Articles: Banks %

December 12, 2013

On May 1, 2003, President George Bush stood on the bridge of the USS Abraham Lincoln. Behind him a massive banner was unfurled, which read “Mission Accomplished”. The president declared success in Iraq and assured the American people that the victory was his, Saddam was defeated and there would henceforth be no more combat operations. More

November 14, 2013

‘Teenage Kicks’ wouldn’t have been recorded without the Credit Union. It’s hard to imagine Derry without the Undertones. Today Derry is a very different place to the Derry of the mid-1970s when the band formed but, for this visitor, Derry and The Undertones still go together. And it wouldn’t have happened without a £400 loan from the very credit union that John Hume set up in 1960 – the first ever in Ireland. More

November 11, 2013

Mario Draghi has ensured that the mini-boom in Dublin’s trophy houses will continue for a while. This is what happens when interest rates are cut to almost zero – the people with savings think there is little point saving any more, so they don’t bother any more. They think, what will I put my cash into? More

October 28, 2013

Capitalism without bankruptcy is like Catholicism without hell. Although he didn’t say as much, this is what Mario Draghi meant when he announced this week that he was prepared to see banks go bust in order to clean up the balance sheet of Europe’s ailing banking system. More

October 24, 2013

The other day I was talking to a mechanic friend of mine who has a garage down the country in a smallish town. He told me an extraordinary story about a friend of his who came into the garage a few weeks back to get his car touched up before he flogged it online. The story explains why an economy needs demand as well as supply to boost the recovery. In the past week since the Budget, there has been lots of talk about job creation through boosting supply. This little tale explains why boosting supply is not enough. More

September 30, 2013

This day five years ago, the bosses of Ireland’s big banks came to the government with an ultimatum that went more or less like this: “We have run out of money, what are you going to do about it?”. More

September 26, 2013

The structure is familiar to any Irish person. The stout walls, the battlements designed for heavy artillery, perched on an elevated site with good views around it, normally on a military road or overlooking a large river or a bay. The Martello Tower is something we in Ireland hardly even notice now, but spotting a Martello Tower here in Quebec City prompts a double-take. More

September 23, 2013

There is something vaguely odd and actually quite comical about the sight of a Hasidic man, head to toe in black with a wildly elaborate fur hat perched on top of his ringlets, sweating in the warmth of Montreal’s Indian summer. The attachment to early 17th-century Eastern European clobber in the 21st century, seems a bit over the top. However, according to a friend of mine who knows about these things, the hat, its size and shape, denotes precisely what sub-branch of the Hassidim this man belongs to. More

September 16, 2013

This week, let’s consider the probability of another banking crisis. Mortgage defaults – both owner-occupier and buy-to-lets – could overwhelm the banks’ fragile capital buffers, meaning the banks will need more capital in the next few years. Because the Irish state is bust and has no capital to give, this new capital can only come from two places. The first source is the European institutions (or the taxpayers of the richer countries). The second source is the depositor in the Irish banks. More

September 12, 2013

When we were kids playing football, one manager always insisted on the pass. The pass was everything and it was not played to the players’ feet but a yard ahead of him to keep the tempo of the game. The pass was the game, nothing else mattered. Sure it was great to meet the ball on the half volley and burst the net, but when the passing game was being played at its best, teams would open up in front of you so that the ball could ultimately be rolled into empty nets. More

Articles: Banks

I write a column every week. This keeps me sane and hopefully, on my toes – but you can be the judge of that! The article appears in the Irish Times every Saturday. I just started writing this column (having recently left my column at the Irish Independent which I wrote for over 10 years). I cover economic, financial, demographic, social and geo-political issues – and all sorts of other things that come into my head, sparked by things I’ve read, people I have spoken to or ideas I have heard, over the course of any particular week.

The world - and Ireland - is changing so rapidly that it’s impossible to run out of things to write about. Since I rarely stop writing, the articles are composed and written in the oddest of places, in bars, on trains, in my office, on buses. You name it, I’ve written in, on or under it.

One of the great joys in the week is reading the responses to my articles in the comments on this site. Thanks so much to everyone who responds, challenges, argues and even blatantly insults! This is what freedom of expression and opinion is all about: two contrasting opinions – a buyer and a seller - make a market and makes for good discussion. Imagine a world where we all agreed?