January 21, 2016

The Oscar trail of success can be a huge boost to 'Brand Ireland' abroad

Posted in Irish Independent · 83 comments ·

This has been a fantastic week for Irish cinema. The achievements of directors, scriptwriters, actors and producers in nabbing seven Oscar nominations is the equivalent of the Irish football team getting to the World Cup final.


In fact, the competition in film is tougher than football but, just like in football, you can win at the end only if you are still on the pitch – and the Irish are still very much on the pitch.

Both Lenny Abrahamson’s ‘Room’ and John Crowley’s ‘Brooklyn’ have been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Abrahamson has been nominated for Best Director – quite the accolade. In the case of ‘Room’ (I haven’t seen ‘Brooklyn’ yet) you will understand what an achievement Abrahamson’s is – if, for nothing else, than to coax and encourage such an extraordinary performance from a child actor.

Both films are nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Saoirse Ronan is nominated for Best Actress for her portrayal of an immigrant in 1950s Brooklyn. Michael Fassbender is nominated as Best Actor for ‘Steve Jobs’.

Abrahamson’s film, adapted by Emma Donoghue from her own acclaimed novel, got four nominations. Brooklyn took three. ‘Stutterer’ by Benjamin Cleary is in for Best Live Action Short.

It’s a terrible shame that ‘Viva’ by Paddy Breathnach, a beautiful story of a Cuban transvestite belting out Latin classics, just fell short. I saw it last week and urge you to go and see it. Breathnach’s achievement is made all the more impressive when you realise that this was a movie made in Cuba by an Irish crew – in Spanish – with a tiny budget.

I’m no movie buff, so I won’t bore you with my opinions on the intricacies of these films, but what I want to do in this article is to discuss three separate issues.

The first is the economic importance of the Irish cinema industry to the local economy. The second is the inspired decision of the Irish Film Board to finance, with meagre resources, Irish movies that are not necessarily typically ‘Irish’. Being Irish in a cosmopolitan world is a lot more complex than ‘The Quiet Man’. Thirdly, I’d like to discuss the impact of the success of these films on ‘Brand Ireland’.

Brand Ireland is what I call Ireland’s ‘soft power’. Soft power is the power of persuasion, not force. Soft power is all about getting people to do what you want, without forcing them.

So hard power is the heavy traditional powers of, for example, the military. Soft power, however, is the light, novel power of the imagination. It is the hidden economic power of the Arts, and we should never underestimate it. For example, it is now well known that the bosses of Google and Facebook sought out Bono’s opinion before investing a huge amount of money here. Why was this?

It was because of the soft power that U2 created for this country over the years. This is incalculable. Bono’s connections and U2′s soft power was crucial.

So let’s just examine the first of these issues, which is the impact of the film industry on the local economy. I am writing this from Heathrow Airport. I was dropped to Dublin Airport earlier by a local taxi man, Lar Mooney, from Ballybrack. I’ve known Lar a while and we were chatting about football and the elections when I told him I was going to write about the film business. He perked up and told me that the film business is a huge source of income for lots of Dublin taxi drivers. He told me his mate Fran (whom I also know) often drives Saoirse Ronan and that lots of crews use local taxi drivers, whether on big productions like ‘Vikings’ or smaller ones.

This economic impact of the film industry is called the multiplier in economics. It means that if an industry is using local workers – crew, taxi drivers, chefs, security, make-up artists and set designers – the money stays in Ireland and has a much bigger impact on the local economy.

The film industry in Ireland is worth an estimated €557.3 million (0.3pc of GDP). It employs roughly 6,000 people. There are 560 SMEs operating directly in the sector. Obviously, these figures don’t include the benefits to tourism.

The second issue I wanted to highlight is the decision of the Film Board to back Irish writers and directors who are not necessarily making Irish movies. The board doesn’t receive a lot of money – in the context, €11.5m a year isn’t much. And it’s nothing when you think about the huge amounts of money available in much bigger countries.

But the point is that this year we see enormous payback, and that payback comes from seeing Irish films – like Irish writing and Irish art, in general – as being part of the world, not terrorised by the tyranny of geography and history. It is a big deal for an indigenous film board to make this leap – and I believe it should be recognised.

Finally, we have the great intangible, which is the ‘soft power’ aspect of millions of people all around the world seeing films made by Irish directors and producers, written by Irish scriptwriters taken from Irish novels and played by Irish actors.

This is impossible to quantify but it is enormously powerful, economically. Economists, financiers and beancounters should ignore the broader commercial impact of the Irish arts at their peril.

In a world of mobile capital, investors and entrepreneurs want to invest in a country that has a vibrant cultural scene; they want to be in a country that has a distinct cultural footprint; they want to associate with a place that has a voice.

What Irish cinema does, no more than literature and music, is that it offers an Irish accent to the global art world. It is only an accent, an inflection, but it is special – and it is ours.

Crucially, don’t underestimate the impact of success. Success begets success. Seeing Lenny Abrahamson at the Oscars will embolden some kid somewhere in Ireland in his/her dreams to make movies. Seeing these Irish artists at the Oscars will affirm to others what is possible.

But this success didn’t happen overnight.

At the opening of ‘Viva’, Rob Walpole, the producer, revealed that the movie was first conceived 17 years ago. His message was that this is a slog, but keep at it and eventually you get there. Like all great things, the Irish success is a function of talent, but it’s also the culmination of years of hard work – honing the skill, finding the cash, performing the impossible and getting things done.

It’s all a long way from the glitz of the Academy Awards. And that’s all the more reason to celebrate.

  1. McGoo

    I’m also not a film buff, and have not seen any of these films, but it all sound entirely positive. Particularly the bit about Irish filmmakers making films that are not overtly “Oirish”. This is yet another way in which tiny Ireland punches way above it’s weight in the world. Congratulations to all involved.

  2. Good article. Food for thought.

    In a recession people go to the flicks and the bar for a change of scene and escape the reality.

    • michaelcoughlan

      I agree with your premise that fractional reserve banking needs to be shut and we need sound money. What I have done is close my bank account and moved to my credit union which only lends on a fully reserved basis. I also use goldmoney and have a small mount of physical. Like Adam though I don’t believe your ideas will be implemented from the top down.


    • michaelcoughlan

      Hi Tony,

      There are reports circulating that food prices are starting to hyperinflate in Canada. Is that true?



      • No idea Michael. Still in nz a few days.
        I suspect that the canabuck at 145 to the US will raise inflation. A lot of food comes from the US.

        Because of the falling exchange rate the gold price in Canada is resumed the bull market Jan 2014..

        As currencies lose buying power all will see the gold and silver prices higher despite the cabal.

        • michaelcoughlan

          Price in aug 2011 95c canadian would buy 1 usd. Now its 145c to buy 1 usd. It was worse at 160c in Dec 01. What’s revealing is that the collapse in the canadian currency v the dollar has happened in a much shorter time frame. Probably because the collapse in commodities has weakened the Cad dollar because Canada is a big resource exporter.

        • Deco

          Canada has replaced a grumpy divisive PM, with an optimistic, clueless PM.

          Maybe the markets have made a judgement on which is the most dangerous of the two.

  3. michaelcoughlan

    The article is very good and very uplifting. No question so I am sorry to be a fly in the ointment but I am wondering considering the generous tax reliefs available to film did the film industry seek Bono’s advice on tax avoidance also?


  4. michaelcoughlan

    Hi David,

    Speaking about films don’t you think that the ordinary people should be first encouraged to watch the film the big short;


    and then watch the following video by Bill Holter the Big Collapse is here;


  5. Keep your powder dry Michael

  6. Grzegorz Kolodziej

    Regarding lovely Irish stars at Hollywood, here is Saoirse Ronan trying to teach an American the Irish accent (pay attention how full of himself he is – he does not listen to her at all – a good example of the Irish (that wan has notions) and American (me, me, me – total narcissism – a lot of modern American poetry is like that) cultural clash…).


    Guys, have any of you watched the 6th GOP debate or its highlights?

    I watched the full re-run of the debate as I always do, so that I can influence the outcome of the US election by telling my uncle in Chicago who he should vote for (I also watched the Democratic debate, their first debate that I actually watched rather than listened to while cooking – thanks to the first ever successful experiment of bringing someone from being dead into being alive – I am talking about Mr. Bernie “Lazarus” Sanders and his Ziggy Stardust-like transformation).

    There was nothing new being said in the GOP debate until – boo hoo! – Mr. Bush picked on Mr. Trump and then Senators Marco Rubio and Senator Cruz clashed with each other a bit like the Irish and the Sicilian immigrants in the late 19th century New York. In a rather heated exchange between Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Ted Cruz Senator Rubio critised Senator Cruz’s business flat tax as very bad for seniors because seniors are no longer earning an income from a job yet the prices would be higher for them because the business flat tax is embedded both in prices they are charging and wages businesses are paying to their employees.

    Senator Cruz responded that his business flat business tax eliminates the corporate income tax, the death tax, the payroll tax and the Obama-care taxes and he added that his business flat tax enables the abolishment of the IRS, to which Senator Rubio replied that Cruz’s business flat tax would not only not eliminate the IRS, but that it would also require additional 20,000 IRS agents to collect it which was the reason President Reagan’s administration looked at it and decided not to implement it.

    This is excerpt from that clash:


    The problem posed in the debate touches on a larger problem in macroeconomics: are taxes transferable (can they be always shifted to the consumer?)? This problem was directly addressed in an exchange between Donald Trump and Jeb Bush – the former claiming that tariffs on Chinese imports would affect Chinese exporters and the latter that they would affect US consumers, with Ted Cruz saying that they are both right (more on Ted Cruz in Bill Still’s The Real Ted Cruz:


    Opinions on shifting taxes to the consumer have been changing over the centuries.
    In the 18th century the problem of shifting taxes was taken up by the French macroeconomic school of thought called the Physiocrats. They pointed out that imposing taxes even on tenants, traders or business owners would, at the end of the day, affect the landlords. They believed that all taxes can be shifted from their targeted payers onto the land owners, who they believed to be the only class disposing of what they called the “pure income”. Their solution was to impose one tax on the landlords, who they thought to be an “idle class” (since in their opinion the landlords were the only ones paying them anyway, as only they enjoyed the “pure income”).

    Then Adam Smith entered the stage (probably not many of you are familiar with his philosophical work on ethics, in which – somewhat surprisingly for those who associate his name with the “Darwinian capitalism” – he derived ethics from feelings of compassion and sentiment, in keeping with Thomas Reid) who disagreed with them on the “pure income” – according to Smith, income can be derived not only from owning land, but also from capital gains or wages; therefore taxes could be paid from those three sources. However, in cases of all these three sources of income taxes can be shifted. He agreed with Physiocrats that the land tax burdens the landlord and not the tenant for if the income from farming is constant, the land tax would decrease the rent paid to the landlord and if the income from farming increases, it increases because of the entrepreneurial spirit of the tenant and therefore the increased income should not result in an increased land tax.

    When it comes to capital gain tax in trade or manufacturing, increased capital gain tax would, according to Adam Smith, raise the prices of goods and burden customers because the cost of income would be increased by the tax.

    What happens with the tax on incomes from work?

    This, according to Adam Smith, would result in increased labour cost and burdening the employer, who will however shift this tax on the consumer. Now, as to Senator Cruz’s VAT (I do not want expand on that lest I confuse the readers, but there are some differences between Senator Cruz’s VAT and the European VAT), this would – according to Adam Smith – at the end of the day burden the consumers only, and not the Chinese manufacturers he and Mr. Donald Trump were talking about.

    David Ricardo in his work on the principles of political economy and taxation arrives at different conclusions than Adam Smith. He pointed out that land tax does not burden the landlord or the tenant, but food consumers because it is shifted to food prices. This sounds trivial, but Ricardo made an interesting observation that only part of that tax can be shifted onto the consumer, because if each salesman and producer were to put up the price of their products by the value of the tax, this would lead to the infinite regress. Of course, they would try to shift as much as they can, but is that calculated, he did not explain.

    Jean-Baptiste Say agreed with his predecessors that taxes can be transferred, but pointed out that among all producers of a given product some can shift the tax burden more easily than the others, depending on the products they sell and their position in the production-selling chain. For the sake of brevity I will skip the lengthy and somewhat frivolous examples of products he gives (enough said that they would sparkle imagination of souls blighted with alcohol and fetish addictions).

    However, it was not until ze Germans came and noticed that, na ja, die Moeglichkeit of shifting taxes depends on ze nature of ze taxes, oder? Some taxes – the indirect taxes for example – are transferable and others – like income, land and capital gains taxes are not.

    This elicited a response from a Polish economist, Roman Rybarski, who was also an author of the economic program of the Polish far-right movement before WWII (never implemented as Jozef Pilsudski organised coup d’etat to eliminate the far right and started to introduce more socialist economic agenda).

    Rybarski wrote, “The problem of shifting taxes depends on the nature of the tax, but on the nature of economic relations”. He came up a few rules governing shifting taxes: shifting taxes is easier in monopoly conditions, more difficult in free market conditions; easier during the boom, more difficult during depressions when prices and demand are falling; easier for direct taxes, etc., etc. Furthermore, taxes can be shifted forwards (wholesalers increasing prices for retailers) or backwards (wholesalers demanding more discounts from their suppliers).

    When it comes to contemporary macroeconomic theories, a demise in the reflection on tax shifting can be observed, which I would attribute to pernicious influence of Keynesism as a theory (though Keynes’s influence was pernicious not only in the field of macro-economy – take his unscrupulous penchant for sodomising underage boys as an example, which we know about from his letters – but he can be hardly picked on a solely responsible for being unable to reign his desires as the whole milieu of “The Apostles”, as they called themselves, was as promiscuous as they were naïve in being a soft touch for KGB recruiters; these were not a bunch of people you would feel comfortable around – take Lord Keynes’s friend, journalist Walter Duranty, as an example; though he does not appear on the list of Cambridge Apostles in Deacon’s book “The Cambridge Apostles” and Costello’s “Mask of Treachery”, he was a dude who had sodomised Aleister Crowley no less, in the practice of ritual black magic. and married Crowley’s first “Scarlet Woman”, the opium addict Jane Cheron; if I were to be sarcastic, I would say about Lord Keynes “like the author, like the book”).

    There was one laudable exception though, the Austrian School economist Murray Rothbard, who claimed that taxes are not transferable (so his position, if correct, would support Messrs. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump rather than Messrs. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush).

    In his ”Power and Market: Government and the Economy” Rothbard claimed that physiocratic-Smithian-Ricardian approach is primitive because it overlooks the so called sovereignty of the consumer, so important for the Austrian School.

    His argument was that even though taxes increase costs of production, prices are not determined by cost of production, but by the demand curve, on which taxes have no influence:

    “It should be quite evident that if businesses were able to pass
    tax increases along to the consumer in the form of higher prices,
    they would have raised these prices already without waiting for
    the spur of a tax increase. Businesses do not deliberately peg
    along at the lowest selling prices they can find. If the state of
    demand had permitted higher prices, firms would have taken
    advantage of this fact long before. It might be objected that a
    sales tax increase is general and therefore that all the firms
    together can shift the tax. Each firm, however, follows the state
    of the demand curve for its own product, and none of these
    demand curves has changed. A tax increase does nothing to
    make higher prices more profitable”

    What did he mean by that? Well, to start with he made a distinction between prices increased by tax shifting and prices increased by tax itself. He admitted that in a way the tax can be shifted forward if a new tax being imposed results in reduced supply and thus increased prices on the market, but this is not shifting, he argues, because shifting occurs when the manufacturer (or seller) can easily transfer his increased cost onto the consumer; however, in some drastic cases some manufacturers or retailers would go bust so it cannot be argued that they can shift their taxes. Take the sales tax, says Rothbard. If we want to argue that a 20pc tax increase would result in 20pc increase in prices, then we forget that the prices are already set on level that enables to maximise profits and the same time the demand curve would not change, so transferring taxes onto the consumer would just lower profits.

    What do you think, who is right in the debate: Physiocrats-Smith-Ricardo-Rubio or Cruz-Rothbard?

    On another, though not completely unrelated topic, David writes,

    “This economic impact of the film industry is called the multiplier in economics”.

    Actually it is not; or rather it is in Keynesian economics, but this is erroneous, as it is based on flawed mathematics and I am going to show you why (even though I have already explained it in the past).

    In his 1936 “General Theory” Keynes comes up with the so called investment multiplier David writes about, which he defined as k = 1/(1-b), whereby he defined k as the multiplier and b as “the marginal propensity to consume”, which in English would be “the saved fraction of” (b means “the spent fraction of”).

    The problem is that he did not derive his multiplier from his other equations, but he plucked it from the air.

    In his equation 1 he shows that Y = C + I (income equals consumption plus investment), therefore

    Y = bY + (1 – b)Y

    So, i.e., 10 = 9 + 1


    2) Y – C = I
    Y – bY = (1-b)Y
    10 – 9 = 1

    3) I = I
    (1 – b)Y = (1-b)Y
    0.1 x 10 = 1

    4) Y = k and I = Y
    Y = 1/(1-b) x (1-b)Y = Y
    10 = 10 x 1

    Keynes believed (or pretended he did, as some argue that his book was in fact a manual how to win the election, jump starting the economy short term) that

    k = delta Y/delta I = 1/(1-b)

    1) Y = C + I + delta I
    9 + 1 + 1 = 11
    Delta Y/delta I = 1

    In others words that with one dollar investment increment income increases by one dollar so that the multiplier value is one.

    This how Keynes illustrates his multiplier effect:

    5) Y = k I
    10 x 1 + 1 = 20

    Namely that the increment in investment gets multiplied by 10, increasing income by 10 dollars

    As you can see, in his equation 5 the increment of investment gets multiplied by 10 increasing income by 10 dollars, but this is mathematical fraud as it puts addition before multiplication; the correct outcome should be

    10 x 1 + 1 = 11, and not 20, as Keynes wants us to believe.

    Keynes carries the same ignorance of the order of mathematical operations into his equation 12:

    Yt = 1/1-b (-bT + a + I + NX + G) + 1

    Which according to Keynes equals 105, while any 8 year old should know that

    5 x 20 + 1 = 101

    What Keynes called the multiplier is not a multiplier, but a ratio, David.
    His macro-economic theory is more antiscientific than creationism or Ben Carson’s nonchalant remark that pyramids were built to store grain – yet it is creationists who are singled out as a laughing stock and a danger for the education system and not Keynesians with their ignorance of basic maths (Keynes was also very ignorant of the economic history, that’s another cup of tea).

    Y = C + I and delta Y = delta C + delta I are asymmetric equations. Change in income equals change in consumption and investment: delta Y/ delta I = 10 (left to right), but right to left delta Y/delta I is not 10, but 1 – so the multiplier does not exist.

    Apart from bogus maths, the said asymmetry can be proved in logic, namely the reasoning Keynes uses with claiming that you can go from right to left in his “delta” equation can be formalised as follows:

    (p->q) -> (q->p)

    And this reasoning is of course false, which can be easily proved.

    Murray Rothbard, as the whole Austrian school, was also opposed to the myth of the multiplier. He wrote (in the same book):

    “The income of the government and/or those it subsidizes has been increased at the expense of those taxed, and therefore consumption and investment demands on the market have been shifted from the latter to the former by the amount of the tax. As a consequence, the value of
    the money unit will remain unchanged (barring a difference in
    demands for money between the taxpayers and the tax consumers),
    but the array of prices will shift in accordance with the
    shift in demands.”

    Of course, this should not divert us from efforts to boost the Irish film industry – just not let yourself be bamboozled by an obscure terminology and unsubstantiated theories that for every euro the government spends there is a multiplied increase in people’s incomes.

    P.S. And by the way, vote Rubio or Trump in Iowa so that Cruz does not win Iowa by too much of a margin (not because of his tax plan but because he is clearly a psychopath, which allows him to say contradictory things and be very convincing each time he changes his mind as psychopaths can be very convincing for they strongly believe in what they say) and he does not gain too much momentum for New Hampshire. If for inexplicable reasons your are, like all US correspondents in Ireland, a member of the Democratic Party or better still, a French Communist wally, vote Sanders over Clinton to diminish the influence of Goldman Sachs and to make sure that the tail does not wag the dog in the US-Israeli diplomatic relations if you know what I mean. If you don’t, don’t vote.

    • Sideshow Bob

      “What do you think, who is right in the debate: Physiocrats-Smith-Ricardo-Rubio or Cruz-Rothbard?´´

      The latter. An example for me would be blanket simple property taxes as implemented here (as far as I can see at least), do not have any restraining or regulating effect at all on property speculation. though i think it was cited as a reason to implement them.

    • Sideshow Bob

      I enjoyed the Keynesian multiplier exposed as poor mathematics part very much. Nice to see that one laid out so clearly.

    • I couldn’t give a rats ass about Saoirse Ronan but looking forward to reading this long post of yours in the next few day Grzegorz when I get time.

    • You can get a multiplyer from introducing new money but only if it circulates. If there is velocity of the exchange of the money.
      If there is no velocity at all. No movement. Nobody uses the money as a medium of exchange the nothing at all happens and there is no economy. Baring barter it is as dead as a Dodo.

      • Grzegorz Kolodziej

        I think that I know what you mean, but I would not use the word “multiplier” in case of increasing money supply as would be very misleading. What you would get in this case is that you would increase the total ratio by creating new money into existence as debt.

        The reason I looked into Keynesian equations was to show that this ubiquitous mantra of “your spending is my income so let’s increase public spending and we will end up with more income” comes from the lack of understanding of basic maths as well as from taking for granted what people like Keynes or Paul Krugman (let alone the repulsive Jack O’Connor, one of the main culprits in bringing up the cost of doing business in Ireland and locking people up in commuter towns within the NDP) said.

        These false prophets fool the hoi polloi by using incorrect maths and models without even understanding the model theory and it is important that we educate other people and ourselves gently and step by step – but like in Platonic dialogues, first one has to make people to unlearn what they have learnt and encourage them to read the SOURCE TEXTS and make up their own minds.

        The core of the Keynesian fairy tales are the equations

        Y = C + I
        delta Y = delta C + delta I

        So from the left to right the allocation of income to spending according to the marginal propensity to consume would go (in two possible ways) from income to consumption or to investment so delta Y to delta I would be 10, but from right to left delta Y to delta I would be 1, not 10 – so t h e r e i s n o m u l t i p l i e r from consumption to income.

        So, someone could ask, why Keyenesism “worked” in the post war ear?
        Well, first of all, Keynesism is more subtle a theory than just a prescription “introduce new money”.

        It advocates three possible paths for the government:
        lower the interest rates, lower taxes or go on a public spending binge by using borrowed money.

        In some cases (Presidents Truman and Kennedy) taxes had been lowered, which is something that anti-Keynesian economists would also advocate, but for different theoretical reasons.

        In other cases, public spending programs had been embarked on (President Roosevelt).

        This led to the unemployment dropping from 24.9 percent in 1933 for the next four years and shooting back up to 19 percent in 1938.

        So what lowered the unemployent was not the New Deal, but WWII and post-WWII massive tax cuts (I have written many times that Hitler bullied the Poles convinced that President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill would pass over the information on the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact to the Poles because it did not occur to him that USA and the UK would sacrifice their ally to buy time for re-armament (as late as 1940 the US had manufactured only 40 tanks! – by the way, many military historians argue that the equipment lost by Germany in Poland and the necessity to keep large forces over there plus Duce’s f..d up invasion on Greece which occasioned German intervention and thus delayed the war on the Soviets determing the outcome of the war for the invasion was never planned to drag until Russian winter) with its massive money lending programmes eventuating in the Bretton-Woods and petrodollar inflation-exporting systems).

        Another factor in the “success” of post-war era Keynesian policies was the demographics. I do not know why, but this field is really neglected in academic Keynesian research, even though Keynesianism works – and I take the liberty of using the capital letters for it is as important as it neglected – ONLY IF THERE WILL BE MORE CHILDREN BORN THAN PEOPLE DYING/LEAVING; the sustainable ratio is around 1.7-1.9.

        This had ended also, and it’s not only Ireland – its the whole Western world; Poland has awful demographics EVEN IF WE ACCOUNT the emigration from Poland, let alone with it; and Germany had the worst demographics of them all.

        These two Keynesian paths: cutting taxes in the recession and increasing public spending WITH propitious demographics hit its barrier in the US for many reasons (the US turning from the exporter to the importer post-Bretton Woods collapse, its dependence on foreign investors buying the US government bonds, changing geopolitics of the petrodollar, the Chinese plans to build the new Silk Road and revert the geopolitical advantage from the Rimland into the Heartland, etc), so since the 1990s we have embarked on the third path: lowering the interest rates.

        The lowering of the interest rates caused the dot.com and the housing bubbles in the Greenspan era, but even that hit the ceilling, so now it has to be done in conjunction with QE in order to prop up the bubble (like the housing bubble in Ireland, for example).

        The Anglo-Saxon societies had already consumed the fruits of Keynesism and all we have left now is debt.

        So what about the velocity of money?

        The velocity of money (analysed as M2) was pretty much stable from 1960-1990, but it increased from 92-2000 (this is what had driven a nail into the coffin of monetarism) so that Mr. Greenspan did not have to increase the money supply DRAMATICALLY, but now as velocity is slowing down and we experience biflation (hyperinflation in stock assets, housing prices and soon food prices and deflation in other area), monetary exansion is necessary to keep the bubble growing.

        FED, ECB and now probably the Chinese central bank have to increase the base money to offset the shrinking credit aggregates and this is called QE.

        This is when me and you clashed in the past because you claimed that we have the fractional reserve system while I claimed that we have something MUCH WORSE than the fractional reserve system we had for centuries as with the advent of QE programmes creating money into existence as debt the system IS NO LONGER limited by reserves – and this goes back to the collapse of the Bretton-Woods system, which necessitated embarking on neo-con policies to use other countries trade surpluses as a shield from hyperinflation.

        I am attaching excerpts from Keynes’s seminal work so that everyone can make up their own mind:

        From “Short Notes Suggested by the General Theory”, chapter 24 of his “General Theory of Employment,
        Interest, and Money” titled “Concluding Notes on the Social Philosophy towards which the General Theory Might Lead”:

        “In some other respects the foregoing theory is moderately conservative in its implications. For whilst it indicates the vital importance of establishing certain central controls in matters which are now left in the main to individual initiative, there are wide fields of activity which are unaffected. The State will have to exercise a guiding influence on the propensity to consume partly through its scheme of taxation, partly by fixing the rate of interest, and partly, perhaps, in other ways. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that the influence of banking policy on the rate of interest will be sufficient by itself to determine
        an optimum rate of investment. I conceive, therefore, that a somewhat comprehensive socialisation of investment will prove the only means of securing an approximation to full employment; though this need not exclude all manner of compromises and of devices by which public authority will co-operate with private initiative”

        “There is, however, a second, much more fundamental inference from our argument which has a bearing on the future of inequalities of wealth; namely, our theory of the rate of interest. The justification for a moderately high rate of interest has been found hitherto in the necessity of providing a sufficient inducement to save. But we have shown that the
        extent of effective saving is necessarily determined by the scale of investment and that the scale of investment is promoted by a low rate of interest, provided that we do not attempt to stimulate it in this way beyond the point which corresponds to full
        employment. Thus it is to our best advantage to reduce the rate of interest to that point relatively to the schedule of the marginal efficiency of capital at which there is full employment. There can be no doubt that this criterion will lead to a much lower rate of interest than has ruled hitherto; and, so far as one can guess at the schedules of the marginal efficiency
        of capital corresponding to increasing amounts of capital, the rate of interest is likely to
        fall steadily, if it should be practicable to maintain conditions of more or less continuous full employment—unless, indeed, there is an excessive change in the aggregate propensity to consume (including the State).”

        P.S. Please write a report on whether we really have hyperinflation in Canada upon your return.
        By the way, how are things in New Zealand? I kept some part of my savings in Kiwi dollars predicting its price rise in 2015, but then when my mum was dying I was not keeping my eye on its price chart being preoccupied with other things, so that now when I need to sell them I noticed to my horror that the Kiwi dollar plummeted just when I need to sell them :-( Is this the bad luck of the Polish as opposed to the luck of the Irish? – to predict the price increase and miss the moment to sell it?

        • coldblow

          I am reading Churchill’s war memoirs and only recently got to the German invasion of Russia. I think Churchill thought the Greek operation led to a very costly delay for them.

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej

            “There are few virtues which the Poles do not possess and there are few errors they have ever avoided.”

            Winston Churchill, in the House of Commons, after the Potsdam Conference. Quoted in Churchill, Winston Spencer (2005). Maxims and Reflections. Kessinger Publishing.

            Documentary on England’s role in the outbreak of WWII:


    • Deco


      We should have articles like this in the newspapers instead of rubbish from idiots like Brendan O’Connor, John Bruton (on behalf of the gamblers in the IFSC) etc..

  7. cooldude

    Interesting article David but like all your articles in 2016 you seem to be avoiding the global stock market collapse.

    Only last month you pronounced that the FED had successfully cured the US economy and it was in such good shape that a series of interest rate hikes was now in order. You mentioned that the policy of counterfeiting money had been hugely successful and that the US and the UK were in great shape. Unfortunately creating economic progress requires a lot more than giving 0% rate money to the banks so they can speculate and create asset bubbles. As myself and many other contributors predicted these bubbles would inevitably bust because they were purely speculative in nature and were fueled by easy money. This is now happening before our eyes and you simply ignore it or blame it on China or oil but never on the real cause which is the central bank policies being pursued across the globe.

    Time for an article about the dangers of central banks. As you mentioned in your article on Bowie, which was quite good, we need to reinvent ourselves in this world as our illusions of reality are shattered. Your beloved FED are part of the problem as are the rest of the central banks. This will all become clearer as the year progresses. Real money will come into it’s own this year as the central bank money is printed to oblivion.


  8. survivalist

    Propaganda might be the word for it?

    The manner by which (state/other) film and media manipulate people’s behaviours through emotionally charged imagery and symbols and towards some desired end; as Hollywood had been doing ‘par excellence’ for many years.

    And of course under the guise of ‘art/culture’ propaganda can be a powerful tool in manipulating people’s perceptions of reality. ‘If you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth’ (J Goebbels) is not just a warning from history but a modern methodology towards truth by convention which seems to be the modern version or understanding of truth.

    And so any re-branding of Ireland will almost certainly take the form that sees the ends as justifying the means not art for art’s sake but propaganda as art; as for the question for who and for what, well we know how that usually works out.

    The worrying point in all this is that up until some time ago (15-30 yrs?) the idea that something like a national ‘culture’ could be manufactured and then re- presented through a contrived manner as being the actual or the genuine experience simply could not have been conceived of. In fact if it had been suggested it in recent years opposition to the ide would not be on ideological grounds but the very concept would have been dismissed as a fundamental misunderstanding.

    In short nobody ever REALLY believed what they saw on TV/Cinema or REALLY believed what they read in the papers etc. But now the re-presentation has become the reality and the difference is not even recognised.

    • Grzegorz Kolodziej

      Regarding brainwashing, it’s a funny coincidence that Aleister Crowley pointed out to acting as the best of his three methods to become possesed. In his “MAGICK IN THEORY AND PRACTICE

      “The Third Method is the Dramatic, perhaps the most attractive
      of all; certainly so it is to the artistís temperament, for it appeals to his imagination through his Esthetic sense.”

      Not that I believe or disbelieve in it, but


      Of course, one can argue that it is just done for fun and it is part of the “sex, drugs & rock’n'roll” style which David describes as being part of life; still, why this 100-years old perseverence of Hollwood with satanic rituals – and people give out the Catholic Church and its clandestine structures – but child abuse within the Catholic Church is a widely discussed topic, while occult and Hollywood is a taboo no one (including Charlie Hebdo) dares to break – while the same people became morally outraged at Mel Gibson; same as the mainstream media remain tight-lipped on the topic of paedophilia in Hollywood, which was singled out by one of the biggest child stars in Hollywood as the number one problem in Hollywood:


        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          Thanks, Cooldude. I had a quick look – I would have to have a better look at this article (there is lots of links in too) next week as having seen the long documentary featuring Mr. Hitchens you once recommended, I find him an interesting commentator, as I have very tight deadlines to meet and would probably have to work flat out over the weekend.

          At the moment, I can only offer you to have a look at this):


          And this:


          (this is particularly interesting because this a real Syrian refugee from Korwin-Mikke’s far-right party – the lefties only talk about charity but it’s all for taxpayers money):


          My bet is – hopefully I am right – that the German government will not succeed in staging coup d’etat in Poland. First of all, this new government (of which I am not an uncritical enthusiast so much so that my friend who is currently the under-secretary of state felt personally offended by my public criticism of its election program and stopped communicating with me) for two reasons:

          1. Despite all the talk about Poland getting subsidies from Germany, it is actually Germany getting subsidies from Poland thanks to securing cartel-like position. Just one figure: Poland is the 8th most importer importer of German goods, with Russia 13.

          This new government is fully prepared to call the German bluff and call the EU referendum in which the Poles, as the second most euroskeptic society according to Eurostat, night vote to leave.

          2. China is the second reason. Germany is frightened to death that China will run the new Silk Road via Poland and not Germany, as it has laready announced on the 16+1 conference in ?Warsaw (Poland is cheaper, more reliable as regional leader and has better police, as shown in the recent events in Koeln and probably a better army – btw, it also has more press freedom than Germany). This will make Germany into a periphery.

          I criticised Germany many times on this blog, but I actually like German people (within their own borders) and I want to say this: to my surprise, the critical article in “Die Zeit” on the new Polish government garnered 90pc-95pc of POSITIVE comments by the German (with German surnames) readers. This is the beginning of the end of the mainstream media.

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej

            Positive on Poland and negative on “Die Zeit”, I meant. And “Die Zeit” is actually probably the least PC of the big papers in Germany…

  9. “Davos 2016: ‘Situation worse than it was in 2007, world faces wave of epic debt defaults’
    Warning from OECD’s William White in exclusive interview with The Telegraph”


    Debt jubilees are going to have to happen sooner or later – they are inevitable.

    I’m out of here in 3 hours lads, enjoy the rest of the winter.

    • Deco

      mmm…worse for whom, exactly ?

      I never take the Davos-take seriously. It is the exact opposite of the perspective of most people.

      Davos is for the Patrician class. They output is a series of patroning remarks. A “we feel you pain” seminar for people who cause it.

      But – they will not pay taxes like the plebians whom they wish to patronize.

      There is another problem behind the debt mountain – the increasing concentration of wealth amongst a beneficiary category.

  10. “The European banking system may have to be recapitalized on a scale yet unimagined, and new “bail-in” rules mean that any deposit holder above the guarantee of €100,000 will have to help pay for it.”

    Translation: put some of your money in Bitcoin and other assets before it’s confiscated from you.

    • McCawber

      Oh yeah I knew there was something else.
      Bitcoins rely on encryption if I understand it correctly.
      There are hackers out there right now testing the quality of that encryption.
      A very knowledgeable computer software expert once told that the the US (CIA perhaps) would never allow encryption into the public domain that they could not decipher). Something to think about.

      Explain to me exactly why the value of Bitcoins have increased so much over the last year say?
      If it is simply because of speculation then what is the point?
      It means it’s just another form of gold for the speculators to f^ck us over with.

      Adam Byrne
      January 20, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      Ill-informed post – try Google for the basics on Bitcoin please.

    • McCawber

      I re-posted my thoughts on Bitcoin. Not sure will it be just below or above this.
      Along with your reply.
      It would appear I’m not as mis-informed as you would suggest.
      In fact I would suspect that organisations like CIA may well use bitcoins for their own purposes.
      However I’m left wityh a lot more unanswered questions rather than clarity
      1. Where do bitcoins actually get their value from.
      2. Why is the price of bitcoins so volatile compared to other currencies.
      3. The value of bitcoins should be linked to gold and if not why not?
      ie How do we know the value of a bitcoin. Once again are speculators deciding this? Fundamentally what decides or how is the value of a bitcoin decided.
      4. There is a limit to the number of bitcoins that can be put into circulation up to 2020.
      As not all bitcoins have been “minted” yet then it is possible to “mint” more (A bit like the CBs and their QE).
      Who controls when, why and and… the remaining bitcoins should be “minted”
      5. What happens after 2020.
      Bitcoins are just another opportunity for the system to screw people.
      There have already been a few scandals/frauds/thefts relating to Bitcoins so it’s no panacea, it’s not regulated (or worse it’s self regulated) and it has a seedy past has to boot.

      6. From some other comments on the board the one advantage is that bitcoin can be used to store one’s wealth away from prying eyes and authorities. Again mostly for the benefit of the rich or large institutions and perhaps some astute lone sharks(haha).
      Can pension funds for example have investments in bitcoin.
      The reason I ask is, it’s my opinion that the Pension funds are seen as a soft target by pretty much everyone and as such are probably banned from purchasing bitcoins.

      Any finally almost, clarity about bitcoins is in short supply.
      I’ve always been a cash in the hand sort so maybe my natural prejudice and paranoia are ruling my head.
      However just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get me.
      How convenient just as the financial system starts to unravel that there is a “safe haven” for the wealthy. I don’t underestimate the rich’s ability to preserve itself, they have the resources to see a lot further into the future than the rest of us.

      Finally it would be better if you pointed out what was wrong with the points in my original post and indeed in my further comments yourself because frankly I didn’t get any answers by googling bitcoin. We all would welcome the education, thanks in advance.

      • Grzegorz Kolodziej

        Things to consider on Bitcoin…

        A 40min interview with a Bitcoin skeptic:


        Tutorial how to double-spend Bitcoin:


        And a video on Bitcoin CIA involvement, which sadly is very rudimentary and thus hard to relate to:


        I remind everyone that if you bought Bitcoin in December 2013 as opposed to:

        1. Not doing anything
        2. Buying dollars
        3. Buying Polish zloty
        4. Buying pretty much every other fiat currency
        5. Buying gold
        6. Buying AK-47
        7. Leaving your money in an Irish bank (which offer their customers three times worse interest rates on savings than their branches in Germany)
        8. Buying Toyota
        9. Borrowing your money to a friend provided he is sound
        10. Investing in Dublin urban farm project my friends are involved in (we have just got an invitation from the government of Cuba – I am not going for ideological reasons)

        you did worse than in all those 10 cases.
        Even with the recent hikes taken into account, the value of your Bitcoin would have decreased by 60-70pc; before the hikes – by 80-90pc. By buying Polish zloty your assets would have increased by 10pc; in other cases they would have increased or you would have just about broke even.

        Just a food for thought.

        And last but not least, Warren Buffet on Bitcoin:

        ““Stay away. Bitcoin is a mirage. It’s a method of transmitting money. It’s a very effective way of transmitting money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of transmitting money, too. Are checks worth a whole lot of money just because they can transmit money? Are money orders? You can transmit money by money orders. People do it. I hope Bitcoin becomes a better way of doing it, but you can replicate it a bunch of different ways and it will be. The idea that it has some huge intrinsic value is just a joke in my view.”

        Having said that, if the fiat money system collapses completely, would the value of bitcoin increase or decrease? Who knows.

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          “you did worse than in all those 10 cases.”

          Of course your Toyota would have depreciated, but not from, say, 36,000 to 7,000-12,000 within a year and hald (depending on whether you sold your Bitcoin before or after the rebound) as in the case of Bitcoin…

          • cooldude

            Grzegorz you have made the classic mainstream mistake when it comes to non central bank currencies. When I first heard about bitcoin it was $4 and it was recommended by a libertarian website I follow. So for me your short term negative return is meaningless. By the way I never bought any but that is subjective.

            You need to look at any form of money in a long term perspective. Gold was $35 in 1971 and is now £1100. That is a proper perspective of the relative merits of both forms of money.

            Bitcoin is a new form of money and it cannot be debased which is the most important thing. Using shot term contrasts in anything is of no use . You should use five, ten and 100 year charts to gauge the real value of anything.

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej

            But would that not be a strong argument against investing in cryptocurrencies (not against cryptocurrencies as such, as an idea with its anti-central banking implications)?
            Cryptos are with us a few years (and realistically out of all of them only Bitcoin matters, and even that on a miniscule scale in terms of its volume of transactions) and gold is with us a few thousand years.

            Secondly, the phenomenal rise of the price of Bitcoin would indicate that it is a bubble rather than anything else, even more so if we consider that the promised (by bitcoiners) decrease in its volatility did not materialise…

            Thirdly, whether Bitcoin cannot be debased, I am not sure – in the link I attached there is referrence to one of the Bitcoin founders who demonstrated how to double spend bitcoin – which is debasement.
            Against that it can be pointed out that gold can also be debased – that’s true, but then again that could be verified (I am using “verified” in a colloquial sense for the brevity purpose as from a philosophy of science point of view I do not believe in verification) in an easier way.
            Besides, your money in bitcoin can be stolen (or lost) and it was in the past (on a large scale), though this paradoxically might be good for Bitcoin speculators (deflationary effect) – and it applies to all assets, not only Bitocoin – provided the bubble does not burst (which would not apply to gold as its price is manipulated down).
            What I would say in favour of Bitcoin is that with its small capitalisation even if a fraction of money turns from the US bonds into Bitcoin, its price would explode (but this goes for gold too).

            That’s why when asked what to sell, what to buy I wrote that if the dollar collapses Bitcoin might be a good speculation (btw, on no account anyone should buy a Swiss franc or a house).

            Pity we cannot place bets with each other on this blog. I.e., I would bet on Ringgit, coffee or gold (maybe on Russian rubble and Ukrainian hryvna too), Adam would bet on bitcoin, David on dollar – and whoever’s asset price would go up the most in 3 years timescale, that person would pay a 4 course dinner with wine in Chapter One for the other too (not that I ever go there – I am an adult and I cook for myself).

            Getting busy now, so…

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej

            Lest I forget – if anyone can tell me and substantiate it what other cryptos (other than Bitcoin) to speculate on, I would be grateful.
            But for Litecoin the arguments would have to be triple strong as it has already collapsed…

          • Short answer – Ethereum – ETH is another crypto that is going to go places.

            4th one from top in this list:


          • michaelcoughlan


            Yes re bitcoin. I bought one at 100 euro. It was stolen however by the polish authorities when the platform I was using was taken down citing use of bitcoin by criminal elements. In order to release it they wanted the users of which I was one to prove we weren’t criminals and then only returned 70% of its value. In other words you were guilty until you proved yourself innocent!

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej

            Michael, there is lots of bad things I could write about what the previous Polish authorities had been doing in terms of invigilation, bullying and stealing money of innocent citizens and non-citizens, with a complete silence from the EU because it just happened to further the German interest at the time (Germany is now petrified because having heavily invested in buying 80pc of the Polish TV, radio and press, now they media in Poland are re-nationalised and paid foreign agents removed from the media) – things like massive phone tapping, on more than a 1,000 times scale bigger in Germany and much bigger scale in Ireland (btw, I have written about whimsical phone tapping in Ireland here a few months ago and first as early as 2010, so it’s funny that the newspapers have only caught up with me now ;-)).

            If it was not for Bitcoin having the architecture it has, I would pursue the Polish authorities via Strasbourg if I was you – under the reign of the current EU Council President Donald Tusk, Poland was losing the record number of cases.

            The previous Polish government was a criminal structure on the scale that would make Bertie a man of integrity – that’s why Mr. Tusk was dragged by Mrs. Merkel to the highest post in Europe because there was a danger he would have to do time for he had done.

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej


            “the platform I was using was taken down citing use of bitcoin by criminal elements”

            Nothing will surprise anymore about the previous Polish government if I tell you that the previous Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski had sued a blogger for calling him a “Russian fucker” and he had stolen a painting which was a national treasure while he was leaving his Presidential Palace after losing the election.

            Those were the kind of people you were unfortunate to deal with.

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej

            “and much bigger scale in Ireland”:

            and much bigger scale than in Ireland

          • Michael, I don’t know why you didn’t seek my advice in terms of where to store your Bitcoin safely etc. – all you had to do was ask.

          • Did you look into Ethereum (ETH) Grzegorz?

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          Thanks Adam. I definitely must look at Etherum.

          Interesting that this maxcoin did not take off (given Max’s knowledge and media exposure).

          • cooldude

            My choice for the meal at Chapter One would be silver. The oldest form of money in the world otherwise known as the poor man’s gold and that suits me.

            Here is another article from Egon Von Greyerz who has been spot on in his call for a stockmarket crash. What we will have over the next week or so will be a brief rally off the 1800 level in the S&P. Then it will crash through the 1800 level and drop to the next support at 1200. All markets globally will follow. Don’t say you weren’t told. The US dollar is next to fall against gold.


      • I simply don’t have the time to answer this in detail, sorry.

        Search for lectures or presentations by Andreas Antonopoulos re: Bitcoin on YouTube; he will address most of the issues you raise.



  11. “There is no easy way out of this tangle. But Mr White said it would be a good start for governments to stop depending on central banks to do their dirty work. They should return to fiscal primacy – call it Keynesian, if you wish – and launch an investment blitz on infrastructure that pays for itself through higher growth.”

  12. goldbug

    “It is only an accent, an inflection, but it is special – and it is ours.”














    • Grzegorz Kolodziej

      Taking a bait (only this one time – not going involved in the immigration debate after spilling oceans of internet ink),


      Connect it with this:


      Israel insists on every country in Europe to dilute their national identities except for Israel, which is allowed to have Nurnberg Laws (statement not by me, but by a great Jewish thinker Hannah Arendt).

      And as a Rosemary’s Baby style lullaby ;-)


      • coldblow

        Speaking for myself, I like to raise the immigration issue. It isn’t discussed at all in the media as far as I know, except in puff pieces to rally public support for it as in David’s appearance on the Late Late in September, and that shows there is a determined policy among our authoritarian (or ‘prescriptive’) political and media class to smother discussion. This has the effect that most people, even if they are uneasy about it or frankly opposed, won’t talk about it as this seems somehow indecent or risky. I am posting anonymously here so it isn’t a big deal but it would be lethal if I had a public career or was known to the public in any way. I have posted under my own name on the Irish Economy website but even there I am careful not to overdo it as it would be risky. Also I have read quite a lot about it and thought about it, which is more than most people have. In the same way, because people don’t want to look too closely at paedophile scares serious miscarriages of justice take place and innocents are condemned.

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          “I have posted under my own name on the Irish Economy website but even there I am careful not to overdo it as it would be risky.”

          Are you saying it might be risky for me?…
          My assumption is this: everything we write can be accessed anyway (ECHELON is the first thing that comes to my mind, but my friend works for google and its scary that they might know more about me or you than we know about ourselves through, i.e., our search history).

          So I think I might as well put my cards on the table…

          P.S. Can I get a link to an article of yours on the Irish Economy website (that you would point out as the most interesting)?

          • coldblow

            No, just risky in general. The thread on the Irish Economy is Migration Juggernaut. There is nothing special about it (I linked to it before) except its rarity, although in fairness the subject has been touched on on that website, albeit obliquely, on a couple of other occasions. My contributions appear somewhat incoherent and repetitive because the moderator withheld my first post (probably because I referred to hysteria over paedophile rings) and then published two similar later ones (the first didn’t appear at first so after a couple of days so I rephrased it – then they published both). I think they also pulled another post of mine in reply to Michael Hennigan.

            No, I’m thinking more about fallout at work (public sector) and just drawing attention in general.

            This lot might call round:


  13. coldblow

    David says Irish films are “not necessarily typically ‘Irish.’” Interesting use of inverted commas there. He goes on to say, “Being Irish in a cosmopolitan world is a lot more complex than ‘The Quiet Man’.” And so is, I suppose, being ‘Irish’ too.

    According the NUI Galway website, referring to a paper by Richard Allen, “while the film is fictional and stereotypical, it offers some powerful insights into the experience of exile and homecoming. Indeed, as a vehicle for exploring issues such as emigration and exile; landownership; the subordination of women; and the controlling influence of the Catholic Church, Allen argues that this tragi-comedy allows the audience to engage at a high level with the emotional turbulence of the exile’s condition.”

    I thought David would be all in favour of this kind of thing. For my own part, I tihought it was an enjoyable film, one that emigrants in America and England would enjoy. I doubt if any of us saw it as ‘a vehicle for exploring issues’.

    The same article argues that the film had huge economic benefits.

    I suppose being Ireland in a cosmopolitan world is more complex. This is a world where the ‘diaspora’ in countries like Argentina can’t come home and where Irish is offerred to all and sundry on a range of spurious grounds, where Irish citizens go to Egypt (where they happened, coincidentally, to have originated) and get arrested for political protest.

    I had a quite look on-line at the plot of Brooklyn. Apparently emigrant returns for a visit and they conspire to keep her there, it seems, but in the end she escapes from the backward place back into the big wide world. I wonder if they filmed the footage in Ireland in black and white.

    I posted this link to Desmond Fennell’s website a while ago and I’m not sure how relevant it is:


    but this paragraph seems to be.

    ‘But I am also thinking – in terms of theme only, let me stress – of the other Irish novels and plays that have drawn most hype and acclaim in recent years in Britain, or in Britain and America, and therefore, of course, in Ireland. Dermot Healy’s A Goat’s Song, with its trumpeted bucolic title and mainly West of Ireland setting, where the narrator’s central concerns – when lonesome without his woman or despairing in her company – are whether something alcoholic is left over from the night before, and which pub is the best one to begin the day’s drinking in; Patrick McCabe’s The Butcher Boy, about a curious, violent idiot-boy, seeing visions of the Virgin, begorrah, and other marvels in a moronic Border town; John McGahern’s Amongst Women, about the dour peasant, Moran, patriarching his womenfolk in a timewarp Irish rural theme set in timeless Irish amber; fascinating book-at-bedtime reading – ‘Really quite remarkable people, the Irish, and what beautiful writing!’ – for the folk, jaded with contemporaneity, who heard it ‘at bedtime’ on BBC4. And for good measure, Brian Friel with his tales of Ballybeg peasants, and above all his great international success, Dancing at Lunasa, where those Donegal wenches get up and jig like mad on the kitchen table and chairs to the music from the old steam radio.’

    Finally I’d like to thank David for tipping me off about Viva. I didn’t look up the plot in case I ever get captured by terrorists and beaten and brainwashed so that I’d change my mind about not going to see it.

    I’ll take a wild guess at the story. Sensitive Cuban boy is lonely because his school mates sense he is different. While they pretend to be pilots shooting down American planes during breaktimes he goes off on his own to read his sister’s fashion magazines which he has become obsessed with. She works as a receptionist in the local hospital, which is surprisingly good for a Third World country and this point is stressed for the benefit of the audience. He discovers his gift to the world one day when he finds himself alone in his sister’s bedroom, admiring himself the mirror with her clothes and make-up on.

    His brutal father (who wanted him to become a sprinter or a boxer or a soldier to kill American capitalists, or at least a bar room brawler) beats him so badly that he finds himself in the same hospital. There is a photograph of Castro on the wall beside him. There is an old man in the next bed who takes an interest in him. He is a musician and teaches the young boy how to sing. The boy discovers he has another gift and becomes obsessed with music. The old man is quietly pleased as he watches his protegé. He is very wise. A close up reveals that he also guesses ‘the truth’: el mondo es loco but no hay problemas for he knows the world, its people *and their hearts* and he knows that whoever’s fault it is, it is not the boy’s, for he has a talent, but more, he has *a big heart*. At one point he says to himself: ‘That boy can be whatever he wants to be. He can be the whole world! Ay ay ay!’

    While in hospital there is an enjoyable scene where the old man plays, the boy sings and the nurses join in, two of them jumping up onto a table where they get up and jig like mad. (Irish audiences will immediately warm to this scene and recognize kindred spirits. This is also the scene that will be shown on the Late Late Show.)

    The tone of the film lightens and the soundtrack comes centre stage; until now it has been restricted to short, muted passages but now it seizes the audience by the throat. The viewer now sees Havana in all of its vibrant Latin vibrancy, with its waiters and shoe shiners all with a song in their heart and a smile on their face, their big-hearted will to embrace change (including sexual deviancy) and with stylish shots of classic 50s American automobiles, all polish and chrome and *big* fenders, just like in… in… Buena Vista Social Club. Although they are poor, and communist, they know how to be happy. Ra-ta-ta-ta-ta ra-a-ta-ta ra-at-at-at-at-ta-a-ta ra-ta-ta-a-ta-a-ta-ta-a-ta-ta-ta-a-ta-a-ta ra-ta-ta-ta-a-ta-ta-ra-ta-a-ta-ta-a-ta-ta-a-ta.

    I don’t want to spoil it for you by giving away the rest, but at one point he is arrested while performing in an illegal club wearing his sister’s wedding dress. The sister sees the bloodstains and guesses the truth. There is a gringo who is clearly based on Ry Cooder. He takes him under his wing and makes him a star, but the boy (now a handsome young man) is troubled because he sees that his artistic integrity is compromised. There is hilarious scene with Cuba’s equivalent of Louis Walsh and a cameo by Bumblebee Man from the Simpsons. The finale is a veritable kaleidoscope of colour and the syncopated beat of authentic Latin classics booms out to everyone’s delight. The audience exits on a high, jigging madly up the aisles! O wayow! O wyayow! What a moooveee!

  14. Deco

    The achievements of directors, scriptwriters, actors and producers in nabbing seven Oscar nominations is the equivalent of the Irish football team getting to the World Cup final.

    Correct. We are under-appreciating our potential for drama, and vastly over-reporting out ability at chasing an empty sphere around in a flat rectangle.

    Football (regardless of whether it is soccer, rugby or GAA) is a complete was of time, in terms of time lost on a pointless trivial obsession.

    In fact the comparison is so stark, we really are insulting porfessional actors by comparing them to the fat blobby beerbellies in the pub watching grownups chasing a plastic blob.

    The media in this country relentless plug thr national soccer team even though they only ever flatter to deceive.

    Time to be honest. It is a waste of time. Every lug in a green FAI stamped jersey is a fool, and a loser.

    The women with their knowledge of the parts played by Neeson, Gleeson, and Byrne are far smarter.

    At least they are learning about human nature and emotion as against the lugs who are running away for it, in the warm fuzzy glow of controlled, massed eejetry.

    • I have to agree Deco, despite my footballing experience. I enjoy a good quality game, or at least the goals but it’s ultimately meaningless and over commercialized. Wouldn’t buy a jersey or any merchandise – glad I have a little girl who’s main interest is Minecraft and My Little Pony!

    • StephenKenny

      Actually, I completely disagree with you on this. I watch sports on TV about as much as I listen to David Bowie, but I am a soccer referee.
      Soccer & rugby (hockey & other team sports I guess) are very much about people, and about the interactions between them. So with teams it’s also about group dynamics. One way to look at a soccer team is in terms of it’s psychological flexibility and strength, and that is very visible, and a great part of what fans enjoy (whether they realise it or not).
      Although not the case in the professional leagues, at all amateur levels, there’re also relationships between the players and their ‘core’ fans. Relationships that really only exist during games. After all, that’s probably what ‘home team advantage’ is all about.
      A referee’s job is to keep the game flowing (and inside the laws), so understanding how a team is ‘feeling’ is important. With a little practice, you know within minutes when a team is just out for a fight, the moment one side gives in, who’s leading each side (not necessarily the captain), the defence, and so on.
      As a mater of interest, I tend to think that professional teams are so well trained and drilled, that much of the interest has disappeared. That’s probably why I don’t really enjoy soccer on TV

      • coldblow

        I disagree too.

        There’s a ref in these parts who is a law unto himself. With a big beer gut he stands in the centre circle and gives out to everyone. He once stopped a game to yell at me (twice) because I had wandered down the sideline to get a message to my son to wake up for a corner. I since heard about another schoolboys league game where this ref called for a ball from our club’s bench before the start of a game and one of the subs threw one out to him. There was something wrong with it and the ref kicked it back again. He called again for ‘a ball’ and the same boy, innocently, threw him the same one back. The ref gave him a red card for dissent and he had to pay a €15 fine later. This was before the match had even started.

        You might have seen this years ago:


      • I’m not sure if it’s me or Deco you are disagreeing with Stephen, but for the record I think football (and other sports) are a great pastime for the kids especially (and adults at amateur level to a lesser extent) so I agree with you, even if you disagree with me!

  15. michaelcoughlan


    Another oil based currency hyperinflating McWilliams.

  16. coldblow

    While it has never been stellar the Irish contribution has been much greater to football than to the cinema. (Their fans are another matter.) These days I watch on average zero films per annum but remember some from long ago.

    There were excellent or amusing scenes in (yes) The Quiet Man and the Field, and The Commitments had a charm (although over-rated) but I can’t think of much else, be it Irish, ‘Irish’ or Oirish. In the Gaelic tongue there was an attractive nastiness to the short ‘Poitín’ and Mise Éire and (what was it?) Saoirse had fine music and a certain dramatic presence although they were more artistic newsreels than proper fillums. A Company of Wolves may have been ‘artistic’ but it wasn’t any good.

    When I think of world cinema, however, and by that I mean mainly American and some British, there are so many stunning scenes. (I don’t mean to be too critical of Ireland here as few small nations have achieved very much, although Sweden produced a Bergman and an all-time top-tenner in My Life As A Dog.) There’s Jackie Brown, the Wagnerian helicopters in Apocalypse Now, David Lean’s Great Expectations, High Noon, the music alone in The Big Country, Rio Grande/Bravo, A Hard Day’s Night. Well it just goes on and on, and I never watched them much. For heaven’s sake, even the film of On The Buses was more memorable than most of what this country has produced.

  17. coldblow

    This is an example of what I mean.


    Start at 16.00 mins and watch the scene where he revisits the summer holidays of his youth. This is the standard.

  18. Pat Flannery

    Whatever about up and coming talented Irish film stars certain already famous Irish rock stars are detested by Californians who love their beautiful coastline. Here is how the head of the California Coastal Commission described a development at Malibu by Irishman David Howell Evans a.k.a. “The Edge” from the Irish tax-dodging band U2:

    “One of the three worst projects that I’ve seen in terms of environmental devastation.”

    Far from making me proud to be Irish in California this ugly demonstration of unrestrained greed by a countryman of mine makes me ashamed. Members of this very Dublin band, friends of David McWilliams apparently, are using their vast pile of questionable money to buy off coastal officials in California like rich sheiks. Most of this pile of money was stolen from the Irish Government in shameful tax avoidance schemes, much needed money that should have gone to pay for Irish healthcare and education.

    What hypocrisy! While Bono struts the world stage as a philanthropist his closest associate, The Edge, is buying influence as the ugliest of ugly despoilers of our beautiful California coastline. He is using his “Irish” money to shamelessly rape a hitherto preserved beautiful hilltop in coastal Malibu, one of the most expensive and prestigious locations in the world, just because he has the easy money.

    His selfishness is destroying one of the pristine hilltops that make Malibu the extraordinarily beautiful place that all the world knows it to be. This “obscenity” as the LA Times calls it will not be easily forgiven by Californians. They have long memories when it comes to things they love. “The Edge” name will live in infamy among Californians for many years. And it will not be forgotten that he was an Irishman.

    This is how the prestigious Los Angeles Times today described this high profile Irishman’s “obscenity”: “a massive five-structure rock ‘n’ roll compound with swimming pools on a virtually untouched Malibu hilltop”. Read the full article and tell me if you are still proud of your U2:


    If U2 is now the role model for Irish youth then God help Ireland.

  19. coldblow

    Having made a stab at guessing the plot of Viva (see above) I looked it up afterwards and found this trailer:


    I wasn’t far off. At 1.07 there’s what seems to be the father I referred to. At 0.27 you have the stylish old American automobile (as in Buena Vista Social Club). Then the lines ‘It’s not about mouthing the words. You have to do them with feeling. Show us something real.’ That’s *so* true. Ay ay ay ay ay!

    Then there’s the trailer for Brooklyn which is like the trailer for Michael Collins. It’s like that old Kerrygold advertisement: ‘They’re serving the dinner now.’ ‘Who’s taking the horse?’ At table (the same table?) someone says ‘O God!’ and a stern Irish woman really does say (I’m not making this up), ‘I’ll thank you not to use His name.’

    Irish cinema, where no (fashionable) cliché is left unturned, where even the clichés are clichéd. Caramba!

    It’s all on the surface and there’s nothing underneath. They officially abolish, condemn and banish the old set of clichés and replace them with a new lot that are even worse, much worse.

  20. coldblow

    If Viva has any music in it half as good as this song then it’s not all bad. (Notice the picture – obviously today’s Cuban cliché.)


  21. michaelcoughlan

    More evidence of Stalinism mcwilliams;


    People have to drive 80 miles from dublin to buy a house they can afford because of the 20% rule second time out.

    Madder than a bonbon!

  22. Back in the real central bankers and their acolytes manipulate all markets to destroy economies and countries. The net result is the wealth of the country and its assets have been pledged to guarantee unpayable loans.

    The money loaned is created from nothing. The central banks create reserves from nothing. Commercial banks use the reserves to back the apparent production of more money, under the fractional reserve system. The nations pledge the assets which are mortgaged to the loans.

    Then the banks use the futures markets , which are totally unregulated, to drive down commodity prices. Companies, corporations and countries go broke. Then the defaults on the loans happen. The banks do not care about the paper money loss as the money was free to them but they are happy to now claim the assets at knock down prices.

    It is robbery in my book and a major reason central bankers and fraction reserve banking must be abolished.

    How about a column on that please David. A dozen columns actually will have trouble covering that subject.


  23. zapit

    And don’t forget there was Skellig Michael in Star Wars VIII. It looked fantastic. Great for tourism :)

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