March 7, 2011

Claim the moral high ground

Posted in Debt · 95 comments ·
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Have you ever heard of a ‘debt audit’? It is a fascinating idea.

Together with a referendum on paying bankers and bondholders, a debt audit is another important piece of weaponry which could be deployed by the new government in debt negotiations in the weeks and months ahead.

Before we discuss the debt audit, let’s recap on what we know. We know we can’t pay all the bank debt and sovereign debt together. We know we can, and should, pay all our sovereign debt.

We also know that the more bank debt we pay, the less money we will have to pay the sovereign debt.

We know that the reason we are in an IMF programme is that the financial markets do not believe we can pay the sovereign debt and the bank debt together. That is why they refuse to lend to us.

We also know that the European elite wants us to pay the bank debt to prevent the share price of big German and French banks getting into hot water. Together, Irish, Spanish, Portuguese and Greek banks owe French and German banks over €900 billion.

If Ireland gives the bank debt back to the bondholders who actually own it, this will cause contagion, giving the Spanish ‘permission’ to do something similar and bringing the German and French banks down because their balance sheets would be forced to bear the responsibility of their own actions.

So we know all this. But what do we do about it?

Before you negotiate for your country, why not get onto the moral high ground and appeal to the morality of the European elite?

In passing, we might remind Germany of the Marshall Plan’s debt forgiveness approach, versus the Versailles Treaty’s punitive approach – and the social and political results of each.

Or that more recently, when it unilaterally decided to reunify, peripheral Europe paid for that in penal interest rates, massive capital flight and, ultimately, mass devaluations of peripheral currencies.

As a direct consequence, the wealth of the citizens of peripheral Europe between 1990-1993 was diminished in order to increase the wealth of east Germans.

Irrespective of how we argue or what past events we invoke, morality is key, particularly as we understand that forcing Irish citizens to pay the gambling debts of Anglo’s financiers will force us to default in the end.

The current policy of the European elite could be termed ‘economic nihilism’. If so, what might economic constructivism look like?

Bear with me, and consider the following unforgivable episode. Of all the actions taken in the dying days of the last government, the decision to secretly pay some €750 million of Anglo Irish Bank’s debt is probably the most scandalous.

On January 31, Irish citizens paid a maturing bond worth €750million. The total cut in this year’s welfare budget will be €873 million.

The ‘investors’ who purchased this bond invested their money with Anglo on January 17, 2006.The bond was senior unsecured debt and was not covered by any state guarantee.

It is enough to make your blood boil. But what can we do about it? This is where the idea of a debt audit comes in.

A debt audit is when a country goes through its debts and decides which ones are legitimate and which are not.

On Friday, Greek trade unions, economists, academics and politicians issued a call to set up a public commission to examine their debts. It’s the first ever call for a debt audit in Europe.

Supported by more than 200 prominent Greek and international figures, it is a concrete proposal as to how Greek people might begin to regain control of their economy.

The idea comes from a strategy that was successfully implemented in Ecuador.

Now you might say, hang on – are we following the policies of a banana republic? Well, hold that thought: I will come back to Ecuador in a tick.

The Greeks have called for the debt to be looked into, so that ordinary people have an opportunity to understand properly where the debt came from. The call says: ‘‘The Greek people have been kept in the dark regarding the composition and terms of public debt.

The lack of information represents a fundamental failure of the democratic process.

The people who are called upon to bear the costs of EU programmes have a democratic right to receive full information on public debt.”

Precisely the same could be done here. In fact, given that all the Greek debt was taken out in the name of the Greek people and none of the Irish bank debt was incurred in the name of the Irish people, our case for a debt audit is much, much stronger.

The audit could explore who took out the debts and for what, what the original contracts were and who were the signatories to these contracts.

The interim behaviour of the banks would also be germane. For example, we know that the banks lied to the government at the time of the guarantee. Surely this affects the legitimacy of who pays what.

The audit – and an accompanying referendum – would give us the moral basis from which to argue for the separation of sovereign and bank debt – guaranteed and unguaranteed.

The idea of a debt audit is inspired by movements in poor countries, which had lots of debts.

In 2007, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador – a former economics professor – established a debt audit commission, claiming his most important debt was to the people of Ecuador. In 2008, the commission reported that some of Ecuador’s debts had caused ‘‘incalculable damage’’ to the people and environment of that country.

As a result, Ecuador defaulted on some of its ‘toxic debt’. Interestingly, the sky didn’t fall in.

On the contrary, the country reported 3.7 per cent growth in 2010 and is forecasting 5.1 per cent growth in 2011.

The bond default was part of social change in Ecuador, one of the poorest countries in the world.

The socialist president has focused on education and infrastructural development as his priorities.

The number of children in education has risen from 77 per cent in 2006 to 86 per cent in 2010; the country is engaged in hydroelectric schemes and road building to improve the economy’s growth prospects.

Most importantly, the country, which has a junk credit rating, is back in the market looking to raise funds.

And there is strong demand for Ecuadorean bonds again – just two years after a ‘will not pay’ repudiation rather than a ‘cannot pay’ default.

The market has moved on, and so has the country.

If Ecuador can do this and be forgiven – partly due to the moral stance of the president – couldn’t we? Particularly when there is a black and white case for a debt audit.

The debts of the banks are not the people’s debts – that is clear.

A debt audit followed by a referendum would work here.

The new government could deploy this very effectively.

The Greeks are already agitating for it and their case is much less strong. Maybe the new government could direct the new Seanad to carry out and oversee an Irish debt audit commission with a two-week time horizon.

In the time ahead, we need to marshal all our arguments, change the conversation and thereby change the game.

We could set the example for all of Europe. We need to change our image from that of a beaten down bunch of dodgy bankers to a proud race that is doing the right thing.

This is away of snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat.

Why not go for it?


  1. Dorothy Jones

    Common and commercial sense would dictate that such an audit is required prior to addressing the with the EU, i.e. now. If the affairs could be set out forensically with ‘namawinelake’ precision and clarity, it would be of great assistance going forward.

    My questions in relation to the audit are as follows:

    - If the cost of the audit is [as it will be] higher than the threshold for service providers, does this have to be tendered out to auditing companies?
    Or
    - If the issue is urgent [it is], can the service be negotiated with one provider?
    Or
    - Does the Government have discretion to choose who will carry out the audit?

    - How will it affect the flow of money from the ‘transfer union’ which will likely be put in place?

    My worry is simply that the auditors who were responsible for the Banks’ affairs previously may well find themselves with a contract for well-paid work for their services, in the same way that the players in the property boom are well provided for by NAMA [i.e. us, the taxpayers].

    I do not understand why these firms are allowed to continue to tender for Government contracts and why none of the auditors were held to account over the banking debacle.

    If a building was certified by a member of my profession without their carrying out the appropriate inspections [professional negligence], and the building subsequently collapsed, there would certainly be serious consequences. Why this does not seem to apply to auditors [negligent misstatement] is beyond my understanding.

    The audit proposal is good and sound, how it may be implemented is a concern [to me].

  2. Seven

    David, I do appreciate your insight and guidance to the political parties, do you have any advice for the minions that are actually listening to you? I am inclined to move my bank account to a different bank to my mortgage provider and then pay my mortgage provider as little as I want, rather than as much as they want, be it last year’s rate less all the extra tax I now pay. Any thoughts?
    Kevin

    • shtove

      Withdraw your money from any bank enjoying a bailout.

      Withdraw your labour – simply do not work for any organisation that is forced to pay national insurance. Call in sick – disability claimants do it on a permanent basis, why shouldn’t you?

      Refuse to pay taxes like VAT and fuel duty.

      March on Dublin and shut that shithole down.

      It’s difficult, but ordinary workers have no union, nobody to represent them, so they have to stick up for themselves.

      This is the only influence you have. Voting achieves nothing.

  3. adamabyss

    subscribe.

  4. Good idea again but who will listen?
    The last administration believed that they had all the answers and didn’t need any outside Economists interfering!
    Will this new administration be any different?
    Alas I suspect not!

    • Just makes it all the more painful!!!

    • afghanged

      So why does nobody listen? How do we make these arguments a convincing story that politicians will take action on? Who makes the decision to give the Irish people a referendum on this – the Government or the President? All this writing is fine and I like the arguments because it is the naked truth but the politicians don’t want to know about the truth because they don’t want to upset their chums in Europe!

    • madman

      Alas not, is right but wouldn’t it have been interesting had the Irish electorate the common sence to vote in the United Left Alliance and or Sinn Fein and say to these Eurocrats you ain’t going to walk on us! would they not have been running over here begging the case for their precious banks under the threat of “not one red cent”.

  5. Eireannach

    Who heard Eamon Gilmore’s speech about joining FG in government?

    He crowed about how politicians need to be seen to take the pain like the rest of society, to ‘suffer with the people’ were the very words he used.

    Great Eamon – take a pay cut, reduce the number of TDs by a few, and the majority of the Irish electorate will think things are changing. Meanwhile, go to Brussels, take the 100 basis point decrease in the bailout interest rate, and a small majority will think we’re turning things around.

    George Hook can roar on our negotiating team from the commentary box and then get all weepy and sentimental about how proud a day it is to be Irish, what with the TD paycut and the 1% reduction in the bailout rate.

    Meanwhile, it’ll be sovereign default full steam ahead!

    • Deco

      In regard to Eamon GimmeMore, I always draw the disctinction between what is said and what is done.

      He lambasted all the greedy speculators who were in the tent in Ballybrit – while his wife was in a protracted negotiation process with the Department that was her employer over 2 acres in a corner of a field in rural Galway that made half a million.

      He lambasted Cowen’s salary, but had nothing to say when journalists in Newstalk raised the topic of the handing back on Ministerial pension.

      The amount of money to be saved by giving TDs a pay cut is not great in the scheme of things. Scrapping the expenses regime so that they are the same as everybody else would be a worthy proposal, as it would save an absolute fortune.

      Meanwhile, Ming is in there making a shame of them. And bear in mind that Ming was not making a hundred grand a year, or whatever it was in the money of yesteryear. Ming is barely above solvency himself, and he can hand half it to his community. Chances are community projects in Roscommon have been ignored for years anyway. Ming isn’t looking for a second 400 Million Euro stadium. Just a pool hall and a place where young people can paddle their yachts. Needless to say, Ming is in the Dail, while Johnny Cash got told to clear off.

  6. donal jackson

    For me the important aspect of what David is saying is that we stand up and the extortionists in Europe that forced this deal on us will have no choice but to renegotiate and suffer the the humiliation of an audit. There is no doubt that Trichet and Barosso are bag men for Germany.We have to take it one step at a time. No need for panic, all extortionists get their comeupins in time.Our next problem, when the powers that be decide to let us know is the negative equity problem and the repossessions. The very second the bank takes back a house it reverts to current market value, that’s running about 70% less than current book value. There is a way to take care of this but lets see what the Government proposes.

  7. wills

    David.

    You ask ‘why not go for it’.

    Well firstly, those who can make an audit, those empowered to do so are part of the insider culture running things.

    The one trillion PIGs debt was made by private banks.

    And its not the countries who are making the debt its the private banks making business located in these countries.

    I say lets do an audit of the entire private banking system and expose how interlinked it all is through the behind the scenes networks which rise above any national interests.

    The private banking system wether it be in France or Germany or UK or Ireland are all agents plugged into a global financial ponzi scam insurance fraud coming outta wall street and city of london and Frankfurt and the one trillion euro debt is merely the leftover paper from one of their paper cons.

    AIB and BoI and god knows who else wired into the euroland big boy banks and Wall street and City of London and rolled out a derivatives paper pyramid scam using algorithms to fan out gigantic loans sky high above fractional reserve rations in the full blown knowledge that the burn out bill would then be switched onto each countries National debt.

    Lets investigate this.

    • Deco

      I am reading your comment and thought just hit me.

      Did you ever get the feeling that nobody is being told the truth, and that those that know what is going on are not admitting to the half of it ?

      Just keep some multitude of serfs somewhere chugging along. Definitely that includes us here. It also includes the taxpayers in Germany. And the taxpayers in Britain and the Netherlands. These three countries always get suckered with the bill for “Europe”. And most of the time the bill for “Europe” consists of money sent to the PIIGS, a fraction of which comes back, and which makes the state systems in those countries steadily more corrupt.

      And it is like as if everybody is lying so that the whole thing does not become revealed to be a corrupt scheme that is utterly pointless.

      • wills

        Deco.

        Yes.

        In fact I reckon there are two individual economics systems running in tandem.

        One of which is a system of guaranteed wealth for no risk on an ongoing basis. This is the ecosystem the insiders play in and operate in.

        The second system is a system of debt peeonage and the ecosystem for the outsiders to live and exist in.

        I reckon the two systems never meet or touch against each other.

        I reckon the insiders system is a well organized hyper efficient pillaging machine like system that sucks the wealth outta the outsiders system on the sly without the outsiders ever actually realizing what the hell is happening.

        The outsiders living in their own debt peeonage little system are dis-informed into mis perceiving the true nature of the economic market system and made think its one elementary system for all where there are winners and losers, but, this couldnt be more further from the truth.

        Cos the insiders system is a win win. The house always wins.

        • A1 there Wills and Deco.
          I am surprised some troll has not popped up to accuse you guys of being conspiracy theorists. Personally I think that for every official system there is always a shadow system behind the scenes where they refer to the masses as ‘people out there’

          • bankstershill

            Something For nothing

            Imagine if you will an idealized economy with a baker as the primary producer of physical capital and that the total capital stock of the economy consists of 100 loaves of bread. There is also a private bank and a central bank as the lender of last resort. Suppose also that the ‘banking system’ has printed up and issued 100 euros into the economy so that to all intents and purposes the average price of a loaf of bread is 1 euro. Suppose also that the bank and central bank conspire to increase their private share of the total capital stock. Here is how its done. The central bank prints up out of nothing say 50 new Euro notes and ‘lends’ them to the local bank which in turn goes out into the market and immediately buys up 50 loaves of bread at 1 euro each before the inflationary effect of the extra money in the system kicks in. After a while when all the extra money has had a chance to circulate, inflation kicks in and the average price per loaf rises to approximately 1.50 (since we have now 150 euros chasing 100 loafs ). The local bank then quietly unloads itself of its 50 loaves for a total of 75 euro before the deflationary effect of taking money out of the system kicks in. The local bank now returns the 50 euro it had borrowed to the central bank leaving it with 25 euro increase in its private capital which it can lend back into the economy. We now have the original situation in which 100 euros are chasing 100 loaves, except that the local bank now owns 25 of them which it effectively obtained for nothing or swindled from the population. The Kensians would argue that the baker would have increased his production quota in response to the rising price of bread, and thereby would have flanked the bankers scheme, except that in this case the local bank wouldn’t extend him the credit required to expand the productive capacity of the bakery. I wonder why.

  8. donal jackson

    Please lets not get into the wrong argument here.Concentrate on the bigger picture.The election is over lets not dwell on what was said before and more on what they do from now on.

  9. A good idea David but they would never allow such transparency and I think you know that yourself

    Appeal to the morality of European elites? I nearly laughed when I read that as I was wondering what gives you the idea that there are any morals to be found there in the first place. A touch naive I think but I hope I am wrong. Our own elites have no scruples either and paying out 750m while taking 873m from social welfare proves it.

    The place is being carved up by IBEC/FG and ICTU/ILP who will look after their own and next time a bond payment is due they will screw social welfare recipients and the low paid.

    You won’t see the wealthy being asked to contribute more and FG will make sure of it so the suffering will continue.

    This is right wing conservative Ireland. The people voted against their own interests and hell will slap it into them in the future.

    There is one huge difference between Ireland and Ecuador in that Ecuador has a Socialist in charge whereas Ireland is more like West middle England where everyone votes tory because they think they are tories themselves. The country is still in denial and too many people do not know what is good for them

    • Deco

      FG had a meeting of some sorts in January 2010 with IBEC. And the topic was economics.

      The senior FG front bench were invited. George Lee must not have been making the right handshakes or something because George was completely sidetracked. I mean you have an excellent economist in your political party, and you are going to an economics conference – therefore you must leave the economist at home. Or send him for a few laps as a show pony.

      And then we have the various unions telling their members that they must vote ILP for the benefit of their pocket. Never mind the welfare of the country. The continuation of the overgrown and expansive state system of patronage is to be continued, with a facelift to make it sell it better in future. (that way people will shut up complaining about it).

      The CPSU told their members that nobody (!) was to vote for Sinn Fein, on account of the fact that Sinn Fein were in government in the North and they took a hardline on the civil service up there. In particular the fact that SinnFein might use knowledge of how a more efficient public sector operates, and compare with what was going on down here. Nobody was to vote for FG either. Nobody was to vote for Shane Ross or similar. First preferences were to go to ILP candidates, followed by FF. (so as to keep down FG, and SF). I know because I have an account of this. And there was a massive circulation of fear.

      Actually, I don’t think this is right wing conservative Ireland at all. Most people were at the sitting centre trying to find anybody who would be anything of a improvement. And they are lost of choice. When they get Shane Ross or Ming or even Mick Wallace they send them home.

      But significant sectional interests voted for preservation of the Irish concept of lifestyle (mediocrity in, money back out). That is not conservatism, that is gombeenism under a guise of patronizing claptrap. “This quango is good for you”. “Civilization could not continue without this quango…” It is ugly really. The way of the banker, has spread. This is the problem when you get the state looking after everybody with “no banker left behind”.

      Economic policy was completely marginal to what happened in the end. The WIIFM factor took over.

      • No one should have the right to tell people how to vote Deco and anyone who casts a vote on the instructions of some higher power is being a coward.

        I have always done my own thinking and would never let anyone tell me what to think far less how to vote. The ability to think freely is my most precious possession in this life and it isn’t for sale. This is why I have never joined a political party

        I still think that Ireland is one of the most conservative countries in Europe but when I see the likes Shane Ross and Ming Flannagan getting voted it gives me hope and tells me that the Irish people are not as sheepish as some people say they are

        Shane Ross Abu!

        • Deco

          Paul – your first sentence says a lot in one sentence. I agree. This sort of behaviour is denigrating democracy. Everybody or institution can have their opinion. But dictats and “instructions on how to vote” are another matter. The behaviour of the CPSU, and others (including media outlets), not just trade unions either, is disgraceful. It makes democracy unworkable.

          Shane Ross Abu!!

  10. Eireannach

    DMcW says ‘We also know that the European elite wants us to pay the bank debt to prevent the share price of big German and French banks getting into hot water’

    Wait a sec. Isn’t it the German and the BRITISH banks who have lent the most to our banks, over 100bn from each country? Didn’t French banks lend around 40bn?

    Why the omission of Britain’s central role in this?

  11. Great article. Only problem there is the following: “Maybe the new government could direct the new Seanad to carry out and oversee an Irish debt audit commission with a two-week time horizon”

    Two weeks?

    Its taken NAMA 2½ yrs to audit the Anglo loan book and its not finished. There’s the whole question of separating the value of bonds from the value of toxic assets.

    On the positive side, Honahan as a once off last week from ICB gave total exposure of Irish banks as €63 bn. But the figure should be audited and written down in details pls.

    Other difficulties: the hidden nature/secrecy of the documents relating to derivatives. On the positive side again, there should be an international call for a debt exchange enforcement of transparency for this debt.

    But two weeks is perfectly attainable using good probability measurement sampling tools.

    Carter Dougherty here grasps the nettle as well: http://bit.ly/dC0p7M

    The losses need to be written down. This will lead to another Lehmans 2008 groundhog day. Banks will hate to do this. Do our leaders have the mettle to break rank with Trichet’s orders to put up and shut up and put off the fateful day, nope! German banks will resist their €900 billion write down day till the end.

    A debt audit followed by negotiations with EU followed by a referendum gets my vote.

    The problem is our political class want to hide this embarrassing information and get on with political snakes and ladders.

    They’ll do as much as is entirely possible to put that problem into a can that will be kicked down the road into the coming decades. Don’t forget Trichet supported the setting up of NAMA whose main purpose is to hide information on the banks, not to disclose it to the public.

    We need politicos with the mettle and skill to stand up for Ireland’s citizens as opposed to Ireland’s or EU bankers.

    Appeals to morality will fall on deaf ears. Lets do it because it makes good business sense to do it. We shouldn’t give our independence away that easily.

    Don’t be misled by the lies and arguments that tell us this is not the case, that its better for us that anonymous bankers and bondholders can turn us into serfs for life. Its not, its stupid, stupid:)

  12. Eireannach

    @Pauldiv

    I think the Irish vote conservatively because they are so terrifyingly exposed in terms of personal/household debt.

    They think any experimenting or changing of anything is likely to mess everything up even more for them. They want to keep their heads down and ‘get through’ this ‘recession’.

    Of course, they are deluded. They or their families will default on their mortgages and then the real upheavals will begin.

    However, I personally have yet to meet even ONE Irish person who will admit that he is >100K underwater and therefore will have to run away to Australia and change his/her name, or some other drastic action. I have never met anyone speak like this, yet I know they are well over >100K underwater and their position is totally unsustainable.

    The policy is postpone the inevitable mortgage collapse for as long as possible. Beyond that, nobody is thinking, or at least only a tiny committed minority.

    • Like you say I think it was fear that made them vote as they did. That or Stockholm Syndrome. It is a bit like Micheal Caine using his body weight trying to balance the bus on the cliff edge in the Italian Job

      Sheer terror makes people freeze and means the can’t think. An ordinary worker being >100k underwater is shocking and it is not much of a life. Anyone would want to escape from such a prison even if it means taking drastic action. I would not blame anyone in such a hole for leaving the country and starting again

      • Eireannach

        As yes Paul, but what are we to make of the 95% of Irish people who ARE >100K underwater but act like the biggest thing on the horizon is the Ireland-Wales rugby match?

        For the vast majority of Irish, the debt may be bad, but actually taking decisive action to get out of it is the really hard part.

        So they shrug their shoulders and go down the pub to watch the match.

        This is nowadays known as ‘kicking the can down the road’. It is a totally doomed strategy. They will default and lose their homes – period. What happens then? The country has to face the REAL reality that we are not rich anymore, we are poor, in some cases bankrupt, ruined, broke.

        I’m not optimistic about most people’s ability to reinvent themselves. Only people like myself who have lived abroad can actually see ways around the problem and out of the trap, but all involve drastic action. The majority of folks are just sheep to the abattoir. I wish they had more get up and go, but they are just following the arse of the sheep in front until they walk through a door and their throat is cut.

        • adamabyss

          They can’t throw 300,000 (or however many are in arrears) people out on the streets though Eireannach, it will just not happen – it would be social Armageddon so something will have to give…

          • Eireannach

            They can’t let them stay either, or they make a mockery of the contracts they wrote up and if you think about it, that’s out of the question.

            They’ll try and keep people in their homes alright – because they want to cashflow, not the bricks and mortar.

        • Do you think it is 95% who are >100k underwater Eireannach? That number seems awfully high.

          People rarely vent their troubles in public and they wear a mask to convince themselves and everyone around them that all is well in their lives. The stiff upper lip and all that.

          The increase in suicides and the numbers of people taking medication for stress and depression tells us that things are not all well beneath the surface in Ireland.

          Many people will break down under the strain eventually and that means two things. They can either break and accept that life has them licked or they can change into someone who is prepared to throw the mask away and take any drastic actions required to make themselves feel human again.

          Life had me licked once – pre crash – and I dusted myself down and got back up but it took years to do it and not weeks or months. One of the main reasons I found it hard was that everyone out there was obsessed with money whereas I had come to hate the stuff because I thought it just made people stupid and selfish

          Now that things have turned full circle regarding the economy I find that my core principles were sound all along because now when I tell people that I don’t have any debt they look at me enviously and this tells me that I am a lucky man. My Scottish mother was very prudent with money and used to tell me the story of Mr Micawber. Looking back I realise she was educating me not to be a fool

          If I was >100k underwater first thing I would do is accept the fact that I signed the documents and made my own bed. I would not be beating myself up about it either and would come to the conclusion that the banks were just as culpable as myself. I would put food on the table first and then see what is left to offer the banks on a monthly basis. They can do little if you at least offer to pay them something. Feck them.

          Gene Kerrigan wrote a good piece where he concludes by coming to the conclusion that the new thinking that is emerging in Ireland will take time to solidify and he also thinks that fear is the real reason why people felt they were playing it safe by voting FG/LAB

          http://www.independent.ie/national-news/elections/comment-analysis/gene-kerrigan-forget-the-election-change-really-is-afoot-2567595.html

          Change will come for sure but it might take a few years and I think we will get there in the end

          • coldblow

            I like this line:

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

          • Eireannach

            Sorry for the lack of clarity above.

            I meant that 95% of those who are >100K underwater put on a play-act not unlike David’s ‘little man buying the round of drinks’ character.

            I meant that it’s about 1 in 20 who open up and say ‘I’m in an impossible situation’.

            The other 19 out of 20 are in two camps
            a) Consciously hide/disguise/lie about your shame
            b) Admit you’re in a bit of bother and passively ‘hope for the best’ going forward because ‘sure, what else can you do’.

            It’s only 1 in 20 who extrapolates ahead and conceeds that the game is truly up.

            There are still people who believe that if they sit on their arse for a few years, property prices will somehow go back up again and they will magically heal their own balance sheets without lifting a finger. They believe this despite the fact that the world is running out of oil alarmingly quickly (peak oil).

            Only Catholicism explains this level of blind ‘it’ll be grand’ believe in a happy ending.

          • adamabyss

            Good stuff Pauldiv.

  13. Here’s a link you should enjoy, http://bit.ly/eTPN9L

    Neither Conor nor Charlie appear open to persuasion by morality based arguments, but you can make up your own mind:)

  14. HELLAS

    David has done his readers in Ireland a great service in providing information on what is happening in Greece. We here in Greece cannot understand why the people of Ireland do not take a stronger stand particularly as their case regarding bank debt is so legitimate.
    I note that the Irish media choose only to report on the Greek crisis when there are demonstrations and street violence. They ignore the analysis that is taking place here regarding alternative measures to the crippling “solutions” being imposed on us by what we call the “Troika” of the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF.
    The concept of a “debt audit” is proving a popular concept here and in the case of Ireland it would inform the people of the real causes of the problem facing your country and demonstrate in a clear way the immorality of the of the “solutions” being imposed on you.

    • coldblow

      Hi Hellas

      Good to see a Greek dropping by. What did you make of that famous Michael Lewis article about Greece in Vanity Fair last year? I imagine you have seen it. Do you think it gave a fair picture of what’s going on? On the one hand it gave the impression that Greece is riddled with tax evasion and corruption, and on the other hand it would have provided an excuse for those looking to teach them a lesson. You are left with the impression of a country split between a corrupt lazy elite and a stone-throwing bunch of anarchists (a rubble-throwing rabble?). What’s your view?

  15. Deco

    Meanwhile back at the Brussels funny farm.

    http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/rehn-bailout-terms-should-be-extended-to-seven-years-496297.html

    Some of you might be thinking, “well, that’s nice of you Olli-you have a heart”. Actually, it is nonsense. Olli takes a very strict line on certain things. Irish taxation will have to increase. The bondholders will have to get all their money back. He is defending the credibility (hilarious) of Europe’s banking system. This makes him the anti-clown prince of making Europe’s banks look good.

    Basically, Olli is saying that if the Irish cannot repay in five years, they will repay in seven. And he is shiving the issue of the interest rate to the people who are stumping up the cash, the Germans. And the current governing coalition are looking at last weeks resuls, and they are looking at that, and are completely deaf to Olli. Olli is a politician. He probably knows this. If he doesn’t he can ask the politicians in Finland, and they will remind him. So he engages in this silly game of optics of advocating the benolevence of the EU commission. It is very easy for the EU commision to be benevolent with the German taxpayers money. Come to think of it they have been at it for decades. It is a load of nonsense. Game over. Stop patronizing us. Either we get something or we don’t. But stop the acting.

    The current escalation in Greece, is actually a complicating factor, because it is foreseeable that Ireland’s interest rate could be set high to cover the risk of the loan to the Greeks. The German mindset is that if the Greeks are not going to repay, then somebody must. That is us.

    Meanwhile in the background, Portugal is telling us that there is no problem. And the Spanish authorities are explaining how a country with 3 million empty houses, and a 50% unemployment rate amoungst those aged 26-30 does not predicate a banking insolvency problem. Spanish banks are healthier than ever. Nobody has exposure to that stock of empty houses. And the economy can survive high unemployment rates. And besides the Spanish GDP figures have not been cooked by the authorities in an effort to keep down borrowing rates.

  16. BnB

    Now you’re talkin, David. The best weapon against the bondholders is the truth, and that means opening the books of Anglo and the other banks and doing an audit. Instead of just handing over money to faceless bondholders, make them come to Ireland to try to justify why they deserve to be paid.

    Before they get paid a single cent, they would have to answer various questions about whether they exercised due diligence before buying bonds. For example, did they take into consideration the very high loan to deposit ratio of the banks or the very high price to earnings ratio of the property that was bought with their loans? If they’re unwilling or unable to provide that information, then that’s no problem, they just don’t get paid.

    I still can’t agree with your idea of using morality to persuade the EU elite. They don’t do morality. They don’t do democracy either, so that makes a referendum a waste of time.

    • Deco

      I agree with what you are saying. The evidence clearly backs up.

      Sarkozy will not accept any compromise, and is not into capitalist consequences for capitalist failures that hurt French capitalist enterprises.

      It is the nature of the French system. The problem is not the PIGS anymore or even Germany and the Netherlands. The French economy cannot absorb the losses of their misadventurous banks. Therefore the bill gets shoved to the taxpayers in Greece, Ireland etc..

  17. grougho

    on the 19th of Jan 2011 Joe Higgins, put the moral question to barosso, who responded by getting very angry and refusing to answer the question. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uah_BVTmHeM

    so much for european morals.

    regarding the referendum issue, the man charged with inspiring many of the (apparent) revolutions in the middle east (forgotton his name – article in yesterdays sunday independent) describes many non violent means of achieving revolution. among those was the idea of staging a mock referendum. imagine the publicity a referendum held on the eu loan (not bailout) would generate, official or not!

  18. BrianC

    Great article. Only one problem it needs a real man to stand up to the EU and there ain’t none in Ireland. Have a read of Frederick Forsyth’s article ‘Spirit of rebellion still dimply flickers’ in the Sunday Independent. Says it all.

    I would actually prefer to live in Libya at least they have guts and prepared to spill their blood for their rights. We are a nation of f—–g useless assholes and deserve everything we get with our sick door mat attitude. And for those who think we spoke up in the election absolute f——g bol—s we only switched the agent for the new landlord. And to think we actually voted in 20 Finana Fail useless waps we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. Ireland failed to have the true courage to completely route out a malignant party and dispose of it and send a clear message to the landlord that we are not prepared to negotiate. But what do we get the Kenny Gilmore clueless duo. We voted for them rather than appoint as many independents as possible. It is time just to turn out the lights. End of story and just bring ourselves to the Dail and burn ourselves alive. Ireland is a door mat nation occupied by spineless gombeens.

  19. John Q. Public

    Who is going to carry out this audit? We need a Europe-wide commission like the SEC in America.

  20. Deco

    I don’t know if the referendum on the IMF bailout will make any difference. Interest rates are going up. We might be better off to settle for some sort of deal fast, rather than engage in a protracted process that could make matters much much worse.

    The sand has shifted as a result of the US Administration’s print-baby-print policies which have driven up food prices in the Arab Street. Now, central bankers will try to make the currency stronger, so as to make the regimes in the middle east more capable of survival. Otherwise we will be taking multiple bus journeys to work.

  21. Deco

    David a debt audit is a good idea. In fact, I cannot understand why it never happened in the first place. I mean even Eddie Hobbs could have told the DoF/CBoI/IFRSA that a debt audit was necessary and a wise course of action.

  22. High Moral Ground?
    - Sorry High Moral Ground?????
    You can climb Carrantouhil and you’ll still not find “moral ground” on this island!
    Alas even the Independents are considering their position on the €40,000 “Bertie Grant”
    Every man has his price and that’s what made Ahern the most devious, most cunning of all.
    And the end result is a country where the guys who two weeks ago held up the flag of principle and honour have suddenly found the ground beneath their moral feet seems to liquify at the thought of a €40,000 lump sum! I even heard Shane Ross say he would have to consider whether not taking it would put him at a disadvantage? Time to put away that flag then?
    Yep! Sucked in as designed! Expect an Independent barrage of silence from now on – Such was the genius of Bertie.
    A culture emanates from the top – And I’m afraid our culture is now akin to a rancid one deliberately cultured in a lab.

    Oh and eh, remember to buy de News of the World lads!

    Happy High Moral Ground!

    • coldblow

      “Expect an Independent barrage of silence” – nice one. Well 40 grand would come in handy if it gets rough… Mind you I note Shane Ross in his regular column on Sunday was (still?) calling for a referendum about the bank job.

      When was the last moralistic outburst here? Hand of Henry? Before that it was probably the ostentatious disapproval of the Iraq protests. I read once that one of the biggest marches ever held in Cork was over access to English telly. Not taking sides or being overly critical here, but the principles tend to get forgotten when it’s your own dosh at stake.

      It’s not just an Irish thing. Remember the similarly ostentatious public display of outrage in Spain following the Madrid bombings? Their expressions (dignified, the anger reined in with steely resolve) were the same as those of our own anti-Bush demonstrators. Except it turned out it wasn’t ETA that did it. And the plain people of London got very upset about the exclusion of Queen Caroline from her husband’s coronation.

  23. BnB

    The proposal for a debt audit would get a lot of support if it were put to the people. The question is how to make it happen.

    The chances of the Irish people following the Greek example do not look too good if you look at how they were completely uninspired by Iceland’s refusal to take on private gambling debts. Ireland’s crisis is much closer to that of Iceland in that it was a banking crisis and not one of government borrowing like in Greece.

    The one thing that Ireland has going for it now is that there is not just a new government but also a new Dail. Sinn Fein and the Independents now have more resources as elected representatives, as well as a greater platform for their proposals.

    FG and Labour on the other hand seem to have no interest in anything more than trivial changes to the EU/IMF deal. However, Labour is the weak point because they are supposed to represent the people worst hit by the cutbacks. After being seen to prop up a right wing party like FG, Labour might find it hard to openly take the side of the bankers and bondholders as well by blocking a debt audit.

    David is right to specify a two-week time horizon for the debt audit because it should be decided on and completed in a timely manner. Otherwise the idea would be forgotten about and the “bailout” would be accepted as a done deal and as the course of action of the new government.

    • Eireannach

      So the solution is ‘put it to the Irish people’.

      2007 – Bertie Ahern and FF, thank you very much!

      2011 – Enda Kenny and FG by a huge margin. To think his party nearly abandoned him as too crap only a few months prior to the election.

      When we people quit with this pathetic canard that the ‘Irish people’ know best and could run the country if the politicians would just get out of the way. Oh yeah? How come most households in Ireland are epically broke? Because they wouldn’t listen to the ‘cribbing and moaning from the sidelines’.

      How many people in Ireland laughed along with Bertie when he told the cribbers and moaners to commit suicide? Admit it – most of them agreed at the time!!!

      ‘The Irish people’ this, ‘the Irish people’ that. At least the outside world which is not insular (from the Latin word for island, insula) can see the Irish for who they are – sniggering drunks and ‘proud’ teary-eyed sports obsessed cretins like George Hook who can’t manage money and have no industry of their own.

      • adamabyss

        Sports, particularly ‘Premiership’ soccer and dopey rugby, are the opium of the masses these days. Anyone giving large portions of their lives to watching spoiled prats prance around on the TV and then hours dissecting it in the pub need their heads examined – that would be about 70% of the population. This from an ex-professional (for a short period). Playing is good for the body and mind but I have just given up with the over-35s as I couldn’t justify a whole Saturday driving to God-forsaken places like Greystones and Swords (how far is that?! – I’d be twice around Antigua in the time it takes to drive there!), just for the 90 mins on the field which I actually enjoyed (and performed). The lads were nice fellows to be fair but the small talk before and after the game about Rooney and Gerrard et al was just too much to take, so I had to retire gracefully and appreciatively. My conclusion: it’s great for kids but grown men need to do something more worthwhile with their lives.

        • Eireannach

          @adamabyss

          The root of the problem is that most people think that if they chit-chat about unimportant stuff, life should reciprocate by giving them an easy time of it.

          This type of character is going to be increasingly perplexed and bewildered and perhaps even a little terrified by the future into which we are now moving.

          The chit-chat is a kind of escapism. Problem is, there’s no escape. We need to be grown men and face the future as men, to ensure the best outcome.

          When the going gets tough….no, we don’t waffle about Rooney or Gerard! lol

          • adamabyss

            Another thing these lads were obsessed with was gambling, ‘the odds on this race’ or ‘the odds of that combination of football scores coming up’ on a Saturday. It was frightening how much of their limited income they gave to the bookies, while all the time desperately trying to keep it from the wife’s knowledge. A lot of them with small kids too. Dreadful stuff.

        • Deco

          Adam – I think it was Henry Ford who said that thinking was the hardest work that there was, and that this explained why so few people engaged in it seriously.

          We have a culture nowadays, which actively encourages people against thinking.

          This is acheived by “entertainment” so that the masses never actually get around to doing that ever so difficult work-thinking !!!

          It is life as a virtual reality experience. You life can be shit, your job a bore, and your country run by muppets and corrupt shysters. But if you participate in the right TV sub-culture, then you can find happiness.

          And the added benefit of not having to do any thinking, because that is something that technology has now been able to replace for those who are happy enough to “fit in”.

          “Muppetus Hibernicus” is bombarded with distactions. We have RTE sport, TV3 sport, and BBC sport. And Newstalk providing two hours every evening so that he can get even more detailed information and “up dates”.

          And all based on a realm of activity, spectator sports, that frankly speaking is not relevant to his existence. And while this is going on, “Muppeta” can watch an avalanche of soaps which are stuck in all sorts of minute details, and provide massive introspection into what essentially is people in a state of pretence.

          The wide and real predicament of the society gets a time slot on RTE News. Or as Coldblow (if I recollect properly) calls it “the Snooze” because it is designed to keep everybody asleep as to what is really going on.

        • coldblow

          Adam, so it’s back to the bongos on Leicester Square..?

          • adamabyss

            No way coldblow, that’s behind me too! Sticking to my studies at Maynooth, getting the head down for the next couple of years on a shoestring.

    • BnB

      The start of my post may have given the impression that I was supporting a referendum. A referendum is not going to happen anyway because that decision is up to the government. It would not have any effect either because the result would simply be ignored. It would however be a good idea to put pressure on politicians to carry out a debt audit. Even if they refuse, it would at least show whose side they are on.

  24. wills

    Deco, I’ve replied up top to your suggestion.

  25. BnB

    While we’re at it, why not do an audit of the behaviour of the bondholders?

    For example, Deutsche Bank who were fined a half a billion dollars in December for helping rich people evade US taxes. Or Goldman Sachs who were also fined a half a billion dollars a few months earlier for misleading investors. Goldman Sachs also helped the previous Greek government cover up its huge debts, which resulted in Greece’s current crisis.

    Any financial institution with a proven track record of dodgy dealings should be treated with suspicion regarding their dealings with Irish banks.

  26. blackcase

    Absolutely correct! But NOTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN. Did you not notice the bun fight between FG and Labour over WHO GETS WHAT?? Kenny dropped his manifesto and cabinet seats galore RATHER THAN talk to a handful of very smart Independents (coz he knew he would have to take some action and a few risks). Its business as usual in the Dail! ENDA KENNY IS NOW DOING TO THE COUNTRY WHAT HE ALREADY DID TO GEORGE LEE!!!

  27. mully

    Can you point to any government or even politicians who place being moral as their critical objective? Moral high ground is great David but it won’t make our debt problems go away!!

  28. vincent

    I will be very happy to pay any “debt” upon proof of claim that I Lawfully owe anything towards this “debt”

  29. donal jackson

    Just a thought for the future. Should we insist that the offices of the the attorney general and the director of public prosecutions be elected ones? They would then answerable in some form every 4 years. It would have to be a very well paid position, one worth holding on to and no pension conditions out of the ordinary. The position open to all lawyers including the civil servants but if and when replaced no position held in reserve. They would be out of a job..for however long.

  30. Re “Bear with me, and consider the following unforgivable episode. Of all the actions taken in the dying days of the last government, the decision to secretly pay some €750 million of Anglo Irish Bank’s debt is probably the most scandalous.

    On January 31, Irish citizens paid a maturing bond worth €750million. The total cut in this year’s welfare budget will be €873 million.”

    Yes, that is scandalous and sickening. I’m just wondering if journalists have access through the FOI of a breadcrumb paper trail that gives blow for blow how that money was paid, who paid it out? Is there a schedule of bond repayments maturing over the next year we might have any say in? Is that information publicly available?

    Gerhard Gribhowski salutary tale link by Irishminx http://huff.to/grHHhm should make us especially careful of ensuring transparency in such actions, not that it could be suggested anyone in Ireland would take a bribe to grease the wheel of bondholder repayments!

    That’s why more transparency is required that an audit would certainly help.

    I suppose given the gathering evidence Anglo was corrupt and breaking every rule in any regulators rule book as it went on its casino binge, I suppose rather than stuffing citizens with the obligation to pay its debts, we couldn’t sell it to FF for a euro as a going away present?

  31. DC

    A interesting here take on the Debt Audit visa vi Ecuador and Greece.

    http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2011/03/04/505191/

    As an aside maybe we should carry out a wealth audit, i am starting to discern a very visible split in ireland i.e. has anyone noticed the amount of 2010 & 2011 luxury cars on our roads.
    It seems to me that to a substantial part of the population the recession is well and truly over or never started.

  32. I just listened to the affable laughable John Bruton on News At One:

    He made the following points:

    1. We should point out to Europe that Ireland’s rescue of Anglo saved European taxpayers for having to fork out for its losses.

    He really deserves a guest role in some future remake of Fr Ted or Black Adder. As DmcW says above, don’t worry yourselves, pints are on us, Irish taxpayers, we’ll pay

    2. We should not burn bondholders because though we might make some short term gain, future generations
    of Irish people would have to pay for this, also ‘our word is our bond’

    Sure ye’s all thought we’d be paying for this for generations to come anyway. Lol. You know I can’t recall when I gave my word not to burn Anglo bondholders! Must have been a referendum there I missed(irony!)

    3. The ECB never carried out its role of supervision and regulation, so its their fault!

    No, stop passing the buck, the buck stops with Anglo and the regulator!

    Not *cough* the sharpest tool in the box, but there again he gets well paid as Chairman of IFSC Ireland and it wouldn’t fit such a role for Ireland to burn some of his clients.

    http://www.politicalworld.org/archive/index.php/t-5567.html

    “Reviewing the ‘Whistleblower’ thread I can’t help noticing the comments about staff at German banks being flown to Dublin to do deals which would not have been allowed under German law.”

    Maybe Bruton should confine himself to cleaning up his own toxic dump and not spare every moment of air wave time he can get, dumping on Irish citizens.

    • A Play by Me
      but Inspired by John Bruton.

      Scene I Papa returns;

      Momma- “Why Cecil you’re home early. I was just thinking today how life may not be perfect but how fortunate we are to have all our lifestyle. You Cecil, me and our four adorable children?”

      Papa – “Yes Marjorie indeed but there may be a fly in the ointment!”

      Momma – “Fly? Ointment? Do explain Cecil!”

      Papa – “Well only today Marjorie Harold Dalrimple came to me explaining how he’d unfortunately gambled away several fortunes!”

      Momma – “Good heavens Cecil what ever did you say to that?”

      Papa – “Well of course Marjorie I did the decent thing. I swore I would pay all his debts!”

      Momma – “But Cecil can we afford such a thing?”

      Papa – “Well Marjorie it does mean the children will no longer be educated and we cannot afford proper health care.
      Nor will we be able to hold onto this our ancestral home that’s been with us since the very foundation of our nation.
      Food might also be a problem and in truth we’ll all probably have to emigrate or live in penury. However Marjorie, need I remind you, none of this matters because;

      Momma – “Of course Cecil because……..”

      Together – “Our word is our bond!”

      Bow! Bow! Applause! Applause!

      • +1

        Expect to hear a number of pundits brought onto Pravda RTE to argue its only the €16 bn of unsecured bonds we would think of burning, or that ‘burning bondholders might effect our long term “reputational damage”

        Here are the figures http://www.finfacts.ie/irishfinancenews/Irish_Economy/article_1021762_printer.shtml

        The argument goes, ‘ we wouldn’t even think of going near the €50 bn of senior bonds secured and unsecured, or we couldn’t unilaterally consider burning bondholders.

        So, ahem, we would have to negotiate a haircut.

        Think of this, Irish negotiator from the central bank team, maybe Alan Ahearne Pravda RTE croney who got promoted onto the Central Bank today by Lenihan, his achievements being he predicted there was not a chance the IMF would be here, plus ‘don’t burn the bondholder mantra’ or #lets save Anglo at all costs’, he might say, would you prefer a 60% haircut or a 30% haircut?

        Wow, our reputation is way up there with the Khmer Rouge in our treatment of Irish citizens. The ECB have no respect for our reputation, thus 5.83% penal gombeen rate. As for the state of the banks, wow we’ve fixed those. Then there is the NAMA monster of respect…..You have to laugh!

    • Pedro Nunez

      Mrs Merkel,

      we need the Word “Quan”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0fizqifumk&NR=1

  33. italics should be missing from par 1 at 2, sorry my fault.

  34. pfurlong

    i feel we need to let the new goverment know that we the people dont want to want to pay the bank debt and can not afford to pay it . how do we get this point across ? anyone any ideas on how to get them to hold a referenum ? petition letters to TD’s a day of protest . its time to act !!!

  35. uchrisn

    Having lived in Ecuador for a couple of years I was somewhat familiar with the economic situation there. I had a friend who worked in the Ministry for Energy. She said that Ecuadorian military guys in the 80′s had signed away much of their petrol for free to foreign companies in long term contracts, like 50 years with not a red cent of tax to be paid. The foreign companies got these favorable terms by depositing millions of dollars into the personal bank account of the then military government leaders.
    I suggested that the contracts should be declared invalid becuase there was bribery involved. She said that if they did this Ecuador would be punished in the internatonal courts and ostricised by the developed world etc. Justice didn’t come into it, just bullying.
    Pretty much like Ireland now we are being bullied by the people who fund our debts and funded our banks – of course its unfair to ask us to pay for their losses. However justice doesn’t come into it. They say they will ostricise us if we don’t do as they say.

    In Venezuela they tore up the ridiculous corrupt oil contracts and took the petrol back for the people from the multinationals. They were duly ostrised.
    However you have to respect Venezuela for having the courage to say, ‘hey this is unfair, even if it means hardship for us we are going to make a point here’.
    Many of its neighbours in South America are following its lead and infact Ecuador could default on its debts because it was being supported with money from Venezuela.

    Ireland doesnt need to look past the experience of Iceland to understand that a luckily being a developed country with good contacts, it is never going to be ostricised like Ecuador or Venezuela for doing the right thing by our people.

    However are Irish people worried that if foreign banks take over their mortages they won’t be as lenient as Irish ones? Are they worried that their social welfare payments will go down more, their public sector wage? Their pensions? Their house value? Their chance of getting a loan? Do they generally want to keep their own short-term personal situation good for as long as possible and couldn’t give a damn about justice and what’s right?

    The answer is that, yes enough to elect a government. They gave in to the bullies.

  36. uchrisn

    It was nice to see so many candiates rejecting the bailouts of insolvent banks running, getting elected and getting about 600,000 first preference votes, with a more co-ordinated action, e.g. less running they would have won more seats. It shows that there is a base of people there who both understand what is going on and believe in Moral justice. I think this figure has been helped by the efforts of David and co over the last couple of years.

  37. Grenouillere

    When Frogs are being boiled they never jump out only as long as you do it slowley .

    I believe since the Election that the EU perceive the Irish as an indiginous tribe on the western ocean front that was once part of the Mayan civilisation now long past where proper politics should now be served .

    We have lost our legs.

  38. paddyjones

    DMcW is really srcapping the bottom of the barrel for this stuff. His comments really remind me of the program for government ….lots of waffel and no concrete figures.
    Reality check …. the IMF/EU/ECB are running our country.
    Along with a debt audit ( which will be the next phase of our analysis ) we really need to know how much assets are backing these debts.
    For instance if a landlord borrowed a million to buy 5 houses how much are the houses actually worth.
    I have heard that according to the ERSI Irish companies and individuals have assets of 1.25 trillion with debts of 600 billion…..no so bad.
    The next stage is to liquidate a portion of these assets i.e. mortgage assets for cash. The problem is if you do this quickly its a fire sale.
    We should treat these debts as a mortgage and chip away slowly. Asset prices are low at the moment eg houses and businesses but that may change in the coming years.
    DMcW is in panic , he cant see the wood from the trees he wants a quick and easy fix….that wont happen, debt is a long term problem…have some faith in the value of the assets.

    • Eireannach

      Sorry Paddy,

      With oil prices rising, and the European economy so highly vulnerable to oil prices rises, there is no hope in hell of any increase in Dublin property prices until a substitute for oil-based transportation fuels, herbicides, pesticides and so on is found/developed.

      That’s going to be a very long time. We are facing more than a decade of rock bottom house prices. That’s the way it’s going to be.

      Reality check – my Dad bought a large, spacious 4-bed house with a large garden in Enniscrone, Sligo this week for €69,000.

      • adamabyss

        Good on him Eireannach. Honestly delighted to hear that. Everyone in the country should get a house at that price because that’s all bricks and mortar is worth in reality.

        • Eireannach

          If only people bought houses as homes at realistic prices like that – say 300% the average industrial wage – married women (or men) could stay at home and raise children again like when I was young, and we could have a nice quality of life again in this country.

          If we didn’t have grotesque debts, we’d be rich. We have heritage, community, these days good organic food. But we threw it away for easy riches on the property market. Such a shame.

          We have got to change bankruptcy law to give people a chance to start again, like divorce. If we all bought houses for less than 100k we’d be ‘rich’.

      • And the energy companies spend a fraction of one percent of their profits on research and development which proves they are very happy with the dependence on oil.

        It’s good to hear about your Father. The more people come to live on the west coast the better as the place is world away from the main drag

      • Deco

        Well done – good deal.

        Finally we have “affordable housing” in this country.

        And sure enough NAMA, the banks and other vested interests are fuming silently.

        These lads and lassies are supposed to love the market. Now, we have a market solution to the real estate problem. And they have to tell us that it is in our interests that they interfere.

    • “The problem is if you do this quickly its a fire sale.”

      That’s not a problem, that’s part of the solution.

      The problem is we have an army of locusts who realise there’s money to be made by pitching the same bubble gobble that got us into the mess, that is, the lie that the economy will improve while they damage it more by pouring more taxpayers money onto the black hole. The IMF/EU money is going to the banks…The assets of which you speak are plunging in value and have way, way more to fall in value.

      Trichet sees a good deal for his bondholders in selling such assets at a knock down price to his bondholder buddies. What happened to the state forest sale during the week? Next up ESB?

      World economy is getting into recession. Problems that gave rise to 2008 are still with us. Locally, our GNP has reached deflationary values already and we’ve way, way more to go. Oil prices are going up. Trichet is raising interest rates as we speak. Personal debt, mortgage arrears….

      We’ve been sold down the swanee, lock, stock and barrel. Notice the ‘defend the bondholder’ zombies circle the wagon around the 3.1 item of the Fine Gael manifesto.

      Dog’s dinner vultures are getting firesale prices from NAMA anyhow, http://bit.ly/gfBbf8

  39. Defaut = default ( pronounced dafoe )

    Should you want to end this default ( debt ) should enda change his name to ‘Enda Defaut’

    Kennys name does not rub well – ‘can he !’ rhyme ‘kenny’.

    Either Kenny can or he cannot .

  40. I am calling into Sarkozys office tomorrow so wish me luck.

  41. Philip

    Default or no, I figure the rise in the cost of petril – now beyond 1.50, will be the real change we will need to manage. I know it’s all speculative etc right now, but with the Arabs threatening Obama with price rises if he interferes will their putting manners into the Shi’ites.

    It’s all teetering. This idea that we just need poicies to get back to old fashioned late 20th Century economics is cobblers. Same old rat races, more debt and consumerism. Yuk!

    This debt is a load of old nonsense as is the price one pays for a pile of bricks and mortar. You pay for and are indebted to labour input. A dollars debt incurred for a dollar’s work done on your behalf. This audit suggestion is rubbish. Are you telling me I can see the 100s of billions spent in this place…100s of bilions of labour/ effort. The audit is not of the debt…it should be of what was actually delivered.

    If anyone can show me what was delivered, I shall push for payment!

    Now…where’s that woodburning car of mine…

    • bankstershill

      “Are you telling me I can see the 100s of billions spent in this place…100s of bilions of labour/ effort”

      No it can’t be seen because it’s not here, its overseas tied up in government securities and foreign equities. All in all about 1.3 trillion euro. All of course corresponding to the positive balance of trade generated by the multinationals, that has been accumulating year after year since the mid 90′s. Meanwhile all this wealth has been generated at the expense of a faltering water,power generation and transport system infrastructure, which we then have to borrow for in order to fix. We now have an infrastructure deficit, all looted by the multinationals.

  42. Deco

    Wills,

    I read your comment about the pretence being presented to us about the financial system, and I think you are correct.

  43. vincent

    Is it about time to stop feeding the Monster? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PZnCy5NJzA or Is this too Radical a step?

  44. JHShanahan

    We now have a debt audit.

    A new study, “An Audit of Irish Debt,” conducted by faculty from the University of Limerick, was published just three weeks ago. It points out that Ireland’s debt is €371.1 billion, to be exact. If my cancelling of the zeros is right, that works out to roughly €90,000 for every soul in Ireland — and if only 1 in 8 is working, then €730,000 for every worker in Ireland.

    For details, see: http://www.debtireland.org/resources/publications/an-audit-of-irish-debt/

    Despite the assurances of politicians, I see no way that that this debt can be repaid. David McWilliams, what say you?

    John Shanahan
    Drogheda

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