January 3, 2010

Imperial Spain's lesson for us

Posted in Debt · 174 comments ·

In global economics, the two big stories of the past decade have been the rise of the middle classes in China and other formerly poor countries including India and Brazil, and the related weakening of the middle classes in formerly rich countries such as the US, Britain and, of course, Ireland.

The common denominator in both stories is debt and its handmaiden, credit. The new growing middle classes are presiding over economies that make things. In contrast, the old threatened middle classes are presiding over the gradual erosion of their economies, swapping production for consumption and savings for spending.

And, so long as we believe that we can get rich by borrowing money from the likes of China and Brazil, not to mention the Gulf countries and the ageing, prudential bastions of Germany and Japan, our middle classes will continue to suffer.

This simple problem, where some countries are spending too much and others are saving too much, is referred to by economists as creating ‘‘global imbalances’’. Ultimately, unless we cut back dramatically and wean ourselves off their debt, there will be another global financial crisis, which could dwarf the one we have just seen.

One of the major global policy dilemmas for the coming decade is whether we can achieve this reduction in our standard of living – bloated by unsustainable borrowings – without a massive crisis, which might not just be financial.

If you doubt the severity of the problem that the ‘‘rich but indebted’’ countries face, a quick look at history might be advisable – because, after all, economic history, even distant history, has a terrible habit of repeating itself.

Let’s see what happened a few hundred years ago, when a powerful country decided to live on credit, rather than production. Let’s go to imperial Spain, because the impact of South American gold on the Spanish economy was the 16th century equivalent of Chinese savings on the Anglo-American world in the 21st century.

In 1540, Juan Acosta returned from his second trip to the New World with a galley laden down with gold. The voyage, notwithstanding a scare involving English pirates off the Cuban coast, had been relatively uneventful. Eight years earlier, Acosta had accompanied Pizarro on that fateful day in Peru when the Spaniards garrotted Atahualpa, the Inca King. That week, the conquistadores had plundered more gold – as a ransom for the God King – than the entire continent of Europe produced in a year.

Acosta promised himself that this would be his last trip, and set about building himself the most extravagant villa in Cadiz. No expense was spared. Dutch tradesmen and expert woodcutters were transported from Amsterdam. Arab roofers and master tilers came in from Morocco. All carpets and curtains were bought at exorbitant mark-ups from Genoese merchants whose original sources in the Levant were impeccable. By 1546, the Acosta Villa was the talk of Andalusian society, as was Acosta himself, an amiable adventurer of humble origins.

Sixteenth-century Spain was awash with these rags-to-riches stories, and gold robbed from Latin America paid for everything. A monumental mass of gold and silver crossed the Atlantic between 1540 and 1580. In 1564 alone,154 ships, each carrying over 200 tons, docked in Seville. In the 50 years after the death of Atahualpa, the total amount of gold and silver in Europe increased fivefold. Almost every single ounce passed through Imperial Spain.

One would have thought that, given their windfall, the Spaniards would have been the richest people in Europe by the end of the century. But amazingly, Spain blew it. The impact of the flow of gold was felt elsewhere.

The Dutch, in particular, benefited enormously from Spanish gold.

There was hardly any lasting positive effect on the Spanish economy.

How did Spain manage to waste one of the biggest financial windfalls in human history? And are there any lessons for Ireland in the history of the Spanish gold rush?

Spain went on an almighty bender.

The Spaniards proved themselves to be better at spending money than saving the stuff, and acted like renaissance lotto winners, blowing their new money on anything they could get their hands on. They bought spices from the Orient, clothes from Italy, guns and firearms from anywhere.

Gold flowed out of the country. With their new credit, nothing was too expensive. Even today, a stroll through any regional Spanish town reveals churches, great houses, palaces and ornate fountains built by Italian architects and paid for with Latin American gold. By 1590, of all the goods shipped from Spain to its new colonies, 80 per cent had been imported from elsewhere in Europe.

(This was in direct contrast to the British Empire, for example, which shipped British-made goods from Britain to its colonies.)

Pretty soon, Spain forgot how to make things. Production of everything from food to clothes faltered.

As one observer at the time put it, ‘‘Agriculture laid down the plough, clothed herself in silk and softened her work-calloused hands. Trade put on a noble air . . .went out to parade up and down the streets.”

Apart from general idleness, another far more insidious enemy emerged to face the Spaniards. The Spanish rapidly went into debt with other nations, paying over good Spanish money for what, at the time, were called ‘‘puerilities’’ – bangles, cheap glassware, playing cards and the like. Prices in Spain began to rise.

However, the rise in prices was not due to any economic shift in the economy, but to the non-productive abundance of gold. This is the same story in Ireland. Our prices over the years rose because of too much credit.

As inflation took hold in Spain, those Spanish manufacturers who had still managed to trade found themselves becoming increasingly uncompetitive. Having been the richest nation in Europe, Spain experienced successive financial crises as it tried to pay for its gold-inspired extravagance.

Ireland is in the same position now:

small manufacturing can’t compete with our neighbours, particularly as Britain and the US are – logically – allowing their currencies to fall in the face of the new realities. We have decided to tie our currency to countries that are virtuous savers like Germany, while we are delinquent spenders. This makes no sense but, like the emperor with no clothes, no one in the Irish establishment is prepared to admit this fundamental financial folly. In the end, silly policies don’t hold.

Back in the 16th century, the Spanish tried to keep afloat, but they ran out of gold, as we will run out of credit. Ultimately, the Spanish Crown defaulted on its loans in 1557 and further defaults occurred in 1575, 1596,1607,1627, and 1647, leading to serious crises in major financial centres such as Antwerp, Genoa and Lyons, since they had been the prime financiers of the Spanish loans.

The same is likely to happen in the next decade as the US, Britain and of course Ireland realise that they can’t pay all the money back that they borrowed in the good times. Britain and the US are likely to try to generate inflation or seek some debt renegotiation either officially or by stealth.

Ireland, is locked into the euro, so we won’t experience inflation and, therefore, are likely to default on mortgages, credit card bills and other loans.

The big question for the world is whether the creditors – the middle classes of the emerging powers – will stand idly by and watch their investments debased. Remember that Spain fought desperate wars of expansion to mask its economic decline in the 16th century. Whatever about financial history, let’s hope military history doesn’t repeat itself too.

  1. Splendid comparison between modern Ireland and old Spain,both chock full of “fool’s gold”, in Spain’s case plundered and in Irelands case borrowed (although the youth of Ireland were also “plundered” to facilitate the developers greed).
    My son was searching for a hotel room in the west of Ireland tonight on the web and despite the woeful state of that industry it is amazing how many hoteliers still quote prices that reflect a now gone era.
    The government’s imposition of travel taxes on incoming tourists also reflects a suspension of reason, with regard to one of the few possible sources of revenue left to us.
    it reminds me of the spanish way of doing business.As I live in the Canary Islands I have observed similiar behaviour. Golf courses and amusement parks continue to hold their inordinately high prices firm as tourist revenue steadily declines.
    when the Canarians are selling a house they generally fix a high price and wait and wait..often until the market has moved up (maybe 5 years later!)
    Only difference is it is now moving backwards.
    They rarely drop their first asking price.
    Granted the authorities there did a smart deal with Ryanair and gave him tax free and landing charges free access to the main Islands.
    This is now pulling in thousands of extra visitors every month.
    Meanwhile Fianna Fail will continue to make all travelers pay for their new white elephant terminal at Dublin Airport.
    The Kerrymen and Mayomen are picking up some nice extra business from O’Leary and as he say himself:
    “There will be tumbleweed blowing down the runaway at Shannon in 2010.”
    (You have to admire his metaphors!)
    It must infuriate Michael that Weston Airport is too small and no way is he getting access to Baldonnel!
    For this first time in history Fianna Fail will not be able to tax its way out of trouble.It will tax the tourist industry out of existance.
    You cannot repeatedly tax the unemployed.(maybe take 5% off their payments but thats pretty much it-or riots begin..)
    This debacle is only beginning.
    And the Muppets are still in charge of the show.

    • Colin_in_exile

      Your son can find plenty of good quality low priced hotel rooms 1 hr 15 mins down the N18 from Galway, in a city that doesn’t tolerate bullsh1t.

  2. Spanish Arch –
    Galway benefited directly from the Spanish Gold when their merchants arrived there and became Merchants in Galway and the Cladagh was the centre where they lived.Galway grew at the same time and it became ‘little spain’ .

  3. Military history does repeat itself and has done so here in the past.Ever since the State was founded there have been various skirmishes even into the 80′s and all of that seemed to give civic discipline to the general populace not to over indulge and to hold tight – until the rise of the 90′s until recent times when all that discipline was lost and casino money was the game in town…..at any cost.
    Now the game is in reverse without casino money and with lots of debts and time will tell will that be enough to cause another skirmish!
    Gangs usually are formed with the casino is loosing money to regain control and this year will prove that .

  4. Irish middle class will be decimated organically and by being taxed out of existence .Somehow I believe ‘travellers’ will make great gains financially although not transparent to the public eye.Their sharp eye always knows how to adapt and make money in changing times………and for the records …thats evasive .

    • Colin_in_exile


      The destruction has already begun. Have a look at the dole queues next time you see one, or dress up like Paddy O’Gorman and put a microphone in their face.

  5. Colin_in_exile


    You say “The big question for the world is whether the creditors — the middle classes of the emerging powers — will stand idly by and watch their investments debased.”

    Emerging powers won’t have that choice. They will be forced to stand idly by and eventually the penny will drop – they’ll realise that war against USA & UK is not an option. The real losers will be those worker bees in China. They’ll realise they were led down the garden path by the Chinese government. All hell will break loose there.

    Where will this leave Ireland? We’ll have the begging bowl out again, and support the UK & USA economy with are skilled educated workforce, which will resume like cattle exportation in the past.

    Civil history has a habit of repeating itself too.

  6. Even among those who say “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it” there are few capable of such a telling an economic interpretation as you have given here, David McWilliams. Excellent stuff!

    However, while the fundamental problem most certainly does involve credit and debt, IMO, John Allen touches upon an even greater underlying cause of why we repetitively drive ourselves into penury: we continue to tax ourselves for being productive and reward ourselves for earning speculative incomes, as you show the Spanish to have done, David.

    The once great United States of America now produces little real wealth because the tax regime has seen to it that corruption and speculative scams have won out over production, thrift and industry.

    Another lesson from history from which Ireland might learn: the example of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in the Dutch East Indies. Raffles extracted Indonesia from a tax-inspired economic depression of the Dutch’s making by abolishing all taxes on industry and simply charging the land rent instead.

    • Tull McAdoo

      And they named an apartment block after him just off the Canning Highway in South Perth.I think they sell @ over a mil each. Nice though. Well I might as well dream here as in bed.:-)

      • Tull McAdoo

        p.s That’s Raffles of course and not our own John Allen. John is waiting for Dun Aengus to get its planning permission LOL.

    • Sir Thomas Raffles, now there’s a good find. My big optimistic white elephant of a hope for this global recession is that countries will adopt more Geoist economic strategies where land+mineral sale/leasing is taxed more than labour. The reasons why this doesn’t happen now has everything to do with the real-politik of reaching political office using donations by those in control of assets that would be taxed highly under geoist policies. The middle classes believe they elect the government while the truly wealthy decide whose names go on the ballot paper.

  7. Malcolm McClure

    Perhaps we Irish, with our erstwhile delusions of grandeur, are cast in David’s mind as Don Quixote, Cervantes’ embodiment of Spain’s golden era; the banks are our windmill adversaries and Brian Cowen is the worldly wise Sancho Panza who guides us lugubriously along the road back to sanity?

    • Tull McAdoo

      Malcolm I think it was Jim from Perth who called Gormley out for tilting at windmills some time ago, calling Him “man of la mansion house”. What with himself and Sancho Ryan going around on bicycles in the Pheonix Park on some glorious quest ,well really could you make this shit up or WAT.

  8. wills


    My read on article is it really puts Ireland in the frame.

    Article reads as an accurate tale of two different ‘distribution’ systems, pushing up against each other, all the while a social darwinistic experiment plays itself out under the detached eye of willy wonka.

    One system is all about scamming and smashing and grabbing and ego tripping on who ‘s the daddy, and, the live within ones means system, spending what you earn doing an honest days work system continues to produce real wealth all the while the gamblers and scammers come along and blow it away insanely and the cycle starts up again.

    Similar to elvis preforming his guts out on stage while his manager is in the other room gambling away the proceeds of the kings efforts until he sings again the next night and it all starts all over again. Elvis goes out and does the grunt work and his manager heads off into the gambling parlour and goes too it.

    Elvis works for a living, his manager gambles for a living. Two different M.O’s , incompatible and fighting it out for survival.

    The full weight of the free money system sucking in greater greater numbers as the working for a living system crumples under the pressure of supporting life.

  9. Hey, Malcolm! :)

    Now who can draw the cartoon?

  10. G

    The Imperial Spain anaology was screaming out to be written, well done David for putting the pieces together, this and the Mayan article you wrote are up there in my estimation, good when you play to your strengths and raise your own bar.

    We could equally look to Latin America for political and civic inspiration, Bolivia in particular is doing amazing stuff, with the odds firmly stacked against the people. It is by far the most exciting place on the planet, maybe Charlie Bird will get the finger out (unlikely) and shed light on developments, it would seem however that RTE obeys instructions from above, TG4 has more balls and better programming.

    I see one of my ‘recommendations’ for the new Republic is being put into place in England –


    • tony_murphy

      G, you can just imagine what they will be taught.

      Get yourself a mortgage as soon as possible – and so become a slave to it. Invest in pensions – so they bankers will have money to hand out in bonuses. Get yourself a job as a banker, capitalism is great… etc..

      I agree we should look to Latin America for political and civic inspiration

      • G

        well from the article

        From seven to 11, youngsters could learn about managing bank and savings accounts, and how to budget.

        In secondary schools, from the age of 11 to 14, pupils could be given lessons on credit cards, mortgages and loans, or about managing household finances, such as bills.

        And 14-16-year-olds could be taught about debt and how money problems can have an effect oN people.

        its a start, if properly run, I am shocked by the complete absence of financial training for young people in Ireland, it could be a good opportunity for someone to propose something to the Dept. of Education once that person didn’t previously work for any of the major banks or stock firms :-)

        • tony_murphy

          G, I agree it’s important to teach

          I went to vocation school (the lesser of two very bad second level schools options for my parents). I wasn’t given the opportunity to study any business subjects. That was Ireland in the 1980′s where I came from. I was destined to work as a carpenter or in metal work, perhaps technical drawing. I didn’t take up the agricultural science option, farming wasn’t for me.

          How many of those who bankrupted the country had a similar second level education… Quite a few I’d guess

          I doubt much has changed since either

  11. I often wonder why with all the empty hotels we have that we don’t just open up the gambling casinos and give those who want (and have money left) to place their bets. It certainly can’t be any worse than waht has already been put at risk.

    • tony_murphy

      Gambling is one of the reasons Ireland is in the mess it’s in

      Hotels have to stay open 7 years I believe so they tax avoidance schemes work

  12. Well David you are hitting 2010 running a well written article.
    The comparison is perfect , I have spent some time down in Spain recently and they still haven’t learnt at least this time their cost base is not as high as ours today nor do their dumb politicians get any thing like our wise guys.
    As G said above we should be looking at South America ,, I have said this before and also take a look at Holland ( where is there double digit unemployment ? )
    South American countries have through their Supreme Courts have begun decriminalising narcotics , predominately marijuana. Why can we not do the same sure a percentage will just smoke it , but others will use this plant to make flour, drinks, ropes, clothes, footwear and even fuel. Why are our GREENS not seeing this economic green shoots ?
    We need a economic and cultural revolution here as the present system is well and truly broken from the Top of society down along with all our institutions the Church and our Old School Media.
    This Christmas we have seen top civil servants get their budget cuts reversed and altered down , councils not gritting roads or not having any , I saw no Garda patrols this season and I heard this weekend that Waterford Hospital can’t handle the numbers of bone breaks because of the winter conditions .
    Yet this new year we have a new Blasphemous law been placed into our law books , ! Our Government has lost the plot and it is not The Spain of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries we should be comparing this lot to but as our Politicians so like to say ,..moving forward from here !,….we should be looking at their Franco Years ….

  13. David – are you suggesting we leave the Euro!! Its a basket case currency made up mainly of basket case countries – and in anyway normal times it would be weak against all major currencies (Forecasters are betting on a resurgent dollar this year).
    I would wager that our currency competiveness will be restored by end of 2010.
    I dont think 16th history recaps have any relevance to Ireland today at all – but if we want to look at historical data then lets look at 19th Century Ireland. Population 8m people. Had it followed European trends then we should be clocking in somewhere around 15 million people living on this island today – no thanks.
    But – we could aim to increase our population on a sustainable basis; by, as a country, working hard on making Ireland a desirable place to live and work in.
    Another million people living on the island would use up a lot of our housing stock and would absorb a lot of our credit difficulties..
    So surely this is where the media should thrusting its dagger – lets get on with it.

    • Peter Schum

      One problem I see with NAMA is that it will force Government policy to fuel the property market to make NAMA successful. This has already taken place when Ireland opened up its borders to EU workers to keep our economy growing. However, as this was a false economy fuelled by a property & construction sector which represented 25% of GNP. this only laid the foundations for our current situation. If we add ‘another million people on the island’, it may well use up a lot of our housing stock, but it would also inflate our property prices, and undo all the rebalancing of the past 18 months. This would be well received by the Government, as it will make NAMA look good, but it will be more short-terminism which will ultimately dig us deeper into the mire. We need to continue to drive costs down, and get our unemployment under control before we look to increase our population. Although David suggests leaving the Euro and devaluing our curency, I cannot see this happening. Therefore, our recovery will be very slow, and we need to dig-in for the long haul. Not a very uplifting thought to start off the new year, but false optimism will get us nowhere.

      • Hi Peter,
        I am not sure it the term “false economy” is quite acurate – perhaps “unsustainable” would be more appropriate – and we need to focus on a sustainable economy.
        NAMA – yet again I detect this undercurrent of not wanting NAMA to work. Typical of the Irish self destruct button we always seem to have our finger hovering above. NAMA has to work – and it will allow time to re-establish a market.
        Lets look at David’s article – what is it saying – very little of relevance that I can see. What has Spannish 16th Century history to do with 21st Century Ireland. The Spannish were buying their place in the afterlife – we have at last laid that little number to rest (I hope….).
        More relevant is the complete and utter balls up Ireland made of running itself in the 20th Century which left us trailing so far behind our peers.
        Over the last decade of the Century we began to catch up – at some in this century we caught up – but over corrected.
        Lets look at the positives: We proved we could work hard when given the opportunity; we are in the process of routing out the historical baggage of the 20th Century (Church etc). We are good at re-inventing ourselves.
        The negatives is the perpetual begrudgery; the lack of patriotism (not only shopping in the North; but we cant even keep our streets clean). Lets face it – Fianna Fail have been the party of Government because they have always been able to sell their votes cheaply to the electorate.
        My wishlist for the next 10 years is the re-defining of the current state of politics; re-defining of the Church (one church for Ireland – and I am a depressed prod!); a sustainable economy; a compassionate Ireland; a clean Ireland; and a media that is not driven by sensationalism in order to provide a product…..
        And it was very encouraging to read an article by Mathew Lynn recently who is mightily impressed by what Ireland is doing to address its current problems and he sees nothing but good here in the medium term.

        • Peter Schum

          Hi Phil, I agree NAMA has to work, and I don’t want it to fail. My fear is that rather than allow the market to naturally re-balance and grow at a sustainable rate, the government could deploy an interventionist strategy to inflate property prices at an unsustainable rate for the benefit of NAMA in the short term. By government, I mean any political party who happens to be in control over the next 20 years. I have great faith in the abilities of the Irish people to re-invent & win the war. Ireland needs controlled vision & leadership from our political representatives rather than the fiscal mis-management and ‘light-touch’ regulation which we have seen over recent years.

        • wills

          NAMA is a balls up too. Celtic tiger pre 2000 was not a balls up.

        • StephenKenny

          Sounds like a great time to invest in Irish stocks. Which sectors will come roaring back?
          My difficulty with the happy talk approach to economic forecasting that Bloomberg (and CNBC, BBC, et al) have been giving us for the last couple of years is that it’s all based on 2006 being the new normal.
          If we forget the word ‘back’, how does the forecast “The Irish economy will start to roar”, sound? We can all wrap ourselves in the flag, down a few pints, and sing songs of the forthcoming flood of highly paid jobs, but from where will these jobs come?
          Lest we forget, the Tiger was no more than a flood of borrowed money that created jobs and wealth through property development, and to a small extent, FDI, and I’m sure that neither you, nor Mr Lynn, are suggesting that we’re expecting another roaring property sector. If not property, then from where?

          It is also quite inaccurate to say that economic development cannot be generated through borrowing, since it can, and always has been. Companies have done it, and governments have done it. The problem is that, it’s difficult to create good, wealth sustaining, jobs; It’s just pain hard.
          My favourite example, since I’m an engineer, was the US response to the ‘Sputnik scare’ of the late 1950s. A ruthless government programme to rapidly expand the US science and engineering sectors, which gave the US the spectacular technologies and industries of the 1960s and onwards.

          When it comes to NAMA, I presume what is meant by ‘working’, is that it’ll enable the banks to start lending again, since I can’t see any other useful definition of the word, in this context (making a few Euros on reselling the contracts/properties will at best be a one-off).
          So on that assumption, to whom will the banks lend? i.e. from where will these high paying jobs come?

          The public parts of Bloomberg are famous for their happy talk. The paid-for, business side, as I’m sure you are aware, is a little more circumspect.

          I was watching this storm looming for several years, I watched it hit, and I’m sick up to the neck of the doom, the gloom, and the bad news. But I’m equally sick of politicians, media people, and economists, sitting around telling us to trust in cloud of expensive, swirling, insubstantial, hope, as a cure.

          If the politicians don’t fix the playing field, then we the players, can’t do much more than have a half-hearted kick around.

          • G

            You must pick up a copy of Barbara Ehrenreich’s ‘How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America’

            Here is an extract:

            While positive thinking has reinforced and found reinforcement in American national pride, it has also entered into a kind of symbiotic relationship with American capitalism. There is no natural, innate affinity between capitalism and positive thinking. In fact, one of the classics of sociology, Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, makes a still impressive case for capitalism’s roots in the grim and punitive outlook of Calvinist Protestantism, which required people to defer gratification and resist all pleasurable temptations in favour of hard work and the accumulation of wealth.
            But if early capitalism was inhospitable to positive thinking, “late” capitalism, or consumer capitalism, is far more congenial, depending as it does on the individual’s hunger for more and the firm’s imperative of growth. The consumer culture encourages individuals to want more–cars, larger homes, television sets, cell phones, gadgets of all kinds–and positive thinking is ready at hand to tell them they deserve more and can have it if they really want it and are willing to make the effort to get it. Meanwhile, in a competitive business world, the companies that manufacture these goods and provide the pay-checks that purchase them have no alternative but to grow. If you don’t steadily increase market share and profits, you risk being driven out of business or swallowed by a larger enterprise. Perpetual growth, whether of a particular company or an entire economy, is of course an absurdity, but positive thinking makes it seem possible, if not ordained.

            In addition, positive thinking has made itself useful as an apology for the crueller aspects of the market economy. If optimism is the key to material success, and if you can achieve an optimistic outlook through the discipline of positive thinking, then there is no excuse for failure. The flip side of positivity is thus a harsh insistence on personal responsibility: if your business fails or your job is eliminated, it must because you didn’t try hard enough, didn’t believe firmly enough in the inevitability of your success. As the economy has brought more layoffs and financial turbulence to the middle class, the promoters of positive thinking have increasingly emphasized this negative judgment: to be disappointed, resentful, or downcast is to be a “victim” and a “whiner.”
            But positive thinking is not only a water carrier for the business world, excusing its excesses and masking its follies. The promotion of positive thinking has become a minor industry in its own right, producing an endless flow of books, DVDs, and other products; providing employment for tens of thousands of “life coaches,” “executive coaches,” and motivational speakers, as well as for the growing cadre of professional psychologists who seek to train them.

            The biggest “come-uppance,” to use Krugman’s term, has so far been the financial meltdown of 2007 and the ensuing economic crisis. By the late first decade of the twenty-first century, as we shall see in the chapters that follow, positive thinking had become ubiquitous and virtually unchallenged in American culture. It was promoted on some of the most widely watched talk shows, like Larry King Live and the Oprah Winfrey Show; it was the stuff of runaway best sellers like the 2006 book The Secret; it had been adopted as the theology of America’s most successful evangelical preachers; it found a place in medicine as a potential adjuvant to the treatment of almost any disease. It had even penetrated the academy in the form of the new discipline of “positive psychology,” offering courses teaching students to pump up their optimism and nurture their positive feelings.

            But nowhere did it find a warmer welcome than in American business, which is, of course, also global business. To the extent that positive thinking had become a business itself, business was its principal client, eagerly consuming the good news that all things are possible through an effort of mind. This was a useful message for employees, who by the turn of the twenty-first century were being required to work longer hours for fewer benefits and diminishing job security. But it was also a liberating ideology for top-level executives. What was the point in agonizing over balance sheets and tedious analyses of risks–and why bother worrying about dizzying levels of debt and exposure to potential defaults–when all good things come to those who are optimistic enough to expect them?

            More available here: http://www.barbaraehrenreich.com/brightsidedexcerpt.htm

          • The point of NAMA as I understand it, is to buy time to stop the incurred debts of property developers having to be realised now -and busting the Country in the process. Banks and individuals alike.

            It allows time for a normal property market to resume – and normality may turn out to be as prices are now – but no-one knows.

            Banks giving out credit to marginal businesses is no panacea to the woes of the economy – it may well make matters worse.

  14. G

    To see ‘world map of social unrest’ from ‘The Economist’ simply click on the link below, Ireland is considered a ‘medium risk’.

    Global tinderbox
    Dec 28th 2009
    From Economist.com

    2010 could be a year that sparks unrest

    “If the world appears to have escaped relatively unscathed by social unrest in 2009, despite suffering the worst recession since the 1930s, it might just prove the lull before the storm. Despite a tentative global recovery, for many people around the world economic and social conditions will continue to deteriorate in 2010. An estimated 60m people worldwide will lose their jobs. Poverty rates will continue to rise, with 200m people at risk of joining the ranks of those living on less than $2 a day. But poverty alone does not spark unrest–exaggerated income inequalities, poor governance, lack of social provision and ethnic tensions are all elements of the brew that foments unrest.”


    • Thats complete rubbish. Anywhere that is overpopulated is going to be at risk – Brazil comes in yellow!!!

      Heres a good rule of thumb for social unrest indicators: If you cant go out day or night alone in most areas of a country – that country has a high risk of social unrest.

      • wills

        funny just above Phil you accuse me of cheap one liners and then first words critique here use ‘that complete rubbish’ ! ! double standards, not surprising considering your sheeple NAMA support. NAaaaaaaa Maaaaaaaa !!!!!!!!!!!

        • G

          ha ha, hilarious, a new mantra for the modern age!!!

        • Wills – sorry about the Willsy (he was an old cricketing mate of mine – lucky him has gone back to Australia).

          NAMA – we dont have a choice; rather like us and the Euro. And the basic fact of the matter is that no-one knows whether NAMA will work or not.

          I would re-emphasise that Ireland has been receiving positive press over the last number of weeks – “not long before the celtic tiger is roaring again” to quote one columnist…..

          • wills

            Phil -

            “we dont have a choice”. Really now, so we are been forced to do it. Mmmm, well at least your been honest.

            Yep, it is been forced, and i for one DO NOT AGREE WITH NAMA, in fact, NAMA IS CRIMINAL.

    • coldblow

      Interesting quote above (can’t see a reply button) from B. Ehrenreich about the manipulation of positive thinking. It calls to mind an article from John Waters a few years ago where he made a case for the useful social function of begrudgery in Irish circumstances using similar reasoning to Ehrenreich: ie that a healthy dose of begrudgery helped’o hold our own @boys’ in check.

      The marketing men seem to have discovered the introvert-extravert dynamic and have worked out strategies to appeal to the latter half of the population. An example: adverts for mobile phones consist entirely of grinning faces and their ‘information’ leaflets contain little more either. The approach is ‘follow the crowd’. This is normal enough for extraverts but introverts know they risk censure if they ask questions.

      Also interesting to see the couple on yesterday’s Six One News who had mortgaged the house and borrowed all they could to buy 4 properties in Dubai. I was trying to work out who was the extravert who was probably responsible for pushing this, was it her or him? I think it was her.

      • Philip

        I once wondered about the lack of German humour. I since discovered what a marvellously and wickedly black humoured bunch they really are. They have an inate distrust of smily happy people. It was explained to me that when someone is smiling at you for no apparent reason, the chances are they are looking for your a$$.

  15. G

    Useful stuff from Paul Krugman

    “Here’s what’s coming in economic news: The next employment report could show the economy adding jobs for the first time in two years. The next G.D.P. report is likely to show solid growth in late 2009. There will be lots of bullish commentary – and the calls we’re already hearing for an end to stimulus, for reversing the steps the government and the Federal Reserve took to prop up the economy, will grow even louder.

    But if those calls are heeded, we’ll be repeating the great mistake of 1937, when the Fed and the Roosevelt administration decided that the Great Depression was over, that it was time for the economy to throw away its crutches. Spending was cut back, monetary policy was tightened – and the economy promptly plunged back into the depths.

    This shouldn’t be happening. Both Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, and Christina Romer, who heads President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, are scholars of the Great Depression. Ms. Romer has warned explicitly against re-enacting the events of 1937. But those who remember the past sometimes repeat it anyway.

    As you read the economic news, it will be important to remember, first of all, that blips – occasional good numbers, signifying nothing – are common even when the economy is, in fact, mired in a prolonged slump. In early 2002, for example, initial reports showed the economy growing at a 5.8 percent annual rate. But the unemployment rate kept rising for another year.

    And in early 1996 preliminary reports showed the Japanese economy growing at an annual rate of more than 12 percent, leading to triumphant proclamations that “the economy has finally entered a phase of self-propelled recovery.” In fact, Japan was only halfway through its lost decade.

    Such blips are often, in part, statistical illusions. But even more important, they’re usually caused by an “inventory bounce.” When the economy slumps, companies typically find themselves with large stocks of unsold goods. To work off their excess inventories, they slash production; once the excess has been disposed of, they raise production again, which shows up as a burst of growth in G.D.P. Unfortunately, growth caused by an inventory bounce is a one-shot affair unless underlying sources of demand, such as consumer spending and long-term investment, pick up.

    Which brings us to the still grim fundamentals of the economic situation.

    During the good years of the last decade, such as they were, growth was driven by a housing boom and a consumer spending surge. Neither is coming back. There can’t be a new housing boom while the nation is still strewn with vacant houses and apartments left behind by the previous boom, and consumers – who are $11 trillion poorer than they were before the housing bust – are in no position to return to the buy-now-save-never habits of yore.

    What’s left? A boom in business investment would be really helpful right now. But it’s hard to see where such a boom would come from: industry is awash in excess capacity, and commercial rents are plunging in the face of a huge oversupply of office space.

    Can exports come to the rescue? For a while, a falling U.S. trade deficit helped cushion the economic slump. But the deficit is widening again, in part because China and other surplus countries are refusing to let their currencies adjust.

    So the odds are that any good economic news you hear in the near future will be a blip, not an indication that we’re on our way to sustained recovery. But will policy makers misinterpret the news and repeat the mistakes of 1937? Actually, they already are.

    The Obama fiscal stimulus plan is expected to have its peak effect on G.D.P. and jobs around the middle of this year, then start fading out. That’s far too early: why withdraw support in the face of continuing mass unemployment? Congress should have enacted a second round of stimulus months ago, when it became clear that the slump was going to be deeper and longer than originally expected. But nothing was done – and the illusory good numbers we’re about to see will probably head off any further possibility of action.

    Meanwhile, all the talk at the Fed is about the need for an “exit strategy” from its efforts to support the economy. One of those efforts, purchases of long-term U.S. government debt, has already come to an end. It’s widely expected that another, purchases of mortgage-backed securities, will end in a few months. This amounts to a monetary tightening, even if the Fed doesn’t raise interest rates directly – and there’s a lot of pressure on Mr. Bernanke to do that too.

    Will the Fed realize, before it’s too late, that the job of fighting the slump isn’t finished? Will Congress do the same? If they don’t, 2010 will be a year that began in false economic hope and ended in grief.

    Which brings us to the still grim fundamentals of the economic situation.

    During the good years of the last decade, such as they were, growth was driven by a housing boom and a consumer spending surge. Neither is coming back. There can’t be a new housing boom while the nation is still strewn with vacant houses and apartments left behind by the previous boom, and consumers – who are $11 trillion poorer than they were before the housing bust – are in no position to return to the buy-now-save-never habits of yore.

    What’s left? A boom in business investment would be really helpful right now. But it’s hard to see where such a boom would come from: industry is awash in excess capacity, and commercial rents are plunging in the face of a huge oversupply of office space.

    So the odds are that any good economic news you hear in the near future will be a blip, not an indication that we’re on our way to sustained recovery. But will policy makers misinterpret the news and repeat the mistakes of 1937? Actually, they already are.

    Full Article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/04/opinion/04krugman.html

  16. wills

    Posters -

    Check link out. Bono using ‘inverted robin hoodism’ term. Perhaps a reader here????

    • G

      Defending corporatism and advocating totalitarism to defend profits in one speech is no mean acheivement for a ‘simple boy from the Northside of Dublin’ as he referred to himself during his performance for Barack Obama prior to his inauguration. Any thoughts on Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan El Bono?

      How much money does this man need? Transferring it offshore at the moment of Ireland’s need having benefitted handsomely from the artist’s exemption.

      Sums up the end of the Celtic Tiger nicely, cream on the neoliberal cake.

      Make Bono Pay Tax website

      Eamon McCann article

      Harry Browne article

      St. Bono the Hypocrite

      The Emperors of Bombast

    • Dilly

      Bono should concentrate on knocking out some good tunes for a change, and get rid of the fancy lightshow. U2 have lost that spark they once had. I saw them nearly 20 years ago and they were brilliant. I went to see them in 2005, and they looked bored and uninterested, by the end of the show I was people watching, keeping an eye on the time, and wondering if I should go for a pint. Nice try from Bono though, he managed to frame his argument using childporn and china, nice going Bono !, he should be a Fianna Fail councillor !!. We all know what he is really worried about is, how much money will be coming into his pocket when having a ride from Funderland on your stage no longer wows the crowd.

    • Josey

      Good Man Bono,
      china’s internet firwall is great…

      Next you’ll be promoting their excellent one child policy…horray for forced global eugenic depopulation.

      I wish all those optimum population shills would practice what they preach and volunterr themselves for culling.

  17. G

    Defending corporatism and advocating totalitarism to defend profits in one speech is no mean acheivement for a ’simple boy from the Northside of Dublin’ as he referred to himself during his performance for Barack Obama prior to his inauguration. Any thoughts on Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan El Bono?

    How much money does this man need? Transferring it offshore at the moment of Ireland’s need having benefitted handsomely from the artist’s exemption.

    Sums up the end of the Celtic Tiger nicely, cream on the neoliberal cake.

    Make Bono Pay Tax website

    Eamon McCann article

  18. Deco

    And what of Spain today ? Spain today has once again a hard currency just like in the days of the Conquistador – the EuroMark. And Spain has been borrowing again from the bankers of Southern regions of Germany. And Spain has been financing all sorts of political tom foolery, and inflating it’s cost base. In fact Spain today is even more reckless than when Spain was run by the Habsburg King Phillip. Spain today can get bankrupt much faster.


    For the sake of political background, it should be noted that this is from the UK’s main left of centre newspaper. Normally comments from Britain about the Euro coming under pressure for a reversion of independent currencies, comes from the Telegraph which is provides broadly Conservative media comment.

    In 2010, there is going to have to be a deciding moment concerning the PIGIS, and the ECB. In particular the issue of Spain is going to have to be addressed. And the Brussels, and Frankfurt have been permitted a situation to develop in Spain that is only headed in one direction – collapse. When the Spanish banks start running into problem this coming spring, you will see the debt rating of all the PIGIS go down another notch, and the interest premium go up another half a percent.

    I like the anaology of Irish people behaving in the past two decades like the Spanish nobles behaved in the 1500s. There is a lot of truth in it. Many Irish people are now too good for real work !!

    • Dilly

      That is an interesting article…

      “Elite constructions such as the EU may sometimes be able to treat the voters with disdain”

      Lisbon Treaty springs to mind

    • tony_murphy


      Excellent link.

      Ireland should exit the EURO now. It was a massive mistake to adapt EURO in first place.

      Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

      People should get ready for the day the EURO collapses

  19. wills

    PhilRuss1 -

    The point of NAMA is what you say.

    But, other points exist alongside the ‘sell NAMA to the sheeple’ points.

    Look at it like old fashioned snakes oils man s supposed magic solution.

    It appears good.

    Flash packaging.

    He plays on ignorance with a fake re assuring voice.

    The ‘magic solution’ becomes more and more inviting.

    Rational short circuits.

    Spirals appear on eye balls.

    A warm fuzzy feeling inside sparks up.

    Suddenly your money is moving floating toward the magic medicine man and off you go under the illusion that the magic solution will work.

    NAma, in this case, the magic solution WILL NOT WORK and cure the fundamental problem.

    It will, no doubt, open up a treasure trove of freshly minted cash the ‘insiders’ will hoover up and salt away.

    Thats it.

    NAMA is a swag bag smash and grab magic medicine man swindle, and i tell you its absolutely got nothing to do with me this disgusting monumental theft our countries bond issuance facility.

    Whom ever gets involved with this NAMA bank robbery will not get away with it one way or the other.

    It carries with it a government health warning.

    • Hi Wills

      The fundamental problem is that Ireland is a small nation in a big bad world – and most of our destiny is outside of our control.

      We rely on USA and UK to recover for us to do likewise – if they don’t then we don’t. That is game set and match.

      Therefore we have to assume that they will recover (because if we think otherwise then we might as well not bother getting out of bed anymore – and the cold can kill us off).

      If we assume that the main playing countries recover then we can assume that Ireland will recover.

      If this scenario comes to pass then NAMA will have worked. And it is only at some date in the future that we will be in a position to look back and call it a sucess or failure. We can’t call it now.

      • Colin_in_exile


        We here on this forum have analysed NAMA forensically in the last year, all of this analysis can be found in the archive here.

        NAMA is and will be a disaster for Ireland. Peter Matthews has proven it will be a disaster, here’s the link.


        “Nama is not an assets management agency. Nama is a loans recoveries and realisations agency. That work is tough, difficult and challenging.

        The Government has designed Nama in such a way that it will absolve the banks of the consequences of their extremely bad lending in the amount of €77 billion. It was that €77 billion bad lending, and more besides, which forced the State (that’s us) to guarantee all the liabilities of the banks, amounting to €420 billion!

        The Government has further arranged things so that Nama (that’s us, the taxpayers) will buy the €77 billion bad loans from the banks. The €77 billion is made up of two categories of loans, €30.8 billion performing loans (which provide some income) and €46.2 billion non-performing loans (mainly secured on development land having doubtful, little or no value).

        Qualified experts with huge professional experience agree that it would be extraordinary, bordering miraculous, if all, that is 100 per cent, of the €30.8 billion performing loans are successfully recovered. The facts show that it’s highly unlikely that even as much as 25 per cent of the €46.2 billion non-performing loans will ever be recovered. If 25 per cent was recovered that would amount to €11.55 billion (25 per cent of €46.2 billion). Adding €11.55 billion to €30.8 billion totals €42.35 billion. But Nama (that’s us, the taxpayers) is being asked to pay €54.”


        • Colin

          All your figures are as things stand now in a time of huge uncertainty. As (and if I grant you – but refer to my posts) things return to stability (and we can’t define that yet). Therefore we cant assume “the facts”.

          Peter Mathews – I wrote to RTE asking them not to include him in their media (ex banker) circus.

          And that leads me to another question as I add Peter to my previoulsy published list of self publicists – Shane; Eddie; George; and David. The question is why were 3 of these names not working as full time bankers over the last 2 decades?

          • Colin_in_exile

            You’ll have to ask Peter, Shane, Eddie, George and David that – I can’t answer those questions for you.

            But I see you are hinting that they were not up to the job. Do you think Seanie, Goggin, Sheehy, Fingers rose to the top of their banks because of raw talent, courageous leadership and good authority? I would reckon Peter, Shane, Eddie, George and David thought that they had a moral duty to make us aware of how corrupt the banks are. They have provided us all a huge service.

            Can I ask you if you have a large property portfolio?

          • Colin_in_exile

            Thank God for youtube, I’d like to see youtube’s response to a request from you to keep Peter Mathews offline. I suppose Phil, you like to view the rest of us as mushrooms – kept in the dark and fed a lot of sh!t. Is that what your forefather’s used to do? are you keeping the family tradition alive?

        • Just as a follow up. NAMA is based almost entirely on the Swedish “Securum” company they set up during their early 90s banking crisis. But the “haircut” and the % of GDP required to fund the exercise are quite different. The swedes scheme cost only about 4% of GDP. Compare that with NAMA and then factor in post-NAMA recapitalisation costs, whatever they may be as the banks themselves seem to be mystified by their own friggin balance sheets. NAMA is much more likely to be an expensive disaster than Securum no matter how often the Irish gov point to the “Swedish model”. We’re working on a new “Irish model” and the result will be a trans-generational economic cock-up.

          • Response to Colin:

            No I dont have a large property portfolio – 1 house I live in; and 1 investment property abroad not covered by NAMA worth apprx 20% of what I paid for it.

            But I do know of property developers who are sick with worry because of where they find themselves – so all this emotive splurge of branding people as criminals – one and all; does leave me wondering about some of the contributors on this website – but what the heck its a bit of fun.

            2002 is a year that crops up a lot and many people believe that as the year when the property boom started to drive the economy rather than other way around.

            Exchequor receipts show that current receipts are much the same as that year – I think its circa 34billion. Had Ireland grown at a sustainable 3% pa upto 2009 then that calculates out income of approx 43billion that we might have had last year.

            Is that a relevant figure?

            PS the Swedish model may not have been a cock-up – but it did occur without the backdrop of the world calamity of the last 2 years

          • Colin_in_exile

            Phil, you came to the wrong place if you wanted to drum up some support for your developer friends. They gambled, they lost. They didn’t have to gamble. They didn’t have to treat first time buyers like sh1t by demanding a 10% deposit upfront 12 months before the house was finished, but they did.

            Your pals could lower the prices of their houses, but they refuse to. They whinge that there is no market, whereas we all know there IS a market, but its at a level too low for them to contemplate doing business at.

            Your pals should be allowed to go bankrupt, have their houses, helicopters, SUVs and all the other paraphernalia that went with their lifestyle removed from them. No other group is less worthy of taxpayers money.

      • wills

        PhilRuss1 -

        I see ireland as a country with potential and with crooks.

        I see the world big and stuffed full of potential and crooks.

        I agree that the crooks in Ireland are relying on the crooks in the big bad world and the crooks from both the small and big bad world are depended on the potential too preserve the debt based money system the crooks survive by.

  20. wills

    POsters -

    This NAMA cr@p, ‘theres no choice cr@p’ and ‘we’re all in this together cr@p’ smacks of the victim been conditioned into accepting the crime about to be inflicted.

  21. Josey

    What think ye of this crazy Kraut?


    Body scanners will be installed in every airport worldwide by 2011;

    Whomever got the contract for that did well out of the young boy from nigeria trick,

    how could he get a ticket and get through security without a passport?

    Hmmmmm….am I too paranoid?

    Word up!!!

  22. shtove

    It was silver that gave Spain most of its wealth – Potosi in Bolivia was a mountain of the stuff. I think the debate about european inflation in the 16thC is still going on. Certainly the Spanish had their arbitristas (officials and intellectuals) who debated for decades on how to pull Spain out of its decline – DMcW may be the modern day equivalent. BTW, Spain’s military decline only came about in 1639 – the tercios kicked ass for about 90 years, while the Spanish navy gave way to the Dutch (not English).

    Back to reality: can anyone please explain to me how the UK and US are going to create inflation so that their workers can afford the still overpriced houses in their domestic markets? Anyone???

    The attempt to inflate strikes me as the final folly, because they will simply drive prices higher in commodity based goods to the benefit of speculators while depriving productive people of the chance to buy a home or pay for a mortgage. How many legs of this recession do they want?

    I prefer to see Ireland take the € discipline on the chin and cut loose its insolvent lenders, get back to reality in the housing market, and let bankruptcy work for the people instead of for the bankers.

    • G


      It was called the “mountain that eats men”, and from its slopes you can sense why. The cone, a soaring Andean peak, is lacerated with gaping holes and tunnels. At sunset its rocky surface glows red, as if burning.

      This is Cerro Rico, a majestic mountain in Bolivia that was once the world’s greatest treasure trove, an immense silver mine that for centuries bankrolled Spain’s empire. A silver bridge from here to Madrid could have been built with enough of the precious metal left to carry across it, went the legend.

      A grimmer version said you could do likewise from the bones of the miners who died here. Hundreds of thousands of Incas and other indigenous slaves – some say millions – succumbed to horrific working conditions. Lung diseases, mercury poisoning, exhaustion, accidents, all took their toll.

      “Our ancestors suffered here,” said Marco Quispe, 41, an indigenous miner. “But things are different now. For our people these are good, happy days.”

      A reversal is supposedly unfolding at Cerro Rico, which means Rich Hill. The mine that enriched Europe and doomed natives is finally benefiting indigenous Bolivians, the poorest group in South America’s poorest country.


  23. Nigra Espana – slaves were part of the parcel from central america and the conquisitors were the slave traders then .Like Espana we have our own Slave Trader who has captivated the State and its citizens now voiceless in shackles and deep inside the galley of the sinking ship.
    I have always said that our M for F is surrounded by Dangerous People and I firmly still believe in that .I believe he would be doing good to his family were he to retire and allow himself to recover and become better . I disagree with his logic to remain in office .His refusal only deepens my belief that there is another agenda and that his successor is being groomed as we speak .Who these dangerous people are is a mystery and the whole affair is only EVIL .

    • G

      Slave trade played a major role, as we well know, all the European powers were at it, the Spanish, Portuguese in the early days, the Dutuch, British and Americans from the 17th to 19th centuries, British ports like Liverpool, Plymouth etc were built on the back of slavery, wage slavery is the new game. I visited a Spanish slave fort in Guatemala, sent a chill down my spine, interesting that the Spanish ‘blew it’, well some did, others lived off their riches as we see in Ireland with people hanging on to their 100k landrovers (and destroying the environment in the process). There was a book written which analysed the British Empire which stated that materially it cost them about as much to maintain as they got out of it, they did leap frog industrialisation by robbing other countries resources and know how, India was well on the road when the English arrived, they soon put a fix to that and made it a dependent state, again like Ireland, it was Gandhi who ended that, hence the spinning wheel at the centre of the Indian flag, economic independence & political independence all in one broke the British monopoly, they didn’t last long after that.

      Lenihan looked shocking on the news tonight, hard to know the motivations for staying on when you don’t have all the facts, think he should take a break, he was just back from one but looked like he needed a long rest.

      • Malcolm McClure

        G: I just heard Lenihan’s RTE radio interview. He spoke with dignity and strength about his own condition and his public duties. I wish him well in both matters. He made clear that he expects robust public debate about his department’s policies to continue. In my opinion there is no question he believes he is doing his best in a bad situation, given the international constraints he must abide by.

  24. wills

    PhilRuss1 -

    Let me for arguments sake play pretend.

    I ‘m putting forward the charge NAMA is criminal.

    The case i put forward is thus.

    Article 45.

    • Hi all.
      Tis lively here this evening. Good to see healthy democratic debate.
      This is my contribution vis a vis A45.

    • Wills

      How disappointed are you going to be if things get better?

      • wills

        Your at the one liners again phil.

        I will answer this question but can you just clarify,

        ‘things’ and ‘get better’ first so i can provide a good answer.

        • Good song that.
          What happened to D:Ream anyway?

          • wills

            He woke:up


          • His very talented keyboardist became the first person to leave a rock’n'roll band and BECOME a career academic. I’m talking about Prof Brian Cox whose one of the leads in the LHC project in CERN. Dr. Brian May from Queen followed suit a few years later. Anyway, I digress.

        • wills

          Phil -

          Your leaving it general, so let me respond in general.

          If you mean by ‘things getting better’ that the common wealth is evenly divided between all members of society according to the principle s of free market capitalism the old fashioned way an honest wage for an honest days work then absolutely i will be not disappointed.

          But, if we continue as before, which is what NAMA is all about, preserving the ‘monopolistic’ capitalism into the future then you could diagnose me as disappointed but i think, ‘mad as hell’ maybe closer to the truth of it, but i must caveat with, my anger is utterly under ego control an never used destructively.

          • Wills
            capitalism is not equitable; socialism does not work.
            “Revolution takes it toll” (my quote)

            Make Ireland a better place to live in is good for the economy – unless you know better….

        • As i wrote earlier on today “My wishlist for the next 10 years is the re-defining of the current state of politics; re-defining of the Church (one church for Ireland — and I am a depressed prod!); a sustainable economy; a compassionate Ireland; a clean Ireland; and a media that is not driven by sensationalism in order to provide a product…..”

          • wills

            Okedok, so my response on this narrowing of question is that NAMA has absolutely nothing to do with a sustainable economy (if you mean by that an equitable economy), and, NAMA is anti compassionate mechanism it is an SPV which is pure accountancy fraud (it hides the figures from public scrutiny), and, NAMA feeds sensationalism, it thrives on fear and power over the meek and the destitute.

          • Colin_in_exile

            Then write a letter to the Queen of England outlining your proposal for disestablishing the Anglican Church and for returning to communion with Rome.

            This is primarily an economics forum, with politics only discussed in relation to economics.

          • Malcolm McClure

            Colin(no longer?)_in exile: The Anglican Church was disestablished in Ireland in 1868/1871. When will the Roman Catholic church be disestablished? Or are you a fervid supporter of antidisestablishmentarianism?
            (…I have always wanted to use that marvellous epithet.)

          • Colin_in_exile


            Or are you a fervid supporter of antidisestablishmentarianism? No I’m not.

            When will the Roman Catholic church be disestablished? Disestablished from where? The Vatican City? Its never been established in Ireland like Anglicanism was.

            The Anglican Church was disestablished in Ireland in 1868/1871. Fair Enough, I stand corrected, but that doesn’t help Phil’s wish for a single church.

            Colin(no longer?)_in exile: Correct, but only a matter of time really before I return to exile since the economy is in the toilet here.

          • With a wishlist like that I’d suggest you prepare for disappointment. I’m not sure why you want “one church for Ireland”? Is your ambition legal reform? I know this is off-topic but I’m genuinely curious now. Are you implying you’d like to see our Dev/McQuaid constitution changed beyond the 5th amendment removing the “special place” of the Catholic church? My purely secular irritation with the constitution is the description of the family (in the classic sense) as
            “a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights”. This piece of mischief has caused huge suffering for unmarried fathers and also children who effectively have no rights. I view legal reform as being a more realistic and desirable ambition than church unification.

  25. wills

    G -

    Post on positive thinking fraud is so on the money.

    Hard work is the enemy of the modern state.

    • G

      Just another industry wills, quite frightening when you think of the sheer numbers who bought into the ‘Secret’ – that had me really worried, people wanted to believe, now when did that happen before?


  26. David poses the question “Whatever about financial history, lets hope military history doesn’t repeat itself too”.

    The powers that be(Obama included) are doing their damndest to antagonise Iran for the last 10 years, including allowing that butchery in Gaza. If it kicks off, it won’t be no accident. I worked in Moscow and saw how ordinary proud working people were tramped into the ground by “new money”. It was disgusting at the time.

    This is a great article by a great economic historian supplimented by some incisive comments here.

    LRK. Are you still about??

    • I thought it was an article by someone who had a newspaper deadline to catch – silly me

    • G

      its been going on far longer, as you know the Brits and Yanks overthrew the democratically elected Iranian government and installed the brutal Shah, whose secret police brought violence to new levels, meanwhile the Western press gushed about how beautiful the Shah’s wife was as the Kennedy’s entertained them at the Casa Blanca.

      The reaction to the Shah’s violence was the Iranian Revolution which brought the extremist clerics to power, the rest we know.

      Iran is too big a piece to take a bite at even though the Israeli’s would love a go. Iran is the big winner in the region, now has massive influence in Iraq, Palestine, Syria and is probably playing around in Afghanistan, once trouble continues their the US is less likely to strike. But few people know where this is all leading, the US will involve itself more in Yemen to save face and who knows where else it will be dragged in, already over stretched, with a demoralised army, massive injuries, high suicide rates hence the over reliance on technology (set to play an even greater role inthe future one suspects)……Seymour Hersh has written some prettty good stuff on Iran etc

      This is a pretty useful article

  27. Colin_in_exile


    Make Ireland a better place to live in is good for the economy — unless you know better….”

    In the words of the late great Michael Jackson…” Heal the world
    Make it a better place
    For you and for me and the entire human race
    There are people dying
    If you care enough for the living
    Make a better place for
    You and for me.”

  28. wills

    Phil -

    Free market capitalism practiced in virtue is equitable.

  29. Moon Wobble – a reminder we are in the course of the first ‘Wobble’ this year and it will show it’s strength next monday 11 th Jan’10 . So the coming week end does not hold up to our optimism and it’s important to ‘go slow’.
    A black monday ! Maybe , who knows! Lets hold tight and see .
    Many will have noticed a heavy drag to the start of the year and this is caused by the planet Saturn .Best policy is to go slow and contemplate and wait .From 15th Jan an uplight will arrive and the sun shines again and time to move forward from your hibernating cell.

  30. I wrote about NAMA as a “fiendish Frankenstein like quango” some months ago.
    Mr Lenehans unhappy health situation -and determination to be the next Taoiseach by remaining at the helm- indicates
    How prophetic the article was..

  31. G

    While we were busy congratulating ourselves on our ‘world class education system’ others were taking notes.


  32. Malcolm McClure

    Never mind Imperial Spain, it’s Imperial Japan that is the worry these days.
    What does ‘Zum Teufel’ mean AndrewGMooney?

  33. I heard online that the BRIC countries along with Middle Eastern and the strong Euro zone nations are going to have an international world reserve currency that will replace the US dollar and it will be backed by gold, silver, platinum and oil.

    Looks like Ireland, Spain, Italy and Greece will not be included in that. It makes me question what is the point in being in the Euro. We need to have our own currency and find our own level or we can continue to be honest and cut costs the honest way without debasing like the US and UK are doing.

    We do not want to copy what those two nations are doing. They are finished as superpowers. We need to do all we can to be included into the new world currency. Taking the pain and being sensible. We need to produce more and spend less on useless junk from abroad.

    • G

      don’t think the euro was good overall for Ireland, prices were rounded up, less value (purchasing power) compared to the old punt, and little to no flexibility in currency decisions.

      ECB has been useful in current crisis, but doubt they would have left us collapse had we not had the euro. Scandinavian countries et al seem to be doing ok without it…….just some rambling thoughts and reflections………

      UK was a superpower in the last century, still clings to the Commonwealth (with Rwanda) the latest member and notions of grandeur, but game is up on Anglo-American world, slow decline coupled with the odd vicious war/lash out. Moves afoot to finish them off, the currency move could be yet another nail in the violent coffin.

      • Another thing, the ECB kept interest rates far too low and that lead to the massive housing bubble. We need to be able to set our own interest rates and they need to be far higher than .025%, more like 12%. This would encourage saving and discourage excess borrowing.

    • Possible methinks.. There’s been talk of effectively a new Bretton Woods for over a year. China sure as hell wants one as they’re so exposed to the drifting dollar.
      Commodity backed currencies have their own pit-falls but they add credibility when trust would otherwise be difficult to maintain. If you genuinely believe this you’ll be off to buy some gold no doubt?
      If this is being planned then it will require the involvement of the top 10 world banks and financial institutions. Something is bound to leak. It would be good news for the celtic cubs who have emigrated to Canada and Australia also as it would keep those economies buoyant.

  34. Sean_Kelly – you are correct but don’t tell anyone .German Mark and French Franc will be part of it or pegged someway.

    • That’s because those two nations know how to save and live within their means. Makes me want to learn a new language. It will either be Japanese, German or Mangorian. What would be best? I’m getting out of this corrupt fuck-up of a country for sure.

      • G

        Japanese might be a good option, friendly women who won’t be looking for semi-D or 4×4 :-)

        only kidding ladies :-)
        (Go for the Japanese, I have a friend who was on his way to becoming a professional snooker player, he was injured in a work related accident, wound up as a manager of a fast food joint, in walked a Japanese girl for a job on the counter, they married and he moved to Tokyo, happy ever since – now that is the X factor!)

  35. Sean_Kelly – language is a rhythm that you dance to – try feeling your pulse and see how warm your blood feels to each.

  36. NAMA Referendum – Iceland is holding a referendum re: Icesave restitution monies to foreign owners.Do we have a choice?

  37. Malcolm McClure

    Pass the sick-bag please. Bono’s 10 ideas for the next 10 years:
    Sexy finned Cadillacs, Teleportation etc ….. me arse.

    • tony_murphy

      Bono has really upset / annoyed so many people with this article. I for one will never buy anything he or u2 produce every again.

    • Ah, I just read it and thought “that’s bonio for ya” :)

      • G

        Bono – “The world is taking notice of this change. On her most recent trip to Africa, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton bypassed officials and met instead with representatives of independent, nongovernmental groups, which are quickly becoming more organized and more interconnected.”

        Think that gives a pretty good indication of the game – Bono knows both sides of the dollar pretty well by now. I too won’t be buying CDs or attending their concerts – a corporate-’musical’ entity with a dash of whatever you’re having yourself George W!

        • G

          I believe John Pilger referred to him as the ‘odious Bono’ – http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=520

          John had his top ten for 2009 here are a few gems:

          January: Tony Blair is arrested at Heathrow Airport as he returns from yet another foreign speaking engagement (receipts since leaving office: £12m). He is flown to The Hague to stand trial for war crimes for his part in the illegal, unprovoked attack on a defenceless country, Iraq, justified by proven lies, and for the subsequent physical, social and cultural destruction of that country, causing the death of up to a million people. According to the Nuremberg Tribunal, this is the “paramount war crime”. The prosecution tells Blair’s defence team it will not accept a plea of “sincerely believing”. Cherie Blair, a close collaborator who has compared her husband with Winston Churchill, is cautioned.

          July: The British government calls a halt to selling arms and military equipment to ten out of 14 conflict-hit countries in Africa. The chairman of the arms company BAE Systems is arrested by the Serious Fraud Office.

          August: The British Department for International Development ends its support for privatisation as a condition of aid to the poorest countries.

          September:Sir Bob Geldof and Bono visit Tony Blair in prison, suggesting a worldwide Crime Aid gig to raise money for their hero’s defence.

          November: Gordon Brown is kidnapped, hooded and forced to listen repeatedly to his 2007 speech to bankers at a Mansion House banquet: “What you as the City of London have achieved for financial services, we as a government now aspire to achieve for the whole economy.”

          December: Tony Blair is sentenced to life imprisonment and beatified by the Pope.

    • Deco

      Well it looks like Bono has returned from the Mountain and given a personal Ten Commandments. Or maybe that should be he has returned from an ivory tower in a tax efficient jurisdiction.

      No mention of joining the rest of us and paying PAYE to help the country of which he is officially proud.

      The Bono is a creation of Irish society – with it’s taste for vulgarity, showmanship, arrogance (called ‘pride’), and deceit. Bono is behaving like most of the other elements in our society who have done well in recent years. It is not just him. It is us, Ireland that is vulgar and pretendsome. I appreciate the concern in some of the ideas. But Bono would should pay more tax instead of telling governments what to do with other people’s taxes.

      I have the suspicion that Bono has got more out of Ireland, than Ireland will ever get out of Bono. A little bit of humility is in requirement.

    • Colin_in_exile

      I’m proud to say I’ve never bought any of U2′s music or attended any of their concerts. A completely average rock/pop act in my opinion. I do have 3 of their earlier albums on cassette gathering dust somewhere – they were obtained for free through a petrol station (Esso?) 1980s catalogue after the old fella earning points for filling up with petrol.

      I did feel at times like an outsider back then because I did not like U2, but it did teach me an early valuable lesson about not following the herd and to follow your own instincts instead. That’s why I never bought property.

  38. wills

    Posters -

    Reported the UN website had up on it s main page an item relating the UN issuing a Gold coin with its emblem and a day later it was downed.

    Reports it part of an easing in of a world currency on the way.

  39. Lets Petition our own President not to sign the NAMA legislation and for her to request a Constitutional Referendum just like what our Icelandic cousins are doing.

    • Great idea, how do we get started with worthwhile numbers? Get a website up and let the word out on radio?

    • Dilly

      I cannot see her doing this, especially seeing as she is part of the status obsessed system, and will sign anything rather than rock the boat.

      • G

        It is truly a parallel universe if anyone things one of the three hail Mary’s will do anything other than utter meaningless platitudes, and come down to Cork to pat people on the head for their heroism in the face of le grand deluge and then bugger off to the ‘capital’ in the old chauffeur driven mercedes leaving the poorest in the city eat fumes! “I really do care, honestly I do…………….” – resign you bluffer!

        This short note has been regulated by the Financial regulator, read small print carefully, terms and conditions apply, please be careful when opening, you know the rest………………….

    • Deco

      No -Our President is a waste of taxpayers money. She visited the flood drenched areas of the country long after the water had gone away. Gave the locals speeches about “meitheal”, “solidarity”, “community”, etc….the usual horse manure.

      And then she got into her merc and went back to her mansion and continued earning more than Barack Obama. Phoenix did a cartoon on President McAleese’s brain a few years ago. There was the slightly pretenscious bit, the pretenscious bit, the upwardly mobile bit, the social importance bit, the bland speech bit, and another every so slightly pretenscious bit. She was running against Adi ‘Peace and Love’ Roche and Nora Owen’s sister. Unfortunately, our so called opposition never mounted any effort to start a presidential election when her term was up. (I think that was during the Noonan era – when FG were shooting themselves in the foot with a machine gun – and the ILP’s Ruairi Quinn had dreams of becomming a Tanaiste in a FF dominated government).

      NAMA is saving the class of gombeens that McAleese has aspirations of joining. A better idea would be to give the President a 80% pay cut. The Social Welfare system needs the money more than she does.

  40. House of Petitions :
    Tim is the Ard Ri in the room and furrylugs is his photosynthesis that makes light spark in any dark room.Wills is the crier with his bells on his fingers like in the Clancy Bros and Deco is the librarian , Malcolm is the legal advisor and a linguist , Andrew is the musical genius that turns rip rap into a classical melody , Josey is the femme fatale that urges the rest and the sundry are just making a living seeking directions ……so lets hear Tim’s proposals for this opportunity.

  41. G

    G’s top 10 for 2010:

    January – NAMA is blocked by El Presidente after someone slips her double brandy a pill with ingredients from anti-NAMA posters to the D. McWilliams website.

    February – Brian Cowen & Mary Harney resign their posts and train for the Dublin City Marathon demonstrating that the impossible is sometimes attainable.

    March – Professor Drumm writes a considerable cheque for the HSE; Eddie Hobbes volunteers in a soup kitchen; Pat Kenny is heckled by the entire Frontline audience (all at once); Bono relocates his tax money back to Ireland; Tubridy abandons the Late Late and becomes a Zen Master in Northern Tibet; Anne Doyle continues to do the 9 O’Clock news!

    April – Fintan O’Toole’s ‘Ship of Fools’ is mooted as James Cameron’s sequel to Titanic (possibly gross of 1 billion plus in the first week – all former NAMA money)

    May – David McWilliams and Brian Lenihan kiss and make up, David is suitably rewarded with an honorary biscuit and order of the Ghost Estate (sausage roll man presents award, suitable guests John Allen, Deco, Furrylugs, Malcolm McClure (you may have seen me in movies such as…..) in attendance.

    June – The Apprentice ‘You’ve been Hired’ is setup by the government and run by the indefatigable Bill Cullen, his job is to get the 420,000 back to work, with not an automobile nor product placement in sight, Roddy Molloy is on his right (earn that f**king money) and Michael Neary on his left.

    July – Mary Hanafin, Mary Coughlan, Mary McAleese appear in mid-summer performance (alongside Twink) in the Broad Way production of ‘The Three Hail Mary’s’ (the Pope issues suitably timed one liner: ‘It is how it was’). Americans go wild citing it as a ‘political Riverdance’, ‘A Tour De Force’, ‘Must See’ and of course ‘Awesome’.

    August: Height of summer sees a suitable 4 week recess for all to consider the issues confronting the ‘Nation’ before the ‘winter of content sets in’.

    September: A reinvigorated population (& Dail) emerge pledging to do their ‘patriotic duty’ (a sub-committee is established to draft up the terms and conditions and pledges to report back in the New Year).

    October: Jackie Healy Ray is elected Ceann Comhairle; Joe Duffy is elected Mayor of Dublin; George Hook is elected President of Ireland; Joe Higgins is elected President of Europe; David McWilliams becomes Governor of the Central Bank (you finally made it David!)

    November: Ryanair offers free flights (which are actually free); the Gardai show up when you call them; the County Councils actually grits the roads and footpaths; the price of a pint falls to €2.50; you come out of a hospital feeling better than when you went in; the banks are nationalised; Seanie F. and the lads have a ‘Damascus moment’, give back their earnings to the State and enter a monastery giving thanks and praise (not to the euro).

    December: RTE do a year-in-review with the lovely Sharon and we all wonder over a lovely bottle of vino what next year will bring! The second coming? Ireland as the 33rd team in the world cup?Jim Fahy ventures outside the ‘West’? Roy Keane puts on the green jersey one last time? Bertie declares at a Washington Speakers engagement: ‘I am a Marxist/Leninist till I die!
    (J. P. Mara: Was that Lenihan or Lenin boss?)


    • Excellent G.
      I think Noel Dempsey will launch a new inititiave in February – “Hug A Pothole”.
      Potholes will become vilified throughout the Nation and to protect their Health, Safety and Welfare, people will be encouraged to visit them and offer solace.
      Any tourists found at the bottom will be rescued thus providing a much needed unexpected boost to local economies.

      Or that might be another bit of spin like “We’re over the worst”.

    • Well done G.!
      Just getting rid of Tubridy to Tibet would be a beginning of something good…

  42. Tax Free Commodities – those of you living on east and near Dublin have an opportunity to ‘break the ice’ and get tax free commodities thanks to the ice frozen fields with rich potatoes ready to be dug out free before they become rotten.Its a rare opportunity and while you might burn calories doing this worthy task you will be given new calories in their jackets to take home.

  43. Philip

    I must say, I stand in horror and admiration of the simplicity of the logic behind PhilRuss1′s justitifcation of NAMA. And I believe he reflects the policy thinking very accurately.

    NAMA is really a means of putting the fatcat elitist gamblers in stasis until US and UK recover. And if it does not, well…last one turn out the lights.

    Phil – what a wonderful vote of confidence you have in Ireland to stand on its own feet. Much like Lenihan Senior’s comment that the country can barely support the population it has right now.

    As I work in the hi-tech area where growth tends to happen first, I can tell you, the outlook is not good. Which means UK and US are not coming back anytime soon – maybe never in a way as we once saw it. It’s a paradigm shift. So whatever old wisdom you are relying on to get you thro life, suggest you ditch it asap before you wind up with more debt and misery.

    • Tim

      Philip, that makes sense to me.

    • wills

      Philip, phils plain speaking on it is a real insight, absolutely.

    • StephenKenny

      You are, I believe, quite right.
      What sets off klaxons in my mind, are the phrases similar to “when things return to normal”, since the ‘normality’ being referred to is very far from normal. They seem to be, generally, looking back to the glory days of the height of the financial bubble, and describing that as ‘normal’.
      As many here keep saying, it doesn’t actually matter too much what does happen with NAMA – the problem is that there is no way to replace the jobs, and incomes, that were created by the huge borrowing that has been going on for 10 (or 20, or 30 – depends how you look at it) years.

      • It goes to show politicians haven’t a clue about economics. Infact, most economists don’t know any more than the ordinary dog on the street, otherwise they would have seen the bubble bursting way back in early 07.

        One of the major problems is Keynesian economics, especially the call for massive bailouts only throws good money into a black hole. Its fixing the fundamentals that counts. That means, becoming cheaps, saving more, spending less on imports and producing more exports. So bloody simple, isn’t it?! But it seems few people understand that, otherwise when NAMA was proposed it would have been rejected heavily, but the fact is it wasn’t.

        It shows the Green Party especially don’t have a bulls notion about economics either. They are a bunch of greeky yuppies who think they live in an ideal world. For example, gormless wants to take away people’s rights to cut and burn their own turn and not provide an alternative. The genius must think we all have access to gas. Bit off topic and into a rant, but it frustrated me how clueless and in a bubble the political class live.

        • Dilly

          Sean, you are right on the topic there. Didnt we give away all our Gas to the lowest bidder recently ?. And correct me if I am wrong, but,isn’t Keynesian economics from the industrial age ?, an age which is long gone from these shores.

    • Philip – I have bought tears to the eyes of my psycologist whom I have been attending for the last year since the collapse of our economy…..

      In looking at contributions on the website (and they are indicative of the talent that I hope stays with Ireland) it strikes me that much of the outrage is directed at a particular snapshot in time rather than an overall picture – thus the branding of all bankers and politicians are bad…. Even D McW has done this in his analysis of middle class Ireland – because the last decade was not about the fall of the Irish middle classes – it was about the rise (years 2000 – 2007) and the fall (2008 – 2009) of the Irish middle classes.

      Ireland is inextricably linked to the UK and USA for all sorts of reasons – that is reality. And that is a good thing because both countries have shown themselves to be remarkably resilient when the chips are down.

      The historical success of both these countries has in part been based on a strong property market – it creates confidence.

      Somehow over the last 20 odd years USA and UK seemed to think that consumer spending would drive their economies (I think Alan Greenspan has much to answer for) rather than manufacturing – we are humans; we have hands; and we need to make things.

      To add further mischief somehow these countries (particularly the States) compomised its property market by allowing banks to embark upon schemes linked to properties which no-one fully understood – hence the sub-prime crisis which not only threatened the worlds entire banking system; but also undermined the prime property markets – which in turn undermined confidence.

      Ireland as we are all very painfully aware embarked on its own little property cameo and didnt even bother trying to dress it up.

      We need to stabilise the property markets and get them back to being strong so that people feel secure. NAMA may actually help in achieving this because it will provide some kind of regulation – if it is not politically interferred with.

      Probably the most relevent topic I have seen on the web is the link to the Economist’s piece on global unrest. I suspect Philip that you refer to hi-tech jobs going to Asia and Eastern Europe. In the medium term I believe that social unrest is the achilles heel of most of these emerging country which is why Ireland has to stay true to restoring its competitve base as I have argued. The next war may well be India v whatever Pakistan ends up as being. The next political upheaval may well be in China. The country quickest to becoming uncompetitive may be Poland.

      It would be nice to have Capitalism with a smile as Wills says – but had the Free Market doctrine ruled then capitalism was bankrupted in October 2008 – which was what the Republicans nearly let happen – they were too stupid to understand the consequences of doing nothing.

      Ireland’s contribution is NAMA; it stinks but it is the only game in town. I dont like seeing the likes of Irish Nationwide and Anglo Irish apparently getting away with financial blue murder and the tax-payer footing the bill – but we are where we are.

      There are 2 massive problems in the World at the moment – debt which can be paid off in time if we can inflate our economies – and the fact that we are over-populated by around 3 billion people. That in my mind makes Ireland a good place to be…….

      • Dilly

        This should be our national moto “we are where we are”, and our anthem should be “ghostown” by the Specials. Because I have been listening to Politicians trot out this line ever since I was a kid. Property aint coming back anytime soon, I was in a village during the Christmas, it has 166 inhabitants and 300 properties. The only thing propping up the rental market is social welfare payments to landlords, and how long will that last ?. We produce little or nothing to offer the rest of the world, we have nothing to barter with, but still wait cap in hand for the US and UK to get back on their feet. If Fianna Fail could get away with it, they would blame England at the same time as they cosy up to the United Kingdom for help.

  44. Tim

    Folks, Greetings to you all. I “shut-down” there, for a while and now I see how much you have all contributed, in my absense.

    I have spent a long time this evening, reading what DMcW and all of you have written. (Most of the time I lap-it-up, but these days, I am finding it “hard-work”, for some reason.)

    I have also been watching the progress that we are making on “The 5s” on etherpad here:


    Many of you are contributing and it is developing (into what, I’m not sure, yet!) But could I suggest, please, that we debate here and place suggestions there?

    I think that DMcW’s site is for debate and the etherpad is only for suggestions. I gather that people are, simply “adding” to it, rather than actually “editing”. We have to accept the fact that, if we are going to collaborate on this document, that some things will be deleted, too. We should not be afraid to delete something. We should not be afraid of offending someone by deleting what they have written: it is a live document, so they can always re-type their suggestion, if they feel that strongly about it (but, of course, I would have to ask myself the question and consider “Why” someone of you deleted my point, before I go to the bother of re-typing it!).

    Look, I do not know where this etherpad “5s” thing is going to lead; I do know, however, that it IS worth trying.

    There are some very interesting and worthwhile “jousts” on this page.

    I have to say, though, that PhilRuss1, you are considerably unfair in saying that what is posted here is “just a bit of fun”. I have found, over time, that the vast majority of contributors here are very principled people and are trying to make a difference; trying to contribute something worthwhile; trying to be agents of progress.

    Many here disagree with me about many things and we often come to virtual “blows”.

    But we are still here.

    I am following DMcW’s articles, and I am trying. I am trying to learn, trying to figure-out, trying to find a way forward.

    I have found people here who are trying to do the same thing. It is not “just a bit of fun”, IMHO.

    Some have been “calling-out” the names of economists who tried to warn us before we started going slowly over the cliff that we are now, painfully-slowly, going-over; you neglected to mention Morgan Kelly, Constantine Gourdgieve and Brian Lucey in the same-breath as David.

    wills, Deco, Shane, et al…. trojan work!

    John ALLEN, I am unqualified for the position of Árd Rí.

    Furrylugs, LRK is alive and well, here:


    Let’s keep at it!

  45. I discovered this site some time ago and I knew nothing of economics. It’s been a rough ride since I decided to throw in my lot with Ireland rather than a friend living near Limoges. C’est la Vie.
    Wills was talking about Mercantilism so I studied that too. Here’s the question.
    Thinking globally since the Middle Ages superceded the Dark Ages, has all commerce been built on robbing some other poor bugger? If so, Communism etc was only a social experiment to give people the semblance of choice.
    By definition, profit is non existant. It peaks and troughs but requires constant bail outs. So the model is not a model at all but a farce designed to rape.
    Now where is the next Gold coming from. If these people who cynically assess the next Peak are leading us to Environmental Armegeddon for the sake of the buck, do they not realise that they are the real Lemmings? All voracious Nation States have failed throughout history because they became what they sought to defeat initially. The Nation State of Globalisation would seem to have also failed through rancid greed.
    My regret is that I won’t be around in 75 years to read the history books relating how stupidly short sighted the world became. Or are we on a self prophetic path to M.A.D.?
    I don’t know but some fool that does know needs to get a grip fairly fast.
    What do we do when we shoot all the people who don’t agree with us? There’s no Martians on the horizon so who’s going to be the big Demon then?
    The penny has finally dropped and I must go back over Wills writings on here, among others.
    What sort of a world have I brought my young lad into?

  46. Tim

    “I don’t know but some fool that does know needs to get a grip fairly fast.” [Furrylugs]

    I don’t know about you, but that’s why I am here.

  47. Philip

    What do unstable blowout countries have in common….reasonably good climate all year round, hot blooded people and Catholics. Ireland and Spain fall into that category.

    Maybe if this snow/frost continues into Feb and March, we might be molded into a new form of thinking. Apparently people become more aware of one another and indeed socially aware during cold snaps.

    Greed and selfishness is the root cause. Nothing else. The frost is killing off bacteria, preparing plants for the new year and destroying spuds (which make you too fat anyway). People are forced to slow down and maybe think a bit. We are stuck and we need each other to warm this place up. It is in times of cold and darkness that the best ideas come to light.

    • Philip

      Oh and another thing….a nasty cold snap makes us appreciate what can go missing…deliveries, schools, farmers/food who’s input costs have gone thro’ the roof. Those supermarkets may just be a little too far away as you aimlessly skid around in your 4×4. It also stops hotheadedness. Time for cool thinking.

    • Colin_in_exile

      Good point Philip.

      I actually feel more at home in Spain than I do when in England. Our countryside is very similar to northern Spain, the people there even look very similar to us, and have a similar attitude to life – they say manana manana, we say I’ll get back to you in 5 mins – which turns into 24 hours very often.

      Bill Sykes’ book “blood of the isles” proves our iberian origins are dominant.

      But, you also must remember, people from colder northern protestant europe love to holiday in catholic countries, and this is not recipricated. Care to guess why?

      • Colin_in_exile

        typo *Bryan Sykes, Dickens didn’t have time to write about these matters, nor was dna analysis sufficiently advanced in the 19th century.

      • Philip

        You can strip off and be lighter. So smaller baggage going south. Euro southerners are poorer – simple as that I think.

  48. Philip – you are sensing the Planet saturn now – all will be positive again after 15 th January …..relax.

    • Philip

      Well, http://www.metcheck.com indicates a certain change around 15th for sure with rain on 20th. At midnight (ish) Saturn is just to the left of the Moon as it rises just now.

      • Who took a bite out of the moon on New Year’s Eve?

        • Tull McAdoo

          NAMA DID IT….. They reckoned that the piece they bit off had “no long term economic value”… Frank “40 gaffs” Fahey advised them that the sun never shone on that bit , not like his precious Galway Bay…….I will say this about Frank he seems to know a lot about where the sun dont shine, he even talks through it. If it was down to me and Frank I’d put my boot where the sun dont shine. Gobshite.

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