November 1, 2009

The great deception must end

Posted in Irish Economy · 173 comments ·
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Over the past few days, we have been exposed to the thinking of the Department of Finance. It is quite a scary world, but one worth delving into. This crisis has exposed – no matter who is the sitting Minister for Finance – the strange and convoluted logic of the mandarins, the permanent government, who run the country. In truth, any sitting minister has only a four-year lease on power; the ‘mandarins of Merrion Street’ own the freehold.

In an effort to see how their thought process functions, let’s start with the new U-turn on the National Asset Management Agency (Nama),which was announced recently. The levy the Green Party made great noise about has been dropped. It was supposed to be imposed on the banks for Nama losses – but now it’s gone.

Another piece of jiggery-pokery was announced last week: the potential liabilities of Nama are to be held by a ‘special purpose vehicle’ (SPV) and, therefore, will not be calculated as part of our national debt. Taking these two announcements together, we can try to decipher the thinking of the department, and understand how it sees the world.

Finance minister Brian Lenihan announced last Friday that, in order to pay losses associated with Nama, he had switched from imposing a levy on the banks to a tax on future bank profits, because it was ‘‘necessary to ensure the balance sheets of the banks are not infected with a contingency that’ll devalue them’’.

This thinking, one can assume, comes straight from the finance mandarins, few – if any – of whom have worked in the financial markets. So in their world, it is bad to leave the banks with what is called a contingent liability (ie a possible future debt that may become due because of agreements entered into in the present) because it will devalue their shares and probably increase the cost of their borrowings.

Now, we can all see that this might make sense if you are a bank shareholder or bondholder. If you are board director or senior manager, it makes eminent sense, too. You and your investment are protected. God forbid you might ever have to pay for your mistakes. That would be unthinkable in Ireland.

Equally, if you are a stockbroker or investment bank thinking of either selling shares or raising large amounts of capital for these banks in the near future, the department’s latest move is terrific news.

Imagine how difficult a sell it would be if a bank’s balance sheet suffered after it did something wrong, and cost money to the people who injected capital into it? Surely – if you are about to get a big fee for raising this new capital – it would be great if someone could take this contingent liability off your hands?

Well that’s where we – you and me – come in because now we have taken the hit. The mandarins are not happy for the banks to carry the can for their own mess, but are quite happy for Ireland – you and me, the taxpayers – to carry it.

But applying the same logic, is it possible that this huge contingent liability – which, according to Lenihan, would infect ‘‘the balance sheets of the banks [and would] devalue them’’ – could infect the balance sheet of the nation and, thus, devalue the nation?

But you might ask, how could you ‘devalue’ the nation?

This is where the next piece of mandarin thinking comes in. Through some financial shenanigans, and with the full connivance of other mandarins in Eurostat in Luxembourg, they have managed to put the Nama liabilities on an off-balance sheet: the SPV.

But who do they think they are fooling? Just because you pretend Nama’s €50 billion-plus borrowings are not in the national debt figures doesn’t mean they have disappeared. Do the mandarins think that their clumsy little plan will pull the wool over the eyes of the international bond traders on whom we rely to buy our debt?

The mandarins are prepared to believe they can fool the people into a scam like Nama and, emboldened, they now think that they can fool the financial markets, too.

The international financial community can see though this; they also realise that coming down the track is yet more borrowing to maintain the Irish standard of living. For example, the bill we are clocking up in public service pensions is not on the national balance sheet either – but bond investors know it is there. Last week, the Comptroller and Auditor General published details on the public service pension bill which we are facing.

The black hole is now €101 billion over the next 50 years.

That’s a big number. Just to put that in perspective, €101 billion is €230,593 for every hour of every day for the next 50 years just to pay our public sector pensions. So the rest of the workforce has to generate a surplus of €230,593 every hour for the next 50 years, just to pay the pension commitments we have already entered into. The €230,593 figure is interesting, because it is almost the same as the current average house price in Ireland – which has fallen to €232,584 and is still falling.

But let’s come back to the mandarins, and how they believe they can pull the wool over our eyes. You might remember that the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF)was set up to address this pension problem. We’d invest all over the place and make money to fund the pensions. It’s ironic that the NPRF is now being used to capitalise the banks and increase our contingent liabilities, rather than decrease them – as was originally intended.

When we look at this carry-on from abroad, the issues crystallise. If I’m an international bond guru and I look at Ireland, I see a country that had a contingency for its future liabilities (the NPRF)which it then turned into a liability (by investing it in the banks) and a possible huge other future liability in Nama.

I see a government which is prepared to pass a huge contingent liability onto an already shell-shocked population, a potential debt which undermines the ability of the population to pay all their existing debts. I see a country suffering from deflation of 6 per cent, yet paying 5.1 per cent for ten-year borrowing. This is a real interest rate of 11 per cent at a time when the economy is contracting.

Is it any wonder that we are paying more to borrow money than any other eurozone country? Our ten-year bond rate is 5.17 per cent, while Germany’s is 3.17 per cent – we are paying 65 per cent more than Germany to borrow the same money.

The mandarins hiding and massaging our debts with SPVs and postponed levies is fooling no one. Maybe it’s time to come clean, because the more honest we are with our neighbours – and ourselves – the better it will be for everyone.


  1. Malcolm McClure

    David blames the (MoF?) mandarins but that exaggerates their importance now that the ECB is in charge. If they say jump, Lenihan jumps.
    Vincent Browne says that private investors will have 51 per cent of the equity of the SPV, while the state, via the hapless Nama, will have just 49 per cent. See:
    http://www.thepost.ie/commentandanalysis/nama-is-dead-were-on-a-special-purpose-vehicle-45312.html

    Looking forward to the point where this pile of offal becomes spending money, we find that the only way it makes sense is if ECB now realizes that hyper-inflation of several thousand percent is inevitable. So when the owners eventually get paid for the components of the SPV it will still be for assets with some residual value, rather than having numbers in a bank account with no value.

  2. JJ Tatten

    What happened to the site yesterday? Pure coincidence that it went down or did a garlic-munching mandarin breathe debilitating fumes all over the server? There must be one hell of a bang off Lenihan – maybe he has to munch garlic to ward off the blood-sucking banker vamps.

  3. ste

    It reminds me of the people who use credit cards as if it is free money. “I don’t have to pay for nearly 2 months and I only have to pay €2!!!” That’s probably the attitude that got us into this crazy situation and obviously they are just leading by example around Merrion Street!

  4. joe252

    As a member of Fianna Fail. We have no say any more in the party. We are now Run by a dictatorship. The model is very similar to the Finance department.

    • hjgoodisson

      hi joe 252, the time has come to quit FF, they will forever be tainted with corruption and incompetence and as such, watch the terminal decline of that once great party,

    • Deco

      Joe – I have a suggestion.

      Table a series of motions asking for the resignation of
      i) the FF appointed directors of CIE.
      ii) the entire board of FAS.
      iii) a serious squeeze to be applied to the top five ranks in the hierarchy running the HSE.
      iv) resignation of Coughlan.
      v) resignation of Cowen.
      vi) resignation of Dempsey, Cullen, Hanafin, Martin, etc….

      also consider motions on the
      vi) abolition/merging of half of the quangos.

      FF are in power. The GP are using their access to power to infiltrate the permanent government, the civil service. It is sick. In fact one could say that the GP are far more rotten than FF, or the ILP. The GP are almost as rotten as the PDs.

      But you can undermine the clique who control FF. Tim is doing it. And you can do the same.

      Be a voice for conscience inside FF and embarass the clowns who got ministerial power because they were favoured by that liar Ahern.

  5. econarchist

    “Just because you pretend Nama’s €50 billion-plus borrowings are not in the national debt figures doesn’t mean they have disappeared.”

    Out of sight is out of mind, but it hasn’t gone away you know.

  6. econarchist

    Good article overall, but it does seem to shift all of the responsibility for the NAMA disappearing act away from Brian Lenihan onto the civil servants. I would have taught that the buck stops with the Minister for Finance but the article gives the impression that Lenihan’s only role was to announce the “off balance sheet” trick and that it was really all the work of civil servants. My own suspicion is that he is just as involved as anyone else in every detail of the whole scam.

    Brian must have really made an impression on David when they had tea and biscuits together
    if David really thinks that Brian has very little to do with his mandarins’ unpopular decisions. I must try out some of that garlic stuff, it might help me to win friends and influence people,
    if only there was some way of getting rid of the bad breath.

  7. Hi,

    Less erudite and more plodding prose than yours but coincidentally I’m blogging on similar points here, http://www.colmbrazel.wordpress.com
    Lenihan, ‘the fool that doth think he is wise’, with NAMA (Not another Mess Again) , hemhorrage of our economy (try getting into Newry) with VAT rates, decentralisation, voting machines, one after another their projects unravel – largely led by Dept Finance incompetence. NAMA is the coup de grace, so wear a life jacket! Its poor consolation to know the seeds Lenihan is sowing with NAMA will come back to ruin his reputation in the not too distant future! The sad thing is the amount of damage both he FF and the Greens are doing to the island we value so much! The sooner they get the boot the better for us all!

  8. “Off balance sheets” would be a wonderful way of avoiding bankruptcy for ordinary citizens/small businesspeople (that is if the bank managers would play ball)
    Perhaps the new system could be legalized on a broader scale ?
    Did the Dept of Finance Mandarins learn this “smoke and mirrors” exercise in creative accountancy from “Seanie”.?:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKzmg1JA4pY

  9. kissane

    The coyotes smelling blood of someone who has embarrassed them with the truth for years are hunting in packs. They even brought tears from the alpha male.
    And the Banksters have not made their play yet. Mandarins are pussy cats.
    Bankers will try to destroy you! This is hard-ball.
    But if you need confidence and want to see where we will really be post NAMA check the US take – Moyers with James K Galbraith:
    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/10302009/watch.html

  10. MK1

    Hi David,

    > Through some financial shenanigans, and with the full connivance of other mandarins in Eurostat in Luxembourg, they have managed to put the Nama liabilities on an off-balance sheet: the SPV.

    I wrote about this last week, ie: that the NAMA SPiV off-balance-sheet “trick” wouldnt fool anyone who rates Ireland Teo. We are only fooling ourselves, and being fooled by fools it looks like!

    You are right to a certain extent that the public service mandarins have an “invisible” influence which the public do not have direct awareness or visibility of. “Yes, Minister” is a reminder of that! But Ministers can be and are the executives and can change things dramatically in a dept even in 4 or 5 years, so lets not absolve the ministers as being without control, power or responsibility!

    > For example, the bill we are clocking up in public service pensions is not on the national balance sheet either. The black hole is now €101 billion over the next 50 years.

    Nor should it be on our BS just yet, because it is future estimated liabilities. The pensions black hole is just Yet Another Problem (YAP) which has been festering away quietly and will bite us some day. Any 2 year old could tell you that if we pay for pensions from our current income, and if the population manages to grow older (population pyramid wise), we are up the creek without the proverbial paddle.

    As Laurel and Hardy say to themselves, this is another fine mess you’ve got me into.

    And nothing to do with Lehman Brothers! Our messes ARE of our own making. Anybody who thinks it was Lehman Brothers over-leveraged collapse should “go and commit suicide”. The dogs on the street in Drumcondra know that, etc, etc ……

    MK1

    • Many PS workers would be happy to opt out of the pension scheme now even if it meant reduced or forgone benefits. Currently you have tens of thousands of fixed-termers and those whose contracts are subject to funding who are paying the same levy and could get the heave-ho. Some already have. The scheme is calculated on 40 year service so it’s only really attractive to “lifers”. PS workers who are in 10 years or less would also possibly opt-out as immediate cash is becoming more important than future reward for many. The government has created the pensions black hole as they don’t have an effective reserve so current pension are paid out of existing charges and levies. They could reduce the future liability in the morning if they wanted. I know many PS workers and all the younger ones (under 10 years) would happily opt out of the pension scheme but they’re not allowed to. One eventually (2.5 years of letter writing) got permission recently but was told it was no longer worth his while as he’d been levied anyway. . Indeed, if you’ve been in the scheme over 2 years (2/80th’s benefit) you’ll be levied even if you opt out. You’ll never get this side from the unions as they couldn’t give a toss about any of the “temp” PS workers and its in their interests for them to keep paying.

      • lff12

        You are precisely right, and many of those on fixed term contracts face an already uncertain future as their contracts will come to an end eventually leaving them out of work. People do not realise that not all PS workers are on secure jobs for life. There are many temporary staff and contractors. Sure they are well paid but they are forced to pay for pensions they may never see.

        That said, I think the issue over the format and form of international bonds is very serious. We cannot simply screw the world in the same way that the FF/banking/development industry dictactorship has literally rogered the Irish public. They won’t buy it or accept an unfair playing field. Ultimately it will end up coming back to haunt us either way.

        While I feel sorry for the under 25s who by far the hardest hit for all this at least they have the option of emigration to Australia or New Zealand which I would hearily recommend they do, before 30 kicks in and its much, much more difficult.

        This country has absolutely no future.

        • That was my conclusion in my comment below. I’m not saying the debate here is unimportant. Merely that I and many others see no future here. As for contractors being well paid, well that depends. There was a good article in the innovation section of the IT in September explaining how we’re losing some of our most talented PhD’s as they’re fed up of academic politics, being on public sector pay grades and the uncertainty over funding. All the time being labelled indiscriminately as parasites by angry private sector workers. Much of the research grant funding in Ireland comes from SFI (and the Chuck Feeney endowment) and European programmes. It’s actually a form of foreign investment if you look at it like that. Yet few of our SME’s participate in R&D funds worth over a billion Euro/year. Hundreds of Eastern European tech firms but few Irish. Knowledge Economy my a$$

        • tony_murphy

          I listened to David & George Lee and their warnings about the state of the Irish economy before 2006. I left and went to London as I had no faith in the Irish government at the time, I could see that it was a bubble and it would burst horribly.

          The ruling class have got out of control as far as I can see. They do as they please for their own benefit.

          Maybe the plan is to cleanse Ireland of those who have a brain? Does the EU want the country to become a giant windfarm? A place to grow food for rest of EU when climate change takes hold. A place to experiment with all sort of GM without infecting crops across Europe.. I don’t know what’s going on.
          Maybe it is just to protect the EURO?

  11. Philip

    I think this is a natural consequence of FF being in power too long and a civil service that has become too set in its ways due to the lack of change in government. It is also a natural consequence of long term contentment among a majority who atrophied in their attention to the real issues for the country.

    Result: We are run by Mandarins in the Civil Service simply becasue it’s what they do as part of their training and developement. 11 years looking at the same FF dodos. They must be running circles around them in their sleep.

    The circular thinking that David illustrates is similar to that coming from someone with the onset of dementia with acute anxiety. Do not make more of it than it is. In the end, the reality is the thing is going to blow and blow big time and we are not just the only country involved.

    ECB are just more of the same mandarins who have suffered even less change than the lads in Dublin. So you can imagine the rot there are well. Europe and USA have had 20-30 years of a binge with total dumbing down of the importance of the vote and national issues.

    We are witnessing the end of democracry as we know it. Next stage will be a land grab assisted by Mandarins using equally compelling language pumped thro’ our elected muppets. Well, yes we believe it would be a good idea we charge people for breathing in an effort to further reduce CO2 emissions. The taxes raised will help us to further stimulate the economy….and yes, we are so happy that our outsourced police force is now deploying. And yes new jobs will be available at your local food processing zone thanks so much to NutriNAMA who has announced they will be delighted to take over 80% of Ireland worthless radon filled building sites and make them useful productive units for the Euro Citizenary…
    Green Fascism anyone?

  12. Garry

    Far from the great deception ending, it appears to be just getting started…

    The SPV is just the latest in a long list of suprises when it comes to NAMA. Theres 2 possibilities for this.

    First, it was the plan all along, and it was planned that the draft NAMA bill and business plan would not include this for tactical reasons..
    Second, they have only recently figured they needed an extra layer of indirection in order to have the debts technically off balance sheet.. ….

    I’m not sure which is worse, or which is true, I suspect its all being made up on the hoof…

    If its all being made up, I suspect there are downsides to the SPV approach when it comes to “risk sharing”. How exactly will the process now work… Does the government give the bonds to the SPV?

    The exact sequence is very important as it will reveal exactly how much the government has lost by going this new route…They may well have lost the little remaining bit of leverage they had with the banks…or now have released the banks from some potential obligations… the obligation may be on the SPV which is a differet legal matter…

    As an engineer, I know that every level of complexity added to a system reduces its reliability and increases its inefficiency and probability of failure…. I suspect the same is true of this ‘financial engineering’

    Also, I cant believe that any of this will fool anyone… the ratings agencies, the bond market, the ECB, etc etc etc

    I havent been following garlicgate but i think the critical time last year was the month after the guarantee, not before….
    When they made the guarantee they had a window of opportunity to really rattle the banksters and bring them to heel… But in that month, Lenihan bottled it and went for the fraud option…..

  13. David projects a doomsday financial sceanrio that is understood at least in theory and touches the matrix of facts in the power of now. We all can only ‘imagine’ what might happen should it happen when it happens .Part of us as ‘sentient beings’ cannot relate what ‘will happen’ before it does happen and it is in this void that the reality of the permenent damage to our national psych and identity of who we are and what we believe in will be lost forever.This empty void will change us infinitly about ourselves and between each other and those that have left and who will leave soon when they return home again in a near future will be aghast when they will experience the new void in our indentity that will put us on par with the conscienous of the people in north korea.
    We need not imagine anymore it all happened before .
    Just look at Dun Aengus and its semi circle that was once part of a complete circle where all the lands then stretched further out into the atlantic that is no more .
    That was Atlantis and now no more .Wecome to Dun Aengus in Merrion Street.

  14. Garlic
    In relation to this root plant the minister is not taking it out of choice or to keep him awake .He knows he has to take it .It’s good for his heart .

  15. wills

    David. My take on article is this.

    THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING.

    Who?

    Exhibit A – { Ruling Subset }

    The Mandarins, the politicians (at the top), the legal eagles, the staffer’s are all in on a ruling elite institutional bubble.

    NAMA morph into SPV is a rational next step for the james bond villainy mindset at work within this ‘ruling subset.’

    We have a ruling corrupt band of brother’s burrowed into the center of government, gathered around the the public monies and it’s levers.

    Their self interest prevails over the welfare of the community.

    NAMA is a window into the real way the hidden echelon’s of gov really work’s.

    This ‘ruling subsystem’ use of an SPV closes down this NAMA window through which we are all aghast looking through at what is visible, rapido.

    The government apparatus has been hijacked by self serving individuals all bound together by their shared proximity to the riches available in the engine room of government, and NAMA is one more pinky and the brain scheme imagineered from the bowels of this surreal world to hold it all together going forward.

    • Philip

      What is key here is that they are not in this by themselves. There must be considerable international involvement. This kind of SPV has been set up for a specific purpose of deflecting risk from the insiders (as you list above).

      FF are gonners and they know it. But they want to hang on. So this behavior is unsurprising. But the extent of their actions and that of the Greens (who have had one of their cornerstone amendments brushed aside) is of comic book proportions. Is there no national concern on the part of any of the backbenchers. Were our cynical and many times outrageous comments on their greed and me feinerism really that correct?

      • wills

        Abso;utely philip. i left out the ‘international connection’ merely out of saying it so many times.

        ‘Hanging on’ is key, through the excessive riches time these son’s of b1tches got ‘addicted to money’ on the inside too, and are confronted with a future of famine and are squeezing the game play now on it’s last breath for everything it’s worth and if this mean’s for them NAMA is placing our future further into deep prob;ems they don’t give a flying pig, all they want now is to grab all they can for as long as it’s humanly possible.

        THEY ALL KNOW the cost of running a sick bloated gov is going to explode, soon.

  16. If the mandarins have as much power as suggested then there really is no way back for us as a country – another election to reverse the existing chaotic economic policies will merely replace the current garlic-chewing figurehead with another, but the policies as dictated by these ‘mandarins’ will remain the same – we cannot vote-out the civil-servants so what can be done ? I’m sick of hearing what SHOULD be done but how can it ACTUALLY be done in reality ? We talk forever but where is the action ? And will all action ultimately be futile if the gov. is basically dancing to these mandarins tune ?

  17. In a perfect world CAB should be called in to interrogate all those senior mandarins (D o F ) past and present and redmond will venerated forever as a saint afterwards.

    • John,
      It is now apparent that the Mandarins realised last year that DMcW is the reincarnation of Tuan mac Cairill but they confused Shape Shifting with Vampirism. Garlic doesn’t work on Puca’s.

      Neither does suggesting suicide or a multitude of other veiled threats including school yard vitriol. They could try voodoo dolls to get rid of him but he’s worked out around that neck of the woods so presumably well versed in avoiding needlestick.

      My suggestion to get rid of this pesky commentator and his irritating habit of blowing the good ship MV Buinniocht na h-Eireann out of the water is to appoint him to the Council of State. Then the President and the Supreme court could keep tabs on him. But then again he might start reforming the Constitution.

      • Ruairi

        Excellent join the dots suggestion Furrylugs. Redser for the Park. Jesus, he’s doing enough for the people of Ireland anyway! Now David, if you stayed away from opening schools and upsetting bishops and lighting candles for diaspora and instead were a ‘pesky commentator’ on every bit of dodgy legislation, well shucks, you could be my President. In fact, you could be my benovolent dictator.
        Joking aside, Furrylugs’ summary of Article 45 here is prescient and worth pausing on. This is the ideology I search for that should inform our public structures but is not? This and a few other tools are all that are left in a fight that is slowly moving to an unwinnable position. It is excellent to get that posted Furrylugs; on the public record. I have no doubt that our ruminations are being chewed over, causing horrible indigestion to some lurkers. And giving a bit of fire to others.
        What has happened to the Greens and to the backbone of some of the backbenchers? 1 or 2 even? They MUST see the shifting sands of the last two weeks and be privately very disquieted at the deeply unrepublican workings of the cabinet.

  18. I used to read this blog and comment quite a bit. I’ve been extremely busy lately but have still kept up to date with the debate. The main reason I’ve stopped commenting and thinking about this is that it all seems so depressingly hopeless. I used to think it would be good to see the stuffing knocked out of some of the obnoxious BRM’s that appeared as fully-realised tyrants during the boom. Unfortunately, they’ve taken everybody else with them. So many young professionals are trying to get out of Ireland as they simply can’t cope with the trans-generational debt sentence of pay cuts, reduced prospects, unemployment, higher taxes etc. An ever increasing differential between Ireland the countries it sought to emulate. All the while we talk about creating a knowledge economy but are completely unwilling to put in place the policies and funds to make it happen. Just idle talk, opium fed to masses who need something to cheer them up. It’s not that it’s beyond us intellectually, it’s that like at many other critical stages in our development as a nation we lack an ideological guideline beyond “profits, money, extravagant affluence”. The scandinavian countries actually _respect_ the engineers and scientists who help created their knowledge economies. Same for Germany and the Israeli model we are pretending to emulate. We have a non-existent VC industry and few angel investors beyond the state. Throw in a Minister for ETE with no technical or financial acumen and it’s a sorry state. The Innovation Task force is a good idea but they have an uphill battle.

    I know it’s better elsewhere as I travel a lot with my work. Canada looks a likely destination. It’s not even that I want to move as my “roots” are in Ireland. It feels like it will quickly become financially inviable to have a good quality of life here soon. Who wants to stay in a place full of miserable and angry peopl? Isn’t that the definition of a prison.

    • wills

      Shane: I for one have alway’s looked forward to reading your posts and great to see your alive and kicking.

      • Thanks Wills, much appreciated. I still visit this blog as David Mc is one of the few public figures in Ireland I’m left with respect for and the standard of comments has often been brilliant. He hasn’t shirked controversy but he’s not courting it. A subtle but hugely important difference. Between the posts and the comments there were so many golden nuggets here but it seems that most have been largely ignored by our illustrious leaders.

        • Ruairi

          Shane, it might seem hopeless, but we won’t truly know that until the last man falls and they have gained the ground they wished to. As Furrylugs says, its not in legislation yet and the Devil’s in the detail (true, its getting worse on that score by the day). But without your coherent, insightful and rallying posts, the defence gets a bit weaker. What you have to say about Canada and other fields of play says everything about the dynamism of the majority of our people and how they are always attracted to where they will prosper and be recognised.
          Your posts matter immensely and kept others going when they were losing heart and focus.
          All of our posts, I am sure of it, keep David McWilliams energised and sure that he is on the straight path. It cannot be easy to maintain the integrity and confidence that he does, despite being right. he is attacked and ridiculed. It is our job, through this blog, to add flesh to the bones he formulates. We are all intelligent stakeholders, Irish citizens. Let’s have our say and maybe there’s an outside chance that we’ll spot chinks in the armour.
          The forum is weakened when you withdraw your insightful representation. We all come from the various strands of irish life. we are all citizens, especially under the NAMA hammer. I won’t distinguish between public, private etc.

          • Actually Ruairi, hopeless was the wrong word. What I mean is the following. The situation looks grim as we don’t have the indigenous industry to trade ourselves out of this crisis. Ireland relies on the good will of MNC’s to keep the situation becoming catastrophic. We also need to create indigenous industry in a sector other than construction despite a large failure to do so over the past few years where credit was easily available. This is not impossible but it looks difficult. So we’ll have to be IMHO much smarter than we have been up until now to avoid going bankrupt as a nation. The effects will be devastating for many families as the government is looking for pay cuts and tax hikes when they simply can’t afford it. Their debts (aka financial obligations) are wrong-sized for the economy. That’s why I’m depressed about it. Of course Ireland’s economy will improve again but we’re facing an inevitable brain drain. David sums it up very well in his new book that I started reading yesterday.
            As Paulmcd points out, we’ve been here before. The taxpayer always foots the bill for incompetence and corruption. We lost many good people to emigration yet their lives were arguably better for it. Yet, every time the Irish people tolerate poor leadership and turn a blind eye to corruption we’re betraying previous generations that have emigrated. Denying them the opportunity to return. Whatever about economic recovery we need to stamp out the culture of collusion.

        • Ruairi

          Shane, it might seem hopeless, but we won’t truly know that until the last man falls and they have gained the ground they wished to. As Furrylugs says, its not in legislation yet and the Devil’s in the detail (true, its getting worse on that score by the day). But without your coherent, insightful and rallying posts, the defence gets a bit weaker. What you have to say about Canada and other fields of play says everything about the dynamism of the majority of our people and how they are always attracted to where they will prosper and be recognised.
          Your posts matter immensely and kept others going when they were losing heart and focus.
          All of our posts, I am sure of it, keep David McWilliams energised and sure that he is on the straight path. It cannot be easy to maintain the integrity and confidence that he does, despite being right. he is attacked and ridiculed. It is our job, through this blog, to add flesh to the bones he formulates. We are all intelligent stakeholders, Irish citizens. Let’s have our say and maybe there’s an outside chance that we’ll spot chinks in the armour.
          The forum is weakened when you withdraw your insightful representation. We all come from the various strands of irish life. we are all citizens, especially under the NAMA hammer. It won’t distinguish between public, private etc.

  19. gadfly55

    Smoke and mirrors, welcome to the land of the rainbow’s end, and little people cobbling away at the bottom of the garden in the mist is ism of now you see it, now you don’t, sure in the long run, we are all dust and it’s only numbers, anyway. More importantly, the EU will relentlessly grind the Irish banks into small fragments not in any way connected to those who are responsible for the collapse. The bankers succeeded in putting the frigheners on the triumvirateof Cowen, Coughlan and Lenihan, but they have only postponed the day of reckoning at the European Commission and the ECB. This really has them terrified and the share price sinking into the abyss.

  20. ripo

    Can we really be so astonished that our economy is out of control?

    With a Barrister in charge of Ireland’s finance, Mary Harney avoiding the weight watcher program down in the local clinic, and while Mr Cowan attends His first day at school with a pencil hanging out his noise. Lenihan recommends Greenspan’s book (everything you need know to pass)

    Did Mr Lenihan get lost somewhere while Mr Ahern popped out to get the teabags in Tesco? Lenihan left wondering the ghostly abandoned corridors of government buildings for the next four years alone. I can imagine Mr Ahern drinking English tea with Blair for EU presidency (so long as there is sugar in it).

    What happened to the days where a finance minister holds a degree in economics, and Minister of Health ‘that fits the job description’? We need the professionals back into Government otherwise the bankers remain our economic and political advisors. Unfortunately we can’t blame Mr Lenihan for the cause of the problem although as a barrister I understand he can make good judgments, one of which is to ‘step down’ and allow the professionals to sort this mess otherwise the finger could soon change direction.

    Adam Ripon
    Dublin

    • Deco

      Another piece of absolute stupidity is the fact that we have an obese person holding the position of minister for health.

      And it is absolutely forbidden to talk about her weight.

      She is a bad example for a society with an obesity problem, and a alcohol problem.

      She should resign. Put a doctor or an accountant in charge. Harney is just another useless student politician who never held down a real job.

      She is telling us all about the private sector – but she knows nothing about it because she never worked in it. She would not survive in the private sector because she would not be able to stay sober enough to hold down a job in the private sector.

  21. wills

    The politicians in power are simply the train drivers at the switch of a 400 year old mercantilist system within which the special interests dream into existence multi varied scams and schemes which ensure the more supply of rent to the rent seekers.

    And in the case of NAMA it merely reveals the rent seekers are now under way taking the whole of the mercantilist system hostage.

  22. Garry

    “The black hole is now €101 billion over the next 50 years.”

    OK, seems like ye need to attend my latest course…

    Location: 5 days set in Barbados
    Availability. All politicians, and higher public servants… wives, mistresses etc may travel
    Cost: EUR 5750.00 plus VAT… travel and accommodation extra. Receipts provided, MBA’s printed out.
    Subject Matter. Irish Public Administration Best Practices.

    Course Material: The 2 rules of public administration in Ireland

    Rule 1: There is no problem big enough that it cannot be ignored.
    Rule 2: If ignoring a problem creates a bigger problem in a few years, refer to Rule 1.

  23. Philip

    Time to spell it out for the punter. Less of this hi-falut’in palaver and say it like it is…

    How will it impact
    1) Your Job – It’s gone
    2) Your Family – Kids emigrate and you are no longer safe
    3) Health Care – What health care? Doctors fled.
    4) Education – What education system…all the PhDs left
    5) Job Prospects – distant dream
    6) The daily & Weekly shopping – CPI – Consumer Persecution Index
    7) Transport – Walk….get the boat and do not turn back

    Best to start at how it will cause more pub closures….That’ll get their attention!

  24. adamabyss

    subscribe. Why does it take about 5 efforts before the site will let you log in?

  25. econarchist

    The NAMA/ levy/ balance-sheet vanishing act will make the bankers and stockbrokers happy, as David says, but I wonder if the main reason for it is to help the burocrats in the ECB pretend that they are not breaking their own rules. The original NAMA was to be effectively financed with money lent from the ECB to the Irish government, which is not allowed under the ECB’s rules. Yes, the idea was for the ECB to lend money to the Irish banks who would lend it on to NAMA (the government), but the banks would only add a premium of 0.5% to the interest rate for NAMA, compared to a premium of about 4% that they would add for normal goverment lending. So anyone can see that this looks like a hidden loan from the ECB to the Irish government.

    This is not how the ECB and the banking system are supposed to work, so they had to think up a few things to take the Irish government out of the equation:
    1. Take away the powers from NAMA because it’s a state agency and give them to the SPV which is mostly privately owned. This creates the illusion that the banks are just lending to a normal investment fund.
    2. Assume that the SPV’s property “investments” will break even or make a profit within the next ten years. This lets you assume that the government will never have to cover any bad debts, so the loans can go off-balance sheet.
    3. Get rid of the government levy on the banks for losses, because the SPV cannot make a loss and cannot have anything to do with the government, remember(# 1and 2)! In its place put a tax on bank profits to make Green Party and the critics happy.

    Anyone can see that the end result, apart from replacing the levy with the tax, is that nothing has changed. The taxpayers are still exposed to potential losses of tens of billions of Euro but that does not matter because all the important people are happy (the ECB, Eurostat, the Euro governments, Irish government, bankers, stockbrokers and bondholders).

    Magic!

    • Malcolm McClure

      econarchist: Brilliant explanation. Your interpretation also explains why there is an upside limit on the government (ie taxpayer) benefitting from conjectural NAMA gains, as anything beyond that point goes 100% into the banker’s coffers.

    • Tim

      econarchist,

      “but I wonder if the main reason for it is to help the burocrats in the ECB pretend that they are not breaking their own rules.”

      That is, precisely, the reason.

      Question that must be answered:

      “Why would the EU participate in the charade?”

      Answers, on a post-card, please…….

      • Malcolm McClure

        Tim: not a postcard but here goes:
        It seems that ECB has figured that it is NOT the Irish taxpayer who is bearing the risk of the bank guarantee and the Nama downside but has realised that McWilliams and Lenihan went and dumped the risks onto THEM. That is why the Germans were so mad about it. Now it is pay-back time and although ECB continues to bear those risks, they will turn off the 400 million taps overnight if Lenihan doesn’t do exactly as they say.
        Indeed, if there is an upside in Nama, you can be sure that ECB will make sure that they benefit from it.
        Meantime, it is just accounting tricks, although we can still expect a tough, but not a scarifying budget.

        • wills

          Tim, my thoughts on the EU / ECB assent and permission too the NAMA banking toxic waste dump,..

          The ‘powers at be’ preserving the old world order.

          So, in the case of Ireland, the ECB is focused on propping up the irish banking system in order safeguard the euro from some type of systemic implosion.

          The long term survival of the euro is paramount.

          Holding the euro in place as the medium of exchange for europe seems to me to be the motive behind ECB’s largesse.

          The euro is the latest plaything of the owner’s of the mercantilist system and alot of time and energy expended inventing it into existence.

          • wills

            There is the very strong possibility the crony elites of Ireland twigged the euro project and decided to pull a fast one and go beserk casino banking in the full confidence of certain knowledge that when the pONzi property bubble burst the ECB would be ready and willing too bail Ireland out purely on the basis to protect the old order’s new pet project, the euro.

        • Fascinating, as Spock was wont to say.
          It’s this quality of exchange that keeps me coming back on here. Good comment chaps.
          TBTG for the Internet.

          So, as a subtle hypothesis, use the Irish to develop safety mechanisms to save the Euro dream before the real pan european debt problem is tackled, starting with Spain and Santander.

          Nothing has really changed. Long ago, the Brits sent in the Irish to soften up the foe, now the ECB does the same.

          BTW, I hope my contribution won’t be seen as maudlin, meandering or some other word beginning with “m” I haven’t heard of.
          F

        • tony_murphy

          The ECB/EU will make Irish peope pay for this mess. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Even if they are saving the EURO, they will take all they can get

  26. DarraghD

    One thing is for sure, whoever said we were one letter and 6 months away from being Iceland wasn’t half wrong!

  27. brenr6

    The outcome of the current approach by the DOF may be as David says, and once again this great conspiracy against the ordinary joe soap is proffered. Where is the evidence for this? Whats in it for these mandarins – these are PAYE workwers we are talking about – where is the evidence of corruption or material gain to support the theory. Im sorry im with doubting Thomas until i see some proof

    • Tim

      brenr6,
      Was the revelation in the NAMA Dail debate, that the EU and ECB are turning a blind eye to the 51% private stakeholed keeping the debt “Off-Balance-Sheet” last Thursday not enough proof?

      What about the promise of no new taxes for people earning over €100,000, while people on 20, 30, 40 thousand are hunted for more?

      €10.8 Billion taken from the future pension-fund dumped into black-holes in the dead banks, not “proof”?

      “Master-of-the-Universe” developer bouncing back from the Supreme Court to the High Court and (finally) going to examinership and assets written-down to 30%, not “proof”?

      brenr6, I hope that you stay here and post often, with questions like that. We need everyone to ask the questions, read the answers and, then, do a little research for themselves on the matters raised, and LEARN what is being done to us all.

      • brenr6,
        How’r things.
        I was offered tens of thousands in rolled up loans but didn’t take up the offer, TG. How many in good pensionable jobs were sucked in? How many believed the peddled altruism of the Celtic Nirvana? How easy to assist NAMA to save the ship?
        It’s only human nature.

  28. JJ Tatten

    The situation is now desperately depressing. I left Ireland in 1987 due to unemployment and limited prospects. Once every couple of years I would consider relocating to Ireland with my young family in tow, but I resisted the temptation everytime because I was never entirely convinced that it had really changed. Close relatives and friends were convinced that Ireland had changed forever and for the better – now many of them are in dire, dire straits. I have relatives and close friends who are desperate to get out – talented, hardworking, capable people who are up sh*t creek without a canoe – never mind a paddle. And all because of that same clique of self-serving pigs who screwed the country in the 1980s. They have a moral compass which points in one direction only – to their own pockets. It is beyond tragic and – very soon – the people will be beyond angry. When I see young relatives – 23 years my junior – who are in the same predicament I was back then (albeit with better haircuts) it makes me very sad. How do those bastards get away with it every time?

    • Tim

      JJ Tatten, wise man.

      “They have a moral compass which points in one direction only — to their own pockets.”

      This is correct: it is the essential pathology that has crashed the economy, because, in their blind pursuit of profit for themselves-alone, they forgot that economics is not just about figures, but it is about people, too.

      Behavioural economics may sound like an oxymoron, but it is not.

      If you cannot take the avarice out of the individual human-being, you cannot take the flaw out of the economic system.

  29. paulmcd

    David, and all readers under a certain age,

    On the subject of a LEVY: I was living abroad for much of the latter half of the 80s. However, if my recollection is correct, the 2% government levy everyone now pays on insurance policies is our continuing contribution to the 1985 bailout of the Insurance Corporation of Ireland, an AIB takeover fiasco. “Due diligence” never seems to have been in vogue with Irish banks. Just check your last insurance renewal for this additional 2% “government levy”. 24 years after the ICI bailout, we are still paying for it and the signs are that we will do so indefinitely. Nobody is asking questions and complacent politicos and their financier friends, who must surely remember 1985, are keeping mum. Look to the future for the higher and higher bank charges.

    • Tim

      paulmcd,

      “24 years after the ICI bailout, we are still paying for it and the signs are that we will do so indefinitely.”

      Correct. It is a point that I keep returning too: We have been here, before; forgotten; and returned.

      You cannot say that often enough; Please, keep saying it.

    • Deco

      Bankers don’t need due diligence ….their egos tell them that they are going to do fine…..and then politicians who are beholden or afraid of bankers…..gladly bail them out.

  30. wills

    David say’s above…

    ‘i see a government which is prepared to pass a huge contingent liability onto an already shell-shocked population, a potential debt which undermines the ability of the population to pay all their existing debts.’

    When one looks at the fact’s as they are, delineated above in D’s article the evidence is stacking up that the ‘insiders’ are weaving a web of financial deceit regarding shed loads of bad debts on the banks balance sheets and how to move it out of the private banking sector, and as far away as they can possibly can and dump it ‘the toxic waste’ , out of sight and out of mind from those who are responsible.

    The moving of this banking ‘toxic waste’ into a toxic dump involves the aiding and abetting of our democratically elected government, dep of finance mandarins and staffers over at the ECB.

    Resourcing all the know how and intelligence needed to push through with the banking toxic waste operation and to get back to the way thing’s had been before the bubble burst, with the banks business as usual.

    The risk involved with the banks ‘toxic waste’ will also be moved away from those who are responsible and dumped into the toxic waste dump alongside the toxic waste.

    The toxic dump itself and the cost of it’s going concern will be invoiced to the irish taxpayer.

    Any losses will be invoiced too the irish taxpayers.

  31. Garry

    Just heard Lenny say on radio, that any qualified member of the public can apply to the board of NAMA

    Whats the betting our host wont apply?

    Can we nominate people?

    • Deco

      If Lenihan is starting to look for qualified personnel then this is a massive step forward in the Irish banking sector. Usually people who get put in charge of the banks in this country, are selected like pedigree cattle. They have to be from the right stock. They have to exhibit the right external characteristics. And in all cases they play/follow the same sports. Proven ability is never an issue. The EBS put a turkey in charge who got the ACC into trouble. The BoI put a muppet in charge who presided over the most excessive part of their stupidity. And then we have Anglo where David Drumm went bananas when he got the top job.

      Just this weekend we found out the credentials of the key director of CIE, Paul Kiely. He is one of Bertie Ahern’s canvassers and Tallymen. He gets a mention in the book on Ahern and the Drumcondra mafia. As Shane Ross says “it is great know that we have people like that in charge of the railways”. Is it any wonder the railways are an expensive joke ?

      Lenihan gets somethings right and somethings wrong. It is ‘hit and miss’ government policy. The problem is that a 50% failure rate when you are talking about billions here and billions there, all ends up being very expensive. Based on what has happened in the last year, there have been some very bad misses. And there were budgets, and mini-budgets.

      As Phoenix magazine commented in their “Good Morning VietNAMA” joke….
      “the wrong man. At the wrong time. In the Wrong place”.

  32. Ah Bliss…………….
    A45 is gaining momentum.
    I have rendered some service.
    http://www.thepropertypin.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=25480

  33. From the Indo…………
    DMcW is not alone.

    Finance Minister Brian Lenihan’s 4 billion euro spending cuts will drive the economy over a cliff into a bottomless depression, a leading economist has warned.

    Professor David Blanchflower, former Bank of England policy maker, said while the Government needs a plan to pay off its debt, it does not need to pay it off now.

    The world-renowned labour market expert said massive cutbacks would deliver the country into a dangerous downward spiral that would lead to as many as one in four people being out of work. “Cutting public spending will basically make things worse and drive a recession into a depression,” he said.

    Using both the UK and US as examples, Mr Blanchflower said any recovery in what is the world’s worst financial crisis in 100 years was a result of stimulating the public sector. On the other hand, countries doing the opposite were heading towards a depression, he said.

    “If you think about this as an economic war, the first thing you do is win the war – you don’t say I can’t fight the war because I’m worried about spending cuts,” he said. “That’s the classic mistake that people made in the thirties (during the Great Depression).”

    Speaking after the UCD-organised Dublin Economics Workshop, the top economist said the Government needs to consider whether it wanted to remain in the euro-zone. It also needed to persuade the European Union to give more financial assistance – implementing a regional policy for Ireland – and encourage the European Central Bank to relax its monetary policy to allow for a cut in the exchange rate.

    In the meantime, a plan would need to be drawn up convincing people how the national debt would be repaid over several years, while the Government got to work on kick-starting the economy. “The Government absolutely has to have a plan to pay off this public debt – but it doesn’t have to do it now,” he said.

    “If you want to pay it back, that’s absolutely fine but you’ll transfer the recession into a depression in a heartbeat.

    “The logic is you need to sort yourself out so firms can survive, create a situation where growth can take place and generate revenue that will allow for the necessary adjustment. What you don’t want to do, is something that will drive the economy over a cliff.”

    • tony_murphy

      Irish people consume foreign goods in the main. They don’t consume much of what they make. There is only so much viagra Irish people can take for example! Government borrowing to pay there servants is just propping up other economies. Like everyone going up to Northern Ireland to do their shopping.

      Cuts have to happen and should have happened a long time ago.

      Do not spend what you don’t have

      There are good and bad economists, and I suggest Mr Blanchflower is a bad economist.

      People are protecting there own asses now, but what about future generations? Are they going to get jobs in the public sector too?

  34. Tim

    Furrylugs,

    “Cutting public spending will basically make things worse and drive a recession into a depression,”

    … but, it already has, if we look at the figures from Michael Taft that I posted before. The position is now so precarious, that the animal is beginning to gnaw its own legs off: the discretionary spending of 200,000 public srvants is gone (over 100,000 other “top-tier” people are fine, but earn SO MUCH, they are embarassed to spend).

    The 200,000 ordinary public service workers not spending, added to the nearly 200,000 ex-construction, and construction-related workers, who are on the dole, combined, is quite alot of lost spending into the real economy.

    The defecit has spiralled downwards, already, due to this.

    More cuts will only make it worse.

    Not just because of public sector pay, but because private sector companies that work for the government agencies are having contracts cancelled due to the cuts, and their employees are being sent on the dole when the company folds, instead of keeping the govt contract, staying alive and creaming some private sector contracts as well.

    It is a mess. And the govt is too busy looking-after the banking sector to focus on what really matters; and itself.

  35. Deco

    Shane Dempsey – good to have you back on the board again. Your contributions are valued and necessary.

  36. Deco

    There is a massive amount of “get out” thinking going the rounds.

    No. I say let’s replace it with “cut out the crap, reform the system, clean up the institutions of the state, and get Ireland functioning correctly”.

    Yeah. Instead of being despondent, dig your heels in and start fighting the hoors and the gombeens.

    And start by reading the books that are telling us what is happening in Ireland.

    i) David’s new book.
    ii) The bankers – by Shane Ross.
    iii) Matt Coopers book about who runs Ireland.

    And pass the book around. And develop a new intellectual system that is above the current system. Ideologically nuetral. Because we have all sorts of opportunists like Gilmore and O’Foole trying to use the crisis to bureacratise Ireland even more.

  37. Deco

    Furrylugs – thanks for reminding us about Article 45. Article 45 takes precedence over NAMA. (Though if NAMA is directed from Brussels then NAMA takes precedence – as a result of the Lisboa Treaty.

    (Anybody notice that Aer Lingus have stopped those condescending ads telling us about what the destination of Lisboa (Lisbon) has to offer – do we live in a funny state or what – it is a bit like the Truman Show).

    • “Though if NAMA is directed from Brussels then NAMA takes precedence — as a result of the Lisboa Treaty”

      Aha now Deco me old buddy- stall the digger there if you will. We have to remember we are a collection of States, contrary to the mind-bending StatesOfEurope propaganda. And this particular State has a constitution which has not, from my recollection, been ceded to another jurisdiction. And NAMA is not yet law. We shouldn’t fall into the trap of breathing life into the ultimate dead. FF are well fit to do that for us with the banks.
      I’m not chiding. It’s just hard to resist the constant barrage of goodspeak emanating from D4 so I’m allowing myself the conceit of being Honest Plain John.
      With the height of respect.
      F

    • wills

      Deco – Truman show is right !!!!!!!!!!!

  38. Deco

    The key to Irish economic performance is to liberate the people from all the bullshit coming out of D2/D4.

    This means the entire institutional framework of the state, and the legal codes with respect to competition, pricing and market margin setting need to be completely overhauled for the benefit of the entire citizen.

    And Article 45 is a good place to start.

    Also, David – can you please mention the amendment in NAMA allowing the state to do another Anglo – with INBS, but this time on the queit.

    Effectively Lenihan will nationalize the INBS(bankrupt), sucker the taxpayer with the bill, and get less publicity than over the Anglo event.

    And the media are sitting once again on their hands. Doing nothing. As if nothing is going on.

    Let’s stop another ANIB episode !!!

  39. wills

    Tintan o toole playing a blinder on FRONTLINE>

  40. wills

    POSters, pitting the public sector against the private sector is a blazing distraction from the real story underway and lethal and must be averted.

  41. For the record, in summary -
    Article 45 outlines a number of broad principles of social and economic policy. Its provisions are, however, intended solely for the guidance of the legislature and cannot be enforced by a court of law. In the 21st century, the Directive Principles of Social Policy feature little in parliamentary debates. However, no proposals have been made for their repeal or amendment. They require, in summary, that:

    * Justice and charity must inform national institutions.
    * The free market and private property must be regulated in the interests of the common good.
    * The state must prevent a destructive concentration of essential commodities in the hands of a few.
    * The state should ensure efficiency in private industry and protect the public against economic exploitation.
    * Everyone has the right to an adequate occupation.
    * The state must supplement private industry where necessary.
    * The state must protect the vulnerable, such as orphans and the aged.
    * No one may be forced into an occupation unsuited to their age, sex or strength.
    A45 was meant to be the basis by which honourable men(and indeed women) would conduct business for the good of all. The caveat of not being challenged in law was ethically meant to protect Deputies in deliberating policy for the good of the State but has been corrupted into a cop-out clause for the half useless we have allowed ourselves to inherit.

    • wills

      Furrylugs : ……thereby rendering mercantilism a relic of the past.

      • So where next? We still have producers and consumers. It’s the system in the middle that keeps failing. All the “ism’s”. Fuedalism, Communism and now Capitalism, if the fools could see it. Maybe a genetic culling or nuclear neutering of Alpha Genomes would calm down Homo Nama?
        Dunno. I’m not an economist, an even worse socio-economist and dire at social history.
        TBTG for DMcW.

        • wills

          furrylugs : full optimal use of the free market system guided by the principle of enlightened self interest.

          A model of economic that builds up from indivdual transaction behaviour, as tim’s link investigates.

  42. wills

    Poster’s :

    EU is so quick to rescue Irelands banks to preserve the euro.

    Why.?

    It is my contention that the EU has plan’s afoot to put the euro forward to be the world reserve currency to replace the dollar within the necxt 20 months.

    • Malcolm McClure

      Wills: You’ve got your thinking cap firmly on this evening. As you imply, today’s truth will soon be overtaken by tomorrow’s version, propelled by our desire to turn this jigsaw into a meaningful picture.
      We’ve got all the straight edges sorted. We just need to fill in the middle. Trouble is that nobody has yet seen the picture on the box.

    • Ruairi

      Very true Wills. There’s been far less ‘queasing’ by Trichet and thus far, we do have the strongest currency. the Chinese are being forced to give ground on their unfair pegging also. Hmmm, maybe Castro and Cuba were ahead of the game when they started accepting yoyos at some Cuban resorts….
      The ailing dollar surprised a lot of people last year when it rallied but its terminal now.

    • tony_murphy

      Listened to podcast this morning. Well worth listening too. Not directly related to Ireland – but recommend listening

      Professor Allan Meltzer warns that a fresh financial crisis could result from America’s super-low interest rates and the trillion dollars of spare money washing around in its banks. Could that ignite US inflation, and a dollar and debt crisis?

      http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/bizdaily/bizdaily_20091028-0947a.mp3

  43. Tim

    Folks, “Behavioural Economics”, here:

    http://andrewleigh.com/?p=2346

  44. Incident

    David,

    Why have you publicised a confidential meeting with Lenihan in such tabloid fashion and consequently destroyed your credibility?

    “The great deception must end”!

    • wills

      let me give that one a go incident please.

      If one look’s upon D’s reveal concerning BL’s midnight vigil at D’s abode from the POV that BL broke the accord then one can understand D is on the side of the ‘angel’s’.

    • Tim

      Incident,

      DMcW has not “destroyed” his “credibility” with me.

      In fact, when I get paid on Thursday, I will buy his book.

      • There’s the rub, Incident. The games afoot and credibility is what it’s all about. I suspect there’s more to this handbags at dawn event than meets the eye.

      • Ruairi

        Ditto Tim. I intend to support those who support my hopes and dreams. Those who bought Bertie’s book: – Join the library or get online and read between the lines!!

        @incident, if david’s employing some cloak and daggers, some spin, some ground laying before an offensive, some bright sparkly lights to attract to his book, his message, then what about it? David has taken no sworn oath to the people of Ireland? yet others who have (e.g. Willie O Dea, see Sunday’s Daily Mail re affadavit disgrace), and are our servants, are lying and deceiving at every turn in the tale?
        Do you wish to engage on this point or are you just a lurker? Hopefully you will return and put some meat on the bone to your (so yesterday) slur….

  45. Ruairi

    “Now, we can all see that this might make sense if you are a bank shareholder or bondholder. If you are board director or senior manager, it makes eminent sense, too. You and your investment are protected. God forbid you might ever have to pay for your mistakes. That would be unthinkable in Ireland.

    Equally, if you are a stockbroker or investment bank thinking of either selling shares or raising large amounts of capital for these banks in the near future, the department’s latest move is terrific news.”

    David isn’t this what Brian Lenihan was presaging when he was soothing the nerves of Davy’s private clientsin the Four Seasons the other day?

  46. Ruairi

    “It’s ironic that the NPRF is now being used to capitalise the banks and increase our contingent liabilities, rather than decrease them — as was originally intended.”

    This is what Money & Markets cried foul about in the States last year when the rescue plan began to ape Argentinian financial plugging exercises. The sands are shifting so quickly in this plot that I expect to hear someone has crossed the Rubicon next. My God, aren’t the Greens an innocent bunch with their Programme for Government ‘take 2′ and taking NAMA hostage? I don’t think Santa’s coming Gormless, unless he’s in an SPV and only visiting certain girls n boys……

  47. Morning Traffic News ( Limerick )

    Since yesterday monday 2nd nov ’09 I have noticed a sudden reduction in early road traffic of people going to work between 7.30 am and 8.15 am – it’s a shadow of the past .Have I spotted something ?

  48. Incident

    Below is the jigsaw image
    followed by a paper entitled the “Great Depression and the New Deal”

    http://www.pbase.com/ericdeparis/image/45635578

    http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~walters/web%20104/104%20outline%208_08.htm

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