October 4, 2010

No hope for blind optimism

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Last Thursday night, Bill Clinton spoke in UCD. It was a brilliant speech, classic Clinton, full of empathy, humour, self deprecation and hope; above all, it was laden with Clintonesque hope.

Others spoke of optimism and the need to look to the future.

The theme was that we are too pessimistic at the moment and are potentially hampered by our own negativity.

In fact, so much of the chat focused on the need to be optimistic that, by the end of the night, it began to feel like a self-help group for men in tuxedos.

Clinton’s keynote speech was followed by an address by Seamus Heaney.

Heaney made an equally compelling speech and the real friendship between the former US president and Nobel laureate was evident in the natural warmth between them.

However, Heaney said one thing that resonated with me.

He quoted Czech poet and former president Vaclav Havel on the distinction between hope and optimism.

Havel, a man who had plenty of time to think about these things following years of internal exile in Czechoslovakia – made the following distinction: ‘‘Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but hope is the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”

This is a crucial distinction.

As the evening was an Irish-American celebration, there was a lot of talk about Irish-America and how it helped with the peace process.

Time and again, speakers mentioned the bravery of Clinton in giving the visa to Gerry Adams to enter the US in January 1994 as a milestone of political vision over bureaucratic tunnel vision.

This was the triumph of hope over optimism. Clinton didn’t give Adams a visa because he was an optimist but because it made sense irrespective of the outcome.

At the time, Clinton went against all the advice and all the received wisdom of the vested interests of the day.

Everyone, except Republicans and a few IrishAmerican politicians, claimed that the Adams visa would be a horrendous mistake.

The official line was that it would lend credibility to a terrorist and would ‘reward’ bad behaviour and thus embolden others to continue – rather than stop – fighting.

The establishment was wrong, very wrong.

The reason they were wrong is that they couldn’t see that the world had changed.

They were stuck in their thinking.

Today, the establishment is wrong again on Anglo Irish Bank.

The financial markets would reward us for burning the creditors of Anglo, like the world rewarded Clinton for giving Adams a visa.

But the Irish establishment can’t see this probably because so many of them – bankers, brokers, top mandarins and professional law and accounting firms – have their snouts in the trough.

I couldn’t help thinking, as I listened to Clinton, whether our government and the few thousand professionals who will gain from bailing out the banks and Nama know the difference between optimism and hope.

The Cowen/Lenihan government – which has been wrong about everything on the economy – is putting its faith in blind optimism.

The line is that if we pay all the money now, we will be rewarded as good boys; if we buy AIB now, we will make money in the future; this is our ‘line in the sand’ moment; it’s onwards and upwards from here.

And sure by the time we go back to the bond market, the world will have changed, and everyone will have forgotten the mess that Ireland has become and finance us at a lower interest rate.

This is blind and pathetic optimism, because it is based on the same three-card trick, the same bluff and gamble that got us here in the first place. In short, they have learnt nothing at all.

In contrast to optimism, hope is doing that thing which makes sense because, once something makes sense, people look to the future with confidence.

The future can’t be secured by yet another gamble. Consequently, if a bank is bust, let it go bust – don’t bluff.

The taxpayer didn’t cause this and has no business paying for any of it.

The argument given by the establishment, who were in attendance in UCD last Thursday night, is that to allow capitalism to take its course is wrong.

So we have now arrived at the perverse situation in Ireland where we must reward failure because to penalise failure would undermine the credibility of the state. This convoluted logic is the triumph of self-help optimism over rationality.

Look where the ‘we are turning the corner’ self help optimism of this government has got us.

We are now a state with no control over our policy.

This is what the EU Commissioner Olli Rehn stated last Friday: ‘‘Ireland will not continue as a low tax country. But rather it will become a normal tax country in the European context.”

What does this mean for our corporate tax structure? Has the government given away our corporate tax rate to save Anglo?

Is this the price for the European Stability Fund? Is this the price for optimism over action?

Optimism has led to us pulling out of the bond market till next year.

This will provoke an enormous crisis, because the government’s gamble now is that we can go to the market desperately looking for cash at a time when the credit crunch and the massive fiscal contraction will mean the economy is contracting next year, not expanding.

Optimism also has led the government to slip in this nugget about Nama last Thursday: ‘‘The government has decided, having consulted with the Nama Board and the European Commission, that where the total exposure of a debtor is below a €20 million threshold in AIB and Bank of Ireland, that debtor’s loans will not now be transferred to Nama.

The threshold had previously been set at €5 million.

‘‘They account for just €6.6 billion of the aggregate €80 billion volume of Nama eligible loans. Loans of this size can be efficiently managed by the banks themselves through their network of local representation and relationships.”

So €6.6 billion of dodgy debt which was supposed to go into Nama will now be left on the balance sheets of the banks, which kind of defeats the purpose of Nama in the first place.

Think about it: Nama exists to remove the bad loans from the banks’ books, but by not doing that, it is acting in direct contravention of its raison d’etre. AIB and Bank of Ireland have already transferred €9.7 billion to Nama and have €25.3 billion outstanding.

This number now drops to €18.7 billion, with AIB and Bank of Ireland having to write down the balance themselves. Which, of course they will not be willing to do, or at least will only be willing to do if they have money available to cover the losses.

Which will lead to the zombification of the banks – which was what Nama was designed to prevent.

But this can all be swept under the carpet by blind optimism, because if you tell yourself that the future will be better without doing anything to make that better future more likely, you can convince yourself of anything.

My money says we will be in the European Stabilisation Fund by St Patrick’s Day and that Mr Commissioner will be running the show. This is where this touchy-feely optimism will get us.

Had the government had the Clintonesque courage revealed by granting the Adams visa to do the right thing – not the respectable thing – we could be back in the market, sovereign and confident.

But no, we will be in contrast, a concubine country, dancing to the commission’s tune.

That’s where optimism gets you.

The banks will be zombies and the economy will continue to contract. There is a difference between hope and optimism, but when – as this government has – you have spoofed yourself and the people for years, you don’t have Vaclav Havel’s clarity, and you can’t distinguish between hope and optimism. But, of course, you couldn’t have that clarity because that type of clarity is the product of integrity, not mendacity.


  1. adamabyss

    subscribe.

  2. Malcolm McClure

    David: Your Insight and grasp of our problems and your eloquent analysis and portrayal of them have reached new heights with this column. It is utterly brilliant.
    Clinton and Heaney have that effect on people. They give us hope that following a rational course will provide a safe pathway through the mists that cloak the future.
    Keep aiming at the positive as I believe that your best efforts still lie ahead of you.

    • s1lverbullet

      wasnt clinton also going on about how politicians should tell the truth and be honest..ha ha ha..pot n kettle. also heaney must be the most over-rated poet of the last 200 years

      • Malcolm McClure

        S1lverbullet: The eloquence of good poetry and good politics is based on hope. It is often expressed in allegory and parable, which depend on clear illustration of the possible rather than slavish devotion to present facts.

      • liam

        Great Irish pub debating tactics on display there, otherwise known as Argumentum ad hominem.

        http://www.csun.edu/~dgw61315/fallacies.html (via our fellow contributor, Professor Larkin, Emeritus)

        • Malcolm McClure

          Liam: Great link there, but I’m nor persuaded that s1lverbullet and I were arguing ad hominem. We both simply stated personal opinions and did not besmirch each other, as would be the case in an ad hominem argument.

          • liam

            Sorry, I didn’t mean to direct that at you Malcolm, but I certainly take s1lverbullet’s comments as playing the man not the ball.

  3. roc

    Indeed, David. We need to openly examine where we have come from, no matter how unpalatable that may be, to take the correct actions that inevitably serve to create our future.

    That requires a certain state of mind that does not seem to be the state of mind promoted by the status quo!

    • roc

      It’s called ‘learning’. We are (supposed to be)learning, adaptive creatures. It’s unbelievable that there are appearing all these editorials and other calls for us to adopt the unintelligent approach of dumb animals as a response to our problems. It is only possible to learn, evolve and adapt intelligently by examining our past actions.

  4. David says it better than I could. I agree with everything he says. Paddy’s Day for the European Rescue Fund sounds about right!

    Its like your donkey was losing badly partly because it was carrying too much weight, so you trimmed down the weight it was carrying to the bare essentials. It wasn’t winning, but its performance was no worse. To improve its performance in the race against default, you decide to hobble it.

    A €4bn austerity package in the coming budget will do this. Same again in further budgets will reinforce this.

    The cost of the banks bailout plus the cost of NAMA will make default certain. A number of factors will ensure this. Firstly, Lehman’s collapse in 2008 and the end of Greenspan economics will lead to inevitable recession of uncertain duration at least of the order of a decade for the US economy and this will have a profound effect on the global economy. So, our economy is heading into
    a deflationary spiral that will make chances of recovery worse. There will be no recovery tsunami lifting all boats.

    Secondly,we blew our chances of getting out of this by not acting quickly, declaring Anglo a rogue bank and undeclaring it a ‘sovereign’, we had prima facia evidence of illegality we could have offered the markets. This is presently the subject of protracted investigation by CAB. Having corralled Anglo and declaring it bankrupt, we could have negotiated with bondholders and depositors
    in the shadow of fiduciary responsibility. Money saved could have been used to save Anglo/BOI and save the state from default.

    The €440 bn European rescue fund was there as a buffer we could have drawn from to get out of temporary difficulties created in the bond markets by the above scenario. We could have given ourselves a fighting chance.

    Instead, by the continuation of
    the guarantee and the NAMA(Not Another Mess Again) experiment we have chosen to bleed our economy and its taxpayers of life itself in order to serve as a vassal state the needs of foreign and local lenders on the belief we can pay our way out of this.
    We cannot. Default is inevitable.

    Our current course chosen by our vassal stooge government ensures this. The most
    incompetent government in the history of Ireland, certainly the most incompetent government in Europe, if not in the world,
    has killed the Irish econmy.

    It happened on Black Thursday, 30/09/10.

    • roc

      “It happened on Black Thursday, 30/09/10″.

      I diagree. It happened in the decisions and thinking that were taken leading up to the night of the bank guarantee and the legislation passed on NAMA.

      These were the things that sealed our fate and made it inevitable that taxpayers would pay to protect the ‘insiders’ as David calls them.

      “Black Thursday” was merely a day when the government released a bit of information that told us something about what they had really signed us up to back then.

      So, I’m trying to say, don’t look towards ‘Black Thursday” for evidence of “their” wrong-doing. You won’t find it… Look back further.

      • Deco

        This crisis did not occur on one day – it emerged over the past two decades. Cultural mores were developed over a long period, with the assistance of ‘our advertising sponsors’ and numerous politicians (including recently Dermot Ahern) who have persistently encouraged reckless spending on short term kicks.

        The responsibility for this crisis can not be diminished by saying it was one day, one political clique, one social class, or one bank. It goes much much wider than that. The entire society went into intellectual collapse, before the economic collapse started. Those who dissented were forced to shut up or get out. (as JJ Tatten pointed out on yesterday’s blog).

        “Cribben, en moanen, en sittn ondafence..is a lost oppertunity..in fact I don’t know why those people don’t go and commit suuicide” (B.Ahern, TD, at an ICTU conference circa 2006 – to rapturous applause).

        The lesson is never, ever again shout down dissenting voices.

        • Eireannach

          Deco,

          You seem to be the only regular poster on this blog with the insight to see where the problem REALLY lies – it lies in the way Irish people “perceive” things, and the incredibly foolish things they do and support on the basis of these “perceptions”.

          When Irish people see a person in a 2010 Audi, they think – he/she is rich.

          This is foolish and backward. A German or French person will think – this clown in the Audi is up to his/her neck in unnecessary debt and will regret it later.

          German tourists in Ireland eat packed lunches – it’s flasks of tea and sandwiches out of the lunchbox at Powerscourt waterfall on the picnic tables. The French eat a reasonably priced 3-course pub lunch and then don’t snack or spend any money for the rest of the day.

          But the Irish pay crazy money for NEW (WTF?) German luxury cars or French handbags and think packed lunches or EUR10 lunches with at most one little glass of wine is being a cheapskate!!

          Now either the thrifty and “tight” Germans and French are behaving sensibly, or the “I’ll spend it when I have it” Irish are behaving sensibly.

          I’ll let the reader decide.

          I’m with Deco on this – in my Fianna Fáil’s “confidence” and “optimism” stems from the mentality of their electoral constituency who splash out now and will “deal with it” later.

          Oh yeah? Our corporation tax rate will be the price we pay for our delusional “optimism”. Rosey-cheeked Irish “optimism” indeed!

          • Eireannach

            PS

            Many posters on this blog talk about the problems of fractional reserve banking, and the way money enters circulation as debt, ie. that we have a debt-based fiat currency money system.

            This is true, but look at the level of awareness of the vast majority of the Irish population. They STILL think that frugal spending is a sign of being a cheapskate, or a loser, even though anyone who mixes with Germans or French knows that they have a DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED view, that it is sensible to resist the temptation to be profligate with money.

            The Irish have become the kind of “animals” produced by a consumption based economy, rather than a production based economy.

            We are so far from debating how to reconfigure our banking system it’s truly frightening. Everyone is waiting for credit to be “freed up” again to “get the economy going” – in other words more new f**king cars and handbags and all the rest of it.

            Consumer based economies create brash squandering people who are the spawn of Satan – full stop.

          • Deco

            Eireannach – when I was about 14, a French native teacher visited the secondary school to help with language training, as part of the local twinning initiative. He told the Irish teachers, how astounded he was to find so many pubs in Ireland. He deduced that Irish people must be spending more money in the taverns than in the supermarkets. At the time unemployment was chronic, and we all knew that after school it was the B&I line. Savings were being misapproriated. But his real point was the intellectual stagnation that this produced. Our teacher told us this, in an effort to get people to realise something.

            And this is the hilarious thing. The other kids started laughing like as if there was something wrong with “the Frog”. Until that point nobody noticed. There were making remarks about his pullover, his shoes, everything that could be used for reasons of contempt. He was described as odd, French, a bore, etc… And I actually felt disgusted, because he was an honourable and honest man, and they were saying these things behind his back – because they were afraid to argue with him. For everybody knew that he would expose them for their arrogance. And the sons of publicans were the most derogatory and contemptuous. In fact, some of them were providing him as evidence not to study French. And all because he said the truth.

            Roll on twenty years, and our politicians are begging the Germans and the French for assistance, just like in the 1980s.

            How many men of that class died in car accidents, got injured, got sacked for having hangovers, beat their wives, etc… ? Well, we do not know with precision. But we know it happens in Ireland, and we keep telling ourselves these things are in the past.

            I could tell you more, but essentially it is a repeat of the same theme.

            The nexus of the problem is pride. Everytime I hear the phrase ‘proud’ I know that stupidity is being put on a pedestal and worshipped like if it were the supreme virtue.

          • Deco

            My point is this.

            One part of this arrogance, is the belief that you can reap something different from what you sow. Maybe you can reap something that somebody else has sown. What Kunstler calls the “something for nothing” economy.

            The Irish methodology of justice is designed in such a manner as to facilitate the noise maker in his pursuit of this objecitve. There is Magna Carta, and there is the Constitution. And then there is the actual process which facilitates those who work the system, in complete defiance of both the Common Law and Bunreacht na hEireann.

          • roc

            Good posts, Deco. Yes, our problems stem from social and political factors. Perhaps that is another reason why we went more crazy than most in the boom – there is nothing like money to cover up and obscure these social and political factors.

          • s1lverbullet

            @eireannach – good point man. we wont be ok here till people realise that getting credit is a bad thing. we are told since youth..oh you must get a good credit rating..F that..if you cant afford something-save up…if not then do without

          • With the greatest respect, I’ll still blather on about A45.
            Methinks therein lies the Acorn.

            Allen, whither Thou?

      • Don’t disagree with you, I should clarify I was merely pointing out my belief our last possible escape route from inevitable default closed on 30/09/09. If the two brainless Brians had announced end of guarantee and a new deal for Anglo bondholders under the shadow of European Rescue fund, we still had a chance…

    • We might not make it that far. We still have 3 month debt to rollover, a savage budget and a lapsing guarantee all at the end of the year (unless I missed something which is possible as I’ve been v busy). We might be very lonely this Christmas.

  5. Deco

    Well, I think it is fair to say that many countries are now adopting ‘non-transparency’ as a part of their economic policy framework. And this fits perfect with the aversion to clarity that see coming from Kildare Street. In fact, only Joe McNamara seems to be able to think clearly, and he got ridiculed as acting out of confused thinking.

    David is correct. The ‘leadership’ needs to get it’s thinking straight, and start to think with clarity. In fact, the only bit of clarity that came all week came from Joan ‘we are in this recession because we have no money’ Burton – when she said we have to ‘roll up our sleeves’ (and believe me I am no fan of the political wing of SIPTU).

    Here is a link by Wayalat on the expectation of the UK currency in coming years. It might be useful in the context of Alan Ahearne’s vision of us exporting our way out of the crisis.

    http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article23203.html

    Wayalat is saying that while the Con-Lib coalition is not as stupidly reckless as their predecessors, that in effect they are still persistly fudging and denying. In any case, based on Wayalat’s predictions concerning Sterling, continued efforts to inflate the currency so as to reduce the gigantic UK Debt after Browne, we should expect Sterling to get weaker. Continually. In fact we should not expect anything else. Now contrast this with the approach of Germany,(plus Finland and Benelux) concerning the Euro-or at least the official annoucements.

    Export led growth just got much tougher. It is sounds harder than it does when you hear politicians using it as a catch phrase. In other words the minimum wage, the high electricity prices, commercial rates, and all the stealth taxes, are going to have to be revised. (The GP, which I am convinced despises manufacturing, will probably stall this discussion). Something has to give, if we are to protest our manufacturing base. (we have already whittled down fishing, agriculture and tourism, to the point that it will take years to go back to where we were before the binge began).

    Secondly, this matters in the context of the NAMA portfolio. 25% of the NAMA portfolio is valued in UK Sterling. Do we get out now, or do we wait for inflation, and then some sort of recorvery in the UK property market ? When we are talking about billions, then it is an important question.

    Thirdly, this affects what remains of retailing, north of Dublin-Athlone Galway. This affects local authorities (which are another area of considerable debt), and employment.

    Anyway, I am realising that economists are seeing this situation with clarity in general. And wherever you have lawyers in charge they are misinterpreting what is happening, and then communicating a vision of what is happening which is designed to conver up their own failure to see anything with clarity, and to keep the population overly optimism.

  6. Alan42

    David , ‘ Snouts in the trough ‘ I like it . I also liked your run in with Hanafin on the radio last week .

    FF will not do a deal with the bondholders because there is something dark at the heart of the banks . At the very least I would say that the bond market would refuse to lend to FF in the future , they would demand a change of government . It would be the end of FF . And FF see no difference between the party and the country .

    • Deco

      { But the Irish establishment can’t see this probably because so many of them — bankers, brokers, top mandarins and professional law and accounting firms — have their snouts in the trough. }

      I agree.

      “None as so blind, as those who do not want to see”.

  7. mrlennyman

    Eloquent stuff David,

    I read your book “Follow THe money” and really enjoyed it. You have a personal relationship with Mr. Lenihan. Is there no way you can influence his decision making? Is there any way to turn this around?

    It is shocking to think of how badly this is being handled.

    What I fail to grasp is how they can safe guard the banks while ripping off the common man. Is there any chance of the government helping out Billy Bob who owes 10k on credit cards, 15k on car loans and is three months in arrears and about to be laid off?

    More austere measures and tax impositons for peoples who are facing the grimest times of their lives.

    They should all be sent to Charlies island off the coast of Kerry and wounded without medical aid.

    See if they like the feeling.

  8. G20 and the IMF

    I think we live in a new Reality where the IMF represents the ‘global government’. Beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt, Irish political decision of the past two years reflect what the IMF wants us to do. While the G20 is acting like a government, it is the IMF that is the true power behind the curtains.

    The way DSK looks at it, world peace through economic stability.

    The first attempt to have a truly global representation were the United Nations, but they were constantly undermined and weakened by US interests.

    After the Asian crisis in the 90s the IMF shrunk to a status of utter unimportance, when Brasil had paid back their credits, the entire fonds became irrelevant. In 2007 Sarkozy brought DSK into the IMF, and the IMF had a total of 2 bln USD. It was the G20 that gave 850 bln USD to the IMF back in 2008.

    In my opinion the game play changed after the last G20 meeting in Toronto. The IMF is deep in Ireland already, and Lenhian is their executioner.

    A total of 2400 people are working for the shadow world government which gained more confidence based on fonds of course. The are under pressure, now with a foot in the door via Greece, they can not allow another Argentina to emerge.

    When DSK succeeded to intervene with Greece, he dumped Euro 250bln over Europe, money that he had available mostly from Asian membership fees. This is how the new world order looks, and last week China made offers to Greece.

    Indonesia, Argentina, Hungary, they all got the taste of IMF structural reform demands. Of you drove through Hungary in the early 90s, a flourishing country was the main impression with budapest as a vibrant city. 20 years later, after IMF, Hungary is grey in grey, a country that is socially and economically impoverished. Victor Orban, the conservative leader, cancelled all relations with the IMF and after July the Forint was gaining value again.

    In Ireland we have a lot of IMF measures that were implemented already, more to come with the so called 4 years plan. Unemployment and socially irresponsible bail outs lead to panic austerity measures. Lenihan should not be paid by the Irish taxpayer anymore but by the IMF direct.

    Lets face the music shall we? Greece is bankrupt, a default is no matter of if but when, same counts for Spain, and in eastern Europe countries line up for the same scenario. USA is in deep shit, the markets will no longer tolerate this level of debt, and the signs of a trade war with China are on the horizon.

    One major problem is the influence of legal eagles on the entire system, they represent the totalitarian bureaucracy. A real change needs to come from reforming the banking system and Basel III is a failure.

    The global financial market is round about 200 tln of which 120 tln are made by trading debts. The USA made profits for decades with these debts. the whole system is sick as hell, it is based on the notion that banks can do business with multiples of what they really have available, simple as that.

    The IMF lives of crisis, without crisis there is no need for them and herein lies the moral hazard, they need the crisis and the G20 and IMF package is pretext to the next crisis, feeding the cycle. Banks speculate with taxpayers money, they loose and they get bailed out by the taxpayers by Law, by force, by means of IMF and compliant governments.

    As David said so often and in simple terms, and rightly so in my view, you can not have both, you can look after your citizens or you can bail out the banks, you can not do both. Ireland does not look after the people of this nation anymore, not a sausage. I have nothing but a bitter and cynic laughter left when I hear Lenihan making statements like ‘I always acted in the best interest of the tax payer.!’ He did not, but the spin works and brass necked hardcore FF voters are following his spin, so do many in FG and the Green party as well.

    The IMF spin reads like this ‘There is no other way!’ sounds familiar?

    Greece was bankrupt five times in the past 200 years, so what?

    Europe as a whole was build on lies, and now it starts to pay the price. The importance of Europe and the US in the world is declining, Brazil, India and China are the new powerhouse of global trade.

    After the Asian crisis there was not a lot left of the IMF, it’s competence and methods exposed and shattered into pieces. Today it is different,no one questions their role and function except a few.

    • BrianC

      Right on the mark. And back to my hobby horse ‘fractional reserve banking’ is a key tool of the IMF. The function of the IMF is to break a country so it becomes their asset which they sweat to their benefit and those they appoint to run it. Not all who are appointed to run matters on their behalf actually know their part in the program.

      The IMF needs to create strife between the Western economies and the ‘emerged stabalizing’ economies of the East so as to deliver the conflict they need. And there is no bettew way than to stall growth in the West and stimulate growth in the East.

      It is a great pity that the economics of EF Schumacher ‘Small is Beautiful a study of economics as if people mattered’ is not to the fore then all would know moderation is a fundamental building block to equity for all. I accept this may be a bit of the point however, I think there is more hope in Small is Beautiful but will never be realised until true resources are pushed into this type of thinking. And if we think an economy can repositon in a Global economy via paltry small sums of money such as 15k to 25k Euro delivered via schemes such as Enterprise Ireland then it is game set and match to the IMF and ECB.

      • BrianC – It amazes me how little resistance against these IMF policies is out here, in Iceland it is one of their major goals to get them out!

        If banksters were the crooks, the IMF is the Mafia.

      • Gege Le Beau

        Agree with comments.

        More often than not the point of ‘debt’ or odious~illegitimate debt is that the sum is rarely if ever paid back, the true point is to keep people indebted, struggling, meek and beaten if possible and the banks serviced through repayments.

        This applies as much to the individual as it does to countries. Crisis is good for business, crisis makes it easier to smash Trade Unions (which are more effective in other countries and have paid a huge human price in terms of assassinations etc), keep people perpetually terrified (Ireland has 2 years of it now, quite a social experiment), role back workers rights, benefits, education and health care, have politicians talk about how painful it is while they pick up a cheque every month that is multiples of the average industrial wage.

        The form of control is social terror while the aim is to ensure the profits continue to run to the rich and powerful, to the people who run the country and have always do so. Maintain the status quo at the expense of the masses, especially the PAYE worker where money can be deducted at source with little protest as Unions have been castrated or are guilty by association (people who give public speeches and who also pick up a cheque every month which is multiple times that of most of their members).

        John Perkins: Confessions of An Economic Hitman
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTbdnNgqfs8

        This goes deeper than Democrats and Republicans
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oARBdBtGenM&feature=related

    • Black Cat

      Quote ‘The importance of Europe and the US in the world is declining, Brazil, India and China are the new powerhouse of global trade. ‘
      This is what troubles me considerig their reputation for the treatment of their slaves, I mean workers – that we will have to join in with a race to the bottom with them. Maybe because of this shift of power the recovery will never come to this part of the world unless we are prepared to work for 10 cent an hour and sleep at our machines. But climate change is the big unpredictable element which may lead us to a future we can’t envision.

      • Gege Le Beau

        The BRIC nations (Brazil, India, China)are rising economies, with massive internal problems (huge populations, staggering levels of poverty, enormous social inequalities, high levels of crime, large peasant populations).

        Plus they often require successful Western markets for export, and other exchanges.

        At least Latin America as a region is attempting to unite under a common banner and show the world some form of alternative socio-economic model, it is a long way off but they have started the process despite unsuccessful coups in Venezuela and Equador and a ‘successful’ one on Honduras, all aimed at blocking this unprecedented process.

  9. Peter Schum

    I agree we are on the road to the European Stabilisation Fund, but would argue it may even be sooner than St Patricks day. As long as FF stay in power, we are powerless to influence the current course of action, and we will have to sit through an austere budget in Dec which will further throttle our struggling economy. If we cannot grow the the economy, and get people back to work, the 3 billion + cuts will be to no avail. I am disapointed that the FG stratregy to try to force the issue in the Dail was not supported by all parties. Surely we have to be more creative, as the cement truck approach has proven to be somewhat ineffective. I wonder if there are too many vested interests involved in the Anglo Irish trough, which may be influencing the course of action. A clean sweep would help to resolve this, so lets hope the people will be allowed to have some input into our future, and our children’s future. I am optimistic, but not hopeful.

    • Gege Le Beau

      \\I wonder if there are too many vested interests involved in the Anglo Irish trough//

      Think this could be close to it. A can of worms if ever there was one, who knows who was involved in that bank or what kinds of transactions took place. One senses it is the tip of an iceburg.

      • Deco

        Three letters in the answer to the question. IoM.
        Isle of Man.
        What exactly is on deposit in Anglo’s Isle of Man branch ?
        And by whom ?

  10. tomahawk

    Barrister Lenihan.
    Our problem at the moment is that we have a good barrister bluffing in the wrong chamber. Full marks for oratory excellence but it looks like we’ll be going down guilty as charged. Should have got an economist stupid.

    • I do not call this oratory excellence but verbal diarrhea instead.

      • tomahawk

        Agreed, but is that not the job of a Barrister?
        Face it…he’s been so good at bluffing that most people think he should be leader of FF!
        Just imagine if say Martin Cullen had the record of Lenihan in Finance……..Would he be favourite for leader? Its not what you say its the way that you say it.

    • ThomasFergus

      What, like Dan Mclaughlin? Or Colin Hunt? Or Jim Power? Or all the other economists who spoke about a soft landing?

      It absolutely amazes me the number of people who think that if only we had “qualified” people doing the politicians’ jobs, we’d be sorted. If we had Dan McLaughlin running Finance, Dr. James Sheehan running health, Adrian Hardiman running Justice and Michael O Leary/Christophe Mueller running Transport, then I’d bet every last cent I’ve paid to Anglo that they would run this country into the ground. In fact, I believe they are effectively running those Depts and that in fact they have run the country into the ground.

      Brian Lenihan has made all those catastrophic decisions not necessarily because he is incompetent, but because he is institutionally corrupt. By that I mean he will always put his desire for offfice and its trappings ahead of any reformulation of the power structure in this country. His father did the exact same thing as Minister for Education in the 1960s when he ran out of an church controlled industrial school rather than confront the authorities running it, when an abused child begged him for help. “Get me the f*** out of here”, he was reported to have said to his driver.

      I don’t like the clientelist nature of Irish politics or the absence of ideas of the political parties any more than the rest of you; and I accept there is phenomenal incompetence in our political system, but please, please, please, try to spot the difference between incompetence and corruption.

      You all seem to be calling for some kind of technocracy, a la China and the Soviet Union. Be careful of what you wish for.

      • Gege Le Beau

        Great comment.

      • Hello no! We do not need another technocracy, but the people of this Nation to come forward and state their demands, ditch the constitution and start from scratch. We need a greater level of political participation, hand in hand with political accountability!

        • Eireannach

          I say the 2 big shifts needed are:

          1) We need to psychologically shift from consumerism to production. That means the guy who borrowed to buy a new Audi is considered a fool, not someone to be jealous of. We are a long, long, long way off from making this mental shift.

          2) We need to speak more European languages, read more European papers, talk about Europe in pubs as a place to build business relationships (not about boozy stag-night w/ends and leggy Slavic women).

          We need to realize we are currently retarded – stricto senso – on both points.

          We current consume/spend on credit and think our “economy is moving” while it’s actually going into yet more personal debt (I mean WTF?!) and the continental languages are still regarded as exotic and minority pursuits for Arts graduate types.

          We are squandering consumers who speak no European languages.

          In other words, respect for us at European level is about zero. And they will be bailing us out via the Stabilization fund. F-A-I-L!

      • “”institutionally corrupt”"

        Let my Epitaph be written.

        We have actualised.

  11. But no, we will be in contrast, a concubine country, dancing to the commission’s tune.

    ++1 David. I keep saying this since long, Sarkozy/DSK/Merkel/Trichet whistle, Lenihan dances!

    Fucking debt junkies….sigh

  12. phoebebright

    Personally I am unable to feel optimistic about a situation until I have stared the problem in the face and made a plan for the future that takes account of the risks ahead. Once I have done everything I can to protect myself against problems ahead, then I can be hopeful and even optimistic, however bad the situation might be.

    If I cling to optimism for fear of looking at my problems too closely, my words of optimism do not carry conviction and I wake in the night plagued by nameless fears.

  13. Gege Le Beau

    Have we any collective memory?

    Easy for Clinton to talk in generalisations and to invoke the good old rhetoric, or berate us for being overly negative (the good old American positivty industrial, maybe he should quote from ‘The Secret’ and the ‘Law of Attraction’ that we brought it on ourselves but like Darby O’Gill if we think hard enough and positively enough we can once again go to Never Never Land.

    What about his role in all this? His economic policies, the further financialisation of the US (global) economy (revoking the Glass—Steagall Act for instance), pushing neoliberalism, low interest rates (where easy access to credit led the huge boom, giving the illusion of prosperity), and the economic team around him (same guys Obama hired)? Greenspan et al.

    To be fair, Albert Reynolds played a large role in convincing Clinton to grant Adams the visa to the US, it also played well with the Irish-American vote but there was some risk in it, but Clinton was well paid back in terms of public adoration etc, etc.

    • coldblow

      Gege

      “Have we any collective memory?”

      Course we have, we’re Irish and we are enslaved by our history. Here’s the full list, going back in time. Or is it forwards?

      Ryder Cup win
      Lorry in Dail
      Death of Gerry Ryan
      Hand of Henri
      Revamp of Angelus on RTE1
      Reeling in the Years first appears
      Mary Robinson elected
      Victory over Germany in WC
      Houghton’s goal against Italy
      Johnny Logan wins Eurovision
      Beating England
      Disappearance of Shergar
      Wanderly Wagon
      Ryan’s Daughter
      The Beatles
      The Quiet Man
      Introduction of the Holy Hour
      Hitler
      Michael Collins
      Easter 1916
      The Famine
      Battle of Clontarf
      St Patrick banishes the snakes

    • Eireannach

      @Gege Le Beau

      Do you know why DMcW looks up to Clinton and seeks hope at an Irish American gig?

      I’ll tell you – because DMcW doesn’t speak any continental languages like French or German and is, by default, like the rest of his generation in Ireland, an Atlanticist.

      This despite the fact that we are in the EZ and the French, Germans and the rest of them are out FELLOW CITIZENS. He doesn’t speak their languages, doesn’t no too much about how they think or why they adopt the positions they do, in general or toward Ireland in particular.

      DMcW is, in a nutshell, sooo C20. We are in Europe, We are in the EZ. We need to stop looking for hope from a C20 “leader” like Clinton, and find out more about our FELLOW CITIZENS in the United States of Europe, which already exists in everything but name.

        • ERM too………………

          • Actually, thats a complete load of bollocks and if you had a glass when you wrote it, fair enough. But if you meant that comment, then you haven’t paused to understand what in the name of the Almighty is going on round here.
            Look,
            Start with Gurdgiev, then Lucey and then try to critisize McWilliams.
            You’ll fail my friend.
            The one God honest thing about McWilliams is that he’s blowing any blasted chance of a decent living here by telling the truth. And has done so for years.

            Anyway, since we’re all in Europe and forced to take the Deutchmark now as opposed to the Queens Shilling, why don’t they (them Euro lot) make an effort to Bí ag caint an Teanga do mo Thínteán féin?

          • Eireannach

            @Furrylegs

            DMcW responded to my post and conceded that he is an “Atlanticist”.

            My point is that Ireland is in, and will remain in, the EU, and the EU will force us to change our corp tax rate because we have been, and remain, a debt-based consumerist society, like our pals in the Anglo-American Empire.

            Power is changing hands from the debtors to the creditors.

            This is about power. In the EU there are 65 million English speakers in a lot of debt, 68 or so million French speakers in less debt, and 100 million or so German speakers in less debt.

            Debt is a claim against your future wealth. So, relatively speaking, we go down in the world.

            Or do you disagree? Do you reckon we go up in the world because that would be a more agreeable outcome? Get real!

            C’est en fait toi qui est “ailleur” si tu crois qu’on puisse se dévéloper sans aborder la problème de notre manque de maitrise des langues européennes.

          • Eireannach,
            We will not stay in the Eurozone at all. I’m sure either our membership will fail because of domestic issues ot the Eurozone will fail because Ireland will become the proof that the whole circus is intrinsically flawed.
            My apologies for the strong language and I’m appreciative of your measured response.
            I can assure you that I am very “real” having just opened a new business in Ireland, where I live.

            I could be rounding this off as Gaeilge since I live and work in Muscraí but I want everyone to understand the comments.

            I appreciate David McWilliams allowing unfettered open comment here. He has taken the time to contact me personally, on occasion, on issues we disagree on.

            His attitudes would be as right wing capitalist as mine but tinged with moral code.
            That makes him a bloody good leader in my book.

            Stats.
            There are 3 billion people in the world who have never made a phone call, let lone spell Internet.

            I have said this before and now again. We export our rubbish politicos to Europe.So does every other country in the Eurozone. Brussels is full of the Hopeless and Useless.
            And steered by unelected officials aligned to people like Sutherland. A monster QUANGO doomed to failure by walking through treacle.

            BTW, It’s LUGS, not LEGS. The hirsute issue is further up the body.
            Slán.

  14. Ravished By The Sheer Implausibility Of That Last Statement

    If I were a German citizen I would be outraged at the prospect of bailing us out any further, and I certainly would not invest in the Irish state as it is run by lunatics.
    EMMIGRATE

  15. I think we are seeing the final stages of delusion before the Reality Day appears with the IMF/European Rescue Fund knocking on the door:

    http://bit.ly/9fxYST

    Interesting discussion on the IMF here:

    “No, the real concern of the fund’s senior staff, and the biggest obstacle to recovery, is almost invariably the politics of countries in crisis.

    Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason–the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies
    commonly form a tight-knit–and, most of the time, genteel–oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders. When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some
    investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon–correctly, in most cases–that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial
    problems that arise.

    ……………..

    But inevitably, emerging-market oligarchs get carried away; they waste money and build massive business empires on a mountain of debt. Local banks, sometimes pressured by the government, become too willing to extend credit to the elite
    and to those who depend on them. Overborrowing always ends badly, whether for an individual, a company, or a country. Sooner or later, credit conditions become tighter and no one will lend you money on anything close to affordable terms.

    The downward spiral that follows is remarkably steep. Enormous companies teeter on the brink of default, and the local banks that have lent to them collapse. Yesterday’s “public-private partnerships” are relabeled “crony capitalism.” With credit unavailable, economic paralysis ensues, and conditions just get worse and worse. The government is forced to draw down its foreign-currency reserves to pay for imports, service debt, and cover private losses. But these reserves
    will eventually run out. If the country cannot right itself before that happens, it will default on its sovereign debt and become an economic pariah. The government, in its race to stop the bleeding, will typically need to wipe out some of the national champions–now hemorrhaging cash–and usually restructure a banking system that’s gone badly out of balance. It will, in other words, need to squeeze at least some of its oligarchs.

    So the IMF staff looks into the eyes of the minister of finance and decides whether the government is serious yet. The fund will give even a country like Russia a loan eventually, but first it wants to make sure Prime Minister Putin is ready, willing, and able to be tough on some of his friends. If he is not ready to throw former pals to the wolves, the fund can wait. And when he is ready, the fund is happy to make helpful suggestions–particularly with regard to wresting control of the banking system from the hands of the most incompetent and avaricious “entrepreneurs.”

    —————-

    Of course, Putin’s ex-friends will fight back. They’ll mobilize allies, work the system, and put pressure on other parts of the government to get additional subsidies. In extreme cases, they’ll even try subversion–including calling up their contacts in the American foreign-policy establishment, as the Ukrainians did with some success in the late 1990s.

    Many IMF programs “go off track” (a euphemism) precisely because the government can’t stay tough on erstwhile cronies, and the consequences are massive inflation or other disasters. A program “goes back on track” once the government prevails or powerful oligarchs sort out among themselves who will govern–and thus win or lose–under the IMF-supported plan. The real fight in Thailand and Indonesia in 1997 was about which powerful families would lose their banks. In Thailand, it was handled relatively smoothly. In Indonesia, it led to the fall of President Suharto and economic chaos.

    From long years of experience, the IMF staff knows its program will succeed–stabilizing the economy and enabling growth–only if at least some of the powerful oligarchs who did so much to create the underlying problems take a hit. This is the problem of all emerging markets.”

    Problem is here the government who caused the problem are still in charge and are working the system to save themselves and cronies, with the same policies that got us into the mess. Reckless borrowing to save reckless lending to reckless cronies.

    Interesting times, a wee poem to cheer you up!

    ‘Don’t Speak About Default’

    (On Brian Lenihan’s complaint there is too
    much talk of default)

    You left us behind
    On elephant island
    Shackled on sinking ice
    That’s not nice!

    We saw you last
    Calming our money lenders
    While Clown from his bender

    White-tailed sea eagle?

    Stole another few billion fish
    From our taxpayer’s larder

    We’re KOwing to default!
    Inevitable as your bubble!
    It will bring more trouble!

    I shouldn’t share this with you?
    Warn you? Au contraire!
    You’ve been Serf’d!

    • Gege Le Beau

      See no evil, hear no evil. People acting entirely altruistically.

      Orwellian stuff worthy of an apparatchik.

    • Deco

      One thing is clear. She knows nothing about economics. But she is good at making a bun fight, when there is even the remotest chance that there might be an accurate analysis presented to the taxpayer.

      David – well done. It is abundantly clear that Hanafin is trying to rubbish and categorize the very salient points that you made.

      Minister Hanafin – ” Is there something wrong with the American approach to handling failed banks, that we should tell the Americans about, so as to demostrate our clear superiority in policy matters ? ”

      The last time I heard Hanafin on the radio she was praising CRH, and castigating the gloom and doom merchants, when such excellent Irish management was evident in CRH. At the time CRH shares were are 19 Euro. Phoenix Magazine were of a different opinion. Do a google to see the current CRH share price. That is the biggest industrial holding company on the ISEQ. Packed with insiders, who have been critiqued by Senator Ross, and by Phoenix.

      The Irish concept of management is inadequate. The same failed thinking that got us into the mess, needs to be thrown out and replaced with something better, if we are to get above this mess. Our young graduates have already decided that this is not going to happen, and many of them are leaving.

      Time to get honest about the failings of the Irish methodology of management !!!

    • Black Cat

      It’s not often you hear someone in this country to have the courage to challenge a political leader like that – ***k her and her type

  16. Alan42

    Did you know that Havel invited Fraznk Zappa to Prague in 1990 and appointed him as ‘ Special Ambassador to the West on Trade , Culture and Tourism ?

    Sounds kind of funny but Frank was serious about developing trade etc .

    However the US Secretary of State , James Baker rerouted a trip through Europe to visit Havel with a simple message . ‘Havel could either do business with the US or he could do business with Frank Zappa ‘

    I am starting to see parallels between Zappa and David . Neither are afraid to speak their minds and both are unconventional . David actually got Hanafin to say ‘ treason ‘ on national radio . Given that the media fail and constantly fail to ask hard questions of the government to get Hanafin to say that was some achievment .

    • Gege Le Beau

      I agree, it pushed her to some degree, but she is a dangerous amateur who should be kept far, far from the levers of power.

  17. coldblow

    “Hope is the certainty that something makes sense” – the search for meaning, for understanding the reasons, regardless of how events turn out, is the introvert’s raison d’etre. Crotty’s motto (from Virgil or someone): Felix qui potuit est rerum cognoscere causam. The extravert on the other hand isn’t too concerned about the whys, but just wants the job done with the right end result. Who’s right? Well, both presumably.

    It’s perhaps funny to see David quoting Havel who seems pretty sure to be an introvert. Excuse the psychobabble but that’s just the way the world is made.

    So, following Bill (That’s a purty speech, mister) Clinton was Seamus (Whatever You Say Say Nothing) Heany, quoting from a fellow poet. I wonder does Havel repay the compliment? I once slogged through one of Havel’s shorter books but nothing remained in my memory I’m afraid. I’d prefer his compatriot Kundera. There’s a scene in one of his books where the exiled Czech protagonist is visiting acquaintances in Paris, a progressive middle-class French family with a 15 year old daughter. He comes in on them while they are discussing the important issue of toplessness (this is set a few decades ago) with the daughter arguing in its favour. The family is depicted as as a spirit level of political correctness where the idea is to position oneself at just the right position so as to be able to maximize the progressiveness of your opinions which should be progressive but not so progressive that you have to expend more than minimal time and energy in defending them.

    The quote is in tune with Heany’s existential pessimism (see John Water’s latest book, Beyond Consolation). Waters is also a major fan of Havel, which proves… well, nothing. I prefer this other quote of Havel’s: There’s always something suspect about an intellectual on the winning side. The economics and legal professions spring instantly to mind.

    But it’s all just words. To what extent is the Irish establishment (with it’s hide as thick as a rhino’s, quoting Crotty this time), self-serving or merely innocently ignorant in its collaboration with current policy? Is there a spirit level to determine the boundary? I don’t think that hope or optimism are really relevant here as my own suspicion is that the ruling class wrote off hope for the country a couple of years ago and are engaged in the quest of personal salvation. So what they profess and what they want are different things. Hope I’m wrong but I’m not optimistic.

    Take it away, Neil:

    Let me turn you on to the chromium swan
    On the nose of a long limousine
    Even hired for the day it is something to say
    But what the hhehhellll does it mean?
    I may be accused of being confused
    But I’m average weight for my height.
    My philosophy, like colour tv,
    Is all there in black and white.

    http://www.neilinnes.org/O-P.htm#protestsong

  18. FAiken

    Alan 42, treason is exactly what has happened. National security should always take precedence over politics or personal gain. We have have given up our financial independence and, in my opinion, that constitutes a breach in our national security. It may be too late but we need a hero. Haughey/Ahearn/Cowen were modern day Dermot MacMurrough’s.

    • Alan42

      I struggle with the workings of the bond market but here goes . The government let the banks go and appoint a liquidator to dispose of assets and settle with the creditors . Now and I know this happens sometimes in business if the creditors suspect there is something dodgey going on , say in the form of Phoneix companies . The creditors can go to court and have their own liquidator appointed .

      Ireland is a small country and the ruling elite are a tight bunch . Would the new liquidaor not chase down all of Irelands elite for all their debts . It could basically turn Ireland on its head in that the powerful would be pennyless .

      Is that what they are protecting ? That is where the treason would lie . Or is that rubbish ?

      • FAiken

        It’s not an accident that the Irish Financial system lacked regulation, I think it was by design. Ireland was a ‘financial wild west’. Money of all types from all over the world flowed through it. Our leaders let Ireland’s financial system (and credibility) to be used a plaything by outside and inside interests without regard for our national security.

        They’ve made their money, the taxpayer has to pay the bill, and they want what was really going on to be kept quiet.

        • Eireannach

          @FAicken

          Exactly, exactly exactly. ++++1.

          ‘Finacial Wild West’ indeed! Just who the f**k do the Irish think they are!

          That’s the short version of what the EU consensus is about us.

          There will be no ‘financial Wild West’ anymore – make no mistake about it!

          Never mind proper oversight and regulation, the Corp tax rate @12.5% is finished!

  19. malone

    An Interesting Article David,
    A question as regards to the announcement that the loans transferred to NAMA by Lenihan must be over a certain threshold . Is it possible that that was under a direct order from the Eurocrats and that there would be no more money lent by the ECB to the Irish Banks unless this policy was instituted.

    One must remember as well that to admit you were wrong takes courage and to do it in public takes even more courage and to admit that that you dont have a bulls notion about what you are doing well what does that take ?

    Is it also possible now that the goverment are caught between a rock and a hard place. On Fri the Americans said they they would look unfavourably
    upon any change in the corporation tax here in Ireland, which incidently spells out clearly their position to Ireland and why there are here in the first place,and on the other side the Eurocrats saying you will obey and increase your corporation tax rate ? what can the bastards do ,
    I wonder how the public would react to the news that the tax rate was going up and then subsequently then to hear that the American firms decided to pull out and let thousands of people go. There would be chaos.

    I am in fact in favour of increasing the tax rate for coporations. That would be a very solid source of revenue for the goverment and have a even higher tax rate for international firms based on a sliding scale , the more they make here , the more tax they
    pay. Its about time that we changed our mind towards American and multinational firms and started to create out own unique specialised industry here
    and stop the multinationals robbing us blind.
    But this decision and the tax rate would have to be taken by a proper Irish goverment , not the puppets that are there now.

  20. Gege Le Beau

    Our Acute Case of Fiscal Madness
    Future historians will marvel at the austerity madness that gripped policy elites in the spring of 2010.
    http://www.truth-out.org/our-acute-case-fiscal-madness63692

  21. Gege Le Beau

    @ Deco further to a point you made above, I like this quote: “none are so blind as those who refuse to see”.

    Drug money saved banks in global crisis, claims UN advisor.

    Drugs and crime chief says $352bn in criminal proceeds was effectively laundered by financial institutions

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2009/dec/13/drug-money-banks-saved-un-cfief-claims

  22. Gege Le Beau

    If you want to get familiar with how the system really works, how corporates and government officials from the top to the bottom truly function then Johann Hari’s article is a must, courageous writing, which speaks truth to power.

    Suffocating the poor: a modern parable

    They democratically elected a president to stand up to the rich and multinational corporations – so our governments have him kidnapped
    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-suffocating-the-poor-a-modern-parable-2081411.html

    • Black Cat

      A disturbing article – what a horrible world we live in – I really feel that with this depression, climate change, peak oil and so on we are heading into a new dark ages and will be lucky to get through our lives without experiencing some major catastrophe

      • Gege Le Beau

        The article doesn’t tell 0.1% of the injuries visited on Haiti by the West (Spanish, British, French and Americans) but it is a tremendous case study in how power and systems operate, an example which is studiosly avoided for quite obvious and deliberate reasons, which takes real disicpline.

        As I write, an estimated 1.7 million people ‘live’ in tents in Port au Prince. Haiti: a story that dominated the TV news for about 10-13 days and then nothing, not a sausage, when in fact now the crisis is reaching epic proportions, but no, you will hear about the car crash, the medical accident and Ireland playing some instantlt forgetable soccer match.

        Haiti demanded the French pay €36 billion in reparations for the theft of centuries, France offered aid of €360 million, doubt much has been delivered.

        France’s debt of dishonour
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/aug/16/haiti-france

      • We’ll be sound. We’ll stick it out like we always do but come the next election the fun will begin. Just eat loads of goody stuff to keep the memory clear and then wipe them out.

        Bye Bye Boys.

        Heh Heh. We’ll wait in the long grass.

    • An avalanche of court cases testing evaluations and transfers such as mcKillens is awaited with much anticipation by our stalworth legal profession.

      They’ve been already overstretched by NAMA poring over a hornets nest of legal documentation…could already have contributed to NAMA deciding its army of overpaid officials would restrict its workload to €20 ml plus.

      Lenihan justifies the wasted exercise of NAMA by saying that they had to set up NAMA to verify for themselves the true state of the banks.

      Bullshit, a decent set of auditors could have given a credible audit of the banxter losses asap instead of waiting over 2 years to build up the mess further.

      Historians of the future will be fascinated by the staggering mistakes of these amadan gombeen morons we have as government! Not intemperate as the only other conclusion to draw from their doings is treasonous betrayal of Irish taxpayers.

      OT with some belated, token culling of AIB management in the news http://bit.ly/9x6sqa when do we get the same culling of DofF mandarins? When do these so-called mandarins who worked closely with the Regulator/NTMA in recent times and spotted nothing, get the chop? Perhaps they suffer from the same blinding deficits of KOwing the Unknowing!

      Nobody told them waht was going on as they piled in their Stamp Duty and dreamt up their Section 23′s

      The whole top tier of the DofF should go immediately. They were already incompetent with erroneous advice bought in from Goldman Sachs telling them all was well with INBS, see links to earlier docs another post prev article at time of guarantee.

      There’s a review http://bit.ly/actqMx
      Anybody know if/when its report will be published?

      OT I should also ask, what is going to happen or has happened re the auditors of AIB/Anglo and INBS. Can we see their published reports to verify their accuracy? Is there no accountability for an auditing system that applies Loan to Value auditing rules that expose banks to sudden falls in property values?

  23. The Eye

    Lisbon for Jobs!!!……..for the boys

  24. manofiona

    The low Irish corporate tax rate will not survive, at least not without major adjustments. To see why, consider this story from “Le Monde” last week.

    Employees at Oracle France, who like all employees of large French companies are entitled to participate in a compulsory profit-sharing scheme, were mystified by the fact that although Oracle France was doing a lot of high-end business it was not declaring any profits. On investigation, it turned out that the profits had been “relocated” to an Oracle company in Ireland essentially through intra-group contracts of doubtful substance. The French labour court held that Oracle France had defrauded the French employees of their rightful share of its profits and ordered the company to pay the employees the share of profits they would have received had the dubious relocation of profits to Ireland not taken place.

    The problem other Europeans have with the Irish corporate tax rate is not really to do with jobs. The special Irish rate does not create any jobs. It diverts some jobs to Ireland which would otherwise have been created somewhere in the EU anyway. However, the number of such diverted jobs is inconsequential in the overall context of the EU.

    The real problem is that the yawning gap between the Irish corporate tax rate and that of most other EU countries is that it encourages profit and tax shopping by multinationals which seek, with varying degrees of artifice, to concentrate their costs in relatively high-tax jurisdictions and especially to concentrate their profits in low-tax jurisdictions. Such companies can benefit by advanced French or German infrastructure to produce in those countries and then cheat the French and German taxman of their share of the resulting profits by artifically locating such profits in Ireland.

    Officially, under exisiting tax rules this is not supposed to happen: only profits actually made through activity in Ireland are supposed to be booked in Ireland. However, the famously lax application of tax and other regulations in Ireland has undoubtedly induced massive artificial relocation of multinational profits in Ireland thus contributing to that unique Irish phenomenon: in Ireland GDP (which includes those profits) is significantly higher than GNP (which excludes them when they are distributed as dividends to the foreign shareholders). In a normal European country GNP should be higher thn GDP.

    In the past, probably out of concern for their own tax sovereignty, other member States did not make an issue of Ireland’s discreet invitation to tax evasion by multinationals. Now they they are all strapped for cash, and that Ireland’s mismanagement of its affairs has created a problem for the entire Eurozone, do not any mercy to be shown by its European partners to the Irish corporate tax rate unless Ireland can clearly demonstrate that it has closed the door to artificial profit transfers by multinational and is keeping it closed.

    In the longer run, just as the single market requires all member states to fix their VAT rates within an agreed band in order not to distort the operation of the internal market, it will also require member states to fix their corporate tax rates within an agreed band.

    • paddythepig

      great post manofiona. If the enforcement of the law regarding the somewhat artificial relocation of profits to Ireland could be tightened, and simultaneously if the Irish corporate tax rate could be dropped to attract real companies and jobs, do you think this would be a good policy?

      I think it should be looked at.

  25. Black Cat

    Someone once said to me that Ireland is where the money is kept but unfortunately not where it is spent, it makes more sense in light of that comment

  26. Eireanneach, would you like the response in French, German or Croatian? Or maybe, at a stab, rusty Irish or Russian.

    I’ll just say (and i don’t want to sound like a pompous ass) that my masters in economics was taught through the medium of French and English in Belgium. I love learning languages, particularly Slavic ones. And German is the langauge I love most.

    But you are right I am an Atlantist but not for linguistic reasons.

    All the best, David

    • stiofanc02

      I had a feeling that was coming back to bite him in the ass! Good on ya David. Hey someone told me The Outsiders is coming to Cork? It is not on the website, maybe it is just behind or Ive been had by a friend. Nice one anyway.

    • Patrick McElligott

      I have been following this blog for many years and have finally decided to reply to this latest post. I believe that many of the bloggers who provide comments to David’s articles are intelligent and sincere in their responses to the ongoing crisis that is unfolding before us in Ireland. However I have some observations that I would like for everyone including David McWilliams to reflect on. What is the point in appearing on TV shows such as PrimeTime and giving radio interviews, and posting “annonymous” comments to blogs unless individuals such as David McWilliams and the many bloggers on this website who clearly all demonstrate that they have the intellectual capacity to provide an alternative system of governance in Ireland lack the courage to organize a political and militant alternative to the status quo. All politicans eventually become corrupt when in power too long so Lenihan and Cowen’s behaviour should not be a surprise to anyone. The Irish people have always had a passive, defeatist mentality. The 1916 leaders of the Easter Rising who were capable and visionary at least had the courage despite the lack of public support to instigate a revolution even though they knew in their hearts, militarily it would be a failure. James Connolly and others hoped that the example that they were setting would inspire other small nations to revolt against the British Empire. It depresses me greatly to see the lack of militant action by our youth in opposing the continued subversion of the Irish constitution by Irish politicans to the wishes of the political elite of the IMF and the EU Commission.

      • Colin

        How can you have confidence in an electorate when at least 22% of it in any given opinion pole say they’ll vote for Fianna Fail, after all the misgoverning Fianna Fail have inflicted?

        Do you wish to attend funerals of constituents you barely know? Fancy looking into medical card applications or speeding up passport deliveries on special request?

        A few years ago, I remember Tony Gregory having a go at Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary’s unhappiness about some government policy, and slipping in a sly dig at O’Leary, saying why didn’t he stand for election for the Dail if he wanted things to change? O’Leary is a hard ass, but he gives people employment, and if he had his way he would have all our hotels full with incoming tourists, have more people emlpoyed working in them, the taxi drivers would be busy again and loads of extra spin off jobs would be generated. However O’Leary is clever enough to realise that Irish establishment – the maFFia and the unions and the RTE/Irish Times/Pravda media and IBEC – would throw enough sh1t at him and some of it may stick.

        • Eireannach

          In 2009, approx. 500K French tourists and approx. 500K German tourists visited Ireland.

          Of these approx 150K + 150K were on 7 or 8-day coach tours.

          That’s approx. 4,500 coach loads in 2009.

          We have approx 10 tour guides in Ireland who speak fluent French, and 5 or 6 who speak German. All the other tour guides have to be flown in from France and Germany for the season, because we have nobody in Ireland who can speak to the French or the Germans in their native languages.

          As DMcW would say – think about it.

          • Colin

            No one forces communists to fly Ryanair.

          • Gege Le Beau

            @ Colin – propagandist. Take a job and see how you ‘fair’.

          • Colin

            I will not take advice from a communist

          • Eireannach

            @Colin

            You don’t like communism? Well tough luck mate, if you’re a citizen of the European Union.

          • Colin

            Eireannach,

            Can you please outline how being a citizen of the European Union is akin to being under communist control?

            I’m old enough to remember the Berlin Wall coming down, and that wasn’t a victory for the communists now, was it?

          • Eireannach

            @Colin

            Google videos “An idea whose time has come” by G. Edward Griffin.

            The EU is collectivist in it’s political organization. It is not as statist as the USSR or China, but it is collectivist.

            Find out what collectivism is, and it’s similarity to communism, and you’ll see where we are headed in the coming decades, albeit gradually. The elites have already made the decision.

          • Colin

            Eireannach,

            I asked you to explain to me your statement, not show me a link to a website. Come on, break it down, imagine your in an exam, you have to answer the question on the exam paper;

            “You don’t like communism? Well tough luck mate, if you’re a citizen of the European Union”,

            Discuss.

          • Eireannach

            Ok Colin,

            In Karl Marx’s communist manifesto, the ultimate goal of communism is a one world government with one central bank.

            Now you have the propaganda of communism – from each according to this ability to each according yo his need, etc. This “brotherhood” of equals is communist propaganda and is represented by, for example, the hammer and sickle of the industrial and agricultural workers on the flag of the USSR.

            But communism is NOT communism. That is to say, the apparent propaganda used to bring about the centralized, totalitarian state based on one central bank (the most important power centre of all, above politics) is about the “brotherhood” of workers. This is just a front story offered by the financiers of communism to bring out their secret aim – the totalitarian state run by one central bank.

            You see. communist agitators are financed. It is their financiers, the bankers, who are the real power behind communism.

            As Mayer Rothschild said, and here I paraphrase “I don’t care what the political system in a country calls itself. Just make sure power is centralized and give me control of the issuance of money”.

            Now consider the emergence of the EU. No it is not communism – it is not being advanced by communist propaganda. A different social-democratic, ecological-sustainable propaganda is being used because communist propaganda is discredited.

            But the EU is “collectivist” – centralized state, one central bank.

            Whatever you do, please don’t write back “but you said the EU was communist” when I’ve just explained to you what communism is, namely a propaganda front for banker-driven collectivism.

        • Harper66

          Colin,
          I agree with you with regard to FF corruption, corrupt union leaders, RTE as a mouth piece of the establishment, IBEC etc. etc. but I must admit I have had it up to my eye teeth with people praising Micheal O leary .

          ” if he had his way he would have all our hotels full with incoming tourists, have more people employed working in them, the taxi drivers would be busy again and loads of extra spin off jobs would be generated” spare me please.

          If O’ leary had his way people would work for a pittance and spend what ever money they had on Ryan Air , Ryan Air Hotels, Ryan Air Taxis and everytime we’d take a piss it would cost us one euro.

          The guy is an agressive self serving business man nothing more and nothing less.

          • Colin

            Harper,

            I think MO’L would have the DAA and all the useless quangos in his sights. Collier would be out on his ear.

            I know he pays his pilots a lot of money. I know staff benefit from bonuses and shares in the company.

            MO’L also pays his taxes here in Ireland. Remember the €14m cheque he handed into ditherer a few years back? Meanwhile Bono f**ks off abroad as a tax exile and gets tv programmes made about him which revere him as some kind of deity!!!!! Go figure!!!!!

            Ryanair is an indigenous Irish business success story. What does he have to do to win you over?

          • Harper66

            Colin,Firstly I dont expect O Leary to win me over. He runs a business. That is the beginning and the end of it.
            When I hear callers to live line (and those pointless sunday morning business programmes) spout “now if Micheal O Leary was running the country..” it takes me one step closer to a dark room, a bottle of whiskey and a revolver to quote Vincent Browne.

            Totaly agree with you about Bono and the rest of his type, but dont hold up O leary as the saviour of anything other that the bottom line of Ryan air.

            If his back was to the wall I do not think he would behave any differently than rest of our illustrious business elite have – self preservation.

          • Colin

            “but dont hold up O leary as the saviour of anything other that the bottom line of Ryan air.”

            When running a business, the bottom line HAS to be the number one priority. What businesses often do in parallel to that is employ people and pay them money in return for that employment.

            O’Leary does not have anytime for the “Irish elite” of the business world. He loathes IBEC, he’s not a member of it and rightly views them as useless cronies.

            He has proved in the past, when his back is against the wall, he simply takes his airplanes somewhere else where he can do business with people who welcome him with open arms. That sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

            You may not like him, but you must acknowledge many Irish people do, not least the people he employs.

          • michaelcoughlan

            Hi Colin,

            I don’t think the people who work for Ryanair would use Michael O’Leary for shelter to shit under. If you don’t beleieve me ask any of the air hosteses on your next trip.

            regards,

            Michael.

          • Harper66

            Hi Colin,
            “When running a business, the bottom line HAS to be the number one priority. What businesses often do in parallel to that is employ people and pay them money in return for that employment”

            Fully agree with you. The guy runs a successful business, which in turn creates employment. Where I think I differ from you is that I cannot understand why he is held up as the answer for Irelands woes.How often have you heard ” if O Leary was running the country things would be better” I dont think it would be any better and I cannot understand how he always ends up mentioned in these debates.

            He is a business man which means by definition he is self serving. What we need is someone whose concern is the common good. By common good I mean some one who wants to create a well structured society where business and citizens can flourish without fear of corruption or intimidation.

          • Colin

            Michaelcoughlan,

            You’ll find that in every large organisation, that there are a small subset of employees who do not like working in that organisation. The logical thing for this group to do would be to leave the organisation and find work in a different organisation.

            Most Ryanair staff I’ve met seem to enjoy their work. I know the trolley dollies get significant commission on items they sell, and are therefore very dedicated to carrying out their duties on board.

            Harper,

            OK, we agree on most things here. Don’t you think it would be better if we got rid of all the quangos? Reduce the rent supplement scheme which makes landlords who house welfare recipients so rich? Bring in new legislation to force commercial landlords to end upward only rent reviews? Get rid of Metro North, saving us billions of wasted money? Reverse carbon taxes?…..I’m sure O’Leary could do the state some service……no former taoisigh received a gratuity for this post!

      • Eireannach

        @Patrick McElligott

        So let us suppose our young Irish rebels stood up, chest out, and declared a New Republic free, say, of the meddling of the New Empire, the EU.

        Imagine it. Visualize it. European Commission – we’re keeping our low corporation tax, to hell with you!

        What an astonishing death wish! What a disgrace that would be! The EU was built on the graves of 55 million people.

        Think about it, as DMcW would say.

        Now Ireland has the cheek to insist on a preferential corp tax rate, because we’ve built our economy on providing a haven for American corporations who don’t want to give any tax to Europe, because they’re here for the market, not for social reasons.

        What do the Americans – or Irish Atlanticists – care about this little EU “tale” of the graves of 55 million people. They don’t care and make no mistake about it, that fact is not lost on the Germans, French and so on.

        Now I’m not saying that we simply capitulate to Germany, but we are in the EU. We passed the Lisbon Treaty. We have responsibilities.

        We built an economy that, to my mind, and the editorials of German and French newspapers agree with me on this, was nothing short of demonically possessed in its hubris and voracious debt-based consumerism.

        Now the continentals want us to try a different model of economy, more social, with a corp tax rate that is more on the model of the European economies where, I might add, it works well. To give 2 fingers to this demand to adapt to the reality of EU cooperation would be the last snarl of an ugly, hyper-consumerist, myopic, Atlanticist-Imperial arrogance that so characterized ‘Celtic Tiger” Ireland.

        • Gege Le Beau

          The game is played rough by all. NATO just vaporised a whole bunch of Afghan civilians over the last few days, including an eight year old child (among others). US operations in Afghanistan for one year officially comes to about $140 billion with a record official overall spend on defence of around $760 billion for the year (excluding certain areas like Veterans affairs, covert ops etc).

          Europe built its wealth on the oppression of colonial peoples. Britain was the leading drug dealer with its opium wars in China. France owes Haiti alone €36 billion in colonial reparations. Germany reduced Poland to rubble, did the Polish see a dime in reparations, the Nazis did the same across Europe but SS men walked the streets as free men in every German city after the war while the Wehrmacht held annual dinners to celebrate their war days. Portugal destroyed the people of Mozambique and Angola, the list goes on and on.

          The Germans gave out the money in good times and the game has gone sour, casino capitalism where you are supposed to take the hit when it eventually comes (we know this is obviously not the case).

          The 5 biggest arms dealers are the 5 permanent members of the UN security council while Sweden per capita ranks as one of the top arms exporters
          http://www.democracynow.org/2008/12/9/sweden_ranks_second_in_the_world

          These weapons fuel wars in developing countries. No one at the table has clean hands.

          • coldblow

            Good comment, Gege.

            I’m sure you’re aware that Poland moved a hundred miles or so west following WW2 (ceding land to USSR, taking land from Germany) so perhaps this constitutes German reparations? I’ve a soft spot for Poland. They were a brave Catholic nation who stood up against atheistic communism. In the 80s my family used to send them the money we would otherwise have spent on presents for each other at Christmas, thus getting me out of the materialist hell that is Christmas shopping! (not easy to spot where the irony is, if any, in the above)

            Let’s not forget Belgium (Congo), Italy (Abyssinia), Holland (I’m sure they got up to plenty in the far east). And France of course (Céline really takes the p*ss out of their colonial game). In his opposition to Irish participation in the EEC Crotty reminded us that all the original members were former or existing imperialist powers.

            Glad you mentioned Sweden there, not because I’ve anything particularly against them, but just to take note that you need x-ray vision when looking at the world.

            And the $billions spent by the US military, much of it abroad: from reading Hudson you’ll know that the recipients of these dollars have little alternative but to employ it in purchasing US debt, thus financing the the whole enterprise, in the case of China financing their own military encirclement.

            Finally (this is getting long-winded), you mentioned Haiti earlier: let’s not forget the modest attempt at ethnic cleansing by the Dominican dictator, Trujillo.

          • Zaphod

            Getting very close to the truth now Gege.
            Careful, you may find out what the master plan is.
            Too many secrets…

        • Patrick McElligott

          The Irish people do not owe anything to the political elite of the European Union. What Ireland does owe is solidarity with the ordinary people of the European Union such as The Dutch and French who voted overwhelmingly against the EU Constitution (repackaged as the Lisbon Treaty). Instead, how do the Irish people respond to coercion by the European Commission after rejecting the Treaty? We cave in to the pressure and ratify it in the second referendum. My point is that in our history there were great leaders who had the courage to resist oppressive measures being inflicted on the country. If the Irish elected representatives of the people fail to uphold the Irish Constitution then they have failed as legitimate representatives of the Irish people. If militant action is necessary then so be it. As Eireanneach mentioned there are numerous solidarity movements in Latin America organized by the people to resist external intimidation and coercion on the destiny of their countries. Irish youth is sadly lacking this courage.

          • Gege Le Beau

            We were told rejection would put the economy at risk and that ratification would mean jobs.

            I see the judgement of those statements in the papers every morning, IMF here by St. Patrick’s day, hmmm.

          • michaelcoughlan

            Spot on Gege.

            The Lisbon debacle was a disgrace.

      • Hi Patrick, welcome. I agree with some of your observations

        James Connolly was a great man and he is the only Irishman I would ever bow to or run to hell and back for. That is just my opinion and I am entitled to it. In Connolly’s day there was no doubt about what and who the enemy was. Unlike now when the political parties are all jigging to the same fiddle we are on the way to becoming a one party state. Correction, we probably are a one party state and always have been

        FF are spinning the line about us all pulling together. Really, when did this country ever get ‘on the one road’ without squabbling and prove thay they really can function as a grown up nation?. Eh we don’t have a clue and we might as well all act as though we hadn’t a bloody clue. All together now lads. I’d get these guys into a room and get them to explain, in detail, what makes them different from each other, present the findings and then put it to the country as soon as possible. We have a window right now to hold a general election before the silly season and get rid of this rotten government

        Programs like Frontline have their uses but it is no good hoping for FF politicians to be deposed, proscribed and banned by watching RTE and listening to high profile people on the radio who talk the talk but can’t walk the walk. All that is just opium. These guys will soon need to grow up and nail their convictions to the mast, like Connolly did, if they want to retain credibility and prove that they have what it takes to capture the imagination and change the thinking of every single person in this country. There are too many people in Ireland who would today sneer at someone with James Connolly’s values as ask: “who the hell does he think he is?” So far the Irish people have proved that they don’t deserve the support of the type of men who would walk to Dublin in the morning willing to die for such a leader. I do believe that such men exist but that they would never be seen dead in the company of sleazy and feckless politicians

        We are not all passive and defeatist and we don’t post annonymously in here. We have brains and the tools to give this country a real wake up call. Having the ability to come on here and say what you like is a godsend for people and we are exercising the freedoms of speech that millions fought and died for in two elite engineered world wars. We need a general election and the only way to force one is to get out and march. If everone cancelled the direct debit for their television licence, road tax or whatever they would have to listen and get a grip. You don’t always need violent revolution to overthrow a government. They can’t take a whole country to court and the fines would easily paid through campaigning and donations etc

        We should be demanding open government that is accountable to the people. Instead we get the taxi regulator refusing to come on Frontline without so much as providing a sick note. She is giving the signal that it is alright to give the Irish people, who are her real employers incidentally, the middle finger. She could have even sent a quick email answering a couple of questions for the taxi guys and the audience but instead she basically told us all to fuck off. The sheer arrogance of it. The best way to deal with these types of tin pot dictators would be to throw eggs over them and laugh at them

        What would James Connolly have done in this day and age? I suspect he would have recognised the power of technology and used it as a tool for staying in touch with the Irish psyche and the ordinary man in the street who is concerned about where tomorrows grub might be coming from

    • Eireannach

      David,

      I stand corrected and reproved. But I maintain that the over40s in Ireland are to a man all Atlanticists. Yet in this year 2010 our American friends are decreasingly engaged in Europe. This trend will accelerate.

      The future of Ireland is as a constituent part of the United States of Europe, because the elites say so. The debate about our future is already over.

      Perhaps you can use your position to encourage Irish young people de se rendre compte d’Europe, because fleeing our predicament for Australia or Canada, in 2010, is a testament to our inability to adapt to our circumstances as we are sucked, increasingly and acceleratingly, into Europe.

      • Gege Le Beau

        Is it as aspect of postcolonialism and the injurous impact of same upon the subconscious that we seek refuge in other systems/power Blocs, and are not mature enough to at least try to make our own stab at things, to represent/produce something?

      • Original-Ed

        Eireannach,

        The Atlanticists thing is only prevalent in counties where US multinationals are based. Take Kilkenny ,the home of our national game, hurling , it has no multinational industry and its indigenous companies export mainly to Europe.You never hear about that from Prada in Donnybrook. You should get out of Dublin a bit more!

        • Eireannach

          @Original-Ed

          You, and I, and everyone else in Ireland, should familiarize themselves with Europe more, because that’s our long-term reality, even though we haven’t admitted it to ourselves yet.

          It’s over bar the shouting. Bienvenue en Europe, mais si on n’est pas encore au courrant.

          • Eireannach

            Je voulais dire “même si on n’est pas au courant” meaning even if we don’t know it yet

        • Emigrant lass

          Original Ed,

          Kilkenny hosts State Street INTERNATIONAL( one of the worlds leading Custodian and Fund Administration companies).They employ 450 people in KIlkenny to date and nearly 3000 in Ireland altogther. They are exceeding their numbers of employees towards the so called boom years. I worked there for over 3 years before hitting Oz. Fantastic company to work for!
          I wonder do they still have Chocolate Fridays lol!! I won a grand in a yorkee bar back in 2006!

    • martino

      You speak Croatian David, dober vece, good stuff. Intersting, I was there on my holidays and got a taste for the language too. It’s supposed to be difficult with the words changing in each case, but it’s on my to do list. I like learing languages too; just back from my first Portugese class tonight; written it’s like Spanish but the pronunciation is very different.

      Why is the standard of language learning in Ireland so bad. Graduates are coming out of college with no fluency, it’s shocking, no joke. I think it’s a sad reflection on the education system and the country in general. What are the teachers being paid for I wonder?

      • Eireannach

        @martino

        Above I pointed out that we have 10-15 French speaking tour guides for 2,500 week long coach tours per summer. The Irish market needs about 80 guide for the full season. The balance are imported from France, but they don’t know that much about Ireland. They basically read about Ireland from a book, or wikipedia for all I know. Next time you see one of those coaches, look in the window and see if the guide on the microphone is Irish or not.

        The figures for German are even more woeful.

        What’s going on?

        What’s going on is – the Irish don’t fully understand the responsibilities that are incumbent upon them as citizens of the EU. The future is Europe, and European languages, but they still think some other outcome is possible, like will float over to America or down to Australia and not have to face our future in Europe.

        They have “more important” stuff to do than learn European continental languages.

        They can tell you the football results in the German league, but they don’t know what the verbs “sein”, “haben” or “sagen” mean. Those who do know, from German study in the past, have moved on to other, more engaging and gratifying pursuits, like guinness and heineken.

        • martino

          I speak German and French and have a good knowledge of Irish history. Maybe I could get a job as a tour guide. Where can I apply?

          • Eireannach

            If you’re serious that you speak both German AND French to a sufficient standard, then email me at robbie.dowling@gmail.com and I’ll be in touch.

            A good place to start might be Meridian Tour Guides on Sth Frederick Street, D2. Meridian is an independent guide company, but via Meridian you can build experience delivering tour with the large Tour Operators, who’ll eventually hire you directly.

            An experienced, direct hire tour guide is paid approx. EUR130/day, but the work is seasonal, with less in winter. But hey, it’s half the year sorted, right? Get a winter job on top if you can – maybe as a guide around Dublin – and you’re laughing :)

      • PMC

        Its bazarre… kids learn Irish for a total of 14 years, yet after all those years, most people can just about say their name.

        Some people have gone directly into their current job description without ever having experienced the harsher side to working life.
        Teachers will argue and moan but the simple fact is, they just don’t realise how good they have it.

        Approx 18 weeks holidays a year (not including bank holidays), paid during these holidays (and handsomely), short working days, job satisfaction (its a job that delivers real reward for both student and teacher)

    • MIAOW?

      Ouch.

      Not your style David me old son.

      Someone must have burnt the toast.

    • coldblow

      David,

      That’s strange. I find the Slavic ones the hardest. Usually a language caves in before a frontal assault or just sustained chipping at the edges. But Czech just refuses to yield and remains as impenetrable (nearly) as the day I started. But I have a secret weapon up my sleeve: a translation of A Confederacy of Dunces. I will use it at a time of my choosing, and further resistance will be useless. But for now I think I have better things to be doing…

  27. Original-Ed

    There’s a real sense of panic in the air and unless we’re all put on steroids to double our output – the St Patrick’s Day IMF intervention will become a famous date in our history.

  28. Alf

    Folks, the problem is the Euro. I don’t just mean the EU meddling and pressure to not allow a bank to default.

    The problem is the interest rates and exchange rate and not being able to print our own currency. Firstly on interest rates; the low Euro rates fed already inflated prices. The prices were already high because in the 90s Ireland had a real boom. But by the 2000s Ireland really needed to be hiking interest rates to control inflation. Instead of this (due to the Euro) we got very low rates. This fed the bubble and caused the huge house price inflation. (Big part of our current problems)

    Also, the euro exchange rate is too high for our economy. It is high because its really priced based on the demand for German goods. The side affect of a high exchange rate is to price us out of the market. German costs are low, but they are low because they can afford to compete (in bulk) at those levels. Just like a Walmart (or an Asda), they out-compete based on economies of scale. But they are so competitive that the demand to trade with Germany (and for the euro currency) outstrips any negative effect of causing inflation (overpricing) in Ireland. To expect Ireland to compete in this environment is insane. Similar to expecting a small local store to compete against a Walmart.

    Lastly, the fall-back of printing ones own currency. Some might find it hard to see this as a benefit but it actually acts as a counter balance to being at the mercy of the markets. If a government can print currency then it can devalue its debt. This means it can effectively inflate away its debts. But also, (if it devalues its currency) it devalues any assets priced in the currency. This means wages, goods produced and services too.

    If a country is competing in the market then any devaluing of currency means products and services are cheaper and so they become more attractive to trade with. This in turn will push up the demand for the currency and give a floor to any devaluation. To put it simply, the demand to trade (and for currency) can give the government an effective free loan. The trick is to have products and services in demand. This is where a low tax environment and an educated workforce would help us. Ireland currently has the products, services and workforce but they are not competitive.

    Moving out of the Euro is actually the only long term cure for these problems. This is not just unique to Ireland, it is the primary economic fault in Spain, Greece, Portugal too.

    I don’t know about you but I don’t fancy being a debt-slave concubine. This is really where our only hope is.

    • Eireannach

      If the PIIGS drop out of the euro, it’s very likely Denmark, Sweden and a few other well-adjusted economies would consider joining the euro.

      It is almost certain we will leave the EZ when we are forced to raise our corp tax rate when (not if) we seek EU bailout money.

      It seems that it cannot, at this stage, unfold any other way.

    • manofiona

      Alf: you refer to the “trick” of having products and services in demand. The time for tricks is over. The only way to have products and services in demand is to become competent and efficient at providing them. Irish economic policy over the years – the low corporate tax rate, lax regulation, the insane promotion of indebtedness to fuel property speculation – was essentially a series of tricks and “strokes” to generate wealth without effort. That policy has failed and has left Ireland drowning in debt – and with an unenviable reputation for louche business and regulatory practices. That policy needs to be replaced by a real effort at economic development in a European context by working hard to develope its educational system, its business and political mores and its infrastructure. Ireland will have become a full member of the EU when it has its own Nokia or Philips, or even its own network of SME’s capable of exporting high-end products and services to the world. Leaving the euro (assuming it were possible) and confiscating the savings of the people (which is what a devalution really is), or indeed any other “trick”, will not produce this result.

      • paddythepig

        The voice of sanity. Keep posting manofiona.

      • Alf

        “The time for tricks is over.”

        This is funny. You mean like bailing out the bankrupt bank trick and such idiocy as NAMA?

        But what I meant by ‘trick’ is that it is a difficult thing to do but I think you knew that.

        “The only way to have products and services in demand is to become competent and efficient at providing them.”

        This is not true. Good products and services are there they are too just too expensive on the international stage (due to the Euro).

        “That policy needs to be replaced by a real effort at economic development in a European context by working hard to develope its educational system, its business and political mores and its infrastructure. ”

        This sounds ‘nice’ almost like a political manifesto. Perhaps you could explain how we can develop all this when the economy is contracying, we are running out of money and have no way to stimulate inward investment.

        • Alf

          “confiscating the savings of the people”.

          My guess is you are a saver. But the value of your savings is based on what you choose to save in. You have no more right to a high valued currency than a shareholder has to expect a company not to issue more stock (to raise capital). It is a nations sovereign right and used properly a currency is valuable tool take advantage of its strength in trade and use this to stimulate the economy. The trick/difficulty is to have a demand for the currency and this is based on the demand to trade with. This is the reality of what a currency is. If you don’t like it perhaps you should buy gold or some asset.

          • manofiona

            Ireland’s economic problems include the desperate situation of the banking sector but they go far beyond that sector. The deeper problem is that imaginary wealth – and real liabilities – are the result of policies, including the low corporate tax rate, which were designed to provide a quick fix by foreigners to Ireland’s need for growth rather than work at the developing the essentials of sustainable growth in any economy.

            In today’s Independent, Brendan Keenan admits that Ireland’s low corporation tax rate has induced tax evasion by multinationals through artifically locating profits in Ireland and has deprived other EU countries of their rightful share of tax revenue from those companies. According to Mr Keenan, the Irish government should brazenly tell our European partners that it would be unfair of them to ask Ireland to control such evasion because the Irish government needs the money the evaders bring to this country.

            What do Irish people take other Europeans for? What do Irish people take themselves for?

            Ireland needs European help to deal with its banking sector and insofar as the euro was established without proper European financial and banking supervision, there is some justification in seeking that help from other Europeans. However, Ireland will not deserve that help unless it adopts an adult and European attitude toward economic and development policy and that means leaving behind the “stroke” solutions (including the quick fix devaluation you favour)which too many Irish people still seem to think are appropriate.

            Germany, but also smaller countries like the Netherlands, Austria and Finland make their way internationally with the euro because they are adult countries which create real,and not imaginary, wealth. That is what Ireland needs to do – the currency used for that purpose is irrelevant.

          • Eireannach

            @Manofiona

            Well said.

            We are a debt-based consumer society. We spend money on “products and services” like buffered nails and Brown Thomas and call this spending “consumer confidence”. You can often read crap like “sales are bouyant” and so on in the business pages of Irish papers.

            This is the English language at its worst – in other languages the same behaviour is called “squandering” or “wasting” or “atrophying” or “hemaoraging”.
            It’s not investment in anything – it’s spend now, pay back tomorrow.

            We are massively in debt because after the fall of the Iron Curtain, we felt we were part of the American Empire which won the cold war, our language was going to take over the world, and we could spend and spend because we were beyond reproach.

            The continentals saw through this, mostly. As Nietzsche famously quipped ‘when one culture (Anglosphere) gets shallower and more hubristic there is a compensation for it – another culture gets deeper and waits for the proud one to fall’.

          • Alf

            manafiona,

            “(including the quick fix devaluation you favour)which too many Irish people still seem to think are appropriate.”

            It is not a quick fix. There is nothing underhand about having our own currency. It is perfectly logical for the reasons I’ve outlined above. Your solution seems to be to beg for a handout from EU nations and in return offer whatever they want (if that is a deal on corp tax) just to bail us out. This is the real ‘cop out’ and just another ‘trick’.

            There is nothing wrong with Ireland’s corporation tax. It’s a perfectly viable and acceptable way to attract investment. There is nothing to stop other nations from doing the same, the fact is that they choose to give tax breaks in other ways. This is their choice and we have done nothing against the rules. This attitude is really a sign of a loss of self confidence as a nation. I would argue this was cleverly manipulated into the Irish psyche by the bankers (who want you to pay for their mistakes).

          • Alf

            Eireannach,

            “The continentals saw through this, mostly.”

            Is this the same inferiority-complex as manafiona? If you think ‘continentals’ are immune or have no debt problems you are deeply misinformed.

  29. paddyjones

    There is no hope or optimism that is why thousands are leaving the country, all we will be left with is a rump of people working for the multinationals and of course public servants.
    It is too late to cry over spilt milk Lenihan has set us on a course and it cant be changed at this stage. DMcW will do well for the foreseeable future, economics will be the nuber one subject over the coming years.
    The 4 year plan will be interesting in that it will bring home to everyone the scale of the financial problem and it will also be an attempt to carry out FF economic policy long after they are gone out of office, it will be Lenihan trying to continue his path of destruction when he is in opposition.
    Davids prediction of us accessing the EU fund by next St Patricks day is on the money, then the shit will really hit the fan

  30. wills

    David.

    >

    ‘‘Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but hope is the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” – Havel

    This quote is the follow up to *defining reality*. Define reality and hope comes next.

    >

    ‘The reason they were wrong is that they couldn’t see that the world had changed.’ – DMcW

    Could it be that the insiders see that change is afoot and they are trying to play catch up on it to regain the high ground over it.

    >

    ‘In contrast to optimism, hope is doing that thing which makes sense because, once something makes sense, people look to the future with confidence.’ – DMcW

    What if what makes sense to the insiders makes no sense to the outsiders or commentators or anyone who is in reasonable grasp on objective reality.

    I reckon the *insiders* are employing stratagems that make utter sense to them. The insiders values system and belief structure and moral compass and MO and agenda are alien to yours David and mine and the posters on here more or less.

    The insiders are from planet insiders and the outsiders are from planet outsiders and their guiding philosophies and moral values and rasion d’etre do not equate or ever meet or harmonize with a persons whom meets reality with an open mind and sprit of generosity for hope and a future of promise.

    So, assume the following:

    - Insiders are only interested in preserving their system of control over the state bond issuance and banking system. The economy and the running of gov and the adherence to the constitution are concepts which are expendable in the pursuit of maintaing power and control for the insiders.

    -Insiders suffer omnipotence complex and suffer from a well held conviction which holds true that they possess a dynastic right of ownership over everything. This is includes wealth generation of the masses and levers of power and business.

    -Insiders run a hidden feudal enterprise system which functions like a well oiled machine and maintain a front of house facade of sincerity and concern but if one scratches thee surface of it one will quickly see an obsequious leer.

    • Insiders run a hidden feudal enterprise system which functions like a well oiled machine and maintain a front of house facade of sincerity and concern but if one scratches thee surface of it one will quickly see an obsequious leer.

      +1

  31. Tim

    Folks, Lenihan when asked about deposit flight risk “Ireland is an island” so there is no flight risk (at 32:00)

    http://bit.ly/9ee7dB

    (via LRK)

  32. dwalsh

    We all know Bill Clinton has his own personal Blarney Stone. I didn’t hear the speech but from all I’ve heard it’s clear what his message was — PAY UP! Bill’s one of the good cops of the international system; strolling in right on time to tell us what a fine lot we are and how we can do anything we put our minds to — such as paying the debts of our delinquent rulers.
    David is right about the establishment; they have gotten it wrong for decades — wrong for us that is not for themselves – and they have lied consistently since the crisis began. I suppose lying is part of the Real Politik of political life.
    Any politician who told the truth during the last election would either have been expelled from their party or would have gotten no votes at all. At the time I myself, and I’m sure many of you who post here, was ridiculed as a nay sayer whenever I pointed out the obvious truth that the property market was a gigantic bubble that would inevitably burst with dire consequences.
    The fact that ordinary Irish people could no longer afford a home in Ireland was completely ignored by the cheerleading fools (pseudo economists) being promoted by the media. I came to know and to despise their voices on the radio shows (I don’t watch TV). I told friends that one day soon they would all receive a new script; and I was right — unfortunately.
    So now we have been visited by good old Bill and we all feel a lot better for it — don’t we. Thanks Bill.

    • Eireannach

      Funny you mention the Blarney Stone.

      Did you know that the 1 million (total) of French and German tourists to Ireland in 2009 didn’t give two hoots about the Blarney Stone. It’s old hat. So is Clinton, and indeed big sweeping persuasive speeches by the increasingly fatuous American Empire, itself so facklessly indebted it’ll be retreating from West Asia inside 5 years in failure.

      This is 2010 – the Blarney Stone is dead. Welcome to Europe.

      • Gege Le Beau

        Interesting you mention the Blarney stone……

        “Socialist Party councillor Mick Barry this morning described yesterday’s call by Blarney Castle owner Sir Charles Colthurst for the minimum wage to be cut as “like something out of a Charles Dickens novel”.
        Announcing a 21% cut in visitor numbers for the first quarter of 2010 over last year’s first quarter returns Sir Charles told the EVENING ECHO: “We all know people who still go to holidays in Spain and come back to say how cheap it is compared to here. We must drive down the cost of our overheads – and lowering the minimum wage is essential to do that.”
        But Cllr Barry said this morning: “Here we have a guy with a castle, with horses, with private fishing rights, a beneficiary of tax breaks, calling for the lowest paid workers in the country to be paid even less. It’s like something out of a Charles Dickens novel.
        He added: “I don’t believe for one minute that Sir Charles Colthurst can’t run Blarney Castle as a going concern without having minimum wage rates slashed. Three hundred thousand people a year were visiting at one point – where has all the money gone? Maybe Sir Charles should be asked to open the books.”
        Cllr Barry concluded: “I would prefer to live in a country where castles and estates were owned not by aristocrats but by society in the interests of all the people. If Sir Charles wants to carry on with this kind of Blarney let him at least be aware that he will swell the ranks of those holding that point of view.”

        Family to fight ejection from aristocrat’s house
        http://www.independent.ie/national-news/family-to-fight-ejection-from-aristocrats-house-170866.html

    • Eireannach

      @dwalsh

      RE: the Irish property crash, make my words when I say that EVERY French and German you would have met during those fateful years 2002-2008 would have agreed with you that the Irish property market was unsustainable and would reverse, possibly even crash.

      Meanwhile – and you know it’s true – almost NOBODY in America, the UK, Ireland, Australia and a few other delinquents like Spain would have been bothered listening to your ‘cribbin’ and moanin’.

      Now what does that tell you??

      Yet folks on this blog are cry-babying about Franco-German interference into our delinquent tantrum-throwing “sovereignty”.

      We were deluded and we are deluded and we are forfeiting our right to run our economy. Adults will have to take over soon. It’s coming.

      • dwalsh

        @ Eireannach
        “Meanwhile — and you know it’s true — almost NOBODY in America, the UK, Ireland, Australia and a few other delinquents like Spain would have been bothered listening to your ‘cribbin’ and moanin’.”

        Well that is what I said in my post…so ye…I do know it’s true.
        Mostly I find the views of the folks posting here to be pretty informed and wise – mostly.

  33. Land of Hope and Glory

    A lot of people here agree that there is no altenative to default and I myself have no reason to disbelieve them such is the quality of insight this fine economics blog offers to laymen who know as much about economics as they do about the end of the universe or the loch ness monster

    I believe that as a nation Ireland allowed itself to be collectively conned and that people are maybe now ready to accept that they made a serious error of judgement. If you have always been a person of sound judgement then please ignore the last sentence. They made a serious error of judgement when they labeled David McWilliams an ego tripper who should not be listened to. They made a serious error of judgement when they looked down their noses at people who turned their back on the property orgy of the boom and they are still making a serious error in thinking that the system is grand and that it will be ok after the mechanics have checked it over and squirted a few drops of three in one lubricating oil between the gears. No-one has the integrity to come out and admit that this Neo Con system we are told to worship is responsible for perpetual war, world poverty, fear and psychological disfunction on a massive scale. It is a Con

    Blind hope is for losers and headless chickens and modern life with it’s deadly levels of stress has turned many people into headless chickens. Real hope comes from within the individual and can be measured by comparing how much better a man or woman you are today as against the person you were 20 years ago. Real hope comes from knowing that you have experience that will be useful to yourself and to others in the future. Hope comes from knowing yourself and believing that your convictions and beliefs are are honest, unselfish, free of smugness and of no harm to another human being. Optimism is hoping that your external world will realign itself more with your inner world in the hope, pun intended, that you will not feel like such an oddball. Those of us who said the boom was all a mirage were told we were oddballs but look it is the oddballs that sometimes make all the difference. Now people realise that David was right when he hollered that the emperor was naked and now Lenny the Lemming is looking like the boy who cried wolf.

    I was earning a grand sterling a week when I first came to Ireland and I am on a fraction of that amount now. Have been for years. From personal experience I can tell these bankers, politicians and public sector unions that they have no concept of lost hope and that they do not have a clue what they are talking about when they claim that they are innocent victims in all this. They all helped to preserve the status quo as long as they got what they wanted but like spoiled children they cannot see the effect their actions had on their fellow countrymen. They are blinded by their own selfishness and always have been and there are many people who support them. That coupled with the docility of 25% of the Irish population is one reason why any thinking person could be forgiven about not being optimistic about the future of this country

    Tear up the croke park agreement and waken up the unions. If 500,000 social welfare recipients are getting coshed for the next four years then it is only fair that we begin with the upper echelons of the public service and word downwards cutting pay and getting rid of dead wood. I hate the idea of people getting their wages cut and thrown on the dole but these are the tough measures Mr Cowen alludes to when he talks about tough decisions. The fact is he has not made one tough decision to date because he doesn’t have balls

    If they are going to take such measures along with the a 65bn bailout of the banks then what do the Irish people get in return?
    How about a fair society?

    Now I am off to watch the program about james Connolly. Good luck

    I repeat what Deco said just to ensure people remember the level of nastiness that lives in the minds of our great masters:
    Cribben, en moanen, en sittn ondafence..is a lost oppertunity..in fact I dont know why those people dont go and commit suuicide (B.Ahern, TD, at an ICTU conference circa 2006 to rapturous applause).

    I wonder did any of Ireland’s recent suicide victims hear of these very words before they commited the act. Well done Bertie

    Hope and optimism differ in that hope is situation specific (specific condition) and contingent upon one’s own abilities (internal condition). Optimism is an overall explanatory style (global condition) that positive things will occur independent of one’s ability (external condition)

    http://www.csun.edu/~vcpsy00h/students/happy.htm

  34. dwalsh

    “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.”
    - John Adams

    Ireland is just a small part of the pie. Globally what is occurring is the bankrupting of the nations of the world by the Doges of international finance — just as they did to overthrow the Ancien Regime – with the intent of installing a new global banking and monetary system as the superstructure for a new world order. The times they are a changing folks; this is not a local issue.

    • Eireannach

      @dwalsh

      I agree – it’s a banker-run New World Order. The European order is the one that concerns us. But look at the amazing foolishness of our reckless consumerism in that light. It was totally unnecessary to play into the bankers hands, and yet lay down like lambs with wolves.

      I know men in their 30s who bought massively over-priced properties because – get this – their wives wouldn’t listen to back-chat and insisted they shut up cribbin’ and moanin’ and seize the opportunity.

      Men, grown men, now debt slaves because they couldn’t give back-chat to a deluded, f**king delinquent woman who considers Sex and the City some sort of demonic cult-like “lifestyle” show.

      There is a New World Order, but the Irish are the greatest saps for debt-slavery the world has ever seen. Yet they STILL fill the pubs for football matches and a bit of the auld “escapism”. You couldn’t make it up.

      • Colin

        Yeah I believe it, I talked my ex-girlfriend out of buying property in 2005, 2006 & 2007. One of the reasons she wanted us to get married was that her overtime and shift allowances wouldn’t be taxed at the higher rate.

        By not buying property, I saved her thousands of Euros and lots of headaches. What thanks did I get? She became more and more of an ice queen so I had to dump her. At least I’m free of cribbin and moaning.

        • Eireannach

          Colin

          You’re a man after my own heart. Now the landscape has changed and many of these types of woman (and men) are having Damascian conversions.

          Like Indiana Jones, you hung on and swung over the snake pit of debt. There are dangers and hidden traps ahead, but the snake-pit of doom is behind us at least, and we didn’t fall therein.

          • Gege Le Beau

            Interestingly I had a similar experience……also wouldn’t buy and in part the decision cost me my relationship (I refused to be rushed into something, think the defiance was too much for her, in the long run, definitely saved us both from major trouble not that she knows or ever acknowledged), c’est la vie…..

          • Black Cat

            I had the same pressure – from my dad and sister who thought my boyfriend and I were fools not to buy a house – on a childcare and factory wage – they still don’t see the light though.

          • @Black Cat

            I know what you mean. It’s good to know that there are people like yourself who trust their own judgement and are not weak minded. It takes a brave person to stand up for what their instinct is telling them, especially in a country like Ireland where the blind tend to follow the blind

            Many still people believe that free market Capitalism is our only hope yet today on the the last word a woman told of reports from teachers regarding Irish children going to school hungry

            No child should have to go to bed or get up for school on an empty stomach. Yet they can pour billions into a black hole to protect people who are obviously involved in fraud on a massive scale

            The biggest question now is: – why?
            And what are the Irish people going to do about it?

            If people insist of this irrational love of money and in the pursuit of property then maybe we should change the education system

    • Deco

      Dwalsh – thanks for that quote by John Adams.

      We are being conquered by debt. Greece has already been conquered. And now the Chinese have come bearing gifts to the Greeks. And what are the Chinese getting in return. Access to sell their stuff to the Balkans. Influence on EU policy.

      Greece has already started behaving like puppet in the EU, advocating that Brussels needs to recognise China as “a full market economy” (in other words none of this anti-dumping legislation that inhibits China’s efforts to control parts of the international trade.

      The words of John Adams apply still to this day.

  35. paulmcd

    I cringe when I listen to our politicians.

    Latest from one of our leaders: “We need a strategic plan”. (Tánaiste, Calamity Coughlan on 6.01 news today; FFspeak for creating another ‘consultative committee’, I presume.)

    George Osborne, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, is so articulate and lucid in explaining his proposals and why he considers them necessary – likewise for Cameron as PM. They explain problems and immediately state solutions, in clear concise English – impressive stuff even if you disagree.

    What is so wrong with our politicos? Perhaps they simply cannot cope with our second official language as well as a Dutchman or a German, or even French Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde.

    • paulmcd

      A nation’s return from its politicians is inversely proportional to the sums they are paid

      • On a humorous note, I was ‘forced’ to watch snippets of the frontline today, don’t ask. – I normally do not watch this BS at all. – However, Dan Boyle/Greens was on and at some stage I spit my beer over the table, laughing so hard.

        I don’t know why, seriously not, but somehow I remembered the first Jurassic Park film….and that scene where he stuffs his face and gets his payment for stealing the DNA probes.

        http://www.imdb.com/media/rm606572032/tt0107290

    • Deco

      I can’t beleive it. Calamity Coughlan strikes again. [Is this an admission that she has no plan ? ].

      Let’s form a quango to formulate that strategic plan. Jobs for pals. Lots of NEDs. Our advertising sponsors. IBEC. ICTU. The party. Maybe even a job for the ex-Taoiseach’s ex-girlfriend. Sure why not. We can afford it not. A spanking new office, and loads of staff.

      And then outsource the actual work to expensive consultants, who produced all the other reports. Because the people appointed to the quango are all appointed on the basis of nepotism and know nothing about the subject matter.

      “Fail to plan, plan to fail”.

      Of course I am more worried when they come up with a strategic plan. Every previous strategic plan produced in the last ten years was a disaster.

      I thought the knowledge economy was a strategic plan. Or was that a marketing gimick to jizz up consumer spending ?

      Oh yeah, and when you have the strategic plan, leave to gather dust.

      Folks, you need to make your own strategic plan. Because the government is no good at it….

  36. Malcolm McClure

    Wolfgang Munchau in the FT endorses DMcW’s appraisal of the situation:
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0aa07d78-cf1d-11df-9be2-00144feab49a.html
    “So what should Ireland do? Recognising the scale of the problem was a good decision. The fundamental problem with the Irish government’s approach was the decision to dump almost the entire adjustment burden on to the taxpayer, rather than to accept or negotiate a partial default.”
    “Brian Lenihan, the Irish finance minister, might wish to ponder whether his monumentally unfair taxpayer bail-out is what will ultimately “bring down Ireland”.

  37. This group of people and institutions coined it during the economic bubble and they continue to do so two years after that bubble burst.

    A lot of them were key players in the boom years. They were the movers and shakers who were embedded in the banks or getting lucrative state contracts.

    As the sun shone over Celtic Tiger Ireland, a lot of them made wads of money. Now that the rest of us are in one hell of a storm, they continue to make hay.

    http://www.tribune.ie/news/article/2010/oct/03/the-untouchables/

  38. Fergal73

    Straight from today’s copy the FT (us version)

    “From 1998 and 2008 its (Anglo Irish Bank) loan book swelled from 3Bn to 73Bn. Almost all the new lending went to a small group of developers furnished with an array of tax-breaks by Fianna Fail, as builders, bankers and politicians rubbed shoulders at venues such as the party’s hospitality tent at Galway’s horse races.”

    Make no mistake, FF brought Ireland to this point. All politicians and all parties are not the same. FF is continuing to make ‘mistakes’. Follow the money. Ireland is not being run for the good of the people, it is being run for the enrichment of the few.

    • Eireannach

      Well, well, well

      What Ireland has been doing is now, finally, coming under international scrutiny.

      This is a kind of lengthy preamble to our chastisement when we screw up, call in the European Stabilization fund, and get finally fully “Europeanized” by having our corp tax haven 12.5% scrapped.

      It’s like the run up to the Iraq war – the decision has been made, all that remains is the laying out of arguments justifying what everyone knows will be done.

    • When are we going to get a documentary or book detailing the activities of this small group. I’ve always maintained the true story of the meltdown resides in the story of this small group of 10-20 developers.

    • uchrisn

      Great to hear the FT saying this. The question is ‘where are own own journalists with this information’? Or maybe a better question. ‘Who is paying their wages’? Pat Kenny is getting 600,000 a year. Is he going to bite the hand that feeds him? Who owns the Irish Times and Independent. Have they no shame that they missed this story?
      I have the feeling that ifa journalist scratches below the surface too far they might not be writing for that paper next week. Ireland where is the investigative journalism?

  39. “We need to openly examine where we have come from, no matter how unpalatable that may be, to take the correct actions that inevitably serve to create our future”

    This is a national emergency! No public servant including politicians should earn over 100,000 for the forseeable future….now how much would that save?
    If they don’t go along with this then sack them (like Reagan did with air traffic controllers)— there will be many to take their place for that money who will be equally/better qualified

  40. I’ll say it one more time;

    Náid ona Náid a Phioc.

    Change is inevitable, in whatever shape it comes. That is a tenet of social economics.

    I thank you.

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  41. uchrisn

    Its good to define this vocabulary as the government are clearly confused, lets continue.

    Positivity is important and I had a great boss who banned negative words like ‘difficult’ or ‘problem’ from the office. People started to use ‘challening’ or ‘issue’ instead. In this case you can be positive and still explain reality. Being positive can be a vocabulary and bodylanguage issue and does not mean ignoring reality.

    Optimism: Setting targets high relative to the conditions. Setting targets high is not the same as expecting them to be high.
    Again this great boss made the plan/budjet/timeline taking into account that the targets may not be met. In other words my boss asked the staff to finish by Jun 1st expected them to finish by Jun 15th and planned for if they finished by July 1st.

    Hope: Well we all hope for Global peace tomorrow. Specific conditions are currently not in place to allow that to happen so we can not even be optomistic about that.

    Whisch is better?
    Plan for the best, ignore the worst.
    Or
    Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

    Simple enough really. Which leads reasonable people to the question what else is going on when even simple rules are ignored.

    • Sometimes ‘optimism’ or ‘positivity’ are armchair luxuries you just cannot afford. I’d prefer to know a surgeon relied on a depth of training and skill than reliance on ‘optimism’ or ‘positivity’ in absence of skill or training.

      Fire fighters often speak of getting in the mode, when their training takes over.

      Casino chancers will often define their addiction in terms of overwhelming evidence to the contrary as ‘optimism’ or ‘positivity’.

      Phrases such as ‘the Central Bank having a positive outlook on the Irish economy’ pander too much to attitude based opinions unless they are backed up with sound empirical evidence.

      Sometimes, it basically comes down to doing what is morally right in spite of the consequences. Perhaps the 300 at Thermopylae had similar notions or moral righteousness.

      I recall a book or essay by some Norwegian journalist, name since forgotten, in which he made the point that organisations followed an organic, evolutionary development, that led to organisations evolving to serve the needs of the service providers, over and above the needs of the service users.

      Perhaps the ‘optimism’ ‘positive’ argument currently peddled comes from a system of financial, political croneyism out to save its own hide and power base in the face of overwhelming evidence it may not succeed.

      Personally, I wouldn’t take hand, act or part in the current attempt by government and financial cronies to cooperate in any way with a four year plan to persuade serf taxpayers to pay for the wanton waste, excess, corruption and incompetence of government and the financial elite.

      Its a ploy to save their own skins and that of their cronies. Sometimes people lured by ‘positivism’ and ‘hope’ should take better account of their surroundings.

      They might see the person uttering the positive platitudes is Madame La Guillotine herself with her hand on the guillotine the moment before they are beheaded.

    • Nope, didn’t vote for Olli, didn’t vote for the bailout of the banks, didn’t vote for NAMA, didn’t vote for Ireland Inc to be a vassal, puppet state. But the reality is we are now a debt servicing agency of the ECB within the EZ EMU. Sept 30 last was our 9 11 Welcome to Ireland’s post 9 11.

      Hi Ollie, we’ll be hearing more from you. I expect you are working away right now examining the detail of the budgetary plan for Ireland Inc.

      We’ll need your help soon to work out the detail of the European Rescue Fund and IMF package for Ireland.

    • Harper66

      Look at when he made that statement the day after the Bail out. The Germans have their money back and now its time they show their teeth.

      If we had a true statesman (or woman!) in power they would realise the Germans need us to toe line more than we need to toe the line – I mean really what have we left to loose? Tell the Germans the Irish people want out of Europe and see how quickly Oli would change his tune.

      • Eireannach

        @Harper66

        What you are proposing is a truly desperate measure. In order to keep our Irish “pride” in the way we do things in this country, we should stick it to the EC/Germans/assorted European James Bond baddies by threatening to leave their EU.

        Can you name one politician in Ireland who would support this?

        We borrowed from the Germans when we entered the euro. Our bankers then squandered the money, spectacularly. The Germans want their money back – hence NAMA and so on. But have we put Seanie etc. in jail – no.

        No, in “proud” “independent” Ireland, the baddies are the interfering Europeans who want their money back, not the Irish bankers who squandered their money.

        • @Eireanamach

          It’s nothing to do with stupid pride, that’s for schmucks like ‘sofar’ Lenihan who may because of pride choose to torture taxpayers to pay the debts of banxters and bondholders. Treat everything he says with ‘Sofar’ spray of economic delusion, his figures change with the wind.

          Its to do with economic pragmatism and what is best for Irish citizens and taxpayers. The baddies are the banxters, an economically illiterate and corrupt government who’ve destroyed Ireland Inc economically. They’ve bet casino bankers can continue to be funded by Irish taxpayers. We’ll see soon enough how markets consider this bet.

          See http://bit.ly/b5DNrX Currently there’s a good chance Greece will default, so there’s a good chance Ireland and Greece will revert to the punt and drachma.

          You may not like the possibility, but its one you should be prepared to examine and take seriously. The chances of leaving the EMU actually rise in proportion to the banks getting fixed!

          There’s also some ambiguity regarding leaving the EMU is possible without leaving the EU.

          Situation at the moment is people are crossing their fingers. Its likely Ireland Inc will default.
          It might be worthwhile to examine alternative scenarios given that likelihood, rather than trying to stifle debate as Lenihan would have us do!

          • Eireannach

            My favourites for following the sovereign debt crisis are Max Keiser and Jim Willie, especially Jim Willie. Here’s an epic article on why Greece and the PIIGS are all destined to leave the EZ, which will lead to a new gold-backed “Nordic EZ”:

            http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article20560.html

            I suspect we will be back with the punt.

            But remember, we will remain in the EU and every single law passed at EU level, from straight bananas to BER certificates, will apply in Ireland for the remainder of our lifetime.

            Which brings me back to the need to stop our debt-based economic behaviour and to learn more European languages, because there is absolutely no way out of Europe.

            The Age of European Empire is over.

            We are located in NW Europe. Our geographical location in NW Europe is determinative of our destiny …. as part of Europe. EZ members or not.

          • @Eireannach,

            Thanks for that nordic euro link. I share your liking for Max Keiser and Jim Willie, add in Stiglitz, Krugman among others.. and bemoan the fact we do not have in Ireland, apart from our esteemed host, commentators of their ilk, though I’ll correct myself there as Jodi Corcoran, Shane Ross, Jodi Corcoran, Kathleen Barrington and others do a great job.

            Problem is the filleting of news/info through the sieve of Pravda RTE where news becomes light entertainment and state broadcasting and we do not have a dedicated news/information/adult education channel along the lines of PBS in America to promote real participation and debate…..I digress:)

            Nordic Euro/two tier europe I’d say is definitely on the cards but do we want to become part of slum Europe. Biggest problem is the exposure of tier one Europe to tier two banks and how tier one could cope with the hit.

            Another unsaid problem is Goldman Sachs as the ‘invisible hand’ behind currency attacks that might open up a disaster of shorting failures against local currencies and problems this would create.

            We are already facing such problems e.g unemployment leading to mass migration.

            The fiat currency problems of a global debt crisis that has gone global including the debt problems this has created for the US with its decimated manufacturing output 1970 onwards now blown skyward by the piigs, Breton Woods 111 and G20 should be looking at.

            It won’t just be solved by putting lipstick on the PIIGS, nor will it be solved in the way Lenihan has ordained by having Ireland Inc taxpayers putting lipstick on Anglo’s toxic debt.

          • Malcolm McClure

            Eireannach: you pronounce that “We are located in NW Europe. Our geographical location in NW Europe is determinative of our destiny …. as part of Europe.”

            I’m curious about your apparent disdain of any affinity with the other British Isles. Is this for economic or cultural reasons? After all, we had a common destiny with them for hundreds of years.

            What makes you think that the ups and downs of that simple relationship were any worse than what we tolerate in our complex relationship with the rest of Europe?

          • Eireannach

            @Malcolm McClure

            I have no distain at all for ár teanga féin and as a Dub I grew up watching BBC programmes like Mastermind and University Challenge and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love being Irish despite the sinking feeling these days, and I’d rather speak English as a first language than any other.

            But as you’ve noticed, I keep barking on about how Europe is the “only game in town” for Ireland’s future. Consider the degree to which our civil service is integrated into the pan-EU infrastructure. Consider the spread of businesses’ branch offices across the EU. Consider the harmonization of laws and now, inevitably, taxes. It’s all one way traffic. There is no choice here.

            Perhaps our Europeanization is being forced on us. Maybe we don’t want chorizo in Tescos, or German Weissebier, or Polish sausage, nevermind Polish builders. Perhaps it is a conspiracy of some kind. But it is really happening and we have yet to adjust to it’s longterm implications.

            Ireland is full of EU citizens from everywhere, but it has struck me how so many Irish don’t mix with the foreigners. It’s a shame, because they understand something futuristic about Ireland which is that it is simply a region of Europe, which offers opportunity for those who understand how to profit from it, and is a giant headache for those who have not, or will not, adapt to it.

            The French language is not against English, the English language is not against German. They are all part of the mulligan’s stew that this island will become in the future.

            Just think of the pan-European civil service infrastructure and you know that the United States of Europe is already here, and it’s just beginning.

        • Harper66

          @ Eireannach
          You layering of “irony” is leaving me a little “confused” however I think I have the “gist” of what you are saying.

          I dont think what I suggest is desperate, I think it is defiant.Why did Lenihan keep anglo open? ..because Trichet was on the blower telling him to that not one Irish bank should be allowed to fail.

          The German banks are equaly guilty in scandalous lending the only difference between seanie, fingers and trichet is that trichet and the Germans have kept their hands clean by instgating this anglo robbery by proxy.

          In the type of Ireland I would like to see the baddies are the interfering Europeans who will bleed this country dry in order to steal back what they lost in simple capitalist transactions as are the Irish bankers and politicians who squandered this borrowed money.

          “Banking scandal
          In January 2003 Trichet was put on trial with 8 others charged with irregularities at Crédit Lyonnais, one of France’s biggest banks. Trichet was in charge of the French treasury at that time. He was cleared in June 2003 which left the way clear for him to move to the ECB.[1] – wikipedia”

          You think Europe is any different to Ireland ? Whats the French for naive misplaced indignation?

          • coldblow

            “robbery by proxy” +1

          • Eireannach

            @Harper

            It’s “l’indignation naïve et mal situé”.

            But do you really care what the French for it is? Are you interested in learning French? Do you think learning French is important for our future? Or should we just speak English, because after all “everybody speaks English”?

            The borrower is subservient to the lender. Thus, young couple with mortgages are subservient to BoI and AIB, while the Irish banks are subservient to international creditors, mainly from the EZ.

            Going into debt is giving your power away to the creditor until such time as you pay off the debt and amortize the power relationship.

            It’s easy to spend someone else’s money. Who isn’t tempted? But many of us prefer the freedom from creditor-debtor power relations over and above the pleasure of going on the rip spending other people’s money.

            Why, oh why, oh why didn’t the Irish slow down the credit flooding into the housing boom, car loans, credit cards and the rest of it? Because we we’re spending that money going on European holidays, etc. As a nation, we thought the “boom” was good. Indeed, the majority of the public want credit to start “flowing again” so we can “get Ireland moving again” with the very same debt-based consumerist society. It beggars believe, but that’s how we’ve been conditioned.

            The debt-based consumerist economies of the Anglosphere – US, UK, Ireland – are failing spectacularly, because the time has come to pay back the money they spent into existence and called “economic growth”.

            So what model will replace it? The production based economies of China, Japan and Germany are the other side of the coin. A mixed production-consumption economy will correct the imbalances in the global order.

            I don’t think Lenihan should have made the Irish state accountable for the debts of privately owned banks. He should have stood up to Trichet, etc. There would have been consequences, but he didn’t have the balls to face those consequences.

            Neither did the Irish people – there has been no coup against him.

            The Irish have chosen to “avoid conflict” with Trichet – in other words, do what he wants. No surprise there.

            Similarly, there are thousands and thousands of young Irish couples who are still paying off ridiculously over-priced mortgages – they haven’t stopped paying!!!
            This is the way the Irish are.WTF are they doing?

            The Irish spend other people’s money, then are too meek to give any back-chat to their creditors when they want the money back.

            Therefore, our next few decades will be meek debt-slavery mixed with “nostalgia” for the nouveau riche decades when we squandered and had fun.

          • Harper66

            Eireannach,
            “It’s easy to spend someone else’s money. Who isn’t tempted? But many of us prefer the freedom from creditor-debtor power relations over and above the pleasure of going on the rip spending other people’s money.”

            I certainly dont wish to personalise this debate, and I enjoy reading your comments (regardless of if I agree with them or not ) However I feel you comments above embody an attitude which are insultng to the thousands of people of this country who are simply trying to get by.Who trusted idiot economists and politicians and bought a grossly over priced house to settle down and raise a family. Yes there should be action but at present there is not.But believe me there is plenty anger.

            “..But many of us prefer the freedom from creditor-debtor power relations over and above the pleasure of going on the rip spending other people’s money.”
            Try some humanity – did everyone borrow to have a party ? I dont think so in fact the very ones who did borrow and spend without thought are the very ones being bailed out.

            When I read your post this passage from “Good Will Hunting” came to mind. Make of it what you will.

            (apologies to all and sundry for long non-economics based quotation!)

            “..And I’d ask you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, “once more unto the breach dear friends.” But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms “visiting hours” don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you… I don’t see an intelligent, confident man… I see a cocky, scared shitless kid.”

          • Eireannach

            Harper

            I left Ireland 2002-2009 because I was sure everybody was making a mistake.

            I was not thanking for my “cribbin and moanin” and you’re not thanking me now for standing alone against the borrowers.

            As far as I was and am concerned, if a house costs more that 3 or 4 times the combined salary of me and Mrs, then it is dangerous.

            I’ve had women leave me over my intransigence and uncompromising position on the dangers of debt. I wouldn’t go with the flow in Ireland. I had to leave.

            But I remain a free man. I have already paid a personal price for my freedom.

        • Malcolm McClure

          Eireannach: I am becoming persuaded by your argument now that you have explained in more detail. My point is that as a small country we need a strong, reliable partner to withstand the blandishments of Eurocrats who seem to regard us (perhaps with justification) as a rather fickle sideshow. I cannot imagine that we would be entirely comfortable in having French, Belgian or Dutch Dassault Rafale’s as our wingmen if it came to a dispute with the Luftwaffe. A few Spitfires and Hurricanes might be useful though.
          I think that we and Britain need each other and we can no longer pretend that ‘Ourselves Alone’ is a serious proposition in the modern world.

  42. Gege Le Beau

    Court sentences trader to five years (2 suspended) and tells him to pay back €4.9 billion :-)……….

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/05/french-trader-guilty-societe-generale

    • He maintained throughout the trial in June that the bank tolerated his massive risk-taking as long as it made money.

      I would not doubt that at all!

    • StephenKenny

      The people who this must unnerve the most are the traders in London. Whatever the insanity, I cannot think of a UK based trader/banker being sent to prison – since the Guinness share ramping trial in the late 1980s.

      If the French and Germans turn on their bankers, it might make it interesting for London, although, to be honest, this may be little more than a popular gesture.

      Prosecutors in New York, London, and elsewhere should be going through transactions with a fine tooth comb, and locking up bankers by the hundred and thousand. For what should be happening, look at the aftermath of the S&L crisis in the USA – see William Black’s very successful efforts.

  43. uchrisn

    A couple of points that I would like to make now with the European union and national debts.

    1. With the mobility of workers across Europe many Italians/Poles/Germans are working in Dublin and this trend will increase. They will be paying back the Irish debt too. Young Irish people can easily move to work in the U.K. or another country. They will be avoiding the Irish debt. These trends are set to increase in the future.
    2. If Ireland defaults on its debt there is a European rescue package to ‘bail us out’.

    So

    Irish debt is really European debt, right? Perhaps people in other European countries should be taking more of an interest in the big losses in the Irish banks being passed onto the National Balance sheet.

    Also generally as we see more integration in Europe Ireland will have to fall into line. So for example the German doctors complaining about the high salaries of Irish doctors might find themselves earning the same. Corporation tax will be levelled out. Wage disparities between countries should get closer. Cross European Workers Unions could form. Its just a matter of time, right?

  44. uchrisn

    On the theme of Irelands debt being Europes debt -Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that brussels should have prepared a fund to ‘help out’ ailing economies like Ireland (instead of waiting till they go bust). Also he seems to agree as David suggested to a 2 speed Europe, as we should have a ‘weaker’ currency than Germanies.

    • Eireannach

      @uchrisn

      Now you’re talking. Ireland will become a part of Europe, it’ just a fact.

      The 2 great changes we need in Ireland are:

      1) To stop being a debt-driven consumerist society, and think that spending other people’s money constitutes economic growth. It does create growth – until you have to pay the debt back. Then it leads to collapse as is happening in other debt-based consumerist economies, notably the US and UK.

      2) We have to learn more European languages and consider living in the EU beyond the UK, such as in Berlin, Munich, Paris, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Vienna, Trieste and so on.

      Both James Joyce and Samuel Beckett dreamt of Ireland recovering its long-term historical position as a constituent of Europe.

      Beckett wrote in French and Joyce’s family spoke Italian at the dinner table.

      Why are we so attached to English? It’s already a foreign European language. Why not French or German or Spanish as well?

      Once we think and behave like this, we will recover the respect of our European peers.

      • Deco

        I only know that others will respect me, if first of all I respect myself. And this means that I do not care what they think of me. That’s right, if I repsect myself, I do not go grovelling, Ahern like seeking the approval of others, to affirm me.

        That is intellectual independence. We had varying degrees of indepence between 1801 and 2009. We did some things well, and other not so well. But recently we have lost the plot completely. But we drifted and have copped out of the responsibility of renewing intellectual independence. The way authority handled dissenting voices shows that there is a persistent effort to kill any leaning towards intellectual independence.

        If we want to get our own self respect back, the first thing we should do is scrap the IBEC-ICTU governance of the country. It is actually modelled on the way Mussolini ran Italy, and is a subversion of dmocracy.

        Reform. Thorough institutional reform. An end to the superficiality in our culture. A higher level of honesty and seriousness about what causes success and failure.

        • +1

          I find it increasingly desperate to observe the developments in the past few weeks.

          If we apply just common sense for a second, Banks and Politicians are holding us to ransom. Banks are ‘re capitalised’, bondholders protected regardless the social cost, and the constant bombardment of lies and procrastinating is let loose onto the public since more than two years now. These lies were exposed on a regular basis concerning Mr. Lenihan, yet, the public thinks he would be a great leader.

          The very people who performed negligence on purpose during the boom and afterwards, are trusted to do the job now, again.

          I am sorry Ireland, but this is the very definition of Insanity.

          It is the IMF that is doing the job, Lenihan is nothing but a puppet trained to put a face into the public to manipulate opinions. By avoiding to tell the public NOW the IMF is in here, and acting behind the scenes instead, they played this to avoid resistance against this financial heist which ruins the country on all accounts, economically and socially.

          The entire system is rotten to the very core, and without substantial reforms that start with the very constitution of this country, nothing will change.

          The reason I find it increasingly frustrating and desperate is simple. Time is running out quicker than the media tells us. If we do not demand changes now, it will be too late and these gombeen boots walked all over us again…. Sickening!

        • Eireannach

          I entirely agree about a higher level of seriousness, honesty and integrity.

          Let’s be honest about Ireland: it is only WHEN disaster strikes and the EC forces us to hike our corp tax rate as part of a Stabilization Fund bailout that Ireland will admit that the path we WERE on WAS unsustainable.

          As a nation, the majority will just carry on and on bluffing until the curtain falls.

          We haven’t brought the bankers to justice, because most of us are too busy bluffing that we are not personally bankrupt.

          The public INVESTS in the big lie about our solvency in the hope that we can bluff our way out of the mess our debt-based consumerist economy has made of our balance sheets at all levels – household, corporate and government.

          We voted FF nepotism into power, so that as constituents WE could get out passport quicker, our local park developed, jobs in an Quango for our kids, and so on.

          We don’t care too much about an IBEC-ICTU cabal because we don’t have principals or political positions beyond the pragmatism of bluffing and blagging that we are not bankrupt.

          The “only game in town” in Ireland is outright lying that we are not bankrupt.

          I’m talking about my friends with mortgages, the guy across the street’s business, the national government. At all levels of societies we are now resorting to lying and hoping we can get away with it.

          We are not behaving rationally because emotionally, we don’t want to arrive at this confession of bankruptcy. So we lie, and vote liars into power, and hope it’ll work.

          On BBC’s Newsnight last night, the talk was about how Ireland had lied and lied about the size of the hole created by Anglo. Why should we believe the government that this is the final figure.

          Lending to Ireland will stop because we are liars. Then our hand will be forvced, and it will be apparent that we were bluffing, because the truth is we are bankrupt.

          Once this moment of truth occurs – we can start building a new country.

          • Black Cat

            I have often suspected that money is closely connected with pride in the Irish psyche – people here seem ashamed if others realise they don’t have enough money and will do anything to conceal the fact- I don’t care who knows I only earn 14 grand a year, drive a 98 fiesta and rent – other people I know put themselves under serious pressure to appear wealthy – where does this sense of inferiority come from? its especially odd in a Christian society where they teach the parable of the widows mite in schools, its easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven according to the Bible. I was watching some elderly men in India on television and they said in their youth it was shameful to have too much money but the new generations have the opposite perspective.

          • Deco

            I do find it a bit much though that the BBC should suddenly find that Ireland has been lying, when the British Authorities have been lying to the British people since Phony Tony and Flash Gordon took over. And the Con-Dem coalition, have been more honest that the UK Labour Party, with such comments as Vince Cable’s “I knew Brown was lying, but I had no idea it was this bad” comment, when he took over. But they still have a lot of things to confess concerning Britain’s finances. To be honest the BBC’s record is also fairly bad.

          • michaelcoughlan

            Hi Eireannach,

            “Lending to Ireland will stop because we are liars”.

            Let me give you my two cents worth. The people doing the lending to Ireland KNOW we are lying to them but still keep lending. Do you know why? Because they take a lien on our assets in return for the money they have lent. When the whole lot collapses they have control over our assets and have saddled us with enormous debt which we are obliged to pay back. They know this is the eventual outcome which is why they are happy to continue lending to us knowing the fact we are lying through our teeth to them. It’s called predatory lending.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predatory_lending

  45. Malcolm McClure

    FO’T has ia comment on Lenihan’s ‘bank’s days of greatness’ in today’s Irish Times http://sqi.sh/3iv

    AAhhhh! — I well remember those days of Banking Greatness.
    The heavv mahogany doors beneath pillared porticos swung open at 10:00 am on the dot and closed again at 3:30pm, leaving plenty of time for the denizens to get in 9 holes before dark, even in wintertime.

    Behind the broad hardwood counters the cashier thumbed through piles of A4 sized white fivers and tenners on which the copperplate hand of the Governor of the bank ‘Promised to pay the bearer on demand the sum enshrined in even more elaborate copperplate above his signature.

    If one was granted an interview with the manager, he was ensconced behind an enormous desk and was seen to be a horn-rimmed bespectaclds, walrus mustached, slightly balding, deep voiced spectre who regarded you with total contempt.

    In one such interview that I had in Scotland, the manager actually came from behind his desk to greet me, revealing that he was wearing a kilt. Returning to seat himself he very seriously picked up a short baton from his desk and used it to arrange the pleats of his kilt carefully beneath his ample behind. Now that was style!

    AAhhh! for a return to those days when Banks could claim Greatness, when being a banker was a respected profession and when money meant more than a few electrons floating around in a computer circuit.

    • Deco

      No mention by TO’F concerning Permo. The day after Permo’s big loan to Anglo was announced, Tintan was telling us that Permo was the most reputable of the Irish banks. “Compared to what ?”, I am tempted to ask. Tintan is correct about AIB however. It has been operating like a state within a state since it overtook BoI. Like many forms of authority in Ireland, it has a persistent habit of sweeping dirt under the carpet, and then being stuck for an explanation afterwords.

  46. Deco

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/moodys-puts-ireland-on-review-for-rating-cut-2010-10-05?dist=beforebell

    Socialism for the rich does not work. Default would have been cheaper, and more honest. Wills was correct about ponzi schemes. Now the whole country is a ponzi scheme.

    Well there you have. Crack up boom, followed by crack up bust.

    “Those banks were orphans to the world” (Lenihan, 2008).

    • wills

      Deco.

      I reckon underneath the facade our economy is in actuality a well oiled financial Ponzi scheme spinning in perpetuity.

      • Ravished By The Sheer Implausibility Of That Last Statement

        “Socialism for the rich does not work”
        It does work if you’re wealthy and powerful, you stay wealthy and powerful. They’ll make concessions so the peasants don’t revolt, but essentially we are just slaves, same as ever.

      • roc

        Wills, I think you’re onto something there.

        It seem to me that we have an economic hierarchy, where one’s position in this hierarchy is a function of income and consequent power over the labour resources of others.

        Those at the top of the pyramid – for each hour of their own labour, they can acquire the benefit of thousands of hours of the labour of those underneath them in the pyramid/hierarchy.

        We ourselves, the Irish middle class, for each hour of our own labour, we can command roughly 10-20 hours of the labour of those in developing and 3rd world countries. Or, maybe 4-5 hours of the labour of those on minimum wage in our society.

        One of the biggest aspects of this pyramid / hierarchy is that peoples’ labour resources are always directed UPWARDS towards servicing those higher up the pyramid – which means that those on the same level or lower do not get the benefit of their neighbour’s labour.

        As an example, I remember the wedding of Liz Hurley and Arun Nayar, covered in Hello magazine – http://www.hellomagazine.com/celebrities/2007/03/13/hurley-wedding-india/ They had hundreds of people making costumes, decorations, dressing up elephants, laying out rose petals and food and all the rest – working for weeks on end. At the same time, all these workers had other Indians below them, making their food so they could work for Liz and Arun… is it not unbelievable that two people can comandeer all of the labour resources of so many people? Imagine if all of these people had been working to improve the conditions and life, and grow food for their own next door neighbours who are in real need?! … But this is how our whole system works and there are many people who will defend it…

        Seems messed up to me. If you get my gist?

  47. Maire

    #/./# ‘#;/ #./ #’., #’/ /.,#’; #’;./, #’;/.,

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