Monthly Archives: June 2013

100 things Ireland could have got for the price of one Anglo Irish Bank…

With the #anglotapes this week it seemed to me a good time to recall those heady days of August 2010 when we had spent only 25b on Anglo. At that time Ronan Lyons and I penned this little piece in the Sunday Business Post…

This week, it was announced that the EU had approved a further injection of our taxpayer money into additional capital for Anglo-Irish Bank . This brings the total as of now to  almost €25bn. This is money going into a bank that is essentially in wind-down over the coming decade, money that the Irish citizens and taxpayers will not see again, as it is shoring up the balance sheet of a bank that had too much imaginary wealth. And that is not the end of the money, many fear.

So just how much is €25bn that we are having to borrow for Anglo? In one way, it’s small change, compared to what will possibly be €200bn in borrowings by the State to fund the non-banking deficit between the onset of the crisis and 2020. But to any rational mind €25bn is still a mind-bogglingly large amount of money. The State has limited borrowing capacity, limited by a combination of what the taxpayer can repay. In putting €25bn into Anglo, the government, on our behalf, has spent money that can not be used for other projects. Here is a list, then, of 100 things – grouped into various categories – that the government could have spent €25bn but chose not to.

Ireland could make a major contribution to Fight Global Poverty

world-poverty

€25bn would go a long way in the fight against global poverty. Here are a few suggestions:

100. Buy enough malaria nets to protect the entire malaria-affected population of the world (half a billion people) for 80 years (based on NothingButNets figures of $10 a net)

99. Completely fund the World Food Programme for five years

98. Repair twice over the damage done to Haiti in the recent earthquake

97. Fund enough clean water and infrastructure projects to meet the Milliennium Development Goals in those areas

96. Buy up and extinguish the national debt of Bangladesh

95. Fund the UNESCO “Information for All” Project for 1200 years

94. Provide food aid to Niger for 1000 years

93. Asphalt every trunk and regional road (110,000km) of substandard road in sub-Saharan Africa

Ireland could become a World Science & Technology Hub

leneyeMajor scientific and technological projects cost a lot of money. But rarely €25bn. Here are a few ways Ireland could have used the €25bn to become a global hub for major breakthroughs in science and technology.

92. Start our own space programme, with twenty €1.2bn space shuttles

91. Foot the bill for a century of global research into nuclear fusion (the current 30-year global ITER project is expected to cost €5-10bn)

90. Research & develop 5000 new drugs….one of em’s bound to be useful

89. Construct 6 Large Hadron Colliders – one for each Green Party TD

88. Build 5 James Webb Space Telescope (the successor to Hubble), and revolutionise astronomy

87. Build two magnetoplasma space vehicles which in theory could get to mars in 40 days

86. Build a space elevator

85. Build two ITER nuclear fusion reactors and provide the world with cheap, abundant energy..

We could decide to give ourselves a break

holidaysWhat about using the €25bn to give ourselves a break? Here are a number of things that €25bn could pay for, while we take a break.

84. Pay the interest on everyone’s mortgage for 4 years (€147bn of mortgages at 4% is €5.88bn a year)

83. Abolish income tax for two years (based on 2009 gov income tax receipts of €11.8bn)

82. Offer everyone on the live register €100,000 to emigrate (we could afford a 50% take-up by the 466,000 on the dole)

81. Abolish VAT for two and a half years (based on 2009 receipts of €10.8bn)

80. Remove exise duty from fuel, tobacco and alcohol until 2015 (based on exise receipts of €4.7bn a year)

79. Pay the grocery bills of everybody in the country for 2.5 years

78. Scrap all fares on all forms of public transport, intercity and commuter trains and buses for 33 years

We could just treat ourselves

scrooge-mcduck (1)We could just treat ourselves with the €25bn windfall. Here are some suggestions as to how.

77. Run the world’s best ever lottery – every Irish citizens is entered into a draw where 25,000 people become millionaires!

76. Give every OAP a pension of 55,000 for a year….

75. Fly the adult population of Ireland to Las Vegas, give everyone 10k to gamble with

74. Give every person in the country €5,555.56

73. Buy half a million ecofriendly Nissan Leaf cars and have enough for a 5GW nuclear power station with the cash left over

72. Provide a new laptop every year to every second level student for 147 years

71. Buy a 32GB iPhone, a 64GB iPad, a 13″ 2.13GHz MacBook Air and a 27-inch iMac for every man, woman and child living in Ireland

We could treat the world

icecreamTreating ourselves is probably a bit selfish. Here are some ways to make the rest of the world like us more!

70. Buy 6.7b copies (one for everybody in the world) of Joyce’s “portrait of the artist as a young man”

69. Buy a pint of guinness for everyone in the world to celebrate Arthurs Day (and it would count as exports)

68. Buy every child in the world a 99 ice-cream cone every day for a week

67. Send every adult in the world on an MSc in Social Media in NCI

66. Send 225,000 people to do the Harvard MBA

We could truly become the world’s biggest sports fan

10BestClubs_2012Sport is big business. But not that big. With €25bn, we could…

65. Buy the world’s 20 most valuable soccer clubs, worth €9.6bn, wipe their debt (€2.3bn) and move them to Ireland, building each a 75,000-seater stadium (€600m each, based off cost of Aviva stadium)

64. Host two Olympics games, based on the London 2012 cost of €11.2bn

63. Buy Tonga and Fiji, which would have obvious rugby advantages

62. Construct 25 Bertie-bowls (one for each county except Dublin!)

61. Buy 83,300 McLaren supercars

60. Buy the entire stock of tickets and merchandise for all premier league clubs for the next 12 years

We could decide to really become a major player on world markets

2374Banking and finance got us into this mess. Surely they can get us out?

59. Buy €600bn in Credit Default Swaps on Ireland (could pay off nicely in the next few years!)

58. Buy two of Asia’s largest banks – Bank Central Asia and Malayan Banking

57. Recapitalise ALL the banks in europe that failed the stress tests

56. Purchase Monsanto, as a present for the green party, or (buy Nokia as a present for Ivor Callely)

55. Give each one of the 10,000 most senior bankers a round of golf on old head kinsale, the most expensive course in europe, every day for 20 years, and hope that they come up with some ideas!

54. Subsidise the US postal service for ten years

53. Allow the Italian Government to not put in place its 3 year austerity plan

52. Pay the salaries of TCD and UCD academics for 100 years.

We could just do it  because we can…

Burj+Khalifa,+Dubai+-+828mWhile the Government says it’s not a waste of €25bn, many people believe it is. Here are ten ways to really spend €25bn.

51. Buy Steve Jobs (€25bn is actuarial value on his life) and get him to work for Ireland Inc.

50. Buy gold plating 1.75mm think for O’Connell Street

49. 25,00 carats of red diamond, enough to encrust a mercedes….

48. Build a shed 10k long by 4k wide and put it around Tullamore…

47. Buy every one of the 5.8m cattle in the country, and to keep their little feet cosy two pairs of jimmy choos each

46. Detach the People’s Republic of Cork from the Republic of Ireland, by constructing a 10-metre wide moat – the per-kilometre cost of the new Gothard Tunnel in Switzerland suggests this may cost €30bn but I’m sure we could haggle them down in a recession.

45. Cover the entire county of Dublin a foot deep in corn

44. Hire Bertie to speak for 95 years

43. Purchase carbon credits to allow us to burn 3000 sqmiles of hardwood forest

42. Build 20 copies of the Burj Khalifa Dubai, the worlds tallest building

We could just splash the cash

item0.size.queen-mary-2-100488-1When people win the lottery, there’s naturally a tendency to splash the cash. Winning a €25bn lottery would certainly allow us to splash the cash. Here are some ideas.

41. Buy 1,000 luxury yachts to kickstart the Upper Shannon Rural Renewal Scheme (78-footers, 2nd-tier Russian oligarch standard)

40. Buy over one third of Denmark, 10% of France or three Luxembourgs, based on 2008 land costs

39. Send 833 people into space (or perhaps just 1666 one way trips…)

38. Stay in the most expensive hotel room in the world for 3400 years (it’s the Atlantis resort, Bahamas in case you were wondering)

37. Build 50 ginormous cruise liners akin to Carnival Splendour or Queen Mary 2

36. Make 100 Avatar-type films, which lets remember made back its money x4 at the box office!

35. Buy every TD a boeing dreamliner, ideal for those trips to glenties

34. Purchase 35 of the world’s most expensive mobile phone (goldstriker iPhone 3GS supreme) for every member of the oireachtas!

33. Build four Libraries of Alexandia in each county

32. Endow one university to the level of Harvard

31. Tile Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown totally in nice porcelain

30. Buy five Nimitz Class Nuclear supercarriers to scare the bejaysus out of the Spanish trawlers

29. Or buy 17 Virginia Class nuclear attack submarines, if we wanted to sneak up on the Spanish Trawlers instead

28. Supply the water needs of Galway City, for a year…with Perrier water

27. Purchase four Birkin Hermes bags for every adult female in the country, one for each season’s wardrobe

26. Buy and install 100 sq yards of parquet flooring for every single dwelling in the country.

25. Fill the Jack Lynch Tunnel with Midelton Single Cask whiskey

24. Purchase 225,000 kg of the most expensive truffles in the world

23. Buy every house and apartment listed on DAFT.ie and still have 12bleft to refurbish them

We could transport ourselves  out of this mess

98962638.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-largeWith €25bn in our back pockets, all those pie-in-the-sky superprojects would no longer be pie in the sky! Here are ten ways Ireland could put itself on the global superproject map.

22. Construct our own “Channel Tunnel” from Rosslare to Pembroke (based on the cost of the Jack Lynch tunnel)

21. Build 1,000 km of high-speed rail, serving all major coastal cities on the island (based on recent costs in Spain)

20. Build 11,150 miles of dual carriageway

19. Put in place a 400 station metro (if we could build it for the cost of porto’s metro)

18. Put in place a Maglev train from Belfast to Cork via Dublin

17. Build our own Three Gorges Dam, complete with turbines

16. Put in place 12 new Luas lines

15. Build just short of two Hong Kong International Airport (€15 bn each)

14. Build 12 New York-style “Freedom Towers” at €2bn each

13. If we didnt want a tunnel we could five Oresund-style 20km long bridge (Denmark – Sweden, €5b)

We could pay for improved public services

childrenshospitalAnd lastly, ten slightly more practical ways to spend €25bn

12. Build 75 brand new 50-teacher schools and run them for 75 years

11. Build 35 new Children’s Hospitals (based on €700m cost of new Children’s Hospital in Dublin)

10. Pay for an extra 5,000 hospital consultants for 62.5 years, based on Finnish wage (or for 29 years based on Irish wages)

9. Pay for cervical cancer vaccines for every girl going into 1st year for the next 8333 years

8. Reduce the pupil teacher ratio in primary schools to 1 in 10 for the next 20 years

7. Given an ultra highspeed fiberoptic broadband connection to every single house (including ghost estates…)

6. Buy 8,500 years of private speech and language counselling and really help autistic and speech problematic children

5. Introduce free pre-schooling for 32 years, based on an average cost of €700 a month for two years of 10 months, for all 110,000 children in the country

4. Make education properly free – the current cost from primary school to degree graduation is €70,000 per child. €25bn would bring nearly 400,000 students through their entire education

3. Give medical cards to everyone, for 25 years based on €500m cost in 2009 to cover 1.5m people

2. We  could use the money to renew and replace the drainage and water system of all mains

1. Or we could buy one broken bank…oh, hang on…..

So, a mixture of the bizarre, the stupid, the deeply practical, the useful, all tinged with a sense of lost opportunity. A bit like the governments solution to the banking crisis really! What this list shows us is that choices matter. Its unlikely that any government would have #50, paving o’connell street in gold, as a priority (well, not perhaps unless its leader was from Dublin Central…), But wouldnt it be nice if we had a government with the courage and vision to do #18, a maglev on the east coast, which would catapult ireland into a world leading techological position and cement the all ireland economy? or decide  #96 to lift Bangladesh out of poverty? Or …the list goes on, a list of lost opportunities.  And when one considers the additional €100b that represents the structural element of the governent debt, well…While Colm McCarthy is correct, that anger is not a policy, its hard to be anything but enraged when one considers the sheer scale of wasted opportunities.

Note: Ronan and Brian would like to thank all the dwellers in Twitterland for suggesting these, and other more unprintable suggestions. Particular thanks to Lorcan Roche-Kelly and CG for good ideas well costed. We are open to more suggestions.

Brian Lucey and Ronan Lyons

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The Anglo effect on austerity

drummerSeamus Coffey has a good nuanced discussion on his blog on Anglo options a la 2008. Despite what some might think, there were alternatives to the Guarantee. In any case, the evolution of general government debt since the start of the crisis is startling. In 2007 we had a GGD of €47.2, at end 2012 it was a whopping €192.5, an increase of €145.3. Of that we can allocate €30 or 20.6% to anglo. So a simplistic calculation is this : 1/5 of the total adjustment we have to make is down to Anglo. 1/5 of tax increases, spending and payroll reductions, down to Anglo. Ponder that…not really a laughing matter is it David?

Sowing the seeds of the next banking crisis…

This is a extended version of a column in the Irish Examiner 29 June 2013.

The revelations of the attitude of the Anglo bankers –sociopathic is a word that comes to mind- should remind us of the need to stop and look at the governments banking policy.

15998338What was surprising to many  about the Anglo tapes was that the speakers come across as densely arrogant, cavalier in terms of both their language and their approach to business and having forgotten that they were being recorded. Perhaps  however it was not so much denseness as insouciance – after all, for these would be masters of the universe they were untouchable, playing a game with other peoples money and winning regardless of how the game progressed. They had succeeded (despite protestations now that that was not what they had intended) in misleading the state into a rescue based on illiquidity knowing that they would at best require multiples of the initially stated sum and at worst that they would end up insolvent and wards of the state. They even had managed to poke the Germans and the British in the eye. So perhaps they can be excused. But they wont and they shouldn’t be. They played fast and loose with the rules, won, scooped the (personal) pot and then got exposed. What is interesting is what other revelations lurk in other tapes from other banks.

What cant also so easily be excused is the way that the government, permanent and elected, is planning to allow a structure whereby such arrogance and insolence can flourish again. Indeed, they are encouraging it. The problem with Anglo, in essence, was that the bankers felt that they had become to big to fail. Linked closely with the ruling party, bankrolling the turbocharging of the economy feted as financial magicians they felt financially and politically invulnerable, and this presumption proved correct. Alas, when the magic went away the benefits went also

too-big-vs-too-smallRight now the government plan for banking is to create pillar banks. It is to reduce and consolidate Irish banks into two main banks. While this will make the job of regulating them easier it is also quite clear that it runs grave dangers. We have seen how Irish regulators in many many areas are easily captured. We have seen how these regulators tend to actually regulate only when the external forces become too powerful to ignore  forcing the policy porcupine to unroll and face the world.  With few exceptions and regardless of their nominal power most Irish regulators have proven to be toothless. Think elder care or creches or waste water or FAS or…you get the picture. Most meaningful changes have come about not from internal regulatory pressure but from outside judicial and economic pressure. If regulators were unable to regulate Anglo and AIB and the rest from running amok, why would we necessarily conclude that they will any more effectively regulate pillar banks? Maybe this time will be different but would we want to count on that?

pillarbankThe pillar banks will be by design too big to fail. Therefore they both will not and cannot, regardless of their transgressions, fail.  One of them will have embedded into its corporate culture a shocking degree of moral hazard, having been rescued by the taxpayer twice in the last few decades. Moral hazard in a corporate culture is likely intractable and incurable and must inevitably run the risk of the organization eventually slipping back to the old ways – after all if the state will bail you out what onus is there on you to behave responsibly? Add to this the too big to fail, and add a generous dose of regulatory capture, and we have a recipe for the 2030 banking crisis.

zbThe costs of the Anglo collapse in plain numbers are bad enough – 30b euro wasted on feeding a zombie. Zombies when fed do not lie down-  they demand more.  The more that Anglo has consumed consists of our international reputation (twice) and was, I contend, the straw that has broken the back of the fiscal state. It is undoubtedly the case that absent the 64b bank bailout we would still have faced a significant fiscal problem. Our tax base had eroded and the world economic crisis would have made things worse. absent the Anglo 30b we would face not 117% debt to GDP but below 100%.  We might be facing some 1.5b per annum less in debt service costs. It is arguable that we might not have even had to seek a bailout. With the economy flat lining in a quadruple dip recession and emigration soaring the collateral damage of the madness of saving Anglo is incalculable and worse yet the social damage is generational and ineradicable.

lossesThe new EU procedures on how to allocate losses in banking failures are good in principle – the rank the taxpayer last in line after capital, including those heretofore untouchables Senior Bondholders, and after large deposits. But the taxpayer is still on the hook in theory.  In any case there are lots of hurdles, at EU and various national levels, that will have to be overcome before any such resolution mechanism is in place. At the earliest we will not likely see this before 2017. Are we certain that before then we will not face additional capital calls from the banks? Even after, with an effective duopoly banking structure, what confidence do we have that should one of them run into trouble the letter of the law will be observed in relation to loss allocation? In other words – if banks are overlarge and untrustworthy we need to change.

behemothThe planned pillar banks therefore pose, in my view, a grave potential risk. We should consider a strategy whereby the banks are made smaller and less systemically important. Even now the liabilities of the covered banks amount to over twice GDP, and those of the domestic banks (in other words including banks such as Ulster and KBC etc) to over three times. This is too large. Absent a proper risk sharing approach a further bank failure would result in at best bail-ins of depositors (destroying confidence in irish banking, if such exists) and at worse more calls on the state.  Conversion of the majority of the covered banks to pillar banks will leave the state in an extremely vulnerable situation. The solution must be two fold; shrink the absolute size of the banking system and shrink the average size of the components.  Shrinking the size of the financial sector worldwide will come with costs, and so too in Ireland. We have gotten used to the idea of a very large financial sector, in other words we have gotten used to easy credit. This will have to change, both at a corporate and at a personal level. reduced credit will imply a slowdown in economic growth from the heady days of the middle noughties which is no bad thing. In terms of size we need to have many more competing banks, each individually more connected with local communities, each definitively not too big to fail, funded mainly by deposits and regulated assertively in terms of credit quality. These banks must be capped in terms of individual size and the enture system capped at a level below that of national income. Again this will mean an end to easy credit. There is an old saying ; when the elephants dance the ants get trampled. Its time to cull the elephants and break them into their component parts.

Anglo, referenda and inquiries

This morning we hear one again that the government are thinking of re running the referendum on granting enhanced investigative power to the parliament.
We also hear that the government are going to ensure that the proposed banking inquiry will investigate the “axis of collusion” between Fianna Fail and the wretched anglo. The self same opposition meanwhile accused all and sundry of playing politics with Anglo while themselves all but denying they were ever anywhere near power while the bank ran amok and while they then nailed the state to its rotten carcass.

So…with government and opposition engaged in politicising the inquest into anglo the political leadership wants us to give them more power to investigate?  Yeah…right. coz they’ll never be tempted to use these powers for political aims…..

Lets ban google from colleges…

Four words that strike terror and despair into the hearts of all academics : “oh, I googled it”. 

In TCD students have access to perhaps the finest research library on the Island. Every other university has superb library facilities also, and increasingly these include deep levels of online journal histories, massive databases of knowledge paid for by the taxpayer in most. And when we give students a research topic? “oh, I googled it”. The concept of going to the library, in physical or electronic form and there doing a structured search for appropriate knowledge seems to be almost entirely absent from undergraduate students. Of course universities offer library information sessions but these are poorly attended and worse understood. Students simply want to google it…

Im serious. Lets consider for one term a ban on google search facilities from university domains. 

The lack of joined up thinking in Irish governance.

clowenThis is an extended version of a column published in the Irish Examiner on 22 June 2013. When the troika were inbound, known to be so by all apart from the FF cabinet which had precipitated their arrival, I had a chat with a well known economic commentator. He relayed the views of some of his relatives on the immanent new regime ‘jazuz, the IMF, sure they’ll be worse than the Tans’.. Well, as it turns out the IMF were by far the lesser of three evils. By contrast with the bumbling of the commission and the fumbling of the ECB the IMF were clearheaded and straight. They have form in this – their raison d’etre is to come in and restructure countries to be back on a paying basis. We can and should worry about lots of how they do it but that they do do it is indisputable. They are experienced, but their experience was subjugated to the Trichet ECB which was fixated on  the narrowest interpretation of their brief, Mr Trichet endeavouring to show the Bundeshawks that when it came to monetary masochism a French Central Banker could be more Germanic than the Germans themselves.

bald-head-painted-hairWith the possible departure of the Troika (by no means a certainty) we can now think the unthinkable ; maybe we will miss them when they are gone. For the Troika, mainly the IMF, have shown a willingness to drive forward change and to force events to a head. In this they follow a long and inglorious tradition, of being the external force to cudgel the elites of Irish society into action.  Historically Irish elites have adopted the King Log approach, doing as little as possible to disturb the pond. Us frogs that have desired other than inertia have always had the opportunity to move elsewhere. The Troika were our replacement for the succession of King Logs but now they are moving on, leaving us to the swamp of inertia and ineptness which Irish governance has become.

kinglogIrish elites have come through crisis after crisis unscathed and unchanged. Change in social or economic issues comes passing slow. We have been repeatedly forced into dealing with environmental and social flux  through the actions of national and European courts. When we examine the economic situation the closest we have to a court is the Troika, and to paraphrase the Bert, although they have done a lot there remains more to do. The recent report on implementation shows a growing frustration, I sense, on the part of the Troika, with Irish implementation. The media have focused on the stated need to tackle the pernicious and pervasive legal cost structure. In a Dail where there is heavy representation of lawyers, in a state where lawyers dictate state moves, where the easiest thing is to hide behind the shield of ‘awaiting legal advice’, it is clear that by overt persuasion and covert influence (no, nothing shady, put that writ down) the lawyers have stalled and delayed meaningful reform.

And it is not just in this area that deep reform has been stalled. We suffer even with the Troika and a massive crisis, from myopic policies that seem to benefit insider elites and from a chronic lack of joined up thinking.

We have seen little in the way of meaningful action on the crisis of unemployment, the main problem facing the state.  Despite the real level of job seeking being close to 25%, and that after a hemorrhage of hundreds of thousands of people, we still persist with the oldfashioned ‘labour exchange’ model of government intervention and the one stop shop approach is stalled. In whose benefit is that? It is not for the unemployed that is for sure. The existence of large pools of unemployed is of benefit, in the short term where most live, only to those employers who need compliant workers.

In health we have a government that is at one and the same time committed to making heath insurance compulsory and to making it unaffordable.  Quite how this is to be squared is unclear. But what is clear is that patients and the public do not benefit while sales of Bentleys to consultants remain solid.

In transport we see time and again that we build massive motorways which end a kilometer outside a small town with two 90 degree junctions, causing traffic to back up onto the motorway. As it was in Kildare so too is it now in Adare. While construction and farming interests do well from the purchasing of vastly costly land and the construction of vastly costly roads, the travelling public dont do well.

We refuse to implement a nationwide postcode system, resulting in at least two state agencies having their own, and others purchasing ones from sat nav manufacturers. Meanwhile we cant therefore direct ambulances to the right place, because nobody knows if they said Lispole or Listowel. A proper ZIP code system would upset the elite interests in the insurance and estate agency industries hugely, and disabuse us of the ability to geolocate wherever we think we should be (‘why yes, I do live in Glasnevin North’ is replicated in every single parish) rather than where we are.

In social welfare we see the same types of poverty traps, where it is more sensible to stay off work than to take it, as were the subject of discussion in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and no doubt will be in the 2040s. But this allows easy lazy discussion of ‘welfare scroungers’ instead of properly focused policy debate. Elites dont like thinking hard thoughts here or elsewhere.

In education we see a persistent attempt to narrow and make more and more vocational the state system, despite the manifest failure of government ‘picking winners’ strategies and that the employers themselves (never mind society of which it appears even Labour now suspect its non existence) want broadly educated flexible thinkers. Again this is of benefit to the mandirinate in the department of education and the HEA and to the employers de jure. We see the government solemenly stating the need for us to be more able to see stuff to foreigners, and cutting back on language education (creating a wonderful need and opportunity for private sector profit for something that is both a social and economic public good).

We see little evidence of thinking about the post FDI era, assuming that a large part of measured FDI is related to tax arbitrage. Across the world there is at least lip service to the need to ensure that corporations pay tax and do not engage in tax arbitrage. The Irish elites have to the most part denied that this mood exists, and suggested that even if it does it doesn’t matter as despite all the evidence we do not facilitate such.

We see in the banks perhaps the most egregious example of elites and insiders stalling and eventually winning over King Log. Having refused to deal with residential mortgage arrears for years, while gleefully stiffing the taxpayer with writeoffs for large corporate loans, the banks have now managed to get a  more liberal repossession regime in place which they shall drive. Leaving aside the social issues large scale repossessions will result in a worsening of the banks losses, and if the banks are required to keep very high levels of capital that will mean either bailing in depositors or more taxpayer injections. However, at the top end the insiders remain entrenched and enriched.

All these remain despite the best intent of the troika. Generations of passive aggressive slow rising to the top of the heap, regardless of the state of the heap, have endowed Irish insiders with the abilty to obfuscate, ignore, stall and stymie at a world class level. What they miss is a sense of social good, of joined up thinking, of the urgency needed in facing world where power is moving east,  and a sense of vision. But then, they are elected and drawn from us.