March 2, 2011

We're broke but still buying rounds that we can't afford

Posted in Banks · 102 comments ·

Yer man never stands his round.
He does normally.
But he’s not doing it now.
‘Cause he is broke.
I don’t care; a man has got to stand his round.
What are ye havin? I’m buyin’.
Good Man. I knew you’d always cough up.
Never let it be said I wasn’t good for me round.
Why is it that even when a fella hasn’t the arse in his trousers, he will never hide on his round?

We’ve all been there. In the bar, in a round, you know you won’t have a bean when you get home but tomorrow can look after itself; you won’t be seen not to pay your round. In contrast, we all know of the lad who will disappear out for a fag when his round is imminent. Such evasions are noted, especially among friends.

But, no matter how broke we are, we in Ireland will always dig deep. It is all about the shame of not having enough to pay our way, so we find the cash even when there mightn’t be a sausage at home. The poorer the man, the more he pays his way.

Normally, a rich guy is much more nonchalant about not having cash on him and is not fazed by the idea that he will get you back tomorrow. But the poor lad, the one who is financially insecure, will always be the first man with his hand in his pocket. No round is too large, no double brandy too extravagant.

Sure why not make it a Remy Martin, while you’re there?

He just wants to be one of the lads and if he has to scrounge the money in secret he will. The poor guy who can’t afford it gets further into debt just to keep up appearances, because keeping up appearances is important.

Paying his way becomes a form of perverted personal pride.

Rather than leave the bar, he stays to pay so as no one will whisper behind his back. He is the small guy trying to act like the big lad.

Small countries that are broke often act the same way before going bust.

By pretending that we can afford the bailout, Ireland is now behaving like the poor guy at the bar, digging deep for the last few cents to keep up with a round system that he can’t afford. We know that we can’t afford the IMF/EU deal, even if the interest rates were half the 5.7pc, and the reason we can’t afford it is that we are the poorest country in Europe. Yes the poorest. You read right — poorer than Albania, poorer than Serbia, poorer than Bulgaria.

If the definition of wealth is the difference between your liabilities and your assets then the definition of poverty is how much greater your liabilities are than your assets.

We are the most indebted nation in Europe and although it doesn’t seem like it now, we are among the poorest. Granted, our capacity to earn is higher than traditionally poor countries, but our balance sheet is wrecked. It is being kept afloat by more and more loans from foreigners.

Let’s look at the figures to see just how broke is the lad buying the round.

The Central Bank of Ireland released some interesting data on Monday. In its monthly ‘Money and Banking Statistics’ for the first time it released a consolidated balance sheet of the guaranteed banks. It does not make for pleasant reading.

At the end of December 2010, our banks were borrowing a (net) €153.5bn from the ECB and Central Bank of Ireland. Meanwhile, guarantees extended by our government now cover €196.4bn worth of bank liabilities.

For any of us who imagined what the guarantee might look like in the crisis of September 2008 and were adamant that a timeframe be put on it and that time be used to sort the banks out, the fact that the guarantee is still in place and these banks are still open is a sick joke.

The €196.4bn does not include the €31bn of promissory notes we have issued or the €7bn of preference/ordinary shares we own in AIB and BoI or even the €4.7bn of cash we put into Anglo, Irish Nationwide and EBS.

Looking at those huge numbers, you’d nearly think for a minute that we are a rich country. But we are anything but. In fact, we are broke.

This, of course, puts Ireland in a rather ridiculous position. We cannot afford to pay our day-to-day bills, yet we are saying that we can afford to pay billions to our banks.

There is some kind of reality failure going on here. We are the lad at the bar shouting out a round he can’t afford but far too proud to tell anyone of the real financial position. But deep down everyone knows.

There is a chance that our new government will face reality and admit that we are on the road to national bankruptcy.

Like many lads at the bar, penury was caused by incompetence, arrogance or a blunt refusal to face the facts.

Let there be no doubt about that. Cutting interest rates on the EU/IMF package that exists only to save the banks is not going to make any difference. Proper negotiation is needed, and if that fails, unilateral action will be required. To make that unilateral action more palatable and more democratic, it would be a good move for the new government to call a referendum on the banking stitch-up. This would ease their position and make it more difficult for the EU to actively crush Ireland.

We voted on Friday last and by today we know almost every TD who is going to be in the next Dail. During those six short days, more than 850 people will have emigrated from Ireland. This is the human face of this economic tragedy.

But maybe the people leaving now are those who can get out. There are plenty living in Ireland who cannot escape, or feel they cannot. This is the case for owners of the one in 10 mortgages that are in arrears.

In 2007, I published a book called ‘The Generation Game’ which focused on this generation who would have to default on their mortgages and explained that these would be the people who really paid for the boom. At the time, the usual suspects sneered and laughed at such a prophecy. Today it’s a reality.

It is time to tell the ECB they are not getting their money back because, after all, this is what a Central Bank does, it is the lender of last resort. It is time to walk away from the subordinated debt holders. It is time to force a debt for equity swap for the remaining bondholders and it is time, armed with an overwhelming referendum-based mandate, to stand up for the people.

We need to stop buying rounds we can’t afford. We need to stop desperately trying to be one of the lads. We lost face years ago when the clowns ridiculed the sceptics and drove this economy over the cliff. But there is always time to change and no time like right now.

  1. adamabyss


    • Maeve Harrison-Barbet

      This makes for very sad reading. Why is it that the Irish people (and I am Irish) are very reluctant to face up to the truth?

      Maybe I am the odd one out, together with David McWilliams, and have, from a very early age, questioned everyone and everything.

      This attitude towards life does not win friends and influence people, but it sure does help towards a better society.

      The truth is, to my way of thinking, always the best policy.

      What a shame that very few politicians, once they are ensnared into the status quo, are able to tell fact from fiction.

      It’s enough to make a body weep.

      • Eireannach

        Apparently only 10% of Irish people have lived abroad. I find this figure a little low, but it may be statistically accurate.

        The Irish who have never lived abroad are ‘insular’, from the Latin word for island (insula).

        I find insular Irish, who know little or nothing about Europe beyond what they see of the UK on TV, a disgustingly closed-minded people. The rest of the world is broadly in agreement with me, that’s why they don’t trust us with their money, unless it’s FDI where we have no say in the spending of the money, we’re just labourers who do what we’re told.

        I would have no confidence in Keralan Indians handling my money, I don’t think they have a clue. That’s just a stereotypical impression. However, Keralans are pretty hard and loyal workers. I think Europe and the world sees Ireland and the Irish in more or less these terms. And they are absolutely right.

        • CitizenWhy

          Are you saying 10% “lived abroad” or “visited abroad”? Every relative of mine in the West of Ireland, the Midlands and Dublin has close relatives in many countries, and every family has someone who married a foreigner, even of a different race. Is it the city people who have weak or no connections abroad?

        • inabitofdebt

          90% of irish are “disgustingly closed-minded people”?

          You really do have your head up your arse.

  2. John Q. Public

    The metaphorical loan shark is also still out there, the question is how to deal with him. Do we talk nice to him or tell him to **** off. Will we get beaten up on the way home? get our teeth kicked in? Maybe we should send over the Irish cricket team to deal with the EU/IMF using their bats, now they know how to play ball.

    • Dorothy Jones

      The EU meetings are almost upon us. I cannot figure out from the elected what exactly their strategy is likely to be. Will they be like flies splattered on the windscreen? Is Europe afraid to ‘let us go’? Many guesses in foreign media about possible outcomes, but it seems as if there is no plan for sure…..

      • John Q. Public

        None of the parties have a plan of action for this, only inaction. We are like Hamlet over here, our antic financial disposition has led us to this and we are now driven to inaction not because of intellectual rigour but the lack of it. Our only hope is that Enda will meet the ghost of a long dead famous economist, Friedman perhaps, to tell him what to do. There are higher odds of him appearing on the Vincent Browne show than formulating any policy or plan to get us out of this mess and in any case any of our living economists would destroy him in two seconds.

        • Deco

          The plan we are seeing might best described using Michael O’Leary’s term to describe Bertie Ahern – “dithering”.

          Dithering is NOT a problem solving strategy.

          We will have a FG/ILP fudge. FG have not opened the option of talking to a collection of centre, centre-right independents. If they did, IBEC would be furious and would probably sabotage any reform effort. And that is to say nothing about the power games of ICTU.

          I did not vote for IBEC or ICTU or the CIF or SIPTU or IMPACT or any other vested interest. And within one week of the election we are already heading back to the Consensus Nonsensus agenda again.

        • Dorothy Jones

          Derek Scally seems to be ahead of the posse on this one with his article in Saturday’s 05.03.11 Irish Times [Berlin opens door to bond-buying EU rescue fund].
          Angela Merkel officials have conceded in private that the game is up and that a ‘transfer union’ will be established allowing a permanent flow of subsidies from richer to poorer EU member states. So, that’s decided then.

  3. Colin

    Great article David. You’ve summed it all up very well. We have as a people (although there are some exceptions) some awful habits, pride being chief amongst them which Deco here has been banging on about for quite some time and being bang on the money too.

    Pride needs to be reined in. The word should be banned from all advertising and branding, starting with that loaf of bread….I mean, what’s particularly proud about baking a loaf of bread? I’ve yet to see French Pride Baguettes on the Supermarket shelves in France or Italian Pride Pizza in Italian Supermarkets for example.

    We’ve nothing to be proud of. FF misgoverned us, but they were democratically elected to govern, are those past FF voters proud of how they used their votes? 1000 people emigrating every week, how can we be proud of that?

  4. BnB

    The new government doesn’t even need a referendum to reject the EU/IMF deal. It already has a mandate to reject it if it wishes to do so. This mandate doesn’t come so much from the number of people who voted for them as from the number who voted against the previous government that agreed to the deal. The previous FF/Green coalition and their independent supporters are now left with only about 15% of the seats after getting about 20% of the votes.

    The only vote that is now needed is a repeat of December’s Dail vote on the deal. The only difference, apart from a gap of a couple of months, would be a more representative parliament. The EU leadership could not possibly object to re-running a vote, could they?

  5. The Quiet Man

    We are quiet and the EU know we are too .There is no confidence from the EU for the Irish now and they know its a foregone conclusion that Ireland will DEFAULT sooner rather than later and as far as they are concerned thats a Bad Apple gone from the decaying carcass . The Vultures will devour the remaining meat just by doing nothing and they will have a feast day from it .

    I have no confidence anymore in anything Irish and money and law;

    The only flicker of light that might be there is Pat COX and maybe ……just maybe he might do a round for us at the table of the Emperors of Europe.

    So Pat if you are reading this …you remember the school days and the soup kitchens and when some of our classmates had their only full meal at the school kitchens dont let that happen again and do your best I have confidence in you.

    • irishminx

      John, isn’t Pat Cox a buddy of Olli Rehn?
      I don’t trust any of them. They don’t give a crap about the ordinary person in Ireland.

      • Eireannach


        Rest assure, the ordinary insular narrow-minded Irish people didn’t care about Pat Cox or Ollie Rehn either, until they screwed up so badly due to their narrow-minded myopia.

        Everyone who bought a house after 2000 should be ashamed or their naivity, they all know friends who warned them against doing it but they did it anyway.

        Not to mention vote in FF again and again.

        • irishminx

          I hear your anger Eireannach.

          I built my house and am grateful I have a small mortgage by comparison to most.

          I didn’t ever vote FF in a general election.

          What maybe is important is that everything changes, sometimes that change is slow, but it’s change nonetheless.

          I need to keep reminding myself of this too!

  6. Deco

    YEah, we are bankrupt. And the leadership has been bankrupt for quite some time. Maybe DeValera had a premonition when he ensured that there should be a clause in the Constitution banning bankrupt people from being in the Oireachtas. Because we had CJH, who was in hock to AIB. We had BCF and she was in serious debt. And of course we had the Grand Master of Fiscal Incompetence, the Drumcondra Ditherer, who was looking for a “digout” from his mates. But hey, I bet they were all the sorts of pretenders who bought ordered rounds of booze for everybody at the bar. I have been told stories given to me by people who directly met these two scumbags on the way up and leave me in no doubt that CJH and Ditherer were extremely ignorant and bad tempered when heavily drunk.

    The lad who sneaks off home early, who gives it a miss because he has work the next day, or who is sipping the glass of Club Orange for an hour on the basis that he is driving, or who buys his own booze as a matter of principle (so as to keep out of the round) is the equivalent of Gunther – who is the last man left to keep the banking system. Eddie Hobbs captured it well when he described Irish people getting boozed up and then bidding for apartments in Budapest. (You don’t hear much about that anymore).

    David – your article captures perfectly the utter stupidity of the self-imposed predicament we are in. Bill Black’s commentary a few weeks back also comes to mind.

    It seems to be a matter of pride that Paddy keeps buying drinks for everybody and bankrupting himself. We cannot all carry on like as if we are on Brian Cowen’s salary.

    • Colin

      Is Mick Wallace bankrupt? If not, why not? Aren’t his liabilities exceeding his assets? If he is, how is he allowed to take a seat in Leinster House?

      • Deco

        Well, now this is interesting.
        Because if a move is made to block Mick Wallace, then the question arises, as to why no move was made against the other bankrupt TDs who were in political parties ? In particular why did AIB knowingly keep knowledge from the public in 1979.

        What happens if there is a by-election and he gets elected again ???

        I don’t know anything about Mick Wallace.

        I remember the rumour that Joe the Trucker was going to run in Galway West to make an issue over the Anglo bailout. But obviously nothing came of it.

        Colin – I don’t know how to answer that question.

        • John Q. Public

          because companies own companies which are owned in turn by umbrella companies etc. A complex little system which legally protects the top dog. If your Ltd. goes bust fine but not you personally.

        • Julia

          You only have to leave the Dáil if you you are declared bankrupt. Mick hasn’t been and hasn’t even been NAMAd, so he can carry on as normal.

      • paddythepig

        Funny how Wallace managed to pay himself a salary of 260 grand last year, and yet not pay a cent back to the banks (i.e us). He also owns 40 apartments, and 5 restaurants. Funny how they haven’t been put up for sale to recoup some of the money he owes the banks.

        It’s even funnier how 13000 idiots in Wexford managed to vote for this guy.

        • Colin

          Its even funnier that his wife drew the same salary.

          There are 13000 idiots voting for Lowry in Tipperary North too.

          Why didn’t Vincent Browne pursue Wallace on his wealth?

          • ocallaghanr

            Ah Democracy. A system that gave power to the Nazis. Who is the greater of the fools: The elected representative fool, or the fool who elects him?

    • adamabyss

      Who is BCF?

      • Colin

        She of the Great Mayo Flynnasty

        • adamabyss

          Never heard of her. I was out of here obviously – must have been my boozing in Budapest period (but not buying apartments!).

        • When I was a mere strip of a lad attending a De La Salle School, the Brothers distinctly told us that people with criminal records could not serve in the Dail!!!


          1.If memory serves me correctly Beverley Cooper Flynn was found guilty of malpractice while working with National Irish Bank?

          2.She lost FF whip.

          3.Then she lost a libel case against RTE and owed over a million?

          4.Then she was needed to make up the numbers for FF as an independent?

          5.Then the megabucks she owed over losing libel case was “settled out of court”?????

          6. Then she rejoined FF?

          7. Then she continued to screw the taxpayer for the Independent TD’s bonus payment of 40k (obviously and innocently forgetting that she was no longer an independent – she was entitled to it you know!)

          Anyway my conclusion is obvious -

          The De La Salle Brothers were full of shit!

          • Colin

            The elections of Martin “10 Years Portlaoise” Ferris shows you need not fear of being kept out of Dail Eireann if you’ve got a criminal record. DLS Brothers were clearly wrong or you may have misheard them.

          • Deco

            I wouldn’t blame any secondary school, or a teaching order, for the fact that the Oireachtas contains lawbreakers, thugs, bankrupts, or muppets.

            They tried to instill in the kids the belief that people who broke the law and bheaved immorally were not fit for office. Maybe they might have been telling you something in an indirect manner concerning CJH, and the Arms Trial. They were clearly completely out of tune with the reality of the Irish political establishment. But they were at least trying to provide a standard of behaviour with regard to the Oireachtas.

            In retrospect such thinking never stood a chance compared to the hoors who got their snouts into the trough in the state system.

          • Deco

            After serving his jail term, citizen Ferris became a very law abiding individual.

            Because, when he heard of people stealing goods in his area, he went to steal those goods back, in order to save the gardai the effort…..

            I’d say Citizen Ferris did more than he got sentenced for.

  7. Deco

    Looking at the numbers in the middle of the article leaves a very uneasy feeling in the stomach.

    We are in a predicament. Those that are conservative with their finances are reluctant to put money in Irish banks, because they reckon they are not telling the full story. We are literally a country with a massive overdraft from the ECB. Sitting on a mountain of “print-baby-print” money. Or maybe that should be “Drucken-kleiner-Drucken” seeing as Gunther is paying for this.

    Two things need to fixed immediately.
    1. Our dysfunctional labour market. (getting people to leave does not generate the cash flows required to sustain our economic system).
    2. Our dysfunctional banking systems balance sheets. For Long Term Economic Value – define “Long”.

    Both are regulated in the wrong manner. The social partnership model is failing Ireland.

    We need to fix these urgently. Because if we don’t then when Spain finally has the damburst moment the EU will be a monetary zone of chaos.

  8. wills


    Who is broke ?

    The rich who own Ireland are not broke.

    The rich can afford not only to buy another round but can also buy the pub and the brewery and the law and keep serving the beer 24/7.

    The money flows are controlled in the way the article above outlines in order for the rich to secure their future income streams.

    And it is apparently clear that the rich and the powerful are prepared to use the non rich and the non powerful in any way of necessity in order to maintain their order over the confluence of events going forward.

    Aad in Ireland the rich and powerful are more than prepared to go that one yard extra if any situation demands it.

    And as we have all witnessed they have indeed gone and take that extra yard over n over n over as you David have discovered for your self when they manipulated out of you the blanket guarantee seal of approval and then bent it inside out to their own need and put you slap bang in the middle of their Ponzi property bubble aftermath carnage.

    • Deco

      The rich who own Ireland are in Marbella buying rounds for themselves. When the weather warms up they will be back in Straffan, buying rounds there. The Strafia.

    • coldblow

      Wills, you are right. I remember Malcolm saying here a couple of years ago that he had recently met with a gathering of the great and the good and that they sincerely had the interests of the country at heart. I still remain to be convinced.

      Neither would Sarah Carey agree with you. Didn’t she once tell us that she had learned (from dinner party conversation with her friends) that there was no money left and that the ‘rich’ certainly weren’t rich. So that’s that then.

      I couldn’t remember her name so I looked into the IT website to see if she weas there. In the “Comment” there was the following article entitled “FG should think the unthinkable and help FG”:

      and I said to myself “This is probably her” – and it was. The gist is that FF should do their patriotic duty and join with FG to achieve a clear left-right split (with the latter in power of course) but the only hint given about the desired policies to be followed by this National Govt. is a dark reference to ‘bond-burning headbangers’ (I think). There is nothing else to go on in this as to what exactly such a govt would actually do so I have to assume that this is a kind of non-verbal signal boradcast to similar “right-minded” people.

      Now perhaps I am being unfair but the implication appears to be that the poorer parts of the nation should pay for this and not the people who caused the mess. (My prediction is that when they have safely offshored their savings and ‘savings’ they will then graciously acquiesce in default/ devaluation (and perhaps even some bonfires of bondholders) all ‘in the national interest’.)

      Now, regular readers will be familiar with my views on the tedious BS emanating from ‘leftist’ circles (one of my main gripes being that it has distracted from the main issue) but ‘let us be clear about this’, they are not the problem. Crotty agreed with Marx to the effect that, in general, people act in their narrow class interests. This appears to be the lesson of the Lib Dems joining up with the Tories. Sad but true.

  9. Rory

    Great article reviewing 4 books criticising the banking crisis in the states. Applies to us too.

    He concludes with a quote from the authors of one of the books

    “Johnson and Kwak conclude by invoking Teddy Roosevelt, who dismantled the mighty Standard Oil in the public interest. Today, they insist, we must “take a stand against concentrated financial power just as he took a stand against concentrated industrial power.” Otherwise, next time will indeed be different. It will be even worse.”

  10. paddyjones

    I have an awful feeling that the shit hasnt hit the fan yet regarding our debts, the IMF/EU bailout will allow us to carry on for another while. But the end game is nearly here. I agree with the Sinn Fein view that we should not take it because it “kicks the can down the road” .
    If the deficit was 19 billion last year and we made a 6 billion adjustment that means in theory we will have a 13 billion deficit for 2011. This can be financed by current amounts in the NTMA. The following year make a 3 billion adjustment making the deficit 10 billion. Surely we can borrow 10 billion over a year to finance ourselves.
    The problem is as Gurdgiev states all too often is that we keep making these adjustments but our deficit of 19 billion stays the same ….can anyone explain this? I work in Finance and am completely perplexed that all these austerity measures are not having any effect?????

    • coldblow

      Hi Paddy

      I think the answer to your question is simply: austerity measures do not work and by taking money out of the economy you make things worse not better. I think this was one of the lessons learned from the Depression.

      Now I know this can be argued over in all kinds of ways with valid points to be made by all sides, but the fact seems to be that austerity per se never works. So why are we trying it – just to provide some fresh data for economists researching “how not to do it”?

      What reason does Gurdgiev give, by the way? Is he in favour of austerity? One of the main rejoineders from supporters of austerity/ deflation is that it hasn’t yet worked because it hasn’t been done enough. Sounds like a high-risk strategy to me, but hey our financial geniuses were high-risk kind of guys, and they knew what they were doing…

      Seriously, what kind of arguments would you imagine they’d use? Putting myself in their shoes I’d suggest: Austerity hasn’t been implemented properly or far enough. The welfare state was a big mistake and the present crash was the direct result of it. It’s the fault of historic high tax rates. The history of the Depression is wrong or has been distorted by irresponsible liberals. Unforeseen circumstances. Free market hasn’t been tried probably (distorted by said welfare state). Public service inefficiency. Unions. Throw in some gobbledygook about “Keynsianism”, the gold standard, “crowding out” of private investment, compulsory Irish, aliens or whatever. I’m just guessing at this as I find that when you try reading about it you always get the feeling you’re being sucked into one side or another of bigger argument where it’s hard to know where you stand. Some of these things could even be right, but that’s a side issue…

      Here’s one link directly relevant to your question:

    • paddythepig

      If one was to cut by 19 billion in one year, our spending would go from circa 54 billion to 35 billion. If the 19 billion gap you refer to was to be maintained in that scenario, that would mean we would only get 16 billion (35-19 billion) in taxes, with our current tax regime. Is this what would happen?

      I don’t think so.

      Firstly, the very act of drastically cutting your spending would cut out all the debate over the IMF/EU loan, and release the anxiety over that issue. Secondly, people would still spend whatever they could to feed and clothe and house themselves ; they would not give up spending altogether in this mythical ‘crash the economy’ scenario. Thirdly, the discretionary portion of current spending, which largely gets spent on imports, with the lions share of such spending going abroad, will be reduced, with a bigger impact of the economies of origin of these goods rather than our own economy. Fourthly, dormant money will re-emerge more quickly, if we deal decisively with the problem.

      Fact is, we haven’t had austerity at all. The longer we procrastinate, the deeper the hole we dig.

    • Eireannach


      The shit most certainly has NOT hit the fan as far as mortgage failure is concerned.

      I’ve an open question for posters – does ANYONE on this thread know of even ONE Irish person or Irish couple who hold up their hand(s) and say ‘I can’t afford my mortgage, the game is up, I have to flee the country and change my name in Australia’ or words to that effect.

      Does anybody know even ONE Irish person who is that straight-forward and frank about the situation THEY (f*** the we) are in?

  11. idij

    What are the consequences of a default on the ECB loans?

    A country is not the same as as a company. Does the rule and protection of law does really apply in the same fashion?

    e.g. Is there anything to prevent this: We tell the ECB, “ok here’s a 50% stake in our crappy banks”. The EU tell us, “ok, here’s a 50% tariff on all Irish goods, good luck with that export economy thing”.

  12. idij

    I think that the government has no moral standing with Europe until the deficit is sorted out. Europe clearly also regards tax rates as something that puts on the naughty step. What’s clear anyway is that we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

    • Harper66

      Where is the morality in forcing private debt onto the taxpayers of a country ?

      You talk of Europe as if they are our betters not our equals….

      • Eireannach

        Are you kidding? It was the IRISH GOVERNMENT who guaranteed the banks, not ‘Europe’.

        Of course, the UK, Germany, France and Belgium got a free bailout in the process.

        But the ‘moral failure’ is FF policy – which was voted for by IRISH people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Eireannach,
          I agree entirely with your flabbergast however even the people who voted for FF didn’t willingly give a mandate to obviously incompetent, delusional, financial psychopaths.
          Even today they are in such denial that they think we didn’t vote for them because they had to make negative adjustments???
          Not because they totally f**ked us over for generations.

  13. Harper66

    I think it is worth making the point that “Europe” is behaving in a very hostile manner towards Ireland.

    Consider the facts –
    The debt that is killing this country was private banking debt which was made sovereign through a process involving FF corruption/incompetence and pressure from Europe

    Any money received by Irish banks went to pay off the creditors of those banks namely French German interests.

    Our austerity measures are refinancing French and German banks.

    We are paying a punitive rate on the loan (not a bailout) as a disincentive to other countries not to follow our path. We are being punished by Europe.

    I think the fact that we are paying for Germanys banking mistakes and are being punished by them for doing that is being over looked. There is also pressure from Europe to stop any attempt to change any terms for fear of economic reprisals – see post above
    “Is there anything to prevent this: We tell the ECB, “Ok here’s a 50% stake in our crappy banks”. The EU tell us, “ok, here’s a 50% tariff on all Irish goods, good luck with that export economy thing”

    Europe is behaving in a very aggresive manner to us and this should be called by any negotiating team going over to them.

    • ocallaghanr

      It has been usual for men to think and to say, “Many men are slaves because one is an oppressor; let us hate the oppressor.” Now, however, there is among an increasing few a tendency to reverse this judgment, and to say, “One man is an oppressor because many are slaves; let us despise the slaves.” The truth is that oppressor and slave are co-operators in ignorance…

    • Eireannach

      Irish banks owe over 100bn to German and UK banks, between 40-50bn to French and Belgian banks.

      So where are getting this ‘Franco-German’ alliance against Ireland idea?

      It’s a Teutonic ‘Anglo-Saxon’ (ie. German) banking alliance that is pressurizing us.

    • Eireannach


      Do you reckon Ireland is broke ‘because of Europe’?

  14. Ollie

    Hi all,

    This site used to be months/years ahead of events with great analysis and predictions.

    Where do posters see us heading over the course of the next three years?

  15. coldblow


    Here’s another post from a link I gave in the last thread. It’s the last bit I find interesting:

    29. The Alchemist Says:
    “February 25th, 2011 at 10:43 pm
    @Colm Brazel
    “Hats off to President Olafur Grimsson referendum just announced for April 9 on €5 bn Icesave bill to UK and Netherlands.
    Could we have a referendum on April 9 and include all options, default, leave EZ, join sterling, etc, or support the deal:”
    And one on the Croke Park deal too?
    Competitiveness and the minimum came to mind today as I cast my vote. Those folk who sit for ten hours or more handing out ballot papers, a goodly proportion of whom are public service retirees and employees, earn €37 per hour for this arduous responsibility. In one day, one of these fold takes home more than someone on the minimum wage (revised or not) could make in a week. Ireland, don’t you just love it.”

    I always wondered who they were and how much they got paid. I never liked them, I’m afraid to say, but will try harder next time.

  16. coldblow

    David has referred to this Irish urge for respectability before on a few occasions. I’m not really convinced – I’d take the advice from the title of his last book and “Follow the Money” instead.

    If there were a referendum on the banks tomorrow I wonder if it would be defeated? In about 2 months time it might be a different result, once money has been offshored? Just a guess. What do I know?

    However David is probably right at a personal level among our govt elite who don’t want to lose face in front of their peers on the international stage. Is it the case that the man who fawns to his superiors is likely to be a **** towards his underlings?

  17. mcsean2163

    “is being kept afloat by more and more loans from foreigners.”

    I find it stange, that DMcW keeps on referring to foreigners money. Is it more acceptable to default on foreign money than native money?

  18. breltub

    We need a new constitution which limits the government, the powers the elected have and the amount of debt they are allowed to sign off on in our name.

    I’d love to make Lenihan and Cowen personally responsible for the current bank debt because they acted recklessly in assuming the debt, same goes for all deputies who agreed to these bills.

    Laws like this would also get rid of the party whip support bull, if you make a call or support a decision you should be made pay if you f**k the whole thing up! It might help empty the Dáil of spineless yes men!

    I don’t see much of an improvement among the recently elected. I don’t get how they can refer to Kenny as their leader, and all this subservient crap.
    Kenny is Taoiseach, but he is no leader and he certainly isn’t mine.

    We elect people to manage the public’s finance and public services, there should be less of this leader/Taoiseach/king/Grand Duke sentiment attached to their roles, and a lot more responsibility for their actions!
    Because that is what they are, elected managers, and it’s no wonder a cabinet filled with Teachers, Lawyers and w**kers never get anything done, because none of them ever work in an environment where they are judged on their productivity.

    Rant Over,

  19. FAiken

    Speaking of rounds we can’t afford, are departing Anglo staff going to get bonuses? Anyone know?

  20. wills


    I reckon on the fact that politics left right paradigm is a charade and meaningless when it comes to where the bottom line power resides.

    And from what I can deduce the real power rests within the fold of an insider elite culture.

    This is where David be best focusing his energies upon and deciphering their agenda and where they think they are driving the bus next.

  21. Harold Plinth

    David, I’m for selling the place off to pay the debts and I wrote to José Manuel Barrosa recently to propose the sale. Here’s my letter. He sent an acknowledgement, so if Enda springs it on him he will already know.

    Dear President Barroso (José),

    I’ve realized that there is no point in swimming against the tide. As the EU will later today own Ireland let it own us entirely. As a vassal state we can provide important services. I’ve thought of a plan.

    Ireland can become the European Capital Territory, the ECT. Move all the EC functions from Brussels to Dublin and leave Belgians to work out which language they prefer in peace. We have the international tongue.

    Turn all the banks out of our IFSC and make it the central zone of the ECT, the European Quarter. There’s already suitable offices for everyone, and housing accommodation. Turn the West Building into the European Parliament. Only as little refit would be needed. The centre of Dublin would blossom.

    We’ve thousands of skilled people just waiting for EC positions. Our MEPs would save a fortune in travelling expenses. I understand that the “international community” in Brussels numbers at least 70,000 people. In 2009, there were an estimated 286 lobbying consultancies known to work in Brussels. These will quickly resuscitate the Irish economy.

    The Irish state has become an administrative department of the European Commission. Its budgets would be provided by the EU and the Irish people their loyal servants. Budget problems sorted.

    Please welcome your cabinet team to the European Capital Territory in Dublin.

    The Irish solution.

  22. vincent

    Minister for Energy Pat Carey signs off to key consents for the last section of Corrib gas pipeline on the day of the general election…

  23. george

    David after reading your article it comes to my mind something Albert Einstein said once: “You cannot find a solution to a problem with the same mentally it was created”.
    Garret Fitzgerald said in Vincent Browne’s program, that in Finland the government had to meet to approve a new rate for GPs from 24 euro to 27 euro. Here while we are bankrupted, the State pays the civil servants and professionals in the public sector, salaries and conditions nobody else in Europe can afford. Some of them have three months holidays in the year, and the first opportunity they have on the airwaves, are complaining because they want more money and more holidays.
    Those salaries, pensions, conditions, and the social welfare bill have to come down considerably to bring us in line with other EU countries. But before that and due to the incompetence of our previous government, we have to bring debt forgiveness for people paying exorbitant home mortgages and business loans, and let the Banks deal with the loses.
    We have sent 200,000 people abroad and still counting. And the worst that we can do now is to have lots of babies when we cannot afford them.
    Personally I’m very pessimistic because unless with do something “bold” we’ll get nowhere.
    I think we are trying to fix a problem that cannot be fixed. The Irish economy, ant the Irish delusional estate of mind, that made us believe that we are the brightest and the best, and we deserve riches other people don’t get.
    And due to it now our fate is in other people’s hands.

  24. Philip

    Listen to Mr Lucy on Morning Ireland this morning. The poor guy sounded depressed and perplexed. This nonsense cannot go on no matter what we do.

    The nation is utterly disempowered. People carry on as though nothing has happened. It is easy to turn a blind eye if you are OK for the next little while…soldier on!

    I do hope someone does something soon. That someone would be a Germany or France just telling Trichet to pull the plug. Not more drinks lads! Ask you to leave. That would probably send shockwaves to those lending to Greece and Portugal and indeed Spain. But so what? Two Speed Europe has to come sooner or later.

    Funny thing is if that happened, the true value of Euro would rocket. Germany benefitted by a highly devalued Euro brought on by weak peripheral states. Once they are out of the picture, Germany’s exports will take a massive hammering along with their employment.

    So my hope is in vain. I think Trichet and the lads will be working to keep things ticking along slowly. The idea is not to Suddenly kill off Ireland, Portugal etc…but to kill them off slowly. There will be no fight. Merely a slow ebbing away of an entire society over a generation or so.

    What we are witnessing is merely a roughly controlled mass migration of people in preference to allowing shocks. We are being americanised. Ireland as an independant economical unit is a nonsense concept to the EU elite. It’s a golf course lads with a few cabbage patches.

  25. StephenKenny

    There seems to be a need to blame the foreigners. As has been said by many, the Germans, French, and British were at fault lending to the Irish, as they should have known that they wouldn’t be able to handle it.

    Remember this?

    Apparently 200,000 people were ‘forced’ abroad. ‘Forced’? They were unemployed. Unemployment happens in every country, and in very few countries do people just leave. The 200,000 will no doubt come back when someone else has sorted out the mess.

    What does all this say about Ireland?

  26. CitizenWhy

    Well put. All true. But you might as well preach temperance and teatottling to a pubful of roaring drunks.

  27. CitizenWhy

    Trichet et al are thoroughly modern vampires. No one big suck. Slow steady sucking and then, with regrets, dumping the corpse of Ireland, with Trichet et al owning all Irish assets worth owning. There ain’t no Being Human repenters at the ECB.

  28. CitizenWhy

    Oil. The price of oil. It will shoot up, permanently, making the ECB even more predatory about seizing the assets of sucker countries.

  29. ….In the context of current global affairs, and I said that more than a year ago already, this blog has to up the ante or remain in the insignificant fog of Irish local politics…

  30. Incident

    We need somebody like this to speak on our behalf.

    Too close to the bone?

  31. bankstershill

    The money supply in ireland is approx 200 bill Euro,all created through the process of fractional reserve banking. When money is borrowed it is either someone elses money ie it already exists and therby represents a legitimate debt, or it is CREATED there and then by a bank and ‘lent out’, and collateralized by the assets backing the loan in order to remove the inflationary potential of creating and issuing new money. My question would be this. How much of the total debt in ireland is comprised of legitimate debt, ie borrowing a another persons hard capital, and how much is of the form that has been CREATED on the books of banks. My point is this. Money created by private banks including central banks, does not belong to the banks,it is not the privilage of a private cartel, it belongs to the nation, and forms the credit supply of the nation. If this money was created and issued by the nation, i.e a national bank, then the interest on the loans would also belong to the nation and would go a consisderable way to financing the public service. For example five percent on 200 bill would yield approx 10 bill for the public purse. Also with ireland’s balance of trade being mostly positive, this means that external legitimate debt can be converted to internal debt on the books of a new national bank. So a new government could simply declare under natural law that that proportion of debt created on the books of private banks to be illegal, and that it now simlpy forms the nation’s credit supply, and with all interest payments going to the public.

  32. StephenKenny

    OK, I’ll answer my own question.
    The reason that the foreigners are blamed for everything that goes wrong, and 200,000 leave, and everyone happily says that they were ‘forced’ is quite simple:
    The Irish don’t care about Ireland. Not really. The Irish are simply children; Whenever anything goes wrong, the parent is there to sort it out; If the child overspends, the parent takes responsibility; if there child has social problems, the parent is there to sort it out. If the child runs into a shop, breaks some glassware and hurts their knee, the parent swoops in, pays the bill, and comforts the screaming youth.

    As far as I can see, the system has tipped, and criminals now run the system. The level of corruption in the US & UK is probably unprecedented in history, certainly I can’t think of a period in history when so much was taken from so many, by so few. And they not only got away with it, but were enthusiastically applauded by a people, political establishment, and media, who are either indescribably stupid, or incomprehensibly biased.

    However it turns out now, the next crash will be within a three years, and will take the remaining property values, pensions, and savings with it. For a while, the few will have wealth never previously seen, and then we’ll get the massive over reaction, and we’ll all pay the price for our failure to stop this 10 years ago.

    • coldblow

      “The Sibling Society” by Robert Bly addresses (in a quirky way) the refusal of people in the West in recent times to take responsibility. The quality of the intellectual debate that was carried out in the Irish media during the bubble seems to prove the point. Does anyone remember, round about 5 years or so ago, roughly, an RTE tv news report about the only house in the country left on sale with an asking price of less than (I think) €100k (or maybe it was €50k)? It was some kind of beach hut on the Wexford coast and the report played this as a great joke, or so I seem to remember. In some other countries I’m sure high property prices would have given cause for alarm.

      As others regularly point out here, the absence of detached analytical thought is dire in Ireland and is substituted by some kind of crowd dynamic. Here’s an example. Of the six stations tuned in to FM on my radio during a short 5 min. car journey last Wednesday at 7.10-7.15pm, RnaG had sean nós singing, Lyric had one of its usual dull offerings, I didn’t try Kerry Radio (as it was bound to be talking about Kerry). But the other three stations were all discussing cricket, a sport which had vanished from the face of the earth since the fuss died down following Ireland’s last success about 15 years ago.

      • Eireannach

        Ireland is a babyish country full of teary eyed ‘proud’ Irishmen like George Hook, who think being ‘proud’ of Ireland in sport is a sustitute for actually changing the details that make the place more like everywhere else in Europe, stuff like fixity of tenure for tenants and quid pro quo bank statementsupplied by tenants.

        But no, the details of legal changes are too pedestrian for the George Hook-esque Irish. It has to be man-to-man, shoulder-to-shoulder and all this emotive b**locks. I suppose making Ireland modern just doesn’t get his blood going. Add alcohol and damaged pride to the mix and you’ve got dear old Ireland.

  33. bankstershill

    The capital stock of the nation not including land is approx 400-500 billion, thats tangible stuff, hard assets, and we have a positive trade balance, albeit with some repatriation by the multinationals. Are we as a nation so really indebted to the rest of the world?.
    Seems to me all we’ve really borrowed is paper, that’s right paper. If the Germans really want their paper back then give it to them because its not that hard to print our own with the credabilty (i.e credit) of a serious goverment and 400 billion in hard assets and positive trade balance to back it. A means of exchange of our own without the pigs issuing our tokens. We are being had with wall street and the city of london wetting themselves
    lauging. Time to wipe the smiles from their gobs. Call their bluff. The Great appear great because we’re on our knees. Let us arise.

    P.S By the way if we do go back to the punt, take it of the forex market and have it only convertible in the country, this will really have the pigs squealing

  34. Prime Time

    I just saw Prof Honohan Chairman on replay rte and I am shocked that he lacks confidence in both himself and the policies of the Central Bank to be successful regarding the Irish Banks. He is clearly a person in a job he would clearly prefer not to have .

    His professionalism is exemplary nevertheless his mindset clearly displays his DEEP SECRETS in Irish Banking he does not want to report directly to the Public for fear of an immediate implosion to decimate the complete order of banking in Ireland.

    He clearly is FED UP as he has stated and his mortal self shows some personal stress and pain he is enduring and this struggle may cause him to display some public anger in the furure and this seems inevitable .

    I have said before at the time of his appointment that his beard dangerously hides a lot and were he to shave it we might be better informed.

  35. Philip

    Was reading about Gene Sharp (IT today) on non-violent revolutions.

    Seems Tunisia and Egypt may have used his techniques.

    Not saying that we are in a dictatorship. But clearly, there is a level of oppression going on that needs to be called and needs to be resisted. I call it the financial oppression of ordinary people and I believe some of the techniques should be looked at. It seems complex, but the heart of it suggests a need for people to overcome fear and work in a planned way together. Maybe our independants could start putting their heads together to get our emerging FG/ILP dictatorship to listen up and start to realise they need to take some affirmative action.

    The Irish have more power than they realise. They also have more wealth than they realise and should not be too quick to negotiate it away.

    • Eireannach

      Financial oppression?

      I bring French people around Ireland and they all say ‘wow, Ireland has one of the fanciest, newest fleets of luxury cars on it’s streets in Europe’.

      Financial oppression indeed!! Who the f**k do the spoilt Irish think they’re kidding.

      Answer – absolutley nobody anymore!! Cry babies!!

  36. Harper66

    “WE’VE just seen an election campaign that was virtually politics-free. It was all about polls and constituency profiles, the ‘Gilmore Gale’ and rehearsed soundbites, phoney ‘plans’ and meaningless slogans like ‘Get Ireland back to work’. Yet, we are drowning as a result of politics. Bad politics.” Gene Kerrigan

    Interesting piece and worth a read.

  37. jkforde

    The Irish Times’s Paul Gillespie as usual is spot on in his analysis of our relationship to Germany, EU and the banking stratus. Today’s article is on page 13 of today’s paper. I recommend everyone reads it, puts it down and think about why we are paying our taxes.

  38. kb209

    two words: normalcy bias

  39. ocallaghanr


    1. Hire Max Keiser
    2. Send him to Europe to negotiate on our behalf.

  40. Harper66

    “You now have an alignment between senior managers in the public service, senior managers in the private sector, senior politicians, senior civil servants and senior media figures….

    They will warn us of the dangers of radical thinking. And do so with straight faces, standing in the wasteland they have made.

  41. vincent

    Meltdown-The Secret History of the Global Financial Collapse.2010.

  42. Deco

    We are now seeing details of the new government program.

    It is a stitch up between IBEC and ICTU. FG + ILP trying to prove that they can deliver for IBEC and ICTU, what FF + GP were struggling to deliver.

    And nobody will touch the quangoes.

    Interest rates are going up. Trichet has been muttering that it will happen. More critically, inflation is creeping upwards.

    If interest rates are going up, the Merkel will not give the Irish government an interest rate reduction. Merkel lost a regional election three weeks ago. Also the Centre Right government in the Netherlands (with much less exposure to PIGS debt, relatively speaking).

    Lastly, the minimum wage will go up. And the government will spend money training people. If you drop the minimum wage, then business will spend the money training people. Which is cheaper for the government. But SIPTU will not allow that to happen.

    The fact that FG did not consult Ross, Donnelly, Ming and the other independents indicates to me that this is a IBEC + ICTU stitch up. FG took their historic mandate and ran to big business.

    For the next three months you get a massive PR stunt. The program contains a sweetener for RTE. If the government is committed to being sweet to RTE, then expect deceit.

    • Colin

      This new FG/Lab govt is already making the previous FF/Green govt look less destructive. I’m astonished the Independents were not approached by FG.

      I’m sick of Irish politics. I felt good after voting, but I’m feeling more and more pessimistic about the future.

      • Eireannach


        It can be hard to change one’s habits. Understandably, people find it hard to give up deeply ingrained habits like going out to the pub with friends, smoking, drinking too much coffee, eating to many sweet things and putting on weight, etc.

        That considered, do you see any REAL desire by the Irish people to reinvent themselves? I don’t. I think, like an obese person, they know they have bad habits and need to change these habits, but they find it soooo hard….

        Ireland will not reinvent itself dramatically. Instead, it’ll soon have a cardiac arrest as mortgages fall into arrears everywhere.

        It’ll be exciting in a dystopian way, but the wheels are really going to come off in 2011-2012, because the level of household debt is mind-blowing.

  43. [...] exodus Renegotiation and the Bailout Black Hole Renegotiating the bailout : reality bites We?re broke but still buying rounds 10% of owners struggle to pay mortgage Mortgage repayments set to rise Mortgage Arrears: [...]

  44. “We need to stop buying rounds we can’t afford.”

    In fact we need to stop going to the pub full stop.

    The values of being drug free need to be instilled in our culture. Its time for us to grow up and become less dependent and more independent.

    Its a good analogy used by DmcW. We have this dependent ‘partners’ drinking buddy relationship to our colleagues in Europe: ‘Enda and Angela are on the best of terms’, ‘we’ll pay our way’, ‘our buddies will take care of us’, ‘if we can’t pay, they’ll take care of us’.

    This is ridiculous and is not a business relationship. Germany is making a fortune out of the euro, €5 bn/yr just on the issue of the currency. Its banks are bursting with the spoils of lending

    “Rehn EU should lower interest rates to Ireland :

    “The new Irish government must stick to the savings and reform program agreed with the Eurozone and the IMF — “without modification,” Rehn insisted. “However, we must also ensure that Ireland can repay its debt over time.”

    The choice is between becoming a dependant vassal state debt servicing agency run by the ECB, or we stop going to the ECB pub and we set about regaining our independence and sovereignty.

    We burn bondholders who we make share in the losses suffered by Irish citizens, a debt for equity swap in banks that can be saved is fair and equitable.

    Our present purpose of moral persuasion instead of business purpose is delusional and incompetent.

    We should simply say we’re putting the result of negotiations into a referendum to allow Irish people decide the outcome. We should include all options such as leaving the EZ, puntNua, joining sterling, etc.

    OT I’d worry about the term ‘prophecy’ with its religious or soothsayer overtones. Unless he’s claiming he’s no longer got feet of clay, he should confine analysis to more objective and scientific probability indices such as, ‘I predict on the basis of this evidence…’

    Lets hope more pubs will close and they can be adapted by local groups to turn into clubs, coffee shops for both young and old.

    Let’s carefully watch the following from the Fine Gael Manifesto, to see how quickly it gets betrayed:

    “European Support for Bank Recapitalisation: We will seek to re-negotiate the terms of reference of the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) and / or European Financial Stability Mechanism (EFSM) to allow them to take equity stakes in systemically important European banks, such as AIB and Bank of Ireland. A similar option is that Ireland could buy “insurance” from the EU against the risk that losses in Irish banks will be significantly greater than projected under the PCAR exercise.
    Agreed Procedures for Restructuring the Debts of Troubled Banks: Fine Gael in Government will force
    certain classes of bond-holders to share in the cost of recapitalising troubled financial institutions. This will be done unilaterally for the most junior bondholders (owners of preference shares, sub-ordinated debt and similar instruments), but could be extended — as part of a European-wide framework — for senior debt,
    focusing on insolvent institutions like Anglo Irish and Irish Nationwide that have no systemic importance.”

    The above is delusional and will quickly be forgotten. There is nothing in the Van Rompuy and Barossa proposals for the summit end of March that remotely includes any possibility of burning bondholders.

    All the evidence suggests FG and LB will take whatever crumbs are on the table and run for cover with their salaries/jobs and term in office, rather than contemplating anything like burning Trichet’s senior bondholders.

    Your independence is gone! Oops, sorry about long post! It will be fun seeing FG come up with excuses to explain the sell out deal they’ll bring back. I’m guessing it will be EU/IMF interest rate reduced to 3% with bondholders protected, a sell out!

    • DmcW comment re prophecy referred to above. Last par above is feet of clay prediction not prophecy:)

    • coldblow

      “Let’s hope more pubs will close and they can be adapted by local groups and turned into clubs, coffee shops for young and old.”

      Where they can sip decaffeinated coffee as they watch public information films about the dangers of stereotyping? Is this the new puritanism?

      • I’m sure smart young people can come up with better uses for the free facilities than getting gobsmacked with booze served up by the local drugLord :)

        Anyways these days anyway its cheaper to buy it from the local off licence.

        • Maybe U2 could throw in a few trillion and like Carnegie with the libraries, create countrywide music centres from the empty pubs to be shared with local drama groups. Unlikely though, if its not run by the GAA or parish or local publican, it just isn’t goin to be:(

  45. CitizenWhy

    Sad. People are saying Ireland is a good place to be from,” with the emphasis on from

  46. CitizenWhy

    The problem in the UK and Ireland is placing a big bet on FIRE – Finance, insurance,r real estate – as the backbone of a growth economy. This is supposed to be wonderful for these reasons: … 1. The work is too sophisticated to entrust to places like China … 2. The jobs require a college degree, so everyone will be eager to get a degree. … 3. These sectors are endlessly expandable, great job engines. … 4. The work is clean. …5. The nature of the work keeps the “best and the brightest” at home. Etc. Blah.

    The reality is that these industries are based on debt and risk. Debt multiplied. Risk multiplied. Boom and crash, with the insiders always making money, taking the profits as they come in, assigning the losses to the government/taxpayer. Everywhere the banks are dictating to elected governments, who were elected to bring the banks into line. A terrible ugliness is born.

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