Profile of David Drumm Post author By Brendan Walsh Post date April 12, 2010 The Boston Globe has published a piece about David Drumm of Anglo-Irish Bank. You may read it here. Categories In Banking Crisis 71 Comments on Profile of David Drumm ← Brendan Keane on Municipal Waste Management → Greek Bailout Unveiled 71 replies on “Profile of David Drumm” “David Drumm was a hero in Ireland a few years ago,’’ when Anglo Irish was booming, said John Fowler, a partner with the commercial mortgage bank Holliday Fenoglio Fowler. “The truth is they were no better or no worse than any other lender who was aggressive in lending between 2005 and 2007. They were an appropriate risk-taker, and they got caught up in the collapse of the market.’’ Is any part of that quote factually correct? Under his aegis Anglo became a “major player in the city’s [Boston’s] real estate market” , after taking over as CEO in 2005 “Anglo continued its roaring trade”, “He was a skilled networker and positioned himself as a boutique lender in a competitive landscape of commercial financiers”, “he was persistent and had an aggressive strategy of offering terms other lenders would not”, “They [Anglo in the US] did a hell of a job as a lender”, “David was very easy to relate to and very loyal” And then “Irish Anglo’s failure was one of the most stunning meltdowns in the banking sector when the credit crisis swept the globe in late 2008.” Notwithstanding any possible criminal investigation which should be undertaken cleanly and expediently, if David Drumm emerges with clean hands then it seems a shame for the country that we have lost such a businessman who has been vilified to pariahhood. On the other hand it can’t be anything other than a nightmare for David Drumm to be pursued with his family wherever he might go and his children will always have the tag of their Dad being responsible for Ireland’s Chernobyl. Right now, David Drumm is probably as toxic as much of Anglo’s loanbook but once the criminal investigation is concluded and if there is to be a banking inquiry when that is put to bed (and assuming neither convicts David Drumm), it seems a shame that this State will not be able to make use of David Drumm’s enormous talents again and that David Drumm and his family will forever live with the car crash that is Anglo. The only profile I want to see of these *****s is in the obituary columns. @ Aiman Not even remotely. What’s frightening is that the guy likely believes every word of what he said. @Jagdip. Factcheck: you are being ironic I assume? “David Drumm was a hero in Ireland a few years ago,’’ when Anglo Irish was booming, said John Fowler, a partner with the commercial mortgage bank Holliday Fenoglio Fowler. “The truth is they were no better or no worse than any other lender who was aggressive in lending between 2005 and 2007. They were an appropriate risk-taker, and they got caught up in the collapse of the market.’’ Appropriate risk-taker. hmmm @Jagdip Singh I think that is a very fair assessment. My view is that David Drumm is an enormously talented businessman and that he was very badly caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and, presumably under pressure that the rest of us could not possibly imagine, made some seriously bad judgment calls. There is a temptation to continually look for someone to blame for the meltdown that was – the list could be very long indeed – banks, politicians, planning authorities, amateur investors, media, Lehmans, sub-prime – even dare I say economists? It is up to our legal system to deal with any wrongdoing and until then I believe it is unfair to pass judgment against any individual. If the legislation needs to be revised to ensure that any past wrongdoing for which there is no current sanction is caught – then lets do it. It would be refreshing to move on from the past instead of going over it again and again. Whatever the outcome is, I think Mr Drumm has/is serving a sentence already. @ JD & Jagdip I share your concern about witch-burning in the wake of the recession, but can you honestly suggest that a guy who presides over a fall in share price of 98% over four years is a talented businessman? More likely his initial success in the States was largely down to luck (As Taleb would say “If you’re so rich, why aren’t you so smart?”). @Kevin Denny Factcheck? I don’t think I included many facts – I was quoting from the newspaper article though I have to say the quotes are in line with what I heard in the property world and also what would be expected from the young CEO of the giant that was Anglo. The two opinions which might prompt upset (and I did balance them with comments on a criminal and banking inquiry) were that he is an enormously talented businessman and that it is a shame that the State will not get to benefit from his talents again. The fact is that David Drumm does have major talents as a businessman. However we know he oversaw the demise of Anglo but it’s not yet clear whether Anglo would have died anyway given the global property and credit crisis. From what is being rumoured in NAMA, the quality of the loan documentation is appalling though I guess David Drumm would say if deals weren’t done quickly they would be lost to competitors. Where were the internal and external auditors and the Regulator? Where was the Board? So to conclude on that, David Drumm’s business assets are known but the jury is still out on the liabilities. Now we’ve just witnessed one asset boom and bust, almost a decade after the dotcom boom and bust, which was a decade after the Asian equities boom and bust – for a fairly dry discourse on manias and bubbles and busts, Charles Kindelberger did a good job but the point was that there’ll be another one along shortly. And as for property, China, India, parts of Central Eastern Europe and of South America are booming. It seems a pity we don’t have a (regulated) David Drumm batting for our institutions in getting at these markets. Until the criminal and banking inquiries are concluded I would say David Drumm was toxic but if he is cleared then it will indeed be a shame that we don’t get to use any of his talents again. @Jagdip / JD Can I echo Kevin Denny’s request for clarification as to whether there is a huge element of irony in your comments? I presume you are not saying that one’s assessment of a businessman’s reputation should not be limited to whether or not he has been convicted of something? People will live in misery and die in pain because of the reckles actions of senior bankers. A disregard for the risks and consequences for others is at the core of such actions. The consequences David Drumm is suffering are mild in comparison to those who will lose out on having a job and a future, a home and a hope, proper diet and accommodation, and the kind of supports available to those dealing with the old, infirm and disabled in other countries. I expect that the reason David Drumm is in the USA is because he understands this. BTW – what was David Drumm’s talent? Making friends and selling products on overly generous terms in a bubble. Some talent. @zhou As a State we don’t have any great tradition in heavy manufacture or natural resource exploitation. But for a period from the late 1990s to the bust we did have a world-renowned expertise in property development (and to a lesser extent financing). The people at the fore of this expertise are being villified into pariahhood which might make us feel better if we’re without a job (I don’t want to be heartless but the social safety net in this country is not so bad so are you really not pulling at heartstrings with losing a proper diet or accommodation – repossession noted but rental assistance seems relatively generous). But there are still national property booms and if Anglo hadn’t died I have no doubt Ireland would be building a terrific reputation in China and India. By removing and villifying the experienced networked upper echelons of our banking and property industries we’re just throwing away a tradition in one sector where we excelled. If there was criminality that should be ruthlessly pursued without fear nor favour but if it turns out there wasn’t any, then it is a shame for the State to have lost the use of all that expertise. @Jagdip Criminality or not, Anglo staff were hawking loans to buy Anglo shares to all and sundry before the meltdown. The corporate blurb was pure fiction, the top dogs had loans from the bank (on non-recourse terms?). The men at the top have to take responsibility for that. Their “peers” are unlikely to forget their past actions. I still cannot figure out what David Drumm’s great talent was. He doesn’t appear to have understood risk, or macro-economic, or bank regulation, or market stability. What exactly was he good at again? `@JD: “It would be refreshing to move on from the past instead of going over it again and again.” Couldn’t we flog these chaps through the streets first and then move on? Or maybe a period in the stocks would be more appropriate. bjg BTW – the social afety net we have now is being reduced. More drastic reductions are all too likely. I forgot to leave out increases in racism, burglary, graffiti, drug abuse etc in detailing the fruits of the efforts of those brilliant men who gambled and lost our national wealth. @zhou Probably need to be careful here in talking about share support schemes. But in general terms what would you expect a CEO to say about his business? He has to instil confidence and in general terms talk up the company’s potential and given Anglo’s exposures on loans and equity schemes there was as much upside as downside. Confidence mightn’t matter so much to Michael O’Leary’s audience but to a bank’s it’s critical. What was David Drumm good at? I’d guess delivering budgeted profits and share price growth. And you must be tongue-in-cheek when commenting on networking, deal-making, revenue-generating skills. These skills on such a grand scale don’t grow on trees. Yes they were operating in a bubble which had global dimensions but even in the bubble Anglo advanced more than others. Let’s see what the criminal and any other inquiry throw up, but in nationalistic terms it’s just a shame to see British and American banks getting stuck into Indian and Chinese development today whilst we’re building gallows for a lot of our expertise. (Am offline now until later this evening) @Jagdip I am not comfortable discussing individuals like this. I am happy to agree to disagree for the moment. @zhou For someone whom I would have admired on this site previously for your balanced opinion on topics discussed I am truly surprised at your comments. No need to say any more on this as our views are clearly poles apart. @Jagdip: “[…] it is a shame for the State to have lost the use of all that expertise.” You feel we’ll be needing some property developed in the near future? I thought we had rather a lot of the stuff. bjg @JD I am sorely disappointed with senior bankers in Ireland. The consequences of their imprudence, not only for the tax-payer but also for shareholders, borrowers, bondholders and the entire Irish property sector is huge. Ireland does have great expertise in property. It cannot now use it, not because of vilification of the ‘pariahs’, but rather because the banks lost all the money. Treasury Holdings which has operations in China may go into NAMA because of its lenders’ mistakes. Whose failure is holding back who’s expertise? I don’t have any antipathy towards bank employees generally, and that includes loan officers at Anglo. In fact, I feel particularly sorry for diligent and talented people at Anglo who have been personally damaged by the institution they worked for. The blame lies at the top. That’s the nature of the ‘top’ and why the most talented people are supposed to be there. Rational irrationality was a choice, based on self-interest, not a compulsion based on state-terror. Even if the executives made honest mistakes and are sorry it is not enough. You cannot turn back the clock in real life. You can’t laugh and shrug if off either when the error has destroyed so many futures. Jagdip Singh is, of course, taking the piss … From Singh: “[Drumm} is an enormously talented businessman and … it is a shame that the State will not get to benefit from his talents again. The fact is that David Drumm does have major talents as a businessman.” From the Boston Globe article: “Anglo Irish has sued Drumm to recover $11.2 million in personal loans he received.” Perhaps Drumm’s talent is in buying multi-million dollar houses (note the plural) in Boston and owing money he loaned to himself from the bank that he ran. He’ll have shown even greater “talent” if he manages to get away with having the loans written off while keeping the houses (and/or whatever else happens to be in his, his wife’s, or his children’s, “portfolios”), as history here and elsewhere tells us he well may. In the days of “Western Australia Inc.”*, Alan Bond, another “talented” businessman, after serving a short prison sentence still managed to keep millions of dollars of “his” wealth despite owing hundreds of millions. Bond, unlike Drumm, did have at least one achievement to show for the billions of other people’s money he managed to help squander: he won the America’s Cup. * A sort of low-rent 1980’s Australian preview to Ireland’s current excruciating situation, that occurred during the government of the populist premier Brian Burke (who, along with others, did go to prison), and that had its equivalent to Anglo, a bank called Rothwells run by a local Seanie, Laurie Connell. When the years of speculation fueled by government-supported cronyism and low-level corruption, cute deals, and reckless speculative “investments”, were uncovered by the tide going out – the 1987 stock market crash – billions were lost by ordinary taxpayers, including about 1 billion in direct loss to government, in a state of about 1.5 million people. @ Jagdip/JD i think its quite a stretch to call Drumm an “enormously talented businessman” when the only company he has ever managed has had to be nationalised and will end up making losses over the 2008-2010 period equivalent to around 20% of its balance sheet. In the history of banking in developed world economies, this will rank pretty high up there. He was extremely good at extending the banks balance sheet (200% growth under his tenure), but obviously he didn’t have too many skills in terms of the quality of credit he was extending it too. This was a rather important quality lacking in many Irish bankers in recent years. I don’t think the guy should be villified or cursed at, but as he resides in his 4600 sq ft house 5000 miles away, i think it would be equally stupid to laud him well beyond his actual abilities and actual successful business history, or to claim the “sentance” he is currently “serving” is a particularly onerous or harsh one. edit *In the history of banking failures @zhou Hear, hear is all I can say. Your views are not poles apart from mine that’s for sure. Well said. @zhou Hear, hear is all I can say. Your views are not poles apart from mine that’s for sure. Well said. “if David Drumm emerges with clean hands” Based on Ireland’s record of dealing with financial impropriety of any kind everybody will have clean hands. Wouldn’t want to put them in charge of anything again – oops forgot they still run the country I take the point that it is pretty awful for the families of the hunted, but I’ve some advice for them. If Drumm comes back here, sells the houses, gives back the pension and pays what he can off his debts. If he co-operates fully with enquiries (e.g. when did they find out what Quinn was up to and did they willingly lend him money to make his margin calls?) then I’d be willing to let him start over. Forgiveness yes, but atonement first….. @ Jagdip Singh @ JD, Fair enough we need to be careful about execution before the legal system has examined all the facts. So lets not rush to judgement too quickly etc. But the people in charge of Anglo Irish Bank were in charge of running a bank, not just a property finance / development scheme. Surely a talanted banker or board will spread risk by not just running a one horse race in property. They will also have other programs which generate money in commodities for example. Recently it was proclaimed that the people in control of Anglo were not talented, but that they were lucky. It was only a matter of time before the one horse race ran out of puff and fell flat on its face. So maybe we should clarify, being talented at running a bank, spreading risk, controlling risk and banking in a responsible manner is totally different from being talented at running a bank in a single strategy alone ie. property development. But if heavy penalties for those responsible for this mess are not enacted. Then there is very little disencentive for the future board of directors to behave in a responsible prudent manner. Unfortunately in Ireland there is no such thing as “Accountability”. And that goes not just for Finance but for the Medical establishment as well. zhou/Sarah: Agree with what you guys are saying. Jagdip: There is a critical difference between expanding a bank’s balance sheet and doing it in a way that is profitable. Mr. Drumm was clearly good at the former while being shit at the latter. Not a good banker in my book. Plus he took a number of loans for himself and approved a large number for other bank director’s which are not being paid off. Fiduciary responsibility my ass! @All I reserve comment on Mr Drumm. I leave that to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. @All … and if the ODCE comes across Whitey B – the Boston deal is on! @Eoin, If Anglo was the only bank which experienced difficulties and given that David Drumm was its CEO for 3-4 years then I would have to have sympathy for what you say. However, bigger, more-established, “better” managed banks have also practically failed across the globe – from Bear Sterns to Depfa, from RBS to INBS, from Lehman Brothers to Lloyds. I don’t think it’s fair to lump everything on David Drumm or indeed Irish bankers in general – the core problem transcended national borders and individual CEOs. (However, it’s like when the government repeat the mantra that the crisis was global in its origin, we need to examine whether there’s anything specific in how we managed (or more importantly will manage) things which exacerbated the crisis here). @Tony, why would the fact that David Drumm is being pursued for a $11m loan be at odds with him being a talented businessman? He’s not a bankrupt but even if he were, is that proof that he is not a talented businessman? Overall since he joined Anglo you would have to say he had quite a number of successful years before the bank crashed. Also we need to overhaul the image of bankruptcy in the State – it’s not a great badge of honour but it shouldn’t be a millstone around your necks for more than a decade. And I’m saying this more for the 100s of thousand in inescapable negative equity as much for the David Drumms of this world. In the US it is no big deal and we look to them as the paragon of business and enterprise excellence. @ BFG, it’s the international stage which we Irish have exited and it is a shame that we have all but retired from big international projects because of what’s happening here. It seems to me that we need to adopt more mature attitudes towards business and risk. As a State we have a dearth of entrepreneurs which are sorely needed. What does it say to them, people who we want to invest their own money and effort in uncertain ventures with the aim of creating wealth and employment, some of which will fail, if we take risk-taking high achievers and villify them when their businesses fail? We have limited liability companies for a reason – because we recognise there’s an overall gain to society when we allow investors and businesses to take risks. The overall benefit to society should outweigh the risks. We draft laws to ensure limited liability companies behave correctly and it should be government’s job to regulate “systemic” industries, the job of business is survival and return on investment. So for the bankers and developers, deal with them according to the law, but if they are cleared let them get on with life and hope that their best qualities will again be of use to the State. Lastly, I am not cheerleading David Drumm. All I’m saying is he’s not a pantomime villain, his business has failed spectacularly, the consequences are painful for every man, woman and child in the State, he has enjoyed enormous income and appears to either control or access wealth today which is beyond most of us (or at least me) and he has never expressed contrition to the best of my knowledge. The full force of the law and any inquiry should quickly and cleanly examine the affairs of Anglo, without fear nor favour. However because this is not a pantomime, recognise that the man does have business talents and that it is a shame that Ireland today is not benefiting to any great extent from the upturn and indeed boom in financing and property in other parts of the globe. It is not unique to Ireland that certain bankers were massively overpaid for their work (especially given that their work had a massively negative value). Although their rewards were not merited, it’s hard to get that money back. However, when such individuals continue to owe large sums of money it is reasonable to go to great lengths to get this back. In this context the Family Home Protection Act restricts us. Kathleen Barrington had a very good article on this in last Sunday’s Business Post. ( http://www.sbpost.ie/post/pages/p/wholestory.aspx-qqqt=THE+INSIDER-qqqs=themarket-qqqsectionid=3-qqqc=22.214.171.124-qqqn=1-qqqx=1.asp ) Capping the protected property value seems like a good idea. @Ahura At least David Drumm did not transfer a Florida mansion to his wife which was worth €14m for €100 as Dick Fuld of Lehmans did. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/banking_and_finance/article5594623.ece And speaking of Dick Fuld and CEO rewards, his were nearly $500m, that’s half a billion from 2000 – 2007. The furore and anger around Anglo, and Drumm and Fitzpatrick in particular, is not about our attitude to risk and failure, nor about Irish bankruptcy law. Business failures happen all the time and that is par for the course. What is at issue here is that a tiny elite at the head of our banking, regulatory, and political institutions, through some combination of incompetence, recklessness, and possible corruption, have ruined our capacity and possibly that of the next generation, to sustain a prosperous republic. It is hard to overstate the magnitude of the catastrophe. True, it was not down to one man, nor a single institution, though clearly Anglo Irish is prominent in this story for all the wrong reasons. And yes, the US and UK financial systems failed spectacularly too at enormous cost. Any slump in the US was bound to harm Ireland, but we aren’t suffering the consequences of a severe US recession, which is what we might always have expected. No, instead of giving us merely recession, the sharp US downturn caused here a financial implosion, which in turn quickly exposed a fiscal nightmare as well. The US was the trigger for our house falling apart. But it was not the reason the house was so badly built and so negligently maintened. You mention Drumm’s prior success: bad that comes to nil given it was built on an unsustainable model. A bit like a pilot saying he can cut costs by always flying with one engine, it works for a while, but it can hardly be lauded. And to argue that we need all these great talents now is either comical or sad, depending on your point of view. True, we don’t need to banish everyone who ever touched an Irish bank, but if we cannot survive without those small number of people who delivered us this nightmare, then we are truly trule a very small people indeed. But I believe otherwise, I believe we can muster the talent if we are only willing to create the right environment for it to prosper. You are right in one sense: a witch hunt now will not serve us well. Given the foulness of the smell emanating from Anglo, and the shenanigans that appear to have been going on at the top, it is no wonder the public outrage is firmly pointed in that direction. But yes, we should hope that instead of personalised attacks we get systematic, and penetrating analysis of what went wrong, and where necessary thorough enforcement if laws were broken. @Jagdip. The fact I was trying to check was whether you were serious or not since your comments seemed so self-evidently ludicrous. I cannot see how this guys deserves such praise given what happened to Anglo. Mr Drumm seems to be doing quite well for himself. We’re paying for the mess. Whats wrong with this picture? I think it is interesting/sad that people blame Anglo for the state of the nation. Would it be fair to say that there were many other factors – amongst a long list of other things, the naked greed on the part of many amateur investors who had no idea what they were getting themselves into – that contributed to the mess? Of course this should have been recognised by the lenders – but if they didn’t give the loan, you can be sure those investors would get it elsewhere. It was plain for all of us to see that something wrong was happening – are we not all somewhat to blame for not recognising that and standing up against it? (What about the planning authorities – seriously, how could they let those housing estates be built?) I hold no candle for Anglo – really – or any other bank, I just think it is petty to lay so much blame at the facilitators of other people’s greed. And I remember a time when the shareholders of Anglo were delighted with the way the bank was doing – lauding it as a great institution! Everyone was piling in there. It seems to me that running it and the other banks down now is equivalent to speaking it up back then. Our society does not work without a banking system and so the banks had to be bailed out – I feel furious that I am paying for the greed of others but I – and maybe I am alone here – don’t think it can all be put down to those at the top in the banks. @Zhou I am interested to know – is there evidence that there is an increase in the amount of graffiti (is grafitti really that bad by the way?) or drug use during a recession? I know for one thing that people are starting to get real about their financial capabilities and that has to be a good thing. The social safety net in this country is what is keeping many people from going over the edge. It may not be amazing, but its not that bad either. We have come a long way since previous meltdowns – recognition of human rights and I would say better education all round in relation to racism. With regard to David Drumm and his record – I think the fact alone that he was the one chosen at the time to take Anglo (remember back then that great bank…go on those of you who had shares in it..) is evidence that his talents were recognised. It is a sad story and I am sorry for everyone involved, including myself, including David Drumm – at a human level, I don’t think you need to be behind bars to serve a sentence. @ JD, You make very valid points in relation to pointing out the greed that consumed a lot of people, not just those on the boards of banks. This mess is not just the making of bankers, but all of society in general. It happened under everybodys nose, including mine, and I am a voter, what did I do about it? That is a question a lot of us could ask ourselves. However that is not to say Mr Drumm is a talented banker. He continued on the one horse race strategy from Mr Fitzpatrick. As sure as night follows day the bust was going to come after the boom. I would call Mr Drumm as talented if on recieving the reigns of power from Mr Fitzpatrick he changed strategy back in 2004. They should have realised by then that the property market was going to run out of road sometime relatively soon. Property tends to go in 7 to 10 year cycles. We already had 7 years of property growth by 2004. How come they did not have a back up plan to offset the risk, diversify etc. We were warned by Europe several times, long before 2007 that what was going on in Ireland was unsustainable. What did any politician / banker / member of the public do about it? Anyway whats done is done, and it’s going to be painfull living in Ireland for a long time to come. But if there is no accountability, or a example is not made then we are doomed to repeat this mess again in the future. @ JD/Jagdip Im sorry, but between you guys and the article, we have the following statements about David Drumm and/or Anglo – “The truth is they were no better or no worse than any other lender” – “They were an appropriate risk-taker,” – “it seems a shame that this State will not be able to make use of David Drumm’s enormous talents again” – “My view is that David Drumm is an enormously talented businessman” – “I think Mr Drumm has/is serving a sentence already” – “The fact is that David Drumm does have major talents as a businessman.” – “the quality of the loan documentation is appalling though I guess David Drumm would say if deals weren’t done quickly they would be lost to competitors” – “It seems a pity we don’t have a (regulated) David Drumm batting for our institutions in getting at these markets. ” – “Overall since he joined Anglo you would have to say he had quite a number of successful years before the bank crashed.” You then wrap up all of this with the following confusing statement, “Lastly, I am not cheerleading David Drumm”, although it is difficult to deny that this is exactly what you are doing through either stating or agreeing with the above!! Listen, i am on record as saying that the witch hunt mentality being taken on by some people is appalling and a hindrance to actually making sure this never happens again. I also fully recognise that much of our current economic problems are not down to the actions of a handful of Irish bank management. Finally, if David Drumm has done nothing criminally wrong, then fine, leave the guy to it and let him get on with restarting his life. But please, for the love of God, do not try and dress the guy up as some sort of lost talent who has done nothing wrong (morally, ethically, professionally, just plain commonsensically) and who we are worse off without. The guy has been an abject failure as a business man. Thats a simple fact. Although lots of banks got into trouble around the world, Anglo Irish Bank will probably have the worst losses of any commercial or retail bank (using a quasi hedge fund like Bear is not an appropriate comparison) that failed. Its 20% loss ratio (so far) is around 3 times that of the other Irish banks, for instance. I’d also go as far as saying that, in order to protect the credibility of the limited liability concept which we have in this country, which is designed to allow for risk taking and entrepreneurship as you note, then we need to make sure that failures like David Drumm are not easily allowed to fail again – ie barring him from directorships if he is found to be either incompetent or reckless in his management, or at the very least make sure that his name is synonomous with corporate failure. Finally, this notion that he was a great manager of Anglo for a number of years down to their huge profits and rising share price needs to be addressed – if you let a chimpanzee lend almost limitless amounts of money, allow the money to be rolled up for four years, and then let a credit fuelled inflationary bubble constantly raise the equity in the underlying loan, i guarantee you he’ll deliver you the greatest set of banking results in history. For four years. Then the shizzle hits the fizzle. Just because other people believed in the David Drumm miracle doesn’t absolve him of the blame. ‘All of society in general’ to blame? Handy that. Were all those (like myself) who couldn’t even consider buying a home because of property insanity, and who were rack-rented for years, part of that grouping? @Sporthog, There’s an interesting question – if the residential property market collapsed in Ireland (but not elsewhere) but the credit markets stayed open and our general economy held up, would Anglo have gone bust? Given the geographic spread of Anglo’s loans (40% outside the State) and sectoral spread (12% residential development and 4% residential investment, the rest spread over 10 different sectors) I think Anglo would have survived a residential property crash alone in the State. I think the confluence of the credit crisis, the widespread global property crisis, the particular Irish property bubble which affected all property sectors, residential, industrial, retail, other all at the same time and our downturnm – that’s what did for Anglo. And remember Anglo didn’t see it coming but the Govt and the Regulator didn’t see it and the Fed and US Treasury didn’t see it and the Bank of England, UK Treasury didn’t see it and Angelika Merkel and the Bundesbank didn’t see it and if the OECD, ECB, IMF did see it they were couching it in fairly relaxed language. So maybe we agree to disagree on this one. Given that David Drumm is now toxic, then I hope the criminal investigation and banking inquiry proceed quickly and efficiently. Only after they are complete could any notion of rehabilitation be entertained. @Bond. Eoin Bond… Well put. “… the shizzle hits the fizzle” joins the lexicon. @ Jagdip ‘ We have limited liability companies for a reason – because we recognise there’s an overall gain to society when we allow investors and businesses to take risks. The overall benefit to society should outweigh the risks. We draft laws to ensure limited liability companies behave correctly and it should be government’s job to regulate “systemic” industries, the job of business is survival and return on investment’ Limited liability is a mechanism to limit risk, and serves as an encouragement to investment. Like any other institution of our society, it is open to abuse. Hence the need for regulation, which inevitably is always at least one step behind the abuser. As banking is such a central economic and social institution, banking abuse tends to have very serious consequences. That’s why banking regulation is so vital. It’s also why bank abusers will go to a lot of lengths to find places where there is no regulation, or to capture an existing regulator. ‘The full force of the law and any inquiry should quickly and cleanly examine the affairs of Anglo, without fear nor favour.’ Institutional abuse is deeply embedded in Irish culture. We are a naive and trusting people with a weak government. Given the level of collusion among elite groups in our society, we can anticipate a lengthy ‘preliminary enquiry’. Extended criminal investigations will act as a block to parliamentary processes, and will probably be inconclusive. That will be enough to allow the principals to retire with their gains. T’was all a long time ago. At least some of the facts are emerging in the course of struggles between vested interests. ..’it is a shame that Ireland today is not benefiting to any great extent from the upturn and indeed boom in financing and property in other parts of the globe.’ Notwithstanding that fact that real world construction takes place, property development is essentially gambling. Given our sporting bent, it’s no wonder we are attracted to it. Trouble is that the combination of limited liability, regulatory vaccuum and ‘banking entrepreneurship’ has hobbled a formerly viable state. Tomaltach and Zhou have put it very well. This is not about one man, but it’s a sorry business. We need to find something more productive for our collective talents. @Bond. Eoin Bond.. I agree – those who have been found to have acted irresponsibly, dishonestly or fraudulently should be barred from holding directorships, we have that in our legislation. It will be interesting to see how the investigation/inquiry proceeds but my feeling is that, if proceedings are issued against him, Mr Drumm will be able to put up a strong defence. I think it is absolutely unfair to say that he has been an abject failure as a businessman – I think the industry of which he was once a captain, failed catestrophically. I think it is asking too much of someone to have dealt with the situation differently. There is, of course, great clarity in hindsight. To be fair, I mentioned early on that Mr Drumm made some seriously bad judgment calls – however, given the position he was in and the events surrounding the collapse, I am not sure there is any human being who would have handled it differently. @sporthog I agree also that to have changed tack on taking over the charge of Anglo would have, in hindsight, been genius. Again though, I wonder would there have been any individual on this planet who would have done that? Nobody wanted the party to be over. He/Anglo just kept on delivering what was been demanded – could anyone really blame him, personally? @JD: “I – and maybe I am alone here – don’t think it can all be put down to those at the top in the banks.” Indeed, but we have to start somewhere. bjg @ JD i think its far easier to say he was an abject failure than to say he was “enourmously successful and talented businessman”. As i said, the great Anglo results and share price rises of 2004-2007 is destroyed by the losses and nationalisation at a likely zero cents (ie 100% destruction of shareholder value) in 2008 and 2009. He was a competent loan officer, thats about it. The fact that Sean Fitzpatrick handpicked him as his replacement could also be seen as a negative rather than a positive. @Paul Quigley Not much I’d disagree with but “Notwithstanding that fact that real world construction takes place, property development is essentially gambling.” – Billions have been earned by this country in international property development and the surface of this earth transformed with residences, shopping centres and buildings of use and value to societies – it is a constructive industry. And those billions were spread around to help fund the State not to mention provide huge employment. Property speculation – buying a plot of land in the hope it will go up in price. That’s less productive but even with that to do it well requires good intelligence and good negotiation skills and a good network of contacts. Let’s not run down property development as an industry. We were very, very good at it. And yes the bottom fell out of many property sectors at once and credit dried up overnight. But things are slowly recovering. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater – confront the past mistakes, bring any wrongdoers to justice but let’s look forward to the future and how we can best exploit it for this State which desperately needs a wealth creating industry. @JD Anglo didn’t just exploit poor regulation, they campaigned to keep it. Courtesy of poster Edo on another forum: “Our wealth creators should be rewarded and admired, not subjected to levels of scrutiny which convicted criminals would rightly find intrusive. This is corporate McCarthyism and we shouldn’t tolerate it.” Sean FitzPatrick, chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, June 2007 “We must resist the temptation to rush to regulate every time an accident occurs . . . Many of us in this room are from the generations that had the luck to grow up before governments got working and lawyers got rich on regulating our lives. We were part of the ‘unregulated generation’ . . . Don’t try to protect everyone from every possible accident.” Charlie McCreevy, EU commissioner and former minister for finance, in a speech at the Financial Regulator’s annual dinner, October 2005 “The pronounced moves towards greater control and regulation could squeeze the life out of an economy that has thrived on intuition, imagination and a spirit of adventure. There are those who appear to want to establish Ireland as the perfect model in corporate policing and regulation . . . But why? What has been done here over the past decade that demands such a reaction?” Seán FitzPatrick at the Irish Times Property Advertising Awards, September 2005 http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/weekend/2010/0403/1224267604942.html @The Establishment From the same article: “CATASTROPHIC as this week’s banking bailout figures are, they could actually have been much worse. It is a matter of sheer luck that in 2007, before the credit crunch, a Dublin-based bank called Depfa was bought by the German financial group Hypo Real Estate. Very few people in Ireland had ever heard of Depfa. Although it was as German as sauerkraut, it was actually the largest bank in Ireland – bigger than AIB. It was, in legal and regulatory terms, an entirely Irish company. When the financial crisis unfolded, Depfa brought down Hypo. The cost to the German government so far is €102 billion.” We have put too much under the national carpet to claim that the lack of discussion of Depfa is accidental. It’s been over a week since the article and I haven’t heard it mentioned anywhere. We seem to be hoping that if we never talk about Depfa then it will get little international, or national, attention and so any cost and blame is minimised. Unfortunately the strategy has succeeded so well that we have learnt nothing from it’s collapse and our recklessness will remain uncurbed. It’s time for a blog on this. We need to talk about Depfa. @The Establishment Actually, we need to talk about the whole IFSC. @ Jagdip, JD, O.K. fair enough you guys can make some strong points. But there is still the issue of who was in charge at the time and who carries the can when it all goes pear shaped. It’s like Captain Smith of the Titanic, he did not have any radar fitted, he did not personally make the Iceberg, it was not his fault that the board of trade rules required total lifeboat capacity for only 50% of the passengers etc. He believed the ship was unsinkable (media hype). Passengers were egging him on at attempting record speeds etc etc. We can go on and on about Capt Smith but at the end of the day he was the one in charge, he was the one who carries the can, and he paid the personal ultimate price for it. In relation to Mr David Drumm, he is innocent until proven guilty in a court of Law. But in the public eye (rightly of wrongly) he will always be guilty through association with Anglo. Sometimes, Public Perception is Key. But there has to be accountability. These people were well paid to be professional in their work. Anyway, personally myself I have given up being angry, I am resigned to a fate of higher taxation, poorer public services and reduced opportunities in life. @Oliver Vandt Had Depfa not been bought by the German financial group Hypo Real Estate would we be on the bail-out mark for the €100billion+ ? @Jagdip Singh, how did you come to the conclusion that the Irish are very, very good at property development? & who has got the billions earned? @JD, when Mr Drumm accepted the salary and the bonuses given to him, didn’t he by doing so accept responsibility for what was happening at Anglo? Or did/does he think he could just take accept salary and money without any reponsibility or accountability? The end result is what his business skill can be judged upon and the end result is very, very bad. @JD I don’t want to personalise the issue to David Drumm. I don’t know his individual track record intimately. However, the mental reservation that allows people to excuse irresponsible nehaviour, because it was rational and brought them huge personal gain which would not be brought by resisting temptation drives me mad. It speaks of a mentality that there is no right or wrong and one is not responsible for suffering of others caused by one’s actions. The shareholders, greedy and unquestioning as they were, relied on the board to be prudent and bright and on financial advisers and experts. If the directors failed to keep the company solvent then they cannot claim that their failure was at the behest of the shareholders. That is twisted logic indeed considering the shareholders were the ones who trusted them to know what was going one. To suggest that the shareholders appreciated the game of musical chairs is self-deluding nonsense. We are not all to blame in the same way. Ordinary people cannot assess the value of money as it is an abstract concept. People delegate this job to Bankers and the regulatory authorities. Bankers in particular were paid more than handsomely for it. The borrowers would have got it elsewhere? That sounds like a low level drug dealer’s defence! If Anglo had pulled in their horns earlier then so would have the rest of them. 18 months could have saved us a fortune. I believe in responsibility from those paid and trusted to be responsible and who represent themselves as having the necessary skill to be repsonsible. The Govt is not blameless either but we are talking about the top bankers here. The banks, the DoF, the Regulator, the Central Bank, the EU Commission, the IMF were all paid to be responsible and failed. However, some were irresponsible in a more venal way then others. Some also were more vocal in assuring us that everything was ok. Some allowed ever greater leverage on the part of borrowers. Some expanded their lending to an incredible ratio to the whole country’s GDP. They then decided to pay themselves based on loan volumes and screw the consequences. Everybody else is doing it so why can’t we? Maybe our chief bankers were stupid rather than greedy. If so, they should have known their limitations and not have held themselves out as being smarter than they were and should not have taken on responsibilities they couldn’t discharge. I think Anglo’s peers are absolutely disgusted with those at the top of the bank. This is in large part becasue Anglo tried to hawk the shares in their then failing banks to those very peers. One wonders what representation might have been made to Sean Quinn! Suggesting that a banker’s reputation (be it David Drumm or anyone else) should be based on whether he has faced prosecution is like saying one should assess one’s daughter’s prospective boyfriend on whether he is facing charges for attacking women. The purpose of the banking enquiry is to investigate systems failures not to vilify individuals so it doesn’t have any relevance here. Lastly, to suggests that Anglo’s performance from 2004-2007 represents an achievement on the part of Anglo’s management is to totally miss the lessons we have learned over the last few years and is to totally fail to appreciate the gravity of the situation Ireland finds itself in relative to other countries. @Jesper, “how did you come to the conclusion that the Irish are very, very good at property development?” From the property industry mostly, rich lists, lists of movers and shakers, reading the property press, Estates Gazette. For what it’s worth we seem to have a national character suited to networking, deal-making and cutism and many of us are at most one generation removed from builders ourselves. Where did the billions go? Irish companies and employees who bought property here, furnished it, ate, drank and entertained here, hired bouncy castles for the kids birthday, bought cars, started small businesses or invested in others. Paid tax to the State which funded schools, hospitals, gardai and all the rest of the public service. @David O’Donnell “Had Depfa not been bought by the German financial group Hypo Real Estate would we be on the bail-out mark for the €100billion+ ?” I’m not knowledgable enough to say but the article is very clear: “It was, in legal and regulatory terms, an entirely Irish company.” http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/weekend/2010/0403/1224267604942.html The almost total silence about this bank also strongly suggests a guilty establishment. If it had not merged with Hypo then, even though it did its business in Germany, perhaps yes? @Oliver Vandt “… any breach of the liquidity rules “by act or omission” was a criminal offence that could result in up to five years in prison. … The Regulator took no action … the absolute understanding was that no one at the IFSC was to be given the slightest cause for anxiety.” Hmmm little wonder that Frankfurt is looking for further ‘operational independence’ for the new CBI/Regulator ……….. [posted on thread above] …….. certainly a node of systemic institutional failure to be dug into and figured out [outcome: being nice to the big IFSC boys while our local boys (taking the hint) lead us into bankruptcy …….. @Zhou I totally get what you are saying about the responsibility of the directors vis-a-vis the shareholders and that the shareholders relied on the directors to conduct the affairs of the company in a responsible and honest manner. Lets hope that our legal system is able to deal with what went on and flush out some results for us – whether it is to say that these individuals are – in the eyes of the law – guilty or not. Perhaps there is a case to be made for putting the directors of banks in a special position of responsibility over directors of other corporate entitities considering the fact that – it appears – banks will not be allowed to go through the normal process of a winding up as is the case with any other insolvent corporate entity in this state, and that, in the case of a bail out being required, the taxpayer will be on the hook. I am not sure I agree with your analogy vis-a-vis one’s daughter’s prospective suitors though… I assure you, I appreciate where we are – my point is, it was not down to one man, or one bank or… I will leave it at this – I think it would have been a truly extraordinary and super human individual to have taken over the reins at Anglo in 2005 and changed its modus operandi. It is a pity for all of us, and indeed for David Drumm, that such a person did not exist. In relation to Depfa, I know from talking to some Depfa employees that most of the losses arise from Hypo’s mortgage losses in Eastern Europe but Depfa is being blamed for all the losses publicly, which annoys the Dublin employees as they are getting all of the blame. Depfa’s problem was mainly a liquidity one, I have been told, but their model was faulty as they borrowed short while lending long. I have also been told that most of the Depfa loans are performing as they were not mortgages and I think fund infrastructural developments with government and other local authorities around the world. Also, they were unlucky in that they were taken over at the start of the credit crunch in August 2007 by new management who were uninformed about their business – I was told this at the time by someone who said they had a very bad feeling about the takeover as the CEO was very unimpressive. So, rather than having someone in charge who understood the business and could react on a timely basis to a huge crisis, they had new owners who were trying to understand what they had bought and who did not know how to react. I was told that there was a window where they could have reacted to get long term funding but they did not react in time. I am not sure myself if that would have been possible or if their problems were too big as I don’t know their business but that’s what some people there think. If it had not been taken over, we would have been on the hook for it as it was considered to be an Irish bank, headquartered in Ireland, although I am not sure how much the Depfa exposure was compared to HRE exposure. However, it might not have been considered to be systemic to the Irish economy as most of the lending took place overseas so if it collapsed it would have been very bad reputationally (as it has been anyway) but perhaps it might not have affected our other banks or economy as much as a bank which lent into the economy. I am not sure about that. Rather than silence on this bank, I thought that there was quite a bit of media comment on it a couple of years ago. I think that the Minister and the DoF are well aware now of the risks of having banks in the country with this level of leverage compared to the size of the economy as they were very supportive of the drive to address the inadequate cross-border EU regulatory regime in the relevant discussions last year – I think for the reason that we can’t afford to be exposed to these risks and we need proper cross border regulation. @ Jagdip Your consistently informed input on this and other topics is very much appreciated, but Zhou has raised some fundamental issues about corporate governance and responsibility. Integrity matters in business, because busines depends on trust. Everywhere. This state was very poor after independence, but standards of decent conduct were at least acknowledged. We may have more glam now, but we have regressed in that regard. Haughey casts a long shadow, but it is of course not all his legacy. ‘Billions have been earned by this country in international property development and the surface of this earth transformed with residences, shopping centres and buildings of use and value to societies – it is a constructive industry’ There are jobs in construction. The problem is what you do with your property afterwards. It is obvious that seismic global change is underway. My money says that the pyramids of the modern era (aka shopping malls) will be buried in the sands of financial dislocation. Looks like we’re skint one way or the other. What are we going to produce and how are we going to market it ? @JD “Perhaps there is a case to be made for putting the directors of banks in a special position of responsibility over directors of other corporate entitities considering the fact that – it appears – banks will not be allowed to go through the normal process of a winding up as is the case with any other insolvent corporate entity in this state, and that, in the case of a bail out being required, the taxpayer will be on the hook.” I agree 100%. I have suggested previously that indemnities to former directors of insolvent institutions being kept alive through state support should not apply. For example, I think if Sean Quinn has claim because of misrepresentation made to him by former directors of Anglo then his claim should be against those individuals rather than the nationalised bank. @OV “Our wealth creators should be rewarded and admired, not subjected to levels of scrutiny which convicted criminals would rightly find intrusive. This is corporate McCarthyism and we shouldn’t tolerate it.” Sean FitzPatrick, chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, June 2007 I think that quote really should be put at the bottom of every newspaper article concerning “poor Seanie”, to remind the public of who we’re dealing with here. @ JS Property speculation – buying a plot of land in the hope it will go up in price. That’s less productive but even with that to do it well requires good intelligence and good negotiation skills and a good network of contacts. Let’s not run down property development as an industry. We were very, very good at it. And yes the bottom fell out of many property sectors at once and credit dried up overnight. But things are slowly recovering. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater – confront the past mistakes, bring any wrongdoers to justice but let’s look forward to the future and how we can best exploit it for this State which desperately needs a wealth creating industry. I can only assume that you’re taking the p*** here. Or perhaps some clever type is indulging in a little performance art? @ JD To be fair, I mentioned early on that Mr Drumm made some seriously bad judgment calls – however, given the position he was in and the events surrounding the collapse, I am not sure there is any human being who would have handled it differently. Good luck with that one. @Bookworm Useful. A thought experiment: lets say Dept-Fa, allegedly, has some liquidity issues in 2005 or 2006. And known/reported to Regulator – and Regulator (not allegedly) does SFA. Word leaks ……….. and bigger bubbles begin to emerge locally ….. the implicit [and in fact explicit] “Go Aizsy” on the IFSC backfires and kickstarts the fire in the belly of the reckless locals who brought us down. Who instituted the Go Aizsy policy and maintained it? Who failed to visualise the consequences? Why does the DDDA now begin to look like a little greedy mouse caught up in a stampede of a herd of hungry elephants? Just what is the worst-case scenario? A private company exists to make money. That is the criterion by which it is to be judged. So Anglo-Irish Bank is the ultimate failure in this country. Mr Drumm oversaw that failure. So if there was a competition for “Worst business-person in the history of the state” then he would have to be a leading contender, along with Mr Fitzpatrick perhaps. Now if he blew the money of people who chose to take risks, like shareholders or bondholders, then this would be merely an interesting curiousity. But instead much of the burden is falling on the taxpayers so it is of public interest. This guy’s performance at his job is costing us bigtime. The consistent refusal by the state, at the active demand of those at the highest level, to enforce rules and even laws has created more than a can do atmosphere. It has undermined all rules. There is now only one rule: do not get caught. As the economy continues to wind down, this is now impossible. Most businesses are now compromized. Expect much to come out in their liquidation? This will continue until there has been retribution and state sponsored revenge, by the courts and Gardai. Ireland may stabilize economically, but it will take very long to have a fair and honest system. Expect much of the innovation until then to be of the corner cutting variety. As desperate businesses cut more and more corners. We like it so. @zhou, “I have suggested previously that indemnities to former directors of insolvent institutions being kept alive through state support should not apply. For example, I think if Sean Quinn has claim because of misrepresentation made to him by former directors of Anglo then his claim should be against those individuals rather than the nationalised bank.” I would be shocked if directors of Anglo hadn’t taken out Director Indemnity insurance to cover themselves from the consequences of lawful actions in their capacity as directors. Is Director Indemnity a class of insurance offered by Quinn!!! @Jagdip I expect they have taken out Director’s indemnity insurance. They might have some problems renewing it though….. particularly if they ask for cover up to €2.8bn…. 🙂 @Zhou and Jagdip They could ask Sean Quinn for a quote…. @Bookworm “Rather than silence on this bank, I thought that there was quite a bit of media comment on it a couple of years ago.” I have to disagree. Say that the losses relating to Depfa were “only” €30 Bn. That makes it another Anglo that was only just avoided. It has not got remotely the same media coverage though. “I think that the Minister and the DoF are well aware now of the risks of having banks in the country with this level of leverage compared to the size of the economy as they were very supportive of the drive to address the inadequate cross-border EU regulatory regime in the relevant discussions last year – I think for the reason that we can’t afford to be exposed to these risks and we need proper cross border regulation.” One hopes. But institutional memory is short and the lobby for lax financial regulation at the IFSC is strong. If Depfa is never discussed the lesson will not be burnt into our collective memory – as it needs to be. @OV I have tried to submit a comment a couple of times and it hasn’t worked, probably a problem with the links, but I will try again. I never said that there was as much discussion on Depfa as there is on Anglo – clearly there isn’t. However, it was definitely in the media and I have included some links below if you want to read up on it. The reason that I said that the DoF were aware of the risks probably came from reading this Article. “In the face of intense questioning from German journalists in Frankfurt recently, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said: “There were clearly regulatory failings on the part of both sets of regulators and clearly that points to the need for a joined-up system of regulation at European (level).” Lenihan is all too aware that Depfa would very much have been Ireland’s headache had it not been taken over. It partly explains why the Government has gone against the UK, its traditional ally on regulatory matters, to row in behind Germany in fully supporting the EU Commission’s plan to set up two pan-EU bodies to strengthen banking supervision in the financial crisis.” http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/depfa-demise-could-have-been-irelands-biggest-headache-1761066.html I will try and add the other links into the next comment. @OV Elderfield on risks in the IFSC http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2010/0320/1224266708134.html Some interesting info from the German investigation into Depfa which was in the Irish Times but which I can’t access as its in the archives http://www.finfacts.ie/irishfinancenews/article_1015324.shtml @OV I have a lot more links but have given up trying to submit them. They were mainly from the Indo and Irish Times if you want to google them. October 14, 2010 David Drumm files for bankruptcy in the U.S. – clever boy our David. Generous of The Executive to give all these boyos over 700 days to get thier affairs in some order in some other place – very generous. Comments are closed.