conservatism but with the Old Left project of doing away with, or marginalizing politically, the human inheritance of cultural difference.

    “That this perspective is a hallucinatory and utopian one is clear if we consider its neglect of the sources not only of political allegiance but also of social order in common cultural forms. Market liberalism, like other Enlightenment ideologies, treats cultural difference as a politically marginal phenomenon whose appropriate sphere is in private life. It does not comprehend, or repudiates as irrationality, the role of a common culture in sustaining political order and in legitimizing market institutions. It maintains that only a regime of common rules, perhaps embodying a shared conception of rights, is required for the stability of market institutions and of a liberal civic society. This species of liberal legalism overlooks, or denies, that market institutions will not be politically stable — at any rate when they are combined with democratic institutions — of they do not accord with widespread conceptions of fairness, if they violate other important cultural norms, or if they have too destructive an effect on established expectations. In short, they deny the evident facts that the wholly free market is incompatible with social and political stability, while the stability of market institutions themselves depends far more on their political anc cultural accpetability than upon the legal framework which supposedly defines and protects them.

    “Market liberal responses to this criticism fall into two categories — the ideological and the pragmatic. Market liberal ideologists will argue that the stability of market society is only a matter of enforcing its laws. This thoroughly foolish reply need not detain us. It neglects the fragility of the rule of law, and the frequent impossibility of enforcing it — points market liberals seem able to grasp in the context of laws which flout supply and demand, such as price controls, but which they appear incapable of generalizing. The pragmatic market liberal response is to argue that market institutions need no legitimation so long as they deliver the goods in terms of general prsperity. This argument is illuminating in that it reveals the dependency of market liberal thought on the permanent possibility of rapid and continuous economic growth. It also shows that market liberalism has few sources of legitimacy on which to call when market economies go through a bad patch. It is the dim or unspoken recognition of this problem of legitimation for market institutions in times of poor economic performance that has led many market fundamentalists to compromise the rationalist purity of their doctrine and to combine it with varieties of moral or cultural fundamentalism.

    “Market liberalism is a utopian ideology in that the free market institutions to which it is devotde cannot in the real world of human history be combined with social or political stability. (This result is corroroborated rather than undermined by the US example, in which a highly individualist ideal of market institutions has been rendered compatible with social stability only by the adoption of protectionist and regulatory policies more restrictive and far-reaching than those of almost any other Western country.) It is utopian in its view of market institutions themselves — as perpetual motion machines requiring only a legal framework and government non-interference to deliver uninterrupted growth — and in its refusal to accept that sometimes a macroeconomic policy is necessary to keep a market economy on an even keel…

    “Market liberalism is at its most utopian, however, in its conception of a global market society… Global free trade… will subject both developing and mature economies to levels of strain and job dislocation severer than they have ever before known. The displacement of peasants in hitherto agrarian economies and of industrial workers in Europe by an untrammelled global market will unavoidably have consequences for the social and political stability of both kinds of economies that have not been addressed in the Panglossian scenarios of the supporters of world-wide free trade…

    “The political frivolity of the utopia of a frontierless global market of the sort that is embodied in the GATT agreements is perhaps matched only by that of proposals for the European Union that envisage a continental labour market operating under a single transnational currency… Both visions, for GATT and for a federalist European Union, are neo-liberal rationalist utopias that will founder on the reefs of history and human nature, with costs in human suffering that may come to rival those of twentieth-century experiments in central economic planning… The project of constructing a market liberal utopia in which these needs for security and common life are not met has at is only assured outcome the spawning of atavistic movements that wreak havoc on the historical inheritance of liberal institutions. The challenge for liberal thought and policy is that of abandoning once and for all the project of any such utopia and of applying the genuine insights of conservative thought to the novel circumstances in which we find ourselves. The results of this intellectual enterprise are bound to be radical and — for conventional Western conservatives — uncomfortable.”

    • Sound posting coldblow.
      I sincerely hope some of Mr Grays points are flawed otherwise what we are seeing is the initial demise of globalisation with Irelands rulers deeply in a panglossian paradigm denial phase.

      Raising the spectre of “An Eala Dubh” suddenly appearing.

    • Garry

      Absolutely brilliant, didnt understand a word

      Well I might have or I might have ballsed the whole thing up in my head…. how would we tell if Biffo is in a panglossian paradigm denial phase… overuse of the phrase “going forward”?

    • Philip

      Globalisation is about treating labour as a commodity. Once that happens, people suffer (for reasons pointed out so well by Ghandi above (thanks Furry) and instability follows. That is all that is happening right now.

    • wills

      coldblow: critical thinking aside my impression is Gray is spot on. A market functioning accordingly (in communities best interests for all) can only ever come about by the community itself face’s up to the reality of the struggle between good and bad at work in the hearts of each member making up the community and it’s subsequent impact on the market mechanism’s functionality at any given time frame.

      • coldblow

        The book was recommended somewhere and I ordered it through for a look. He is original and witty, a bit difficult to follow at times when he goes into philosophy, and while he is right about a great deal I wouldn’t agree with him about religion or even (ahem) the Enlightenment (he shares the crackpot viewpoint that Man is just another animal – to which I can only reply: go for a walk you idiots). But I couldn’t resist his repeated use of “utopia” in connection with science and globalization (sorry Malcolm). He does a fine job on the universal rights/ “liberal legalism” pc BS (cf blasphemy laws etc). As for the native nomenklatura (a favourite word of Gray’s) they probably think the Enlightenment was a 70s punk band, roight? Actually it seems to ring a bell…

        Here’s a good review by John Banville of his latest publication.

  43. DarraghD

    This notion that banks who operate in the upper echelons of the capitalist system have to be protected from failure, makes me want to throw up. All capitalism depends upon failure or the fear thereof.

    I started up a business a good few years back and I made a balls of it. So I failed and I had to pick myself up, dust myself off and get back into the saddle and do it smarter and better the next time. Now I run a successful business and I’ve learned through my failures, how to run a business along basic fundamental principals. This is how capitalism works, you have to rise above the rules that are set down, not revisit the rules downwards to suit your incompetence.

    The notion that those at the very top elhclons of the capitalist system can make a complete f*ck up of their business and then be bailed out by those at the very bottom is enough to make me want to go out and protest violently.

    Honestly, how this government are actually pulling this off in front of us is what amazes me, where are the protests??? This is our f*cking money, why are we letting this government drive pallets of our cash into these financial institutions??? Let them fail and then they will have a good long hard think before they make such a mess of their businesses again…

    • Deco

      The current ‘socialism for the rich policy’ pioneered in this crisis by Gordon Brown, and endorsed by Bernanke is a recipe for disaster. It will will create massive social problems.

      Better to let the corrupt element in society pay the cost. The Greens are big into “the polluter pays”. Except in banking, where we have Dan Boyle, the GP Finance spokesperson claiming that “the banks are more important than industry”. In fact the GP policy on banking is that the victim pays.

      We need the principle of ‘the polluter pays’ in respect of deceit and misinformation.

    • wills

      darraghd: every word spoken here spoken from the heart and most of us here on this blog are in step with the substance of your points;

      I think what is central now to anyone standing up to this blatant financial dictatorship is to out gun it with concise penetrating intelligence, which is the modus operandii these cute hoors use, so we play them at their own game and checkmate it.

      • Tim

        wills, Deco, Perhaps we are operating out of an old motif? We are viewing matters through old lenses?

        Incongruously, we are using an internet forum to express pre-internet ideas in a pre-internet mind-set.

        The reality is that people all over the world are reading this, thinking about it and choosing whether to comment or not.

        Adamabyss is in Antigua; BrendanW seems to be in Florence, most of the time. That’s quite a spread, in itself…….

        Arguably, The current president of the United States could not have become elected without his use of the internet. He used it to gain millions of small donations from millions of people, instead of getting millions from a small number of people.

        We can do the same.

        • wills

          tim: check out philips post in last article where paddythepig left a comment. He covers the area you are touching on there in a brilliant arc. The themes we are picking apart here are i contend timeless and amorphous. The provision of credit and it’s perversion and infection of the body politic is a problem that’s recurred down through the ages as far back perhaps to egyptian times,.. technology’s changed human nature is stuck. I suspect the greeks reliance on their god’s to bring salvation before we blow ourselves up is all we can hope for facing the scale of the problem afoot. I reckon a means available to anyone who is up for the good fight for justice and ready too knock over Goliath and fix a broken system is there but it’s not what most suspect it maybe ie storming the barricades, entering into the system and spreading good cheer, etc,. the achilles heel i think is counter – intelligence. A cool kubrickian, freudian step by step dis-mantling demanding long long term commitment and cool cool patience similar to andy dufrains modus operandii in ‘Shawshank redemption’. In the end all each person is merely left with is having to accept the worst (we are all living in a world of sh1t) and be working away in the heart and mind for something better and mastering fear.


          Honest as the day is long.
          All donations invested in eco stuff after management fee deducted.

  44. Philip

    I have watched this nonsense unravel since 1996 when I first saw manufacturing taking a walk over to Poland. The process was well underway before that. It was just an MNC trying to stay ahead in a competitive market and us paddies were kept happy with the prospect of snapping up another job after this one bellied up. The rest you all know so well.

    Well, there’s no where for the paddies to skip to. I can only wonder what happens when the redundancy cheque starts to run out. Then what? This is happening today and it is accelerating. People are talking about their future prospects more and more. There is a sense of shared pain and from this a community where people borrow from one another before popping down to the local B&Q to buy another piece of use once bric a brac. People are starting to find a sense of community pretty well like the inner city Dubliners. Community is a form of comfort from the fear of what seems to be inevitable unemployment in the classic sense.

    I laugh when I hear so much about banks…no one wonders what might happen if one of our Telecoms providers breaks down (a distinct possibility – end of blogging here anyway!), no heat available for coming winter, schools are scarcer and so on – transport, buying the basics. 600,000 people now. Will somebody tell me how we are going to maintain our current sense of normality?

    There are a lot of desperate people out there and Biffo et al are oblivious to it. Reading the stuff above on the old boys network, the likelihood that our politicians in all parties are up to their neck so much that a bank bust would disallow them to continue as TDs shows we are in for a showdown. Will a political version of a Veronica Guerin come to the fore to really blow this apart be a possibility?

    I think we are beyond bailouts and stratgems for recovery back to normal. This is about survival at a national existential level…nothing less. More than ever, I say to all, care for your communities, keep the intellectual discourse at a good level and stay cool.

  45. From The Examiner-

    “BT Ireland wins €10m emergency call centre contract

    Monday, May 18, 2009 – 04:52 PM

    Up to 100 jobs are being created at Ireland’s new emergency call-out system which will automatically pinpoint the location of mobile callers, it was revealed today.
    The revamped 999 service is designed to cut response times with exact details on the geographic whereabouts of distressed callers using their mobile phones.

    It is the first time the technology, which is widely used in the rest of Europe, UK and the US, will be used for Garda, fire service, ambulance and Coast Guard call outs in the Republic.
    While the mobile caller is on the telephone, the geographic co-ordinates of their whereabouts will automatically and electronically flash up on the call centre screens.

    As well as cutting call-out response times, it has the potential to help locate victims in hostage incidents, it is claimed.

    The system will also help detect hoax calls, if information given by a caller contradicts details on the location.

    Mr Norman said it can also be very comforting for a caller when the emergency services know their exact location.

    BT Ireland said it will be creating up to 100 jobs at Ballyshannon, Co Donegal and Navan, Co Meath after it was awarded a €10m contract for the service.”

    The old cynic in me wonders why these locations? Surely nothing as blatant as certain TD’s powerbases?

    I suppose it’s useful to identify the whereabouts of political activists as well?

    • Tim

      Furrylugs, were’nt they cheaply bought? Jeez, I nearly could have bought them myself, if that’s the case!

  46. Tim

    “Furrylugs – I agree. The real problem is the corporate control of the society”.

    That’s it.

  47. Tim

    I “lurked” on this forum for a very long time; then, tentatively, posted the odd comment for months with only one or two comments per month, before I plucked-up the courage to engage fully and often. It was Deco that drew me out (in late December, I think, with certain comments on education), and I have been a plague to many on this forum, since.

    Deco has the answer to our collective problem, right here. Though I began posting-in-earnest on this forum in opposition to the views he then held on education, I am 100% behind Deco today:

    He is, consistently, one of the most interesting posters, the most prolific, yet the most worth-while reading.

    You have pointed us all in the right direction now, Deco.

    What are we going to do about it?

    Over time, you have accepted my “Education, education, education” mantra, instead of the old POnzi “location, location, location”;

    You have accepted Furrylugs’ “A45″ with relish.

    You have been a discerning poster in this., seperating the wheat from the chaff.

    I ask again: what will we do? BrendanW wants us all to meet in person: I think that he is right and that we are moving towards producing something in the real world, as opposed to cyberspace.

    What do the rest of you think?

    I’m “up-for-it”.

    • Deco

      Tim – I appreciate very much the fact that you corrected me in my thinking. It is very important. I realise that there has to be a basis for a higher quality of analysis of everything in Ireland. We need to upgrade our intellectual resource. And this means that it we have to start from the base – the education system.

      What do we do ? Analyze the situation, and show our insights to our neighbours. It may take a few years. But Ireland is a small country. Four layers of conversation can get your views to anywhere in 40% of the adult population. And that 40% of the is the section that does 80% of the real work in the economy, that pays 80% of the PAYE and decides 80% of the expenditure. That is the power in Ireland. That is how to change it. That segment of the population is wising up very quickly. And that is the segment of the population that will decide the next 10 years of Ireland.

  48. Tim – bring lots of mars bars with you.

    • Tim

      John ALLEN, just as you suggested a few days ago, I am against the false energy of the mars bar and encourage my students to avoid them.

    • Tim

      John Allen, there will be a mars bar sticking out of my lapel-pocket tomorrow night.

    • Tim

      John ALLEN, I regret that I will, now, be unable to attend Leviathan tonight. Will plan better in advance of the next one.

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