October 21, 2009

We are limbering up for a scrap with ourselves

Posted in Debt · 206 comments ·

As the 10.50 train from Galway to Dublin pulls out of a rainy Tullamore, it is difficult not to conclude that the country is in a garrulous and angry mood. My neighbour — a middle-aged woman with grown-up children — has just got off but she was livid, venting spleen since we left the fields of Athenry.

Her predicament is not unfamiliar. Her children are in negative equity. She focused on a book I had published two years ago called ‘The Generation Game’ which foretold of a generation — the “Juggler Generation” — people in their 20s and 30s who would be the main victims of the coming housing bust, which had yet to materialise.

What I had failed to appreciate fully back then is just how impossible it is to separate the generations in Ireland. We are all in this together now. When one generation loses out, so too do all the members of their family, usually, beginning with the person who worries most about everything, the Mammy.

This was not the first such experience of people’s anger I have had in the past 48 hours. On Sunday night, I got the train to Cork and had a similar experience and on Monday, after working in Cork in the morning, I hopped on the City Link bus to Galway. There is no train from Cork to Galway — a point that the American opposite me on the Dublin-Galway train couldn’t get her head around.

But not to worry because the bus is a fine and cheap way to travel between Cork and Galway, equipped with WiFi and comfy seats and the most jovial driver I’ve had the pleasure of meeting for a while. The bus is full of pensioners, students and Poles. By the time the 2pm City Link to Galway was in Mallow, a few students had struck up a chat with me. We talked about all sorts, the world, Ireland, the economy and of course, what they were going to do when they left UCG.

They too were angry and like the mother on the train, they were angry in a misdirected way. They knew something was wrong and they feared for the future, but they didn’t quite know who was responsible. Who was to blame? Was it the banks, the politicians, the landlords, the builders, the public sector, the private sector, the immigrants?

On Monday night, the television similarly featured people who thought they had been had. In reality, at the root of a lot of this anger lies personal responsibility because no one forced anyone to do anything. But that said, I do share sympathy for people who got into the property market late, not least because the State did everything in its power, bar coercion, to push people onto the ladder. In this lamentable venture, our politicians were aiding their friends in the banks who we are now bailing out. The simple circularity of this argument is what pisses the average person off more than anything else.

The mother on the train asked me why, if there was a NAMA for the banks, couldn’t there be a NAMA for the people? Fair question and in financial terms there seems to be no reason to favour one sector over another. In fact, if you are going to borrow money to bail out rich bank creditors, why not bail out out struggling bank debtors?

This column argued last year that once you start deviating from the basic capitalist principle of risk and return by protecting bank creditors from the stupidity of their own decisions, via NAMA, then it is hard to know where to stop. If the bond investors who took a punt on AIB or BoI did so for precisely the same reasons as the first-time buyer, should they not be treated equally? Both the creditors and the first-time buyers assessed the information they had and made a financial decision which turned out to be catastrophic.

The professional bond investors believed the hype that the Irish banks could grow and grow based on a rocketing housing market and the first-time buyer believed the hype that the housing market would continue to grow and grow based on the rocketing banking sector. The creditors and the first-time buyers are different sides of the same coin. Yet the State has decided to bail out one side and in so doing, given the other side a legitimate cause for anger, which is festering contagiously.

The Government seems to think that if it shafts the bank creditors they won’t be around next time when the State comes looking for money. The State knows that the citizens have nowhere to go, so if they shaft us now, we’ll still be around next time. It is a simple, if devious calculation but in so doing, our Government has turned the iron rule of capitalism on its head and also undermined its own political legitimacy.

The idea that bond markets would close in the case of a deal with a bank’s creditors is a dreadful misunderstanding of the way the financial markets work. Financial markets are always forward looking which is why some of the investors buying Bank of Ireland stock today are the same people who lost their shirts on the same stock last year.

In contrast to the financial markets, which are forward looking, the electorate is backward looking. We have memories and while we can’t disappear like bond creditors, we can exercise a democratic mandate.

This is where this misdirected anger on the bus, on the train and in the bar is worrying. Because the Government, through farces like NAMA, is destroying the credibility of all party politics as we know it. It is destroying the centre.

With so many people, rightly or wrongly, feeling betrayed and hard done by, the chances of a lurch in politics cannot be ruled out. Thus far, we have been extremely tolerant, some might say even docile in the face of the unraveling of our economy. Will this last?

Who is to say a messianic leader will not emerge in the next year or so to harness all this anger?

At the moment the false dichotomy of “public versus private sector” is being exploited by all sides. But there are no distinct lines in Ireland. Most families are made up of gardai and nurses as well as small business people and employees of large private sector companies. It’s not as easy as one side against each other. That’s not how this country works. So, in truth, we are limbering up for a monumental scrap with ourselves.

As the anger mounts and the body politic atrophies, the only question, as Yeats posed 100 years ago, is whether the centre can hold?

  1. Principle of Tyranny :

    As the body of NAMA is immersed in a liquid of struggling taxpayers the weight of the displaced taxpayers is equal to the sum of the Terror it caused.

  2. JJ Tatten


    I’m really keen to see your new TV docu-series – but, alas, the short-sighted stinkers at RTE are insisting that RTE’s Player is only available to people in Ireland. All those top-dog diasporans who came over for your conference won’t get to see it either. Can you get somebody to give the techies at RTE a kick up the barking spider. Otherwise I’ll have to get the brother to tape it for me. Keep up the good work.

  3. severelyltd

    The latent anger brewing in society concerns me. The pot is boiling and its ready to overflow. Our police/military force is a demographic of landlords that benefited/were victim of preferential loans and will be feeling burnt themselves. How enthusiastic will they be to fight a revolt or to deal with the increase in everyday day crime that is a manufacture of Fianna Fails disastrous policies. Every area of Government policy is a monumental failure with no accountability while they rely on the apathetic nature of the populace to continue their theft of our future. Sometimes I think it will only be when the Bailiff pries the Sky+ remote from the Dole bunnies hand that you will see tangible anger on the streets.The next three months will be a great test of our resolve and a blueprint for the next 2-5 years. Will we have the strength as a nation to overcome the difficulties and not tear apart like a burst tire coming off a wheel. I doubt it. This is gearing up to be the worst Christmas ever but then again I say that every year. Bah Humbug everyone. And remember they can take our freedom and our children’s future but they can’t take our Sky+ subscription. The revolution will be televised in High Definition so upgrade your boxes now. Apathy will be the death of Ireland. That is if there is still a pulse.

  4. Deco

    Excellent article.
    The human cost of this nightmare is unbelievable. But despite the anger, people are waking up.

    David – you are correct concerning the bailout of the bankers. And basically this has morally compromised the entire political system.

    In the US, certain banks are deemed “too big to fail”. In Britain is about systemic risk, and regional fallout.

    In Ireland, it is a case of protecting large hereditary capitalist enterprises, who are “too well connected to fail”. The fact is that those who are not well connected are loathing with anger. The sense of injustice is enormous. The entire population was bombarded with consumerist propaganda (officially called hard sell – or advertising) for twenty years.

    The real problem is that 50% of the seats in the Dail are serving a tiny minority, a sliver at the top. We have Lenihan as a Tsar Nicholas II figure, making one rash stupid judgement after another leading us into the abyss. There will no general election (too much democracy is a bad thing apparently). And apart from Tim’s pal, Joe Behan, nobody is shouting this has to stop.

    The real problem is that there is a moral vacuum in Kildare Street. Essentially nobody there understands the idea that people get what they deserve in life. Instead it seems that people get what they demand. And some are really well connected and can demand what they like. We have shifted from democracy to demandocracy.

    The entire system is about lobbying. In an environment like this the general public get PR stunts, and the vested interests get served. There never is a clear coherent policy framerwork. It does not come from the politicians. And it does not come from D2 because the level of nepotism is stiffling with appointments from the political parties.

    Eventual resolution will be very ugly. The greatest threat is that an opportunist, or a cadre of opportunists will take control and make an even bigger mess of the current situation. The problem is not the anger in the population. The problem is the dearth of ability and economic intelligence in the various political parties. The people literally don’t have an option capable of fixing matters. There is not party that has the moral backbone or the brains to sort out everything. FG have potential (Baby Brute, Lee, Varadkar). But there is an “idiot brigade” in FG that is programmed to lose the plot when in power (Creighton, Mitchell, Deasy, etc…).

  5. Lius

    The only reason the uprising has not happened yet is that everyone is scrambling to protect thier position.

    This will all end after Christmas when there are no positions left to protect. Everyone will be either on the dole or stuck at home nights due to pay cuts and taxes.

    Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

  6. David, you should get off the fence on this issue.

    I agree that it’s not simply a public-private matter.

    It is about the surrender of State power to the collective force of vested interests.

    The victims are the tens of thousands of unemployed – - almost 200,000 in the past 12 month alone – - and the starkness should be self-evident.

    The typical private sector worker does not even have a basic occupational pension and wonder how easy it will be to get employment in coming years.

    The private sector vested interests – - farmers, insider professions, hospital consultants etc, have also done well from public largesse.

    Public sector researchers have shown the premium that has built up in the public sector both on pay and pensions differential

    On Tuesday, I did a report which showed German food/beverage exports increased 15% in 2008 and are up again this year.

    How can we compete when costs are so out-of- line?

    There is also the simple issue of fairness in a society.

    Greedy bankers are an easy target . There are plenty others who could wear that cap.

    • wills

      Finfacts. Very informative website. Excellent.

      On,’it’s about the surrender of state power to the collective force of vested interests’ is in my POV exactly right.

      And, one must confront this reality if one is to be serious about addressing the facts.

      So, strategically one will be most effective by knocking on the door of the vested interests who are most in control and this is the banking elite.

      Next, the rest.

  7. Can some one explain to me how the private pensions work should the state default/ civil strife/ etc ? do they dissapear?Or are they simply guaranteed ?
    I understand most teachers pensions are paid into a private insurance company and thus maybe they are free from the paws of government negligence .The same might apply to the Ministers are other civil servants .
    However State SW pensions I believe will suffer and IOU’s issued instead! Could someone clarify please ?

  8. Eoin Meehan

    So the banking sector is in crisis, having to be bailed out with unimaginably high figures, and then having NAMA set up to rid themof so-called toxic debt.

    But if there is such a crisis, why don’t I see the banks laying off staff, cutting wages, closing branches, freezing bonuses, etc, the things a normal business would to do survive?

    Why isn’t there a quid-pro-quo from the banks for the rescue? The government has a unique opportunity to completely reform the sector – and the banks are in no position to argue.

    Or am I missing something?

    • Deco

      They have not even fired the incompetent buffoons that got them into the mess. Public pressure had to be applied to the politicians, to get the politicians to push Lenihan to get the very top directors in the banks to resign. And even then they got their mates (who they appointed) to draw up pension plans that will make sure that they are made for life.

      Even worse, there are rumours running around about builders an bankers have a great social life during the boom – to the extent that neither party was able to focus properly on finance.

      And Lenihan is bailing out both. He is effectively bailing out an insolvent irresponsible culture. There you go. Demandocracy. The well connected make their demands.

      If the economy has oligopolistic characteristics, then we can expect the political system to become oligopolistic also. Or maybe it is the other way awound. But in either case, we have a problem in both departments.

      But responsibility for cleaning up the mess is not reduced. The cost of the disaster does not decrease either. In fact the mess is increased. Therefore the cost is increasing.

      Anglo should be wound up and finished. Morgan Kelly has issued warnings about INBS. And Phoenix has called the financial assuptions underlying the business plans of the other banks as highly suspect.

    • wills

      AHA, eoin, you are getting warmer. The banks do not operate in the same universe as the workers. The rules are different. Try look at it through the len’s of mercantilism, see my post.

  9. Alan42

    I completly disagree with the personal responsibility . nobody forced anybody to do anything .part of the article .

    First time buyers don’t sit around accessing financial information at their disposal like professional bond markets .
    They basically want to buy a house in a land with very high home ownership and with no history of long term quality renting . They don’t go off reading data about bubbles , tulips or what happened in Japan in the 90′s .
    The banks are equally not to blame as they are a business and in the business of making money . You don’t sit around just hoping that they will adhere to long established banking practices especially when you have already relaxed the regulations and are then turning a blind eye to whatever regulations are left .
    If you relax enviromental laws and turn a blind eye . Would it be any surprise if business started dumping their waste in rivers or householders just dumped their rubbish on the side of the road ?
    Maybe one company would be responsible enough not to dump stuff everywhere . However they would go out of business as they would be paying high costs for waste disposal while their rivals would not thereby undercutting them on price .
    Thats why you have regulations , rules and laws .
    And that comes from the government as it is their job . People may not agree with their policies but basically at the end of the day you do trust that there is some kind of economic sense at work somewhere in government buidings .
    This government ruled over a boom to bust . Not only that but it had the one leader .
    They relaxed banking regulation and had tax breaks at every turn for developers and even acted as a cheerleader for estate agents and developers . They encouraged people every step of the way to get on the housing ladder .
    I understand bubble thinking as I was there and part of it although I only had a half cup of the kool aid But as the government are in charge I would say that they are fully responsibable .
    At the very least they are guilty of criminal negligence or duty of care .

    Take the pyrite issue . Should those first time buyers have taken on more personal responabiity by drilling down to check the foundations and sending off samples to geologists ?
    No , it never entered their heads as they trusted that someone in authority had taken care of things like that .

    How can we expect people in negitive equity to take personal responsibility when nobody at the top EVER takes responsibility for anything .
    JOD had expenses that would make Donald Trunp blush and he hides behind his office . The opposition also hid behind his office . Gilmore only acted because he was shamed into it by the media .
    In a normal country he would had slinked off with his tail between his legs . But this is Ireland , so we get a speech steeped in self pity . The man who overseen the whole boom to bust is currently on a book signing tour expressing a desire to become President .
    Ask the current leader and then Minister For Finance about responsibility and its nothing to do with him its all Lehman Brothers fault . The Minister for Health seems to have no responsibility for the HSE . Who knows who ok’s payoffs to the top brass at FAS ?

    We are such a mad country its perfectly ok to ask The Taoiseach on national TV about his rumoured alcoholism .

    • Eoin Meehan

      “JOD had expenses that would make Donald Trunp blush and he hides behind his office . The opposition also hid behind his office . Gilmore only acted because he was shamed into it by the media .
      In a normal country he would had slinked off with his tail between his legs ”

      And whats worse he will, in all probability, get re-elected! Despite all that is being said here and in other forums (fora?) these politicians are getting votes! O’Donoghue, Lenihan, Cowan will all be back in the Dail no matter who forms the next government.

      I don’t understand why “Cute-hoorness” is rewarded with votes. Maybe the people who vote for these politicians feel if they can get away with stuff like this maybe some of it will rub off on them!!

    • Deco

      Asking the Taoiseach about his love of alcohol was a mandatory question.

      That whole episode was prepared. Cowen looked like as if he got grilling because he never got time to answer the questions. But this suited Cowen – becuase there were no answers really.

      And the whole purpose of the question on his boozing was posed ” to apprehend any rumours”.

      Remember it is a cornerstone of RTE policy to attack any rumours – because rumours are competition for RTE/Pravda news coverage. That much they did learn from the collapse of the original Pravda regime twenty years ago.

    • wills

      ‘the banks are not to blame’.
      The banks ran their businesses into the ground through predatory lending, property speculation and sp@stic overleveraging and straight on through into outright bankruptcy.

    • Fergal73

      Alan42. Some people do actually research the biggest financial transaction of their lives. I did. I read about Dutch tulip mania, I looked at historical interest rates, at historical prices as a multiple of income, and way back in 2002, decided that prices were out of whack. I decided not to buy. I’m 35, still renting. People do make decisions, and do have responsibility.
      Who put FF in power over and over again? Despite CJH, the Flynns, Bertie’s digouts and horse wins and the Galway tent? The Irish people. Like it or not, the populace in general is to blame for the people it put in power.

  10. Original-Ed

    The NAMA stunt for the select few is straight out of Orwell’s Animal Farm – “some are more equal than others” – it’s as old as history itself and it tells us, that replacing a corrupt regime just leads to another corrupt regime taking its place – power always corrupts.

  11. Alan42

    So what is at the centre ? I would say . Nothing . Anything that is there is completly rotton .
    I don’t think we have an ‘ elite ‘ In Ireland I would say it is much more of a ruling class .
    The ruling class hae it set up so that nobody takes responsibility for something like pyrite to having to pay a good couple of grand to a solicitor for a simple title search that they send the apprentice on .to tribunals set up by people to investigate themselves which at the end of the day has little or no legal power . Any attention is distrated by the massive legal fees charged by another arm of the ruling class . This reached into section of society fleecing the taxpayer . Everywhere you turn in Ireland they have their hand in your pocket .
    NAMA should go ahead . If we don ‘ t have NAMA they will only squander the money on something as equelly as useless to enrich the ruling class .
    This is really easy for me to say as I don’t live in Ireland but maybe if the country just collapses it would be for the greater good as we would finally realise just how badly we are being ruled and we could start again .
    Maybe the big failing was that the English did not ease us into independence much like a prisoner serving 30 years is slowly reintroduced into society as somehow Irish people think that the standard of government is somehow normal

    David , I like your articles and books and you seem like a nice person but your articles of late seem to be a kind of half a rallying call . Maybe people are talking to you on trains and buses as they are looking for some kind of direction from you . They just don’t know where to rally . .

    • Deco

      Alan – yes the system is structured to ensure that those who can influence the system will extort economic rent from it. In effect our entire economy and political system has turned into an immoral system for screwing those who work, for the benefit of the gombeen element. And the gombeen element are always looking fro something for nothing. And they can rely on Ahern, Johnny Cash (JOD), Lenihan etc.. to serve them.

      But nobody has to comply. You can opt out. The M50 might look unavoidable – but actually is is avoidable. It takes extra effort. But I devote that extra bit of time to undermining the layer of gombeens that are structuring everything so as to screw us.

      The key is to inform others, and to create a culture of actively opting out of supporting the mess. However hard I have to search for a way around it, I search, and I get out of supporting the gombeen element. If I have to walk away I will walk away. Gladly. I set up networks with others who actively opt out of propping up this criminality. And I get looked down upon.

      But never, never, never give up. Churchill had a phrase in this regard, and it keeps me going. Sometimes that and the knowledge that I am doing the right thing is all that keeps me going.

      Look at your expenditure for the week. And examine who gets what out of it. And then decide from whom you wish to withdraw your support. The M50 clique – fine – there is an alternative. The government – fine stop drinking and smoking – these are cash cows for the gov – and drive less as well. The bankers – fine, go to the post office. The ripoff supermarket chains – fine, go North, or go to farmers/producers markets, small shops or the discounts.

      FEd up with getting ripped off all over the place. Tell Joe Duffy, George Hook, Eddie Hobbs. Let the nation know about it. Put it on this blog if you want.

      Not happy with the FF leadership. Fine join FF. Sit as a sleeper for a few months. Ten start asking difficult questions and proposing motions of no confidence in the FF leadership. Eventually you will unsettle the top brass. Tim has motions initiated motions about all sorts of things disagreeing completely with Lenihan, Coughlan etc..

      There is always a way around. It is just that societal mores have continually reinforced you the belief that there is not a way of successfully opting out.

      Don’t think that this will amount to nothing. No. Every dissenting voice makes a difference.

      • wills

        Absolutely Deco. AGREED on all points.

        Crucial info there. Each person can take action NOW. It is up to each person too. How they do it is up to them. Non – violence is key. One can be active in resistance and non violent. One can go Big or go small. Resisting the mercantilist economic rent system can take many many form’s. One can decide to begin to cease short term gratification. One can start to get more and more into self honesty day by day. One can decrease mental laizyness incrementally over time. One can start to eat healthy get fit get informed. All different way’s one can come off the economic rent seeking system matrix and start waking up and fighting back. The truth is just bursting to be told.

  12. Good to see your now making up for all the fuel you burnt up the last year in making your new TV show and by taking the trian and bus you could keep the receipts for expenses and of course have a drink with your lunch !
    This is now how mad and commical this country has become when you see F.F’ers standing up to their Minister not on NAMA and the savage cuts and taxes for the next generations but on the fact that This Minister wants to cut the drink driving limit,
    This shows me how out of touch and uneducated our T.D’s are when the issue of having a few ould pints is more important than the financial future of the Country.
    We need Big Change here , before there is a revolution , but saying that one has already started ‘the jugglers’ in negative equatity and arrears can together fight these Bankers.
    And while our State Broadcaster will not question these gangsters maybe Your Editor will run the Banner Head lines to get us out to demand these changes in thinking.

    • Deco

      Ah yes….The PUBLICAN Party

      Apparently it is a critical element in the national psychosis and the tendency to be self-delusional. And that must be protected.

      Chances are that Dempsey is enjoying it as a PR stunt showing him as some kind of reformer.

    • nono

      Absolutely right. I was thinking the same thing this morning when I read the news. It shows these lads priorities are totally messed up.

      I’ve received a leaflet from the Crumlin children hospital asking for donations to help them renew their material. I’m thinking that they shouldn’t have to ask us, they should get the money they need but this country has decided that billions were better spent to save the banksters than to save the lives of our children. Priorities screwed up again.
      Meanwhile, Prof Drumm is getting 70000 euros bonus and thinks it’s normal. Marie-Antoinette syndrome, anyone? Now, where did I put that guillotine already…

  13. wills


    My take on your musings and observations travelling the highways and bi-ways of septic isle is, “Houston we have a problem!”.

    The ‘workers’ / serf class / sheeple / taxpayer sharecroppers are having there NETWORK (peter finch 1977) moment and are ‘not going too take it anymore’. It’s about bloody time.

    They now see, thanks to NAMA that Ireland is run for the benefit of elites.

    They see a political system in which the state is run has substantial centralized control over social and economic affairs, and it is running all of this in the interests of elites and it is causing serious unrest amongst the populace.

    All one has to do is stand at a bus stop to see how high the temperature is running.

    The penny is dropping and the ‘workers’ are getting real and figuring it out. The more the crony gov talk about cutting into the ‘workers’ income the more the ‘worker’s’ are scratching their head on why it is that they have to pay for the banks mistakes, bottom line. The links are been made and the gov’s control over the meeja can do nothing to scrub it.

    The sheeple get it. Ireland is a two tier system. The top tier do not follow the law’s and rules the underneath tier is subjected too.

    One can stretch the working folk’s patience quite a bit, but in my experience as an irishman one thing i’ve noticed is irish people can’t stand it when they someone is taking the p1ss,

    …and taxpayers having to have to pay for the banks POnzi property bubble gambling cost’s on a bubble that the bank are completely responsible for through predatory lending is not going to wash lookslike.

    And why should it ….!! The banks are corrupt and are bankrupt and no longer affect a mystical reverence.

    • Deco

      Wills – I think you are right. When Irish feel that they personally are being screwed they tend to get rowdy.

      The problem until now has been that the whole culture of screwing other people has been portrayed as equitable. Suddenly, it is quite apparent that it is not equitable. It is this that is the missing link between realisation in the public mind and action from the public size ten shoe.

      • wills


        ‘Suddenly, it is quite apparent that it is not equitable.’
        That’s it.
        DmcW’s radar is picking up on this too last few articles.

  14. If the population of the country is so pissed at the bankers why do they not simply move their cash to a different bank? That’s a clear democratic measure that will have a serious impact if all these many angry people would stop talking about being angry and start acting.

    • wills

      ..i would say they are p1ssed with more than bankers.

    • Ruairi

      Yes, didn’t St Mary (Harney) even say that herself. Shop around, let your money do the talkin’.
      Stop supporting those who are not in harmony with your life aims and realities. Get a credit Union account, use PayPal, buy some gold with GoldMoney or Bullionvault. Every euro you rescue now can do so much work for you in the future. Don’t let it get pissed away on more lies and pipedreams by Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan.

      • Ruairi

        Here’s an interesting tidbit on JP Morgan’s new stance on the oldest currency of all, GOLD.
        “My friend Bob the Technical genius called today with some astonishing news. JP Morgan’s commodity arm in London announced that it would begin accepting gold for margin deposits. Astounding! Maybe they need gold to cover shorts, but notwithstanding this re-introduces gold as money.

        Argentum et aurum comparenda sunt — – Gold and silver must be bought.”
        Ref http://goldprice.org/silver-and-gold-prices/ and originally http://the-moneychanger.com/

        In the likelihood that we can’t escape the straitjacket of NAMA, we still have choices. We always have choices, as Deco clearly states. Look after you and yours.

  15. Ruairi

    First of all David, regardless of the article’s content, I want to say hats off to you for a number of things.

    The article is breezy and alive. You are in an awakened state, as it were. As you are out there among the masses, taking buses, taking trains. Actually listening and engaging people as equal citizens with something serious to say. That is one of the things that marks you out as special. You do that in a very noble way, without ever seeming condescending. Like most geniuses, you have the rampant curiosity of a child. And it makes you question. And it gets you answers.
    You could also easily have decided that, social feedback apart, a man of your stature is too busy for public transport and such chats. But you choose to keep yourself ‘awake’ by freshening your perspective up like this.
    How far removed is this from Dick Roche’s septic concept of ‘consultation’; the mass meeting on speciaal topics so that naysayers can be soothed and let off steam. No, you chose to face reality and perhaps see what is REALLY being felt out there. And yes, it changed your knowledge and widened your perspective and empathy. How far removed is this from the 3 main political parties (actually throw the Greens in there as well).
    Of course we’re just sounding off here, as its clear that democratic representation is not the priority of our TDs and political class. ITs about agrandissement and naked greed, subjugated to fear of THEIR superiors in the EU of course. How pathetic. We really do have a leadership deficit across all ranks. I recall Vincent Browne in the SBP saying that Cowen was not a bad lad, just too in awe of the banks. I don’t buy that personally. And at any rate sins of omission are just as painful as sins of commission when you are the victim. No, we need real leaders who are listening to the people.

    We do need a scrap. We need a metaphorical civil war; a sea change in how we conduct politics. And that means a shift to the left if we are to have a NAMA for private debtors.

    David, you constantly amaze and surprise people. I’m not saying you’re a god for taking public transport, but I am very sure it comes as a pleasant and empowering surprise to most readers today that you have done so. I am also extremely sure that your thoughts and your actions frighten the Bejaysus out of the establishment.
    God dammit, I have reubklican visions of yoi touring the country among us great unwashed, like Gandhi, Che Guevara or Jesus himself ;-D But David, that’s what leaders are. They just ARE.

    • Tim

      Ruairi, well said!

      I wonder, if David organised a well-publicised gathering at a conference center, how many people would flock to him and be willing to join a new political party with him as its leader?

      I wonder how many people there are, actually, reading this site? How many people are “Fans” of David’s books and documentaries and how many of them would be zealous enough to commit their time, effort and money to setting up and running such a party?

      I have issued invitations to meet at anti-NAMA protests in town on occasion and one person from here accepted my invitation and several others are in contact the odd time by phone and email; how many would accept such an invitation from David himself? Surely hundreds, if not thousands. Out of that many people, he is bound to find an adequate number of dedicated people, willing and ready to help make a big change in our country.

      I would jump-ship in a heartbeat for such a prospect (and I know all the “Insider tricks” ;-)

      Lay out the manifesto, David; send the invitation.

      • wills

        tim. Great idea. David, your country needs you.

      • Ruairi

        I think we’re going to see a more populist politics Tim, “going forward”, ahem. Sorry Brian.
        Look at the impact Ganley had. Look even to Mick O’Leary’s leery entreé into the world of cloak and dagger.
        Look at David’s impact in bringing the Sparks in the Park to Farmleigh. Social entrepreneurs will also increasingly turn to politics. But without an umbrella groups, unless the major parties implode, such umbrella groups would be reasonably powerless in our current Dáil structure.

  16. Alan42

    At the end of the day just how are those in negitive equity going to pay ? The bank can maybe take some stake in the house and gets paid with some future upturn in the market . But how would they even pay a reduced mortgage as they hae no jobs ?
    These was some debt advisor person on Frontline who advised people on to change their name by deed poll and go abroad and not to come back for 20 years .
    That is what I would do . Does anybody really think that any one at Anglo is going to repay ? Or that a developer is going to repay ?
    Sell what ever you can , put the keys in the letterbox , don’t tell the bank anything , inform your family that if anybody asks , that you are missing .And just start a new life somewhere else .

  17. David –

    When people obtain their qualifications it is their passport to life .In your case you are an Economist .However , what you yourself really are is something quiet different .You are a Philosopher that speaks through the medium of Economics. I think you know that yourself. If you were in France you would be in politics and famous .It’s culture allows you to hold fame and fortune. However , in Ireland Philosophers are seen as a pain and kept down because Philosophers are changemakers and Irish Politician do not want the electorate ‘to think’.

  18. adamabyss


  19. Deco

    What would happen to Cowen, Coughlan, Lenihan, Dempsey, Cullen, Martin, Hanafin, Gormless, uRyan, Phata Harni if any of them appeared on a train or a bus ?

    I think it would be fairly harsh.

    Ten years ago I was on a train when the local FG TD turned up at the station. He was an opposition TD. And he got showered abuse. It was a mob of anger. And that was before “the virtual boom”. He was not even directly responsible for the chaos. Maybe he was seeing an opportunity for a PR stunt. In any case his inability to do something about it, resulted in a PR disaster.

    Maybe the utube video of Cowen getting abuse from the mob in Athy a few weeks ago might tell us what it would be like.

    • Ruairi

      Deco, I agree. It would be justifiably harsh. Because they have chosen to live in ivory castles until now. Ideological types would not be afraid to walk among their fellow citizens. They would see it as their duty and destiny. They would be congruent with their thoughts and actions. But our political class are composed of children; lacking the convictions to ideologically fight for and defend what they believe. But of course that’s because they don’t believe in pretty much anything; except self-preservation.

      But I also refer to the wider establishment: – The developers in their choppers, the media pundits, the bank economists etc etc. How rare to catch an unintended glimpse of them on public transport. David wasn’t blowing his trumpet when he mentioned this mode of transport, it was a means to an end in his article. But as a man thinketh, so he becomes. And David’s innocuous bus-trip tells me much about him. as do the limo stories from the expenses scandals.

      • Deco

        The most insight story of all was Noel Dempsey’s St. Patrick’s Day Tour of the USA.
        He used economy seating on flights in and out of Dublin Airport. But the further he got away from home, the more expensive his tastes grew. Of course, it would be presuming too much to draw the conclusion that this was no taxpayers present. No, the official version of events, that he needed such pampering to handle the tiredness arising from his schedule must be believed.

        Our scepticism grows, and our naivety diminishes every day.

        • Deco

          I meant to say
          { Of course, it would be presuming too much to draw the conclusion that this was becasue there were no Irish taxpayers present. }

    • Alan42

      I don’t think you could let Coughlan loose on a train . God knows where she would end up or who she would bail out along the way .

      Gormless would have several Deer as bodygauards .

      • Deco

        I think Harney would prefer the chopper. Though she would have to check it in case Cullen did any damage to it before hand. You know the way it is – Cullen desperate for a cigarette on a two hour flight. Sure open the window there Martin…oh…it’s alright…the taxpayer will buy a new one…

  20. Philip

    I suspect we’ll be like Greece very shortly. There’ll be a lot of mayhem in the streets and Lenihan and the lads could have blood on their hands…literally. All it needs is a trigger and the idiots in Leinster House seem hell bent on pulling it such is their naiveity

    Good on you David for stating what many would not have dared. Let me put it another way. We have nothing to fear from visibly tough looking groups that might cause trouble. i.e. Unions, Public Service etc going onto the streets. They’ll not loose their jobs anyway. It’s the quiet and meek ones who take it on the chin every day and then eventually crack. The mammy or dad who looses job, house and family – ordinary people whose lives are being sundered without comment.

    • Ruairi

      “ordinary people whose lives are being sundered without comment.”

      This is what makes me very sad as I drive around our country. Or read our posts. Or watch our media (God help me on that front). The ordinary people of Ireland who I love are being slowly suffocated by tyrants and usurpers. I was half-joking (half wishing) when I suggested above that David’s bus-trip was like Che Guevara’s and could easily be called “The Citylink Diaries”!! But as David states: -
      “Who is to say a messianic leader will not emerge in the next year or so to harness all this anger?” Sooner or later, this anger and this oppression of decent (granted, sometimes unthinking) citizens will galvanise a messianic leader.

      I believe that can happen. Thejury’s out on whether the end result of that is a good thing however. David is right though. The seeds of revolt are there. Be it social, political ro whatever. And make no mistake, as Philip says, its the good people of Ireland, the quiet, hardworking ones, that may indeed fight like cornered badgers when they see the reality of FF/PD destruction in the disappointment and possibly fear in their children’s eyes.

      • Ruairi

        Newsnight on now on BBC2 is profiling how the BNP is now taking over as the white, working class man’s party.

        Make no mistake, a sharp operator could step onto a populist surfboard and ride this wave of anger. And the simple solution is for the incumbent government to show some fair play and build a fair society in this moment of chaos, not turn the screws further.
        Granted, our dole payments are a lot higher than UK. But for how long? For how long when the present government wishes to further burden the PAYE workers and they in turn start to resent decent dole payments.
        There is a scary abyss dead ahead if PD-infected FF get this as wrong as its looking they will.

  21. econarchist

    Very good article about the public opinion on the whole financial mess, David.

    Because I no longer live in Ireland, I was not sure whether ordinary Irish people were taken in by the NAMA scam.

    Having read the article, I can now see that when the same bank that you pay your mortgage to is also being bailed out with your taxes, then you cannot easily be fobbed off with predictions from people who failed to see the crisis coming.

    In that situation it’s not just a subject that people watch the “experts” talk about on television, it’s not just something that you hear someone rant about to Joe Duffy. No, it’s personal.

  22. Padraic O Conaire –

    If he were alive today he would be emulating dmcw or is dmcw emulating the above.

  23. DH

    On a side note. The Affordable Homes scheme which had offered 2 bed apartments to first time buyers @ €250,000 and which had thousands of applicants who were randomly drawn out of a hat and offered their chace to buy has turned on it’s head. The prices are dropping , €178,000 last I heard and there’s no need for a lottery anymore, because of the lack of any demand. (there’s a 20 year clawback involved). You just pay the council a 50 euro fee and if you’re a first time buyer you have the chance to buy a 2 bed apt at €178,000…. Of course now with eyes open, even that seems expensive… (a little off the point I know)

    • gquinn

      The Irish government will ignore the people because lets face it, who are the people to dictate to the Government.

      The unions will protest about their wage cut and a little saga will ensure with some strike action and because the Unions are part of socialism the government will reverse there stance on wage cuts to the public service and will come out with some excuse that they need these people working.

      All in all there is nothing the common Irish people can do to influence the government. All ordinary people can do is to leave the country and to go somewhere else. That is what I have done and I would suggest people to do the same.

      Ireland is in a depression and it is going to be worse than the 1980′s because the EU is allowing the country to spiral into massive debt (Nama not being part of the National debt but the bonds still needs to be paid off by Irish taxpayers).

  24. Deco

    Folks – Minister Lenihan is going to introduce a carbon tax. Now, this is basically all that is required to keep the GP appear as if they are the conscience of the government.And we have been here before with this sort of window dressing manoevre. (PDs, ILP in previous eras).

    Of course it is all about taking money from the people and having it to look after the well connected. I could see the carbon tax coming.

    And I just got a book concerning how to build your own wind generator of electricity. Unfortunately, there is an awful lot of work involved. And I don’t know how this will work out, or if it will work out at all. This is all away over my head. I presume that I will have to buy a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), as well to store the energy. But I want to investigate what is involved. For twenty euro, it is a small price pay for a bit of knowledge. I want to know more about it. It will be a learning exercise, at the very least.

    • liam

      You’re completely right about this nailing the wrong people. Tax should be on those who sell energy, not those who use it. Even if they pass the cost on to the consumer, it may encourage suppliers to seek alternative sources of energy for competitive advantage. This tax is placing the onus of change on the consumer and them offering them exactly no economically viable alternatives to the status quo.

      Sorry to say Deco, your roof-top windmill will no doubt be an interesting project, but its probably one of the least effective ways to reduce energy use (and the ROI is generally marginal if any within the design lifetime of the turbine). Photovoltaics are better, as is swapping out oil fired heating for ground/air-source heat pumps. Quality, high density insulation in the walls flooring and attic is better again. Attaching a treadmill to power the telly is even better than that!

      The cheapest solution however is to do exactly nothing. I wonder which of these people will chose in the coming years?

      I would happily pay for the CO2 emissions from a bonfire of TD’s though, so long as we were allowed to burn them alive.

      • wills

        Liam. Burning TD’s alive may get one ending up in jail, and liam, you are more valuable to the anti NAMA cause on the outside.

        • liam

          Of course I agree it would be wrong. Inflammatory even. I am not being serious and maybe mirroring the sense of anger featured in the OP.

          They’ll be taxing bad jokes next I guess, in which case I’ll never be able to afford to visit home again.

  25. liam


    I think you’ve nailed it with the “misdirected anger” point. The beauty of this whole NAMA nonsense is that it seems that the damage it will do when it fails to deliver on its primary objective (restoring credit flow) will not be immediately apparent as the times scales over which the effects will play out are long. Its hard to remain angry forever and sooner or later people will simply accept their fate and look back on the last ten years as “good times with Bertie and its a pity it didn’t last but sure good times never do” etc and go back to voting on who they think should have won the civil war.

    When ever I catch a news report from the auld sod (on youtube or wherever) with a vox pop in it, or when I read stuff on-line or get personal reports via family and friends, I am left with the impression that people are exercised primarily about their own little slice of the pie being taken away from them, they couldn’t give a damn about the bigger picture of daylight robbery of the entire country, nor do they seem inclined to try to understand their own problems in this wider context. Maybe I’m wrong, I hope I’m wrong, but that is my impression and with that one line you appear to have confirmed it.

    You’ve mentioned this idea of a revolutionary extremist figure emerging in the bad times in the context of the huge immigrant community in Ireland, but it seems most of them are leaving anyway.

    Luckily, Ireland’s system of education and political indoctrination breeds pothole-fillers rather than leaders and statesmen. Its unlikely that such a system would cough up a credible aspirant to organised revolution and the establishment of an extremist or authoritarian state, especially when most people seem to be unclear on what exactly it is they are revolting against.

    • liam

      “nor do they seem inclined to try to understand their own problems in this wider context”

      Not necessarily a criticism: when people working their asses off in a job they might lose, dealing with the every day realities of “filling the fridge” (Furrylugs?) looking after kids etc, who the hell has time to read Minsky or even the FT.

  26. Colin_in_exile


    I don’t know how you do it, but your excellent articles appear to be ever improving.

    Yes, there will be a big scrap with ourselves, I’m even managing to do it with others in your forum, but there you go. We have old v young, professional v tradesman, rural v urban, public sector v private sector, native v exile, unions v non-unions, left v right. Its a war with many different battles on many fronts. It seems to me that the gubberment are inclined to generate as complex as possible situation where nobody will know what they are fighting for. There is a huge defecit in leadership from cowen. I don’t think he knows what kind of country Ireland should be/become.

    It might be worth thinking about it for a little while……..what kind of country do you want Ireland to be?

  27. learner

    Thanks David for finally recognising people are personally responsible for their financial decisions. This point is usually very quickly overlooked on any tv / radio programme. You were warning for a long time about the property pyramid scam collapsing. As a FTB, I thought making the biggest financial decision of my life would warrant a little bit of thought, especially if I was buying a house which had grown from 30K (1995) to 330K (2007). How can the same house suddenly be “worth it” ?. After 10 mins research on the web (thank you thepropertypin.com), I discovered the amount of lies, vested interest etc at work in Ireland. Who can ever forget Donie Cassidy standing up in the Seanad in 2007 telling FTB’s this was the best time to buy and houses would be far more expensive in 2008, (of course he had half an estate to sell at the time!). I have rented for the last number of years, too worried about buying at the top of a bubble that was bigger than the UK and US and ending up in negative equity. I put up with the put downs at work, the smugness, the huge peer pressure and warned alot of people of the bank shares collapsing and the bubble collapsing. Some listened, some didn’t want to – soft landing etc.!!. I thnk alot of people judging from my friends that bought, privately thought they were buying at the high point but hoped to get out before it collapsed and pass it on to the next easily manipulated person. Yes, they are nursing negative equity and the actual statements in the media when you look back are appalling at urging people on. Some expertsactually said, “negative equity can’t happen here”.
    With the NAMA criminal scam and now the negative equity crowd wanting a bailout, what about the people who were actually financially prudent, chose not to get a mortgage for 10 times income/ rent a couple of rooms to afford the mortgage (kinda shows you can’t afford it if you’re doing this!), actually saved and basically looks to other viewpoints before making massive financial commitments?. It is desperate that these people are in negative equity but they had a choice— DON’T SIGN UP!! No one pointed a gun at their head. Now the prudent are being asked to bail everyone out –strange, strange world!!! No one seems to be resposible for their own decisions anymore.

    • wills

      Learner, agree on all points. On the eejits and chancers buying property at 300% it’s real market equilibrium price can i add this. Yea there where those who deserve the consquences of their bad choices, but there are a section of eejits who played along out fear, ignorance and plain old fashioned innocence it is this group susceptible to persuasion and looking for a home to raise a family in who must be provided some type of assistance, in my point of view. UNfortunately, it will be rather difficult to figure the big dopes from the greedy grabbers and sellers on, so, best of luck to them.

  28. Robert

    “Who can ever forget Donie Cassidy standing up in the Seanad in 2007 telling FTB’s this was the best time to buy and houses would be far more expensive in 2008, (of course he had half an estate to sell at the time!)”

    And this week Donie was at it again – Calling himself a “defender of the constitution” in response to any possibility of the abolition of the Seanad.

    In fact Did anyone notice the anger in the Seanad and more so, the attendance, to debate the possibility of abolition. At last a debate was found which they turned up for.

    • Deco

      Donie Cassidy….yet another reason to get rid of Seanad Eireann.

      I have a proposal.Abolish the Seanad. Outsource the responsibility to a local authority picked out of a hat. And then move Oireachtas report to Roscommon or Tallaght or whatever local authority wins it. It would be the same difference really.

      On a more serious note, there is a need to reform the university electoral system. DCU and UL get no votes. The biggest third level institution in the capital for the last twenty years has been the DIT, and they are pretty much irrelevant. And the regional colleges can forget about it altogether.

      Apart from that there is a strong case to be made to move the Seanad to a cheaper location like Portlaoise or Athlone. I provided these two as examples because they are placed on transport routes between the different regional centres.

      Yeah, let’s outsource Donie Cassidy’s job. Ireland is full of useless county councillors who could do Cassidys “job”(sic) at much less cost to the taxpayer.

  29. Roche

    Caveat Emptor! Not everyone was sucked into the purchasing hysteria over the past 10 years and not everyone could have if they wanted to. Put simply, some got rich off the backs of others and so on down the line. Common sense went out the window and now everybody wants a bailout. Mammy’s dragging her son down to the sweet shop to empty his thieving pockets and give him a scolding. Yes, extortionary rates & fees were afoot but free will prevails and those who chose the get rich quick schemes will get get burned if they have not already. The analysis can churn and opinions espoused but in the end it’s that simple and personal accountability is the only relief. Time to shun the cute whure who has gotten away with it for so long.

    • wills

      there are a section of eejits who got duped into it by playing on fears and ignorance. It’s easy to make a broadsweeping stroke on all the gamesters but some of them were conned big time.

    • Colin_in_exile


      You are 100% correct. Free will prevailed, which allowed me to decide not to buy a house. I didn’t succomb to peer pressure. The eejits who did do not deserve any sympathy, they in fact contributed to the madness, often by out bidding each other. Time for the eejits to grow up now and face the music.

  30. alpha

    The NANA state

    If you want to buy a house, you need 10% of the total value as a deposit. Isn’t it?

    Are these guys from ARC, signalling their intentions, coming with 3 billon to buy from “our” foreign Banks, a portfolio of 60 billon plus?
    Could they’ll get it for 30 billon??? And according to some commentators the same Banks are going to lend ARC the difference. Let’s say 27 billon, as part of the deal.
    Well probably the fact that they are foreign Banks, and not having the baking of a Government who has to save the “elite, the three amigos, U-exiles, and other cronies”, they’ll be ready to talk business. As it should be!

    So where does it leaves NAMA?
    I’ve heard somebody in the LUAS today, very sure of himself, saying to a pall that NAMA wasn’t going to increase the national debt.
    Sooner or later, is bound to happen, and somebody is going to see a “moving statue” again!

  31. Tim

    ugggh! had a long post and lost it through the magic that is the internet-connection!

  32. Tim

    I’ll Be lazy, so, and let you question it (I’ll give you waht I said on the last article about this “ANGER” thing:

    Folks, the so-called “ordinary people of Ireland” are in trouble. I have possited, before that the PAYE people pay the most tax, despite the spin that the top 4% of earners pay the most TAX (which is a lie).

    We were told that the “Average Industrial Wage” was in the order of €48k per annum. Now, I know alot of people beneath that threshold, so, maybe, “Averages” allow manipulation of facts???

    However, the people who earn this level of income (and most of those who earn more than this, but less than €100k) are REALLY angry about what is happening.

    They are being fleeced right now, with pay-cuts, pay-freezes (de-facto paycuts), tax levies, prsi levies and pesion-levies(in the public-sector, only).

    They are being frightened by the prospect of worse-to-come in the November Budget. They are not spending, because of this fear. This is damaging the real economy, because money is not sustaining business.

    They are VERY angry, that the govt is “targetting” them. They are correct and right,

    How long, before their anger “spills-over” into violence/social unrest?

    How long, before someone says, “I was not greedy; I worked away as normal, during the Celtic-Tiger-Boom and earned no extra money. I was not “awash-with-Money”, but, now, you are forcing ME to pay for the profligacy of the banksters/Gamblers’ losses? “F” you!

    The “Ordinary people of Ireland” are getting angry; the Sheople are waking-up.

    I am in that position……(I bought my house under the strict, old, rules, at 2.5 times my income{€65k}) and I am as mad as HELL!

    How angry, do you think, is the young couple down my road who paid €440k in 2007 for the same house?

    Pretty pissed?

    (one sold, ten doors down, for €225, recently — so NAMA prices are NOT the “bottom”).
    Ps….. where is jim?

  33. Tull McAdoo

    Jackie Healy Rae came into the Pub today. “I’m here to defend your livelyhood Seaneen and this Pub and the service you have always provided for the plain people of South Kerry” he said. He went onn to say ” there’s no one in this Government will tell Me i’ll have to drink 50 pints instead of 80 pints if I’m prepared to put me hand in me pocket, to pay cash money for it”. … “Well now Jackie” says I…” I think they said 80 milli litres to 50 milli litres” but before I could finish Jacki said ” they can call it what they like abroad in Europe but it will always be a pint glass to Me”,,,,,,,,,For some strange reason at that point I just remembered the Yes Minister episode about “the great british sausage”……….Jackie interupted My train of tought by saying ” send out two pints of plain for meself and the brother to the snug, until we plan our next attack on “the bull” and stale more of His votes”….. At that point My thoughts turned to Flann O’Brien and His creation “the brother”. ” the Brother would’nt look at an egg.,and a pint of plain is your only man………” “Jasus Seaneen” says I to myself , ” your cracking up” ….”sure is’nt tull mcadoo a character created by John B Keane .Was’nt He the ultimate gombeen man, looking after the interests of the plain people of Kerry, with His letters from a TD……Well David Mc Williams can ride the trains and Buses in search of some insight as to the present mood , but I could have saved Him the trip ,Just ask Seaneen and He will tell ye what ye want to know?????????

      • Tull McAdoo

        I love at the end of the episoge where Hacker M.P. stands with His hand in His jacket ala Churchill making this passionate speech in defense of “the geat British sausage”,,,,,,I can just see Jackie Healy Rae with His famous flat cap accross His heart ” defending the pint of plain”. Jasus there was a time in McDaids Pub when the assembled ecclectic mix would have had a field day with all this Gombeenism in Ireland. ” O stoney grey soil of Drumcondra ,you burgled My Bank account “.

  34. Tim

    Where is jim?

    I like when he dresses-me-down, informs me and, especially, when he says:

    “Goodnight, Ireland”.

  35. Tim

    Good night, jim…… wherever you are……

  36. Tull McAdoo

    Go onn Biffo tell us whose picking up the tab for “the glass bottle site” which of the three,,,,,”The auld triangle went jingle jangle all along the Banks of the Royal Canal………Thats it !! Thats it !! Behan your feckin barred and bring that biffo with ya before He feckin starts with ” the Offaly Rover”, He has’nt given it a rest since Clara won the feckin County Final,and now Tullamore have won the hurling,they wont be able to spell Nama come Friday. ” give the Deputy a chance ,Jasus She does a great job on ” the Homes of Donegal” ok ok …” I just steped in to see you all ,I hope yere doing well……. Jasus thats a great auld song there Biffo ,No mention of negative equity there me boy……..Thats it !!! out the door with ya Behan ,come back in the morning when ya sober up……..

  37. Indy

    I don’t know what’s wrong with you all. Sure, the banks are just concerned about us ordinary citizens! Honestly, next up people will be saying that the Vintners and TD’s aren’t worried about the isolation of rural dwellers.
    Shame on you all…

    I’d be interested to hear what David’s views are on the appointment of Mr. Elderfield. Here’s an extract from a strategy document written by him last year:
    “Our approach accepts that, from time to time, some financial firms will fail. Any other starting point imposes excessive costs on industry. Our approach is to focus our efforts most on high-impact firms and accept a higher risk of failure for lower-impact ones. Bermuda’s reputation is enhanced by a regulatory regime that is focused and that manages failures effectively, not one that seeks to avoid failures entirely.”


  38. boc

    Interesting link, explains to me why the banks weren’t just nationalised.


    I can understand why self preservation would lead the government down this path. And why the integrity of the Eurozone would lead the ECB to let us.

    What I don’t understand is what the Europe thinks will happen long term. It’s quite obvious that our government doesn’t have the ability or even inclination to fix this. The government also know that Europe can’t withdraw funds like the IMF could so there’s no incentive.

    Does Europe want Ireland on financial life support from the ECB for a generation?

    • liam

      Thanks boc, its good to be reminded of this. This was highlighted by (possibly) Jim back in April or May on these very pages. At the time he suggested ECB probably does not see it as financial life support. It was a clever way for them to print some extra euro’s on the sly.

      The ECB absolutely can withdraw its line of credit to Ireland (and Spain, Sweden etc), and may well chose to do so should it have to curb inflation in the eurozone as the rest of the EU recovers. The Government assumption that this line of credit is unlimited, if that is indeed what they are assuming, won’t remain the case forever.

      I don’t think the Government is quite that stupid however. The problem is that they are all about protecting the status quo, meaning protecting the banks, not about the citizen.

      The other thing the ECB is doing is providing a guaranteed market for Irish Government bonds. This seems to be one of the many glaring risks of NAMA: that the cost of ECB credit (thus interest rates) could rise as the eurozone recovers and if this triggers a personal debt default crisis, the markets will already be flooded with Irish bonds that nobody wants now and the ECB will have turned off the taps to protect other eurozone members. Ireland won’t be able to manage NAMA 2. This I guess is also possible without NAMA, but it seems likely that allowing the banks to go under now will cause market corrections that put the country on the road to recovery much sooner than NAMA as it is currently formulated will.

      It seem to me that its entirely possible that Ireland will incur vast debts AND have the IMF run the country anyway. Is this possible?

      This is complicated stuff, I freely admit don’t understand the half of it, but much as I hate to say it, it would now be useful if our kind host and others were to look realistically at post-NAMA options and how the citizenry might limit the negative impact of this beast. We are where we are, and fighting amongst ourselves for the remaining scraps will achieve little.

  39. liam

    Off topic warning: have you seen Ireland’s contribution to the World Expo in Shanghai next year?


    I’m sure it will look great but perhaps a little less emphasis on “efficient use of space” and Ireland’s “sustainable development model” methinks. Perhaps David could advise his contacts in the DoFF of the marketing of this embarrassing fiction.

  40. Imagine some early morning you hear on radio that Cowen tells the Nation that he loves women .
    Would this be the economic stimulus that would rise and hold up ?And for how long?
    Or are we doomed because we believe he is playing pool with a rope.
    There are endless possibilities of what is in his mind .

  41. Ivan Yates has a good article in the Examiner this morning;


    He alludes to Pavlovian influences which can explain why the Bubble occurred.
    By explanation, this is from;

    “Ready made opinions can be distributed day by day through press, radio, and so on, again and again, till they reach the nerve cell and implant a fixed pattern of thought in the brain. Consequently, guided public opinion is the result, according to Pavlovian theoreticians, of good propaganda technique, and the polls a verification of the temporary successful action of the Pavlovian machinations on the mind. Yet, the polls may only count what people pretend to think and believe, because it is dangerous for them to do otherwise.

    Such is the Pavlovian device: repeat mechanically your assumptions and suggestions, diminish the opportunity of communicating dissent and opposition. This is the simple formula for political conditioning of the masses. This is also the actual ideal of some of our public relation machines, who thus hope to manipulate the public into buying a special soap or voting for a special party.

    The Pavlovian strategy in public relations has people conditioned more and more to ask themselves, “What do other people think?” As a result, a common delusion is created: people are incited to think what other people think, and thus public opinion may mushroom out into a mass prejudice.

    Expressed in psychoanalytic terms, through daily propagandistic noise backed up by forceful verbal cues, people can more and more be forced to identify with the powerful noisemaker. Big Brother’s voice resounds in all the little brothers. ”

    Sound familiar??

    • Deco

      We can opt out of being a bank customer, but we can not opt out of being a taxpayer :)))

    • Deco

      Furrylugs – I agree with your Pavlovian insight.

      I reckon there is a connection there and the Irish “Pride” BS (which was mostly about arrogance anyway). And there is a connection between Kunstler’s something for nothing consumerism, and the Proud nonsense that dominated Irish culture since CJH appeared on the scene. CJH was the first Irish politician to find the Pride button in the Irish.But they all adopted it eventually.

      Yeah, we indulged in stupid behaviour, and then we felt proud and congratulated ourselves. A self derived Pavlovian feedback cycle. A something for nothing reward system. Totally virtual. And total rubbish. And now totally bankrupt.

      • It’s a shame that David hasn’t got a text in comment capability on his new series. It would give the nation an opening to vent anger. I’ve given great thought to how we can open up this forum to a greater readership. One idea was an online freesheet like McGill or Private Eye to capture a wider body of opinion and guest edited by David.
        The complex issues debated here need scattering nationwide but using Davids style.
        Though I don’t want any of us old goats on Page Three.

  42. “the Falcon cannot hear the falconer.”
    The only problem with a Messianic leader in times of social material need, and not collective spiritual need is it tends to bring about (to the fore) the likes of Declan Ganley.
    I’ve come to realize in my nearly 60 years the scrap is always going on between “the have,” and “have not’s.” The good side is we get to see how it doesn’t work. Only some of us that is because the haves (are not interested in seeing) have been given back the money they lost recklessly: given back the “have not’s money.”
    And they are doing the very same thing all over again. Mervin King said the very same thing a couple of days ago. Experts are predicting a double dip. At this stage I hope it hits, and hits hard that way something may be done- like national the banks or no prop up for investment gambling; you place you bets, and you takes you chance win (you win) or lose (you lose) and help real business out.

    • Deco

      Paddy – I would say the scrap will be between those who are on the losing end of the equation, and those who are getting something for nothing.

      In other words those of us who make an honest effort, and the gombeen element who are fixing everything so as to screw the rest of us.

      Messianic leader ? A start would be to bring back Eddie Hobbs and have a series called NAMA republic to carry on where Rip-off Republic left off (before Ahern and IBEC stopped it).

      We do not need one leader. We need loads of leaders. And I mean leaders. Opportunists like Happy Gilmore or Sleeveen O Caoilain don’t count. We need, as private citizens to take it upon ourselves.

      I think Gandhi said something useful in this regard.

  43. gquinn

    The problem with Socialism is that it does away with the middle class. It makes all the middle class poorer because they have to pay huge income taxes, vat, carbon tax,pension tax,vrt etc.

    The society ends up with two classes of people the poor (Ordinary Irish people) and the rich (politicans). The reason why loop holes exist in laws is so the politicans can use them as a get out clause.

    We are now witnessing the destruction of the middle class in Ireland which is part of the EU mandate so that they can control the majority of the European polulation.

    There is nothing the ordinary people can do now because we lost our vote and we have to put laws into the Dail that the EU parliament comes up with. The time for the Irish people to have there say is now gone. It’s with O’Leary in the grave next to O’Connell and Parnell.

    During the Lisbon vote we had two option:
    1. Be bankrupt and have our own country (Ruled by the Irish people)
    2 Be bankrupt and lose our sovernty (Ruled by the EU)

    I prefer option 1, the Irish people took option 2

    • gquinn

      “What are the actual chances of this country going bankrupt? ” :- When our total debt goes to over 100% of GDP and the country has a downward spiral of tax intake (Country is in a depression).

      If a country is in a depression this is the senerio you do not want to have any loans out as the loans keep getting more expensive every year.

      A country is in a depression when all asset prices are declining, peoples wages are declining, retail sales are declining, money supply in the country are declining.

      Given the fact Irelands tax in take is still in a massive decline and with NAMA that takes Irelands total debt above 100% of GDP. People will say ‘but Nama is not part of the National Debt’ but look at how the government is funding it, they are funding it with short term bonds and these bonds still need to be paid back and are still considered as debt.

      In anwer to the question: There is a high probability that the country can go bankrupt as what nearly happened in 1983 but we are in a far worse situation today.

      • Deco

        Two big fibs being pushed by Lenihan at the moment are
        i) The taxpayer is not bailing out the banks.
        ii) NAMA is not part of the national debt.

        Utter rubbish. Every time that a No to Lisbon 2.0 said ‘Boo’ that pretenscious tramp Micheal Martin was on the offensive ‘to tackle that lie’.

        It seems that Martin has stopped ‘tackling lies and mistruths’ and gone back to what he is good at – peddling lies and untruths.

        It seems that we have National Debt, NAMA debt and bank recapitalization funds.

        All of which are rising uncontrollably. And which will require PAYE taxpayers to foot the bill. (Because let’s face it, it is always PAYE taxpayers that foot the bill).

  44. What are the actual chances of this country going bankrupt? Will Europe let it happen? We can only borrow so much before it will be economically impossible for us/our kids/our grandchildren to pay back.

  45. I suppose we’re cooked when the next GDP figures are released. We’ll be well down from 2006/07.
    If we applied the “ZOE” rule to the national housing stock , ie 1.2 bn down to 400m,
    every mortgagee is in serious negative territory. Or even to take an average between ZOE and NAMA, it’s still very bad.

  46. Incidentally, the Gaelic for a Bubble is “Boilgeog”. Just thought I’d add this useless piece of information before the next wobble.

  47. Titanic Departure Gates Notice
    To Departing Irish
    ( there are no sinking feelings anymore)

    Make Ukraine your new Home

    1 Safe to live
    2High Deposit Interest rates 12.5% plus
    3 Appartment Rent for exclusive appartment in Kiev $400pm
    4Food & Clothes $400pm
    5 Expensive Apartment in a good city $150,000
    6 Good Weather in Summer
    7 Lots of X-factors

  48. mcsean2163

    “Who was to blame? Was it the banks, the politicians, the landlords, the builders, the public sector, the private sector, the immigrants?”

    Oh dear! Let’s not start blaming the immigrants. The guys who work their asses off so they can pay bundles of cash to the Irish landlords, supermarkets, universities,etc. …. This in addition to adding much needed diversity into the country, etc.

    I remember growing up thinking, “why would anyone visit Ireland?”. I’m sure immigration has inspired confidence and dynamism in the country like nothing before.

  49. Year 2050

    Photo on School History Book showing protestors waving plackards dispicting :

    EVICT Fianna FAIL

    SAVE the Taxpayers

    We Want a NEW REPUBLIC

  50. When we had no formal education we all had great dreams

    After we had formal education we lost our dreams

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