62 thoughts on “Alan Ahearne appointed to Central Bank Commission”

  1. This is an excellent and confidence inspiring appointment of a man who has a demonstrated an excellent sence of judgement time and again when it really counts.

  2. Paid to collaborate for another 4 years – Bravo – you’re a gold platted insider now Alan

  3. @Rich

    C’mon – He came in way after so many huge decisions were made so while many here will disagree with government policy, he had to weave his way through a mess. He’s only one voice but I’m convinced he did his best with what he encountered and in fairness does have the experience required.

    On another note, it’s amazing how many decisions and appointments are being rushed through by the man who claimed just a few weeks ago he didn’t have a mandate…

    And on another note, do the lawyers/political scientists see any conflict between Article 28, 7, 2 “The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the member of the Government who is in charge of the Department of Finance must be members of Dáil Éireann.”
    and
    Section “11. 2° The members of the Government in office at the date of a dissolution of Dáil Éireann shall continue to hold office until their successors shall have been appointed.

    Is this the first time the Taoiseach is not a member of Dail Eireann? It will be very odd to see Lenihan standing up tomorrow…

  4. Just a thought, but should outgoing MoF’s, parking Lenihan’s destructive infatuation with the banks for the moment, be making such long term appointments?

  5. @Alchemist

    I dread to think what else has been in out of rage in the past 3 weeks. God knows what the incoming government will find….

  6. @Sarah Carey
    “Is this the first time the Taoiseach is not a member of Dail Eireann? It will be very odd to see Lenihan standing up tomorrow…”
    Indeed, according to the nine of the clock noise, it is the first time that there will not be a sitting Taoiseach to hand over government.

    “it’s amazing how many decisions and appointments are being rushed through by the man who claimed just a few weeks ago he didn’t have a mandate…”
    Isn’t it though?

    There is clearly a monetary peg at which a mandate is required. Stuffing a few state boards to the tune of a few million quid is below the line, sticking to an agreement that you and your government negotiated is clearly above the line. I’m not sure where sitting on a report is – it seems to have a quantum existence – if you look at it before the election it will blow up, afterwards it is harmless…

  7. In general I’m no fan of last minute appointments, but this one looks sound to me. In the current crisis, there’s a need for institutional memory to carry across from one government to the next. The civil service and public service memory is not enough; continuity is needed at the political level too.

    That obviously cannot happen through members of the outgoing government. Dr. Ahearne’s appointment to the Central Bank Commission looks like an intelligent way to handle it. Having the outgoing Minister for Finance do the necessary makes things simpler for his successors.

    Dr. Ahearne has often been out defending positions that I and many others felt were indefensible, but that does not reflect badly on him. As soon as he committed to the team, he had to be a team player. I have no idea what contribution he made behind closed doors, but it was right that a person of his calibre offered the choice of becoming an insider in a national crisis should have the courage to say yes.

  8. Couldn’t he just refuse the honour ?
    Out of respect for the hundreds of thousands who are unemployed and those who had to emigrate.

  9. Gamekeeper come poacher, he cut a swathe with his initial realism and then colluded with the subsequent cover up, what is that all about ?- is he the Benedict Arnold of the Irish fight for economic independence?

  10. @all

    I wish Alan Ahearne well in his new appointment.

    Might I also remind the incoming administration of Richard Bruton’s promise that the members of ALL STATE BOARDS be requested to resign within 6 month of the new administration taking office.

    Due to the appaling failures of corporate governance, particularly at board level, across Irish economy and society in both public and private sectors, this is to be welcomed. One expects a cross-party Dail Committee, and certainly an external independent group, to vet such appointments as to perceived experience and expertise for such vital positions.

    @all at all

    Hey – I just saw Johnny Fitz on the telly! Is it spring? Not a peep out of him since he was appointed to the Central Bank Commission – doesn’t look like he has shaved either – de must be fierce busy in dere (-;

  11. Congrats to Alan on his appointment, pity it did not happen earlier – he was one of the first to spot what was happening in the Irish property market and said so. He is also, to my knowledge, the first person with a macro doctorate and a spell in the Fed under his belt to be appointed to the Irish Central Bank board. Anonymous abuse is easily provoked these days.

  12. @ Sarah Carey

    I dread to think what else has been in out of rage in the past 3 weeks. God knows what the incoming government will find….

    Please, and you a grown woman. What, exactly, do you think this incoming FG-LAB coalition will be busy doing “out of rage” in the last three weeks of its own life, when the time comes?

  13. It is good to see qualified and experienced people coming from outside the department of finance being appointed to an important role in the Central Bank. It is also good to see somebody who put their shoulder to the wheel despite the risks being treated fairly. I doubt the incoming Government will have any complaint about having additional expertise to hand.

  14. Pro: Not there until after the guarantee.
    Pro: Knows what has been going on.
    Pro: Gave good advice in private?

    Anti: There since early 2009.
    Anti: Appointed by Brian Lenihan.
    Anti: Unable to detach himself from failed policies?
    Anti: Can’t tell public what went on – one of the reasons for late late appointment?
    Anti: Picked for no default, slash the ordinary public beliefs?

  15. @ de link lazy lot

    Minister for Finance appoints Dr. Alan Ahearne to the Central Bank Commission

    The Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan T.D., today appointed Dr. Alan Ahearne as a member of the Central Bank Commission. Dr. Ahearne’s appointment is for a period of four years.

    The Minister for Finance said:

    “Dr. Ahearne is exceptionally well qualified to serve on the Central Bank Commission and I have no doubt that his appointment to the Commission will prove invaluable in the coming months and years.”

    The Central Bank Commission consists of four ex-officio members and between six and eight members appointed by the Minister for Finance. This is the sixth appointment the Minister for Finance has made to the Commission since the commencement of the Central Bank Reform Act 2010 on October 1 last year. Dr. Ahearne’s appointment fills a vacancy on the Board which dates from that point. A further two appointments may be made at the discretion of the Minister for Finance.

    Dr. Ahearne will join the ex-officio members Professor Patrick Honohan (Governor); Mr. Matthew Elderfield (Head of Financial Regulation); Mr. Tony Grimes (Head of Central Banking) and Mr. Kevin Cardiff (Secretary General of the Department of Finance) and other appointed members Professor John Fitzgerald; Mr. Max Watson; Mr. Michael Soden; Mr. Des Geraghty and Professor Blanaid Clarke on the Commission.

    8th March 2011

    Ends

    Biographical Note:
    Dr. Alan Ahearne was appointed as Special Advisor to the Minister for Finance in March 2009. In this role, he advised the Minister on economic, budgetary and financial policy in responding to the economic and financial crisis. Among other things, he played an advisory role in relation to the three Budgets during this period, the National Recovery Plan, the creation of the National Asset Management Agency and other measures to address the financial crisis.
    Prior to his appointment as Special Advisor, Dr. Ahearne lectured in economics in the J.E Cairnes School of Business and Economics at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
    He is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Institute for International Integration Studies at Trinity College Dublin. Before joining NUIG, he was Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, DC, where he worked for seven years.
    He has taught economics at at Carnegie Mellon University, University College Dublin, Dublin City University, and the University of Limerick. He began his professional career with Coopers & Lybrand and also worked for Bank of Ireland Group Treasury.
    Dr. Ahearne’s areas of expertise are macroeconomics and international finance and his research has been published in leading publications. His research includes studies on property markets in Ireland and other industrial countries; global current account imbalances and exchange rates; and the economic performance of the euro area.

    Dr. Ahearne received a B.B.S. from the University of Limerick in 1989, an M.Econ.Sc. from University College Dublin in 1991 and an M.Sc. (1995) and a Ph.D. (1998), both in economics, from Carnegie Mellon University. At Carnegie Mellon, he received several awards and honours, including the William Larimer Mellon Doctoral Fellowship (1993-1996) and the Excellence in Teaching Award (1997). His Ph.D. dissertation advisor at Carnegie Mellon was Finn Kydland, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2004.

  16. @All

    Methinks The Governor is short one for his eleven in the upcoming 150 over march versus the ECB in Clontarf?

    May we expect another appointment? If Lane is sent in to bat or bowl does the blog come under D’UnOfficial Secrets Act?

  17. Martin Wolf attacks the guarantee in the ft – ‘Why the Eurozone will survuve’:
    http://www.google.ie/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=why+the+eurozone+will+survive&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=

    ‘I find it hard to believe that debt restructuring will be avoided everywhere. I find it unforgivable that the last Irish government guaranteed bank debt so insouciantly and that the rest of the European Union has supported this decision. For a sovereign to destroy its own credit, to save creditors of its banks, is plainly wrong. It does not make it better, but worse, that it is doing so largely to protect financial systems in other countries’

  18. “Alan Ahearne appointed to Central Bank Commission”

    That is a disgrace and an insult to the Irish people.

  19. It is unfortunate that Alan Ahearne’s appointment is one of the last acts of a totally discredited government. However, I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that some here seem to believe he has not deployed, nor will be willing or able to deploy, his undoubted skills and knowledge in the public interest.

    I trust the incoming government will recognise the requirement for the full engagement of persons of this calibre in the public sphere – irrespective of the identity of those making the appointment. Indeed, I would make the case that the incoming government should appoint a panel of experts (with knowledge and skills across the entire public policy spectrum) to support he work the Dail and its Committees in holding the government and all its appointed officials to account.

  20. @ Colm mcC

    I am not a distinguished economist my name would mean little to you or others on this site, however, I am sure that his u turn on government policy following his abduction to the dark side is not a coincidence – or was his plain talk to much for the little people?

  21. @colm mccarthy
    Whatever the merits of the person appointed, the timing leaves a bad taste….

  22. Unlike Sarah Carey I don’t have the inside knowledge to be able to give out gold stars.

    “He’s only one voice but I’m convinced he did his best with what he encountered and in fairness does have the experience required.”

    But to anyone advocating this appointment I have to ask one thing.
    Have you learned nothing?

    Any appointment like this should have been left to the incoming minister.
    It shows a complete lack of regard for accountability.
    Justice must not only done, but be seen to be done.
    How could any outsider look at this last ditch appointment without making a jobs for the boys conclusion?

    This kind of stuff shouldn’t happen in grown up democracies.

    Purely on principle and in exactly the same way Pat Carey should not have signed off on the Corrib Gas document on the day he lost his seat.
    If Brian Lenihan wanted to appoint Alan Ahearn he should have written him a letter of recommendation and sent it to Michael Noonan.

  23. Why wasn’t he appointed , for example, before the Greens jumped ship or before the senior FF ministers resigned or before Biffo resigned or before FF lost the election ? The grubby manner of the appointment does nothing for the man.

  24. While Alan Ahearne appears to be a very sound candidate for the post, the manner of the appointment is sickening. There should be moratorium on appointments by ministers to offices of the state or key state organisations in the ‘interregnum’ between an the dissolution of the Dáil and its reassembly. Provision would be required for exceptional cases where the resignation or death of a key officer would leave a crucial position open. In that case, the appointment could be made on approval of the council of state say.

    But of course, all this talk about interregnum appointments misses the key point : that the appointments process in general is deeply flawed and requires a serious overhaul.

  25. The fact that the announcement was made in the last hours of the minister’s period in office, suggests that it may have been Alan who pushed for the position.

    It’s probably a useful route as part of the FF decontamination process.

    Ahearne at least won’t have to massage the ego of the likes of Senator Richard Shelby who told Fed nominee Peter Diamond on Tuesday, to get lost.

    “In short, Mr Diamond is an old-fashioned, big government Keynesian,” said Shelby. “Many of us believe that this is not the economic philosophy the Fed should be embracing at this point in our economic history.”

    Any bets on the new ‘advisers’?

  26. @Colm McCarthy. I totally agree with your sentiments. Alan is eminently qualified for that position and will raise the the average IQ quite dramatically. I presume an incoming Government would not have appointed him to the position as he might be deemed to be of the other colour. That would be the country’s loss. It is quite amazing in the world of internet blogging how people who can remain anonymous can throw all sorts of insults at people. If one is going to throw insults at people and criticise, then one should at least have the neck to do it honestly. Best of luck to Alan in his new role, he deserves it after what he has contributed and endured over the past three years.

  27. 04 Apr 2009
    Nationalised banks would find it harder to get international funds
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0425/1224245377281.html

    September 07 2009
    Lenihan adviser accused of ‘letting cat out of bag’ on NAMA payments
    http://www.independent.ie/national-news/lenihan-adviser-accused-of-letting-cat-out-of-bag-on-nama-payments-1879873.html

    January 23 2010
    Lenihan adviser: we’ll soon have banks helping firms
    http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/lenihan-adviser-well-soon-have-banks-helping-firms-2028517.html

    April 26, 2010
    Lenihan adviser defends approach to banking crisis
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2010/0426/1224269092718.html

    May 12, 2010
    Crisis almost resolved, says Lenihan’s adviser
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/0512/1224270210964.html

    Oct 2010 – Ireland shut out of the Bond Market
    Nov 2010 – IMF arrive
    Dec 2010 – AIB, BoI, EBS, INBS and Anglo De Facto nationalised.

  28. No problem with the appointment per se (some of the comments on here about him from the usual noisy lot have been ridiculous), but couldn’t this have been left until, say, tomorrow when the new Finance Minister was in place?

    That said, no one will be able to claim that the Central Bank Commission is beholden to the Minister for Finance who appointed them, so it could allow them to be viewed (and act) with a larger degree of independence, perceived or otherwise, than if the new government had appointed them.

  29. Wasn’t there a story in the last few days that the Fianna Fail cabinet had decided not to fill a number of posts including judicial appointments before they left office?

    The Minister for Finance makes one appointment of a non-party, well qualified expert to a very important role and some people are giving out yards.

    There is no pleasing some people. About 15% of people will disagree with an FF Minister no matter what he does and that has always beeen the case. I don’t expect Brian Lenihan to lose too much sleep over their carping and insults.

    The suggestion that a Minister should not exercise any authority after an election ahs been called is nonsense. The Consititution makes specific provision to ensure that Ministers shall continue in situ.

    Obviously, a judgment has to be made as to what is acceptable in such situations but that is a politicial judgment. The judgment Brian Lenihan has made is that this important appointment should be made. People may disagree with that judgment but it was Brian Lenihan’s judgment to make under the Constitution. Sin é. Those who hate FF can vote against FF and Brian Lenihan at the next election again as they always do and always have done.

  30. @ Sarah Carey
    @Colm Mccarthy

    [‘C’mon – He came in way after so many huge decisions were made so while many here will disagree with government policy, he had to weave his way through a mess. He’s only one voice but I’m convinced he did his best with what he encountered and in fairness does have the experience required.’]

    Wasn’t he appointed before the guarantee? In any case he, to my knowledge, never advocated serious reform of anything in Ireland. He did advocate tax increases. Bizarre. All economists who get hired by the government – whether as consultants or staff – are engaging in the following transactinon: Government fakes that its problem is not enough expertise – when it is really strategic, moral, governance and management failure (including imagining that the government should even be doing lots of stuff it shouldn’t).

    Said economist supplies ‘expertise’ and reputational capital which distracts from real problem. Economist pays government by smiling indulgently at those who want serious reform – usually they refer to things that are ‘politically possible’ and laconically nudge the conversation towards ‘policies’ that happen to agree with what the Social Partners want. Didn’t Ahearne do this? which is just another way of saying ‘we don’t want to upset people’. Remember. Lenihan’s FIRST reaction to the crisis was to increase VAT by half a point. That was it. The sum total of his understanding of what was going wrong. Of all the people who were truly ahead of the curve on the issue of the banking crisis, Ahearne was not one of them. In essence he believed that the government didn’t raise enough in taxes to cover its costs. There isn’t a shred of evidence that his appointment to Finance made any difference other than providing Lenihan with moral cover to execute the most stupid period of economic management in modern European history. The best that can be said about Alan Ahearne is that he’s an irrelevance.

    @ BeeCeeTee

    [Dr. Ahearne has often been out defending positions that I and many others felt were indefensible, but that does not reflect badly on him. As soon as he committed to the team, he had to be a team player]

    This is witless guff and simply proves that, for some, the elimination of the capacity for independent thought is both the means and the destination of policy and political discussion. Of course it reflects badly on him. Telling us that he was loyal to the most stupid policy in recent economic history means nothing. I’ve heard the same thing said about the Greens. ‘John Gormley meant well and so we shouldn’t think too badly of him’. John Gormley was in a unique position to stop the Guarantee but because his schtick is the ‘environment’ – he thought he’d delegate the crisis to the unfit parents: Lenihan et al. If Gormley was a waitor on the Titanic specailising in flower arranging for the 1st class state rooms then fine we can forgive him. But what was he doing on the bridge?

    Oh yes. And whatever did happen to Colin Hunt?

    @Colm McCarthy

    As I said before somewhere on this forum and as I’m sure you know the only reason to cite an authority is not because you believe THEY know what they are talking about but becacause YOU know what they are talking about – and that includes taking into account their organisation’s objectives and frame of reference. The Irish government is raising taxes on the poor and indebted to pay the highest salaries for the worst performing and most bloated government in Europe. Alan Ahearne is amongst those who were and remain simply agnostic about this kind of policy.

    It’s worth asking: why do governments hire economic ‘experts’. Why were you hired to write your report for An Board Snip Nua? The reason isn’t because the government was actually curious about what it should do. It was because it wanted to fake activity and thought as a distraction from its failure to confront vested interests – and those vested interested included itself.

  31. @Colm McCarthy @Sarah Carey et al.

    As Machiavelli pointed out: it takes a wise prince to hire a wise advisor. The quality or otherwise of any economist is irrelevant if the government comprises a collection of superannuated yokels whose main strategy for recovery is to persuade the Germans to keep us as pets.

  32. zhou_enlai,

    Given the history we have of shameless stuffing of unfilled posts by cronies in the final days of office and before a new executive is in place, I feel that in fact we do need a mechanism to curtail these excesses. As I said, it is important that the way appointments are made be looked at generally : we know how it has sullied our politics and undermined effective administration.

  33. @ Jim Power
    In fairness I don’t think most people have a problem with the individual. They have a problem with the way it was done.
    Would this kind of thing happen in the UK, Sweden or the Netherlands without people at least questioning it? Of course not.

    Making last minute appointments/legislative changes/pardons is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

    Even if they are good appointments its still poor practice or do people still think that doesn’t matter?
    Zhou’s counter argument is weak in the extreme.

  34. Also anyone who thinks Alan Ahearn’s record is so brilliant his appointment is obvious should look at the last article what goes up has linked above.
    It seems he was part of Brian Lenihans ‘lets project economic strength despite the reality’ brigade.

  35. Alan Ahearne’s CV stands up to any sort of scrutiny and I have no problem with the appointment of the man himself or the timing of it. I am glad that people like him are not being lost from public service simply because a new Government would come in and see him as a FF man. He would earn alot more by becoming a media prostitute sprouting the people want to hear like many other so called commentators have become. People on this site were saying the same rubbish about Patrick Honohan when he became head of the CB. We either want quality people in the public sector or we don’t.

  36. @Enda F [People on this site were saying the same rubbish about Patrick Honohan when he became head of the CB. ]

    Agreed. And without him things could have been a lot worse.

  37. No I am not going to extend congratulations on a position that was given to him by most questionable, no scratch that, dysfunctional democratic practice.

    It is the same Alan Ahearne who asked his colleagues in 2009 NOT to sign a critical article on NAMA before they would have read a paper written by himself, isn’t that right? The article that appeared later in Sunday Business Post was academic self promotion using his position as ministerial advisor, I certainly saw it this way, and it added no useful contribution at all, ymmv.

    Ambitious he is beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt. if I were to phrase this in a friendly manner.

    Not surprised at all!

  38. @Paul MacDonnell

    You ask:

    “Wasn’t he appointed before the guarantee?”

    Just for clarity, the link and postings above state:

    “Dr. Alan Ahearne was appointed as Special Advisor to the Minister for Finance in March 2009.”

  39. Really this is high horse country, Jim Power should remember his own ascertions on the ‘Ireland is different ‘ theme, I bet you were anonymous on that issue Jim!

  40. @WGU

    Why do people expect a saint-like level of frankness and honesty from people sent out to fight for the State’s economic wellfare?

    Perhaps Alan Ahearne should have addressed articles to possible investors as follows:

    “Why are bond yields so low when we are so risky?”
    “It is touch and go as to whether we get out of this alive”
    “There may be a chance we’ll get out but I wouldn’t bet my own house on it”
    “My money is in Switzerland – Where is yours?”
    “The smart and ballsy people aren’t betting on Paddy”
    “GTFO of Ireland – Run for your lives”

    No doubt he would have garnered a big following on the ‘pin.

  41. @zhou_enlai

    Peoples reputations stand and fall on their record, no?

    I’m merely documenting Dr. Ahearne’s record.

    No mention is made of him wearing a green jersey in any of the articles I’m afraid.

  42. Alan Ahearne is a Nama Fan and one of the inventors. Its amazing the short memories on this blog.

  43. @Rich, whoever you are. This has nothing to do with me, but with Alan’s credentials. People of his ability should be welcomed into important roles in our state, and not insulted by people who do not have the guts to admit who they are. Incidentally, i never said Ireland was different and I do not hide under the cover of anonymity in respect of anything I say. I did not believe that Ireland would experience the sort of collapse it has experienced, but on the other hand I did not buy property or bank shares over the past decade. There are people out there who now claim they foresaw everything that has happened Ireland, but yet bought property close to the peak of the market. The bottom line is that whether one agrees or disagrees with the policies that Alan has been involved in during his time in the Department of Finance, he had the bravery to take on an incredibly tough job at an incredibly tough time for Ireland, and he does possess the skills and talents that Ireland will need to lift outself out of this very black hole.

  44. @zhou_enlai

    I never realised submitting an article to the paper involved such preparation!

    Okay… so I’m an economist – but to not be seen to be trading on my reputation I must:
    1. Don the green jersey.
    2. Polish my crystal ball.
    3. Sacrifice a chicken (or flightless fowl of some variety).
    4. Drink tea – read leaves
    5. Publish disclaimer at end of article stating these are the musings of a disinterested party, purely specualting without any knowledge to back ramblings up.

    Fair dues to Dr. Ahearne – above and beyond!

  45. I have one small reservation about Alan Ahearne’s future role.

    People usually find it difficult to resile from previously held positons and arguments. A lawyer who fights a case often isn’t the best lawyer to fight an appeal. A fresh perspective without the responsibility for past decisions is of assistance.

    Alan Ahearne went on a roadshow with Lenihan promoting Irish bonds in the past. I would not like to see him going to deal with those bondholders again.

    With that said, I am not aware that any such meetings would form part of his role.

  46. @ Bee Cee Tee

    ‘In the current crisis, there’s a need for institutional memory to carry across from one government to the next’

    Indeed there is. People are liable to forget which of the many cupboards holds the skeletons. It’s all about responsibility.

  47. Congratulations to Dr Ahearne. No doubt he understands the source of the resentment on this thread. Indeed last minute appointments by out-going governments are usually a bad idea, but that does not mean that appointees of previous administrations are not up to the job: would anyone object to Patrick Honohan keeping his job? Agree with his views or not, Dr Ahearne is well-qualified for the role and contributes to the national debate. Hopefully FG/Lab can put this matter to bed by releasing a short note endorsing the appointment.

  48. Whether the man is qualified for the job or not is hardly debatable.

    However, there are two quibbles from my (non anonymous) point of view.

    1. The manner of the appointment is too reminiscent of the way that many unqualified people have been stuffed into state boards over the years. It contaminates his reputation by association.

    2. His role stretched far beyond adviser and became also a PR role. He then has responsibility for what he said in public and some of what he said in public appears to have been PR fluff – and turned out perhaps to be seriously fluffy – and not serious opinion.

  49. On behalf of The Griftopians – appoint any one ye like boys and girls – but we always have the inside track………………………

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