A Question of Default

PrimeTime tonight has a special programme on default issues, with a number of interviews with international and domestic commentators.  Ian Kehoe previews the show in this blog post.

59 thoughts on “A Question of Default”

  1. Both the programme for government and the Michael Noonan on the news last night are still talking about us coming close to the point where default/restructure becomes a probability.

    “would soon reach a point where sustainability would be a major issue.”

    Who is advising the government that this point has not already been passed? What are the consequences of that being wrong?

    If the government did believe it had ‘passed the point’ perhaps they would be making bolder moves re bondholders and demanding more from European partners.

    Strangely the weaker we say we are the stronger our case for more drastic action from Europe.

  2. Is it arguable that we have already defaulted on the blanket guarantee and that the ECB had to step in to prevent meltdown and now we are involved in a series of “restructurings” with the EFSF(not EU)/IMF deal being the first in a series of restructurings designed make sure we pay as much as possible over the next 30 years?

  3. We continue to fail to see this from the perspective of the core central and nothern EZ states. Their finance and economic ministries and economic think-tanks can’t but see the layers of bubble era blubber that wobbles around Ireland’s midriff, or the inefficiently structured and financed semi-state companies, or the herd of quangos each with its own corporate structure in such a small economy, or the fact that the price level for household consumption is 20% above the EZ average (despite operating a low-tax model), or the profit-gouging by the non-tradable sectors.

    The ‘beal bocht’ might have worked in the past, but, having spent the last decade bending the ears of politicians and officials the length and breadth of the EU about the wonders of our Celtic Tiger model, we’ll be expected to do a bit more of the heavy lifting ourselves.

    And, after all this, what’s in it for our EU partners if they come rushing to our aid? They probably reckon we protest too much and they can afford to wait until they see evidence of real distress. If they jump in too soon we’ll have no incentive to pursue the economic fitness regime that is in our interests.

  4. @ Paul Hunt

    +1
    you summed it up in 3 short paragraphs.
    Japan needs help…We need to grow up.

  5. In the ad for the programme they say “if we can’t or won’t pay it back”, but it is wrong to use the word ‘back’.

    What is being considered is whether to ‘pay it’, or not, but as we, the Irish taxpayers, never received the money in the first place it is wrong to talk
    about paying it ‘back’.

    Not only did Irish taxpayers not receive the money, the fact that foreign banks lent the money irresponsibly meant that the majority of Irish people were disadvantaged by massively inflated house prices. Sensible people never wanted this money to flood into Ireland in this way in the first place.

  6. Hopefully – a realist discussion.

    It remains my ‘default option’ from any citizen-serf perspective – has been since Patricia the Irish Sovereign_in_Exile left a good few moons ago, and well before the EU/IMF came in. Since early 2009, we are in reality in a state of emergency – yet we have been swimming in a sea of delusion, denial, and patent insanity … the cost of inaction thus far has been horrendous … and if continued – horrendous_cubed.

  7. Unemployment revised upwards by 1%…hmmm, does that mean numbers were finessed in the run up to the election, sounds like deliberate denial and delusion, which is even worse.

  8. @ Paul Hunt

    Agreed on need for required reform but couldn’t it be argued that the uncertainty around the banks issue is having a dampening ‘black cloud’ affect on FDI and even the property market, leading in itself to a bit of a negative feedback loop, now that we live in a state bolted on to an insolvent banking system, less FDI/property tax meaning more time paying of debt.

    I know two young guys, both working for semi-states with mortgage approval but aren’t going to buy anything until they’re certain there wont be an Argentina type scenario.

    I wonder if this kind of thinking is being repeated elsewhere in the economy?

  9. A good default could do us no end of good.

    It seriously might dislodge the whole edifice of cronyism, inefficiency, quangos, political patronage and corruption, of the former financial ruling class.

    Their snouts are in the same bowl that was filled up by Anglo and the banks until recently, but now is filled up with the bailout money.

    The waste that went before is only excelled by the waste being splurged now on the same toxic banks and Nama and Croke Park and ECB protected bondholders.

  10. @Celtic Phoenix
    “I wonder if this kind of thinking is being repeated elsewhere in the economy?”

    I would think that is most certainly is. Who in their right mind would consider a large investment in Ire until clarity is established.

    The sabre rattling in the Dail today will not help confidence. Anyone with a sense can see that a standoff between Germany/France and little old Ireland can only end in disaster.

    Look out for the emergence budget

  11. isnt it awful the way the election stymied debate. Before the election any talk of default was verboten and now its allowed.

    facing up to reality comes very slowly but it does come eventually.

  12. A timely programme.

    Remember though that whatever the stress tests show in two weeks, they will exclude Anglo and INBS which still have €40bn of loans together. Might we see another €10bn of losses from these still not provisioned?

    And if we are heading for default, should Enda stop talking about shovelling “committed” funds into the banks which might include the deferred €10bn from Feb 2011 plus the first tranche of the promissory notes of €3bn. Isn’t it as well to be hanged for stealing a sheep as a lamb?

  13. @ Colm Brazel

    A good default could do us no end of good.

    The hurlers on /in the ditch have the option of changing their views depending how it would turn out.

    You’re obviously not struggling to keep a business afloat.

  14. @Celtic Phoenix,

    I agree, but the EU/IMF deal has mapped out a fairly stringent economic fitness regime that is in our interests. I think they’ll want to see some delivery on this front before they’ll get serious about the banks. For example the report of the Colm McCarthy-chaired group on state assets seems to be being held off and held off.

  15. @ Michael Hennigan

    How does pretending we are solvent help someone trying to keep a business afloat even in the short to medium term?

    You keep claiming the biggest losers in a default are the little guys but surely the insiders take a bigger hit than they usually do?

  16. Well, Eamonn, pretending to be solvent has kept the banks afloat!
    Not sure they still count as businesses though.

  17. @Jagdip Singh
    Whether the plan is to steal a sheep or a lamb, one has to keep up appearances until the deed is done. Enda Kenny does seem to understand by now that the alternatives are resorting to theft and going without dinner, but he doesn’t seem to have a definite plan for the heist as yet.

    Some things are becoming clear. It is evident that he wants Americans to read the story as a clash between low-tax Ireland and high-tax Europe, with Europe seeking to take advantage of Ireland’s plight. Possibly he is aiming for a resolution which involves borrowing from the IMF alone, with the EU out of the picture. The IMF does seem to understand that sustainability is not mainly about the interest rate, it’s about shrinking the principal.

  18. @ finfacts

    On this island everyone is struggling to keep a business afloat. The problem is the straightjacket the EZ is manufacturing for us, is drowning us all and sending our children to the boats. Cost of doing business is way too high with the bar set by property/rentier costs, taxes, deflation and the crippling costs of public service and paying for the banks, Nama and EU/IMF bailouts.

    Irish Business under a new environment that is less pro banks and mor epro business could come back quickly if helped by Nama firesales. The alternative EZ is eyeing up at the moment is the pillaging of our state resources.

  19. Why can’t the state just take on the banks’ liabilities and assets (i.e. nationalize them like it should have done at the start).
    This allows the state to negotiate properly with creditors and offer commercial type restructuring and leaves open the possibility of realizing some of the assets.
    We don’t need to default we just need to nationalize the banks and restructure

  20. I see the Guv is saying (IT breaking news) that there is no risk of the ECB cutting liquidity to the banks.
    I remember him saying that the bank losses were affordable and I think he said that we would not require a bailout.

  21. Alas I wasnt able to go onto the panel, though asked and willing, due to some family commitments. FWIW I think most people know my views : we cant pay the banks then get into probs with the “real” sov debt. And I fear a debt spiral….so.

  22. @Paul Hunt

    “I think they’ll want to see some delivery on this front before they’ll get serious about the banks.”

    The sclerotic EU has no more an idea how to reform this place than the cabal who run this place and whose crony system got us into the mess we are in. Why do you believe they have any cop on whatsoever?

    We’re up to our neck in loans and the solution they offer is a massive €85 bn loan half of which is to be poured into toxic banks to the benefit mostly of external bondholders.

    They’re looking to scalp our economy not save it.

    The money offered is to be used to rebuild antiquated institutions such as our banks and political institutions, our public service, even our educational and health system and the disastrous NAMA.

    We need default to save us from the above. It could lead to renewal of all the above on similar lines to Germany’s rebirth after the second world war.

    It should be fun to examine the detail of what the negotiating team bring home from Europe end of March. It might be appropriate to examine it on April 1.

    Before we lose our dignity completely, we need to set out our stall:

    1. Debt for equity swap resolution on bank debt a full package.
    2. A minimum haircut to 4% for the EU/IMF loan and easing of terms.

    Without both the above, we should leave the EZ. As Trichet supported both Nama and is against debt for equity, burning of bondholders, we should be prepared to default.

    Default and the putting together of a new vibrant Ireland led by a spirit of renewal and reform should occupy our minds rather than how to wear a straight jacket, while keeping ill suited institutions that have led us into the mess we are in.

  23. “The European Central Bank has risen to this challenge and the Eurosystem has extended credit to Irish banks on an unprecedented scale. Governed by a detailed legal framework, the lending has been carried out either through normal Eurosystem operations (to the extent that the banks concerned had collateral satisfying the specific requirements, both as to assured and rated quality, and as to marketability, defined by the ECB) or directly from the Central Bank of Ireland.

    The direct lending by the Central Bank of Ireland is of course carried out with the prior knowledge and approval of the ECB: the suggestion sometimes heard, that the ECB might be about to cut-off the Irish banks, is very wide of the mark. They hope, as we all do, for faster progress towards restoring the confidence of the market in Ireland and its banks; but that is a very different matter.

    All central bank lending to banks is collateralised, whether by other financial assets of the banks (with appropriate haircuts), or by Government guarantees. But inasmuch as almost all of the central bank lending has gone to repay bank liabilities that were already guaranteed, this process has not increased overall Government obligations. (It’s important not to double-count here). Indeed, the quantum of Irish Government guaranteed bank liabilities has diminished substantially over the past year.”

    I am not impressed by the game plan indicated above. In particular “They hope, as we all do” seems to indicate a reliance on divine intervention or at the least a lack of adverse events such as a nuclear meltdown.

    As to this being “governed by a detailed legal framework” has anyone any idea where this is available for viewing?

  24. Not a bad programme I thought. The man from Goldman Sachs seemed to be the only one arguing that we can wriggle our way out of this without even having to disappoint the non-guaranteed creditors. The conventional wisdom seems to be that default of some sort is nasty but inevitable. So — meaning no disrespect — Brian Lucey’s contribution might have been redundant in any case.

  25. Having just seen the programme, I was able to breath a sigh of relief on hearing the Father Ted (or is it Father Dougal!) argument so ably defended.

  26. @Kevin Donoghue.

    The man from Goldman Sachs seemed to be the only one arguing that we can wriggle our way out of this without even having to disappoint the non-guaranteed creditors.

    I note that the man from Goldman Sachs was offering expenditure cuts and not tax increases to get out of the hole.
    Presumably he will defend Ireland to the last drop of somebody else’s blood.

  27. Interesting that Suds wanted more austerity. Reminds me of Seanie advocating social welfare cuts as his Titanic was sinking into the deep blue.
    Dr Somers seemed to be shocked that the markets won’t even lend overnight to our banks. The guy from Kleinworth seemed a reasonable sort.

  28. On ‘The Man from Goldman Sachs’ [earlier tonight ….

    Blind Biddy: Dat fella shud be drawin da penchin – not penching bleed1n pennies out a mine! Da cheek of da fella. US-territy US-TERRITY IS IT HE WANTS? Where’s me bleed1n bazooka? I’ll show da **^%$£(****&& etc

    p.s. personally I found it a useful addition to the public sphere ….

  29. @ Eamonn Moran

    How does pretending we are solvent help someone trying to keep a business afloat even in the short to medium term? You keep claiming the biggest losers in a default are the little guys but surely the insiders take a bigger hit than they usually do?

    I was responding to a ‘bring it on’ comment from another poster. ‘Hey, we need urban renewal here. Lets hope for an earthquake!’

    I didn’t say that we should pretend anything or shut our eyes to problems. What should we do during the intervening slow-motion process?

    As for the insiders taking a bigger hit: it’s interesting that there is no clamour for internal default.

    If there was it may be more obvious that there are no neat solutions.

    We have about 540,000 public staff plus staff pensioners. Should we assume that existing guarantees would apply when the backup ‘rainy day’ pensions fund is close to exhaustion?

    In coming months, we will see inducement retirement packages for HSE staff and bank staff who are made redundant will get a multiple of basic redundancy and most if not all will have had pension benefits accrued.

    Fast-forward to a default and it would be MASSIVE news across the world. The rags to riches and then bankruptcy story, followed by weeks of turmoil, would surely get a good airing in many regions.

    The general uncertainty and likelihood of bank runs if they were open in the immediate aftermath, would unsurprisingly panic foreign materials suppliers to indigenous companies.

    Three years of recession and absorbing bad debts of over 3,000 collapsed companies, makes many vulnerable.

    There is no shortage of people who vaporise from comfortable armchairs, about opening export markets.

    Many years of hard won business can easily be lost and a default could be a tipping point for 50,000 jobs in the tradeable goods and services sectors.

    The typical worker has no occupational pension and would receive only basic redundancy; skills tend to be specific to particular businesses and anyone 45+ could likely expect to remain on the dole.

    I’m not saying a default cannot or will not happen.

    I am optimistic that at some point, to paraphrase Adam Smith, both sides will see a benefit to be gained from a fair tarde.

    In the meantime, there is a big job to do.

  30. @ Michael Hennigan
    I get what you are saying and I agree with your analysis about the awful implications fiscally, reputation wise and so on but If its going to happen anyway?
    I would prefer if we did it in a way where we at least had some element of control over it and got on with it.
    At least then we could draw a line under it and attempt to start over.
    But they wont. Noonan will do what Europe tell him.

  31. We seem to keep going around in circles on this default option. It might help to stand back a little. We have a government with a strong mandate to engage with our EU partners – and I’m sure the strength and legitimacy of this mandate is recognised by them. Whatever resolution of this bank and sovereign debt crisis will emerge will be crafted, unfortunately but inevitably, via political horse-trading. The government will need to employ firmness, flexibility and imagination – and display an understanding of our EU partners’ perception of Ireland. The big challenge is to move from the point where it is perceived that Ireland alone has a problem to the point where there is agreement that we all (i.e., all EU member-states) collectively have a problem.

    Threatening to head for the exist, or heading for the exit, or forcing confrontation will serve us ill. And it might also be useful for the media and citizens to try to gain some underatanding of the position and perceptions of voters in our EU partner countries – those whom we are seeking to persuade to consent to share our burdens.

  32. @Eoin Bond

    Did you get a chance to see Peter Sutherland’s contribution last night?

    Did you not think he made it fairly obvious where his priorities are?

    They are with making sure bond holders of all colours and creeds don’t take losses.

    His prescription for the Irish surfs is massive cutbacks in order to facilitate this. But he knows European surfs will have to help out their Irish cousins.
    Meanwhile he has some more dodgy deals to arrange on behalf of Goldman.

  33. @ Colm Brazel

    “The sclerotic EU has no more an idea how to reform this place than the cabal who run this place and whose crony system got us into the mess we are in”.

    There are just too many spoofers in decision making positions. Why does Europe have a sovereign debt crisis 2 and a half years after the fall of Lehman Bros ? Why hasn’t the mess been cleaned up ?

  34. Re “a question of default”. De Euros bear some responsibility. It is not all default of de Irish taxpayers.

  35. The most interesting comment of the night for me was Velasco’s (former Chilean £F Min) comments on timing. He said that those countries who sought restructuring of their own accord (unilaterally?) before they had no choice usually did better.

    This was a surprise for me. I thought (for no good reason) he was going to say that the fecless debt averse countries who say they cannot pay before people really believe them do worse.

    Therefore people who say that only the sheltered few can contemplate default now should consider whether their alternative amounts to something far worse for the unsheltered masses.

  36. Mostly every penny begged, borrowed from the EU/IMF/ECB and stolen from taxpayers so far has been poured into toxic banks and into the financial class that generated the crisis in the first place.

    Its their assets that are being detoxified allegedly to save our economy and more and more Bailout money is being sucked into their black holes day by day and still the costs of this are rising.

    Businesses across Ireland are being forced out of business in order to maintain the impossible upward only review penal rent extraction that the banks require to maintain the integrity of their own liquidity and the liquidity of their ‘good loans’.

    The cost of maintaining this artificial bailout bubble in a broken economy is enormous and I its holding back recovery and making recovery more and more impossible and default more imminent.

    Because our bailout is simply not working, we need urgently a properly restructured default that will burn bondholders, burst that artificial bailout bubble returning property to reasonable commercial rates, redirect bailout money away from the banks and financial class black holes into the real economy.

    Green shoots and new business will soon arise unchoked by the no defaulters worried about further falls in their asset class wealth.

    Default that will clean away the parisitic banks, bubble making Nama and those whose agenda is to target their private assets with recovery money.

    In the history of IMF defaults its an interesting study to see just exactly who benefits in economic recovery following similar bailouts to ours.

    Perhaps the IMF has grown more efficient and sensitive to issues such as this over the past decade, but there have been many instances where bailout has meant the favouring of the rich elite at the expense of crippling the poor.

    It appear to me the evidence in Ireland is mounting that bailout is largely being interpreted as a bailout of the banks and the commercial landed class who at all costs want to protect their private commercial bubbles from loss, even at the expense of destruction of the whole economy.

  37. @Michael Hennigan

    “As for the insiders taking a bigger hit: it’s interesting that there is no clamour for internal default.”

    Every time I hear the comment “we would be defaulting on ourselves” my blood boils. There should be no wealth transfer from the taxpayer to the private pension holder imho and publi pensions should be contingent on the state’s capacity to pay.

    We would not be “defaulting on ourselves”. We would be defaulting on people with private pensions and perhaps with large savings. Ultimately there has to be a wealth transfer and the market mechanism allows for this. Getting the taxpayer to intercede to stop the market mechanism working domestically appears to be utter madness unless I am missing something major.

  38. @Colm Brazil

    Given that the overwhelming opinion seems to me to be a default option given the scale of the problem. What would the normal consumer reaction likely be when he/she considers their own debt position?

    I can easily envisage a situation where consumers make the following decision:

    ‘Well if the Govt can’t ‘afford’ to repay and as my affordability has been severely restricted by their actions and that of the banks – I think I’ll pursue the same strategy’

    What then? Methinks another round of Bank Stress tests – part III – and on it goes. Moral hazard crystallised.

  39. @ Paul Hunt

    I agree with what you said above.

    This is not an issue that can be sorted out in a week.

    The Government in its contributions at the 3 government level meetings since Friday and meetings with the key players is prepared to put inconvenient truths in fron of the main players.

    Those who are gung-ho about default in the media if not elsewhere, may never have made a consequential decision in their lives.

    Remember the people who thought they had produced the world’s cheapest bank guarantee?

    Shur it will be all grand!

    People who ignore downsides are [Expletive Deleted].

    A poster with the slogan ‘Impeach the [Expletive Deleted]’ was prominent in a protest outside the White House but it was the president and not the protestor who was a liitle shy about his colourful language.

  40. @Michael Hennigan,

    Indeed. But it seems we are only preaching to the converted. The unpersuadables are just that. They appear willing to attribute extremely malign motives and intent to our EU partners. They are free to do this and to advocate unilateral actions and forceful conforntation, but it is not how this problem will be resolved – and will only bolster the conviction of many in the core EZ countries that the peripherals should be cut loose. Attempting to put oneself in the other person’s shoes for a moment might help to reveal what is achievable and what isn’t.

  41. @Michael Hennigan
    “We have about 540,000 public staff plus staff pensioners”, not to go off topic, but I thought it was around the 350,000 mark?

  42. @ Paul Hunt.

    Preaching to the converted is very effective. It’s what the church does every week, if it didn’t it would collapse.

    While in a religious mode. On Europe, ‘by their fruits ye shall know them.’ Rather than ascribe motives it is easier to look at the various deals that have been struck, the deals that have been put on the table, and seeing what the outcomes are for all players: presumably we want the fruits of the current round of negotiation to be wholesome all round.

    The text I’d be looking at with the CDU is “The Prodigal Son”. Though I have to be a bit careful here as I don’t buy the ‘we all partied’ line. In any case what the country needs is what it has always needed, which is unconditional love.

  43. “They appear willing to attribute extremely malign motives and intent to our EU partners.”

    In reality Olli and co are not directing events. They are just watching with fingers crossed. More muttley than dastardly.

  44. @Gavin & Seafoid,

    The programme set out in the EU/MF deal requires us to start trimming some fat and more specifically rooting out monopoly profits and embedded inefficiencies that benefit very specific (and powerful) vested interests. We need to start doing that, primarily, in our own interests, but also to convince our EU partners of our bona fides. (I have a feeling that the delay in publishing the report of the Colm McCarthy-chaired group on state assets might suggest something is afoot in this area.)

    Our EU partners also need to recognise that we have come clean (and will come clean) on all existing and likely future bank losses. They need to recognise that they haven’t done so. Until all parties do so, and agree a common approach to address these bank losses, serious uncertainty will remain and the EZ will remain at risk.

  45. Martin Wolf’s interview is well worth watching in full. He was crystal clear that defaulting on debt owed to multinational players like the ECB, IMF etc is unthinkable.

  46. @ Paul Hunt

    There are 2 issues.

    1. Deadweight costs and reform which have to be addressed. But won’t make any difference to bond yields next week.

    2. The quality of EU leadership. The bond yields say it all. The panjandrums don’t know what to do and are leading Ireland to a default. No credibility. Their lines in the sand are like those Japanese sea walls.

    2 is more important than 1 at the moment because of the structure of bank funding. The IMF/EU deal was supposed to bring in yields but they have gone in the other direction.

  47. @Seafoid,

    I agree. The bond market is using Ireland to tell the EU’s Grand Panjandrums that all will have to come clean on EZ bank losses and agree a common resolution. Ireland being forced to come clean and be bled dry while the others hide and warehouse theirs isn’t going to work. But that’s between the bond market and the EU’s Grand Panjandrums. We’re being used to convey the message. However, making a start on serious structural refrom is necessary because, inter alia, it would help to shift market sentiment.

  48. @Seafoid,

    Just a quick follow-on. I think all Michael Noonan needs to do at the EU meeings is to sit there, have the latest Irish 10 yr sov yield brought to him every 15 mins., call it out and say the people who we hope to be asking for money don’t think your plan is working and what are you going to do about it. But, at home, the government really needs to roll up its sleeves and get stuck in to what is in its control.

  49. @ Ronan Burke

    403,000 incl semi-states and local authorities according to the Qrt Household Survey. The number employed fell 24,400 in 2 years and these would have become pensioners.

    The remainder is an estimate of pensioners.

    The local authorities employ 36,000 but there is no breakout of their costs in DoF published spending estimates.

  50. @Seafoid,

    You’re encouraging me to go off-topic, but I’ll give you a flavour. However, I do recognise, as I responded elsewhere to BCT, that it is urgent that we persuade our EU partners, and that they openly acknowledge, that it is in all our interests to recognise that there is a common EZ banking problem and that, despite it being so glaringly obvious in the Irish situation, equally, it is in all our interests to forge a common solution. But this will only be addressed at the ‘high tables’ from which we are all excluded.

    But there is much for us to be getting on with in the meantime. There is a very broad outline of structural economic reform set out in the EU/IMF deal. This covers most of the relevant areas, but we are seeing very little in terms of a detailed policy and legislative programme. For example, the powers and resources of the Competition Authority should be beefed up (similar to the EU’s DG COMP) to allow it to conduct investigations leading to finding of facts, to impose hefty fines when competition breaches are uncovered or to extract enforceable undertakings to remedy breaches.

    Obviously public sector refrom will have to be pursued with more vigour, but any nonsense about strategic semi-state assets should be abandoned and they should be restructured with reconfigured financial structures and sold off as appropriate. FG has some good ideas on water and waste water and these should be progressed to implementation.

    These reforms would have a benefically purgative effect on the non-tradable sheltered sectors (public, semi-state and private).

    The noises are being made, a broad requirement exists in the EU/IMF deal, but we need to see more action – and, I suspect, our EU partners would also like to see some.

  51. @Paul Hunt

    but any nonsense about strategic semi-state assets should be abandoned and they should be restructured with reconfigured financial structures and sold off as appropriate

    It worked a treat with Eircom, or the entirety of post communist Russia’s strategic economic assets, didn’t it? A misguided faith in the free market and the benefits of deregulation and privatization underlies the current world wide economic instability and is the chief source of Ireland’s current unmanageable debt load.

    Privatised utilities in a small (and geographically isolated) jurisdiction are a recipe for soaking the public and market “reforms” in these areas will undoubtedly have medium to long term negative effects on the levels of service and health of the economy.

    Lets not forget that the free market has given us some of Europe’s most expensive telecoms charges as well as the property bubble and I am sure that exactly the same kind of asset striping, deinvestment and monopoly position abuse that the Eircom fiasco produced awaits us if we sell Bord Gais, Eirgrid or any other strategic state asset.

    One more time – a privatised monopoly is worse than a public one. Is that so hard to grasp? Really?

    I suppose that in a best case scenario a major European bank will snap up the utilities we sell to repay the worthless bonds they held in Irish banks. It would seem only fair.

  52. @all

    Ivan Yates on an Insolvent Nation ….. well worth a perusal – especially by The Neu Minister

    It’s Noonan’s moment of truth — can he change the course of the nation?

    http://www.irishexaminer.ie/opinion/columnists/ivan-yates/its-noonans-moment-of-truth-can-he-change-the-course-of-the-nation-148432.html

    ‘It is simply unsustainable for the Irish state to continue picking up the tab for bank lending books that were five times larger than Ireland Inc. …

    If he faces down bondholders and the ECB, his role in history will be etched with short-term pain and long-term gain. He can be credited changing the course of the nation. While still in the Government’s honeymoon period he can pass the odium of delinquency onto his predecessors. … This opportunity will not be possible a year or two into the lifetime of this administration. Put simply, this is Michael Noonan’s moment of truth.’

    The last lot could not handle TIME: can this lot?

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