Ireland First Blueprint Document

Via Namawinelake, here‘s the up-to-now secret “Blueprint for Ireland’s Recovery” that has been produced by a group that apparently call themselves Ireland First. As you’ve probably heard, the group includes businessmen like Dermot Desmond and Denis O’Brien as well as various grandees with links to Fine Gael (John Bruton, Frank Flannery, Peter Sutherland), Fianna Fail (Ray McSharry) and Labour (Dick Spring).

Naturally, given that it’s an economic recovery plan, there isn’t an economist in sight. And, as is often the way with non-economist plans, it’s mainly a long laundry list of stuff the group would like to see happen combined with ambitious claims and targets related to what might happen if the chosen policies were adopted. Many of the policies proposed are sensible, some less so.

I particularly disliked this bit: “There needs to be a positive engagement with editorial and ownership/senior management of media organisations in order to ensure we have balanced coverage and that good news stories are covered.”  Ah yes, the meeja need to stop talking down the economy.  Some things never change.

93 thoughts on “Ireland First Blueprint Document”

  1. I think part of the problem with groups like this is they comprise of people who have had others sucking up to them for so long that the start to believe in their own innate superiority on matters political and economic. They think only malcontents don’t think of them that way too.

  2. The problem is not so much that documents like this don’t contain economic analysis but rather that policy implementation itself doesn’t rely on it. You could live with the view that its up to people like these guys to propose “top-level” type stuff that sets the tone of debate without delving too much into details. But you’d like to think there was a group of people somewhere with the capacity to absorb and filter arguments as they pertain to important state policies.

  3. @ Karl

    “Naturally, given that it’s an economic recovery plan, there isn’t an economist in sight.”

    Doesn’t Michael Somers have one of those PhD things in Economics from UCD?

  4. Ray McSharry is included for decorative purposes I presume.

    Did Ireland First ever produce a document warning about the dangers of pro cyclical budgetary policies ?

  5. Interesting document….
    But this modern trend of explicit outcomes like X more jobs…
    It dumbs down the proposals and panders to a level of intelligence that could only be described as political…

  6. What I dislike most is the misuse of the word “blueprint”.

    A “blueprint” is a process of photographic printing used to make detailed engineering plans.

    Contrast with the word “sketch”, a rough drawing or delineation of something.

    But I guess “Sketch for Ireland’s recovery” would sound a little … sketchy.

  7. One thing it highlights is the seamless transition between the leading lights of this state.
    Leading FGers agree 100% with leading FFs and Labour luminaries on wisdom such as get rid of the quangos but set up new advisory boards to the govt.
    Or unelected ministers – presumably drawn the unelected (unelectable?) business leaders in the document.

    And as Ceteris paribus points out its hard to take advice from some noted tax dodgers and folks who generally seem to be landing on their feet very well.

    The ultimate insiders document?

  8. Only idiots stand for election it seems. There’s 150 out of the 166 in the Dail who will have less influence on the unfolding political and media narratives than this crew.

    Maybe a group of 16 woman (with a male co-chair for the oul balance) should issue a similar document. They’ll get 1/16th of the media coverage of course, and 90% of that will be in the Times unless they’re all stunningly attractive, in which case the Sindo might take a look too.

  9. Businessmen!

    What would they know about the economy compared with academics?

    Fianna Fail (Ray McSharry)!

    Just because he ushered in a boom that lasted 21 years and resulted in the economy quadrupling in size is no reason to listen to him now.

    “Balanced coverage”.

    What an outrageous suggestion. Have they no shame?

    “Good news stories are covered”.

    Don’t they know that there are no good news stories in Ireland, the only place on earth from where, according to ESRI, people are emigrating to Fukushima?

    I have just bet my entire life savings on the Paddy Power website that this blueprint will not receive one favourable comment on this site. I trust that, when I return from the Saint Patrick’s Night celebrations at Saint Kiernan’s GFC, I shall not have been let down by anyone on the site acting out of character.

  10. @JtO

    +1

    So far the coverage relates to knocking those who’ve made some suggestions.

    Aren’t we fond of complaining that politicians and civil servants aren’t qualified to run the country as they are only teachers and “generalists”? The 17 operate (successfully) in the real world. They must have some notion of what works and what doesn’t.

    btw I was told they did have economists on the team – just not listed as contributors.

    Q: what kind of people are considered qualified to make suggestions?

  11. @ Karl

    I think that you are being unfair in your summary of this document. It comprises 37 pages of pretty good stuff and then you include 2 lines of text at 4.2.1 from the Report which implies that the Authors think that the media is the problem in Ireland .This is not the case as the Report is only asking for balanced coverage of Ireland in the media. For the man in the street that is exactly what he/she wants to see/read instead of of the totally negative stuff poured out in the media day in day out.

  12. @ Sarah

    “The 17 operate (successfully) in the real world. They must have some notion of what works and what doesn’t.

    Q: what kind of people are considered qualified to make suggestions?”

    Clearly these people are welcome to make whatever suggestions they want. By the same token, other people are entitled to point out that being a business success does not, in fact, translate into having a good understanding of how to make successful economic policy at an aggregate level. Running an economy simply isn’t the same as running an individual business or two.

    There are absolutely loads of examples of “leading businessmen” who submit self-serving or nonsensical proposals. One example relevant here: Dermot Desmond’s alternative to NAMA put forward in September 2009 didn’t make any sense and was based on a complete misdiagnosis of the nature of the problem.

  13. @ Ragusa

    “I think that you are being unfair in your summary of this document. It comprises 37 pages of pretty good stuff and then you include 2 lines of text at 4.2.1”

    This is my summary of the document “Many of the policies proposed are sensible, some less so.” The line on the media was simply picking out a particular thing I didn’t like.

    As to the appeal to be “balanced” — unemployment is 14.7% and those in work have had their take-home pay decimated by pay cuts and tax hikes, the country is in receivership to the EU and IMF, the banks are bust, loads of people are suffering with debts they can’t pay back and there’s years more of spending cuts and tax increases to come.

    These are facts. Big facts. The media are entitled to give them massive coverage. The idea that every time they report such stories they should then pick out a story on a positive exporting success is one that I would profoundly disagree with.

    The media should report the truth. If the truth is bad, say it’s bad. If “balanced coverage” means having to say “well, maybe it’s not so bad” when it really is, then this is not a goal that media organisations should aspire to.

    And frankly, I found the insinuation that governments should be “engaging” with, for example, state-owned broadcasters, to influence their coverage to be creepy.

  14. Maybe Ireland First could buy this

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks

    “The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.

    A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.”

    It reminded me of JTO at first. But he seems to operate alone.

  15. @Karl

    I acknowledge Desmond’s contributions to date haven’t been wonderful (who can forget his “it’s liquidity not solvency” article in the IT some years back) and I thought his suggestion that TDs should be co-opted to take the place of Ministers in their constituencies was ridiculous. But I have made a practice of dealing with proposals/articles/ideas on their merits (or demerits) rather than focusing on the baggage or personality of those making it. No one’s right all the time and no one’s wrong all the time.

    I just don’t like the immediate discounting of people like MacSharry and Spring or DOB and Sean O’Driscoll. They are out there, dealing with governments and running businesses so the problems and opportunities they encounter every day must inform them in some constructive manner.

    As for the media – you know they swarm on bad news. I find that if I write anything positive about the country, especially public services like health or education, community spirit, new business I am attacked x10 than if I criticise those services. “Engaging” DOES sound creepy 🙂 but you know governments “engage” with the media all the time!

  16. 40 pages?

    When your in a very deep boggy hole up to your nostrils in debt, the last thing you need is 40 pages of paper. You need a goodamn ladder to exit the cess pit – or better still, a sharp object to punch a hole near the bottom of the pit to allow the debt slurry to drain out.

    When, if ever, will the reality dawn. We cannot exit if we cannot deal with our existing debt situation, and this means a guaranteed level of income – like an enhanced level of income, not less.

    There are several thing that must be done (ie. you really do want to deal with your debt predicament).

    1. Cut all public service salaries: 50% at top levels, tapering to 0% at about industrial wage level. The alternate is to introduce (for 3 years) a 100% income tax on all incomes over EU 150,000. We are broke after all!

    2. Liquidate all our wonderful banks. Start with a brand new setup. Industrial salary wage levels. No exceptions.

    3. Legislate for personal bankrupcy (1 year) and writedowns and writeoffs of negative equity mortgages. Bank shareholders and bondholders will have to carry the can on this one.

    Business-as-usual is coming to a close. Energy costs will guarantee this.

    BpW

  17. @ Sarah

    I’d agree that people are angry right now and so often don’t want to hear a positive message.

    Still, I don’t know about the swarming on bad news. The media swarm on news of any sort. Indeed, I would argue that the pervasive bias in the reporting of economics stories in the media has been towards being overly positive.

    Let me give an example that I know quite a lot about. Along with many other economists, I was arguing as early as February 2009 that the banks were insolvent and we needed to accept this and deal with them accordingly.

    However, the media by and large followed the DoF\government press official line that there was no problem with solvency, that we just needed a sprinkling of recap here, a touch of NAMA bonds there and everything would be grand. At one point, there literally was a swarm of media commentary types all suddenly spouting some ridiculous line about “only game in town.”

    This kind of thing happens because of the media “engagement” from government that you mention and because such engagement provides an easy source of stories for journalists. And frankly, it doesn’t do the public much good.

  18. ‘NAMA needs to recognise that it has a role in supporting the emergence of a functioning market and to go about making this market so that assets can be traded. NAMA needs to be properly capitalised to restore such stability.
    A key priority must be the facilitation of appropriate forms of external capital to restructure many of the NAMA borrowers. Dealing commercially and in a constructive manner with such capital must become a priority for NAMA.
    Such changes will seek to restore the confidence of international capital that financial problems in the Irish market are being addressed in a manner that is commercial rather than driven by the current narrow remit’

    A ‘functioning’ property market is one in which the losses of the major stakeholders/gamblers are written off and lovely shiny new state subsidised chips are issued. Otherwise we put the ball up our jumper.

  19. @Karl W

    You are right about media coverage. There is a tendency to skew coverage generally to align it with the views of whoever are perceived to be “winners” at any one time. Its partly because that is a natural tendency of their customers. If they stray too far out of line they loose business. During the boom that was part of the self-reinforcing feedback loop that kept it going for so long.

    Right now the group of 16 are not flavour of the month though, and are used to a bit more adulation from the press – hence the complaint.

    Maybe you need to market your debt for equity swap idea (as opposed to the just-keep-your-collateral version) more professionally. What about calling it the “Wheelan’ Deal”. Geddit, Catchy, no?

    ,

  20. @Paul Q

    “‘NAMA needs to recognise that it has a role in supporting the emergence of a functioning market and to go about making this market so that assets can be traded. NAMA needs to be properly capitalised to restore such stability.”

    Often markets have privileged participants responsible for ensuring a functioning market. Market makers are required to quote two way price and size in exchange for trading cost, tax and capital privileges.

    How about Nama as market maker. Problem is everyone would just be offering stock – which tells you something about these”fire sale prices” .

  21. @ Karl & Sarah

    “There needs to be a positive engagement with editorial and ownership/senior management of media organisations…”

    This seems to me to be saying that this government should be better at communications than the much criticised last one. All government departments have press officers. The parties of government will have their own communications advisors. They would be insane not to. There has always been engagement between politicians and key media people – sometimes too close.

    “…in order to ensure we have balanced coverage and that good news stories are covered.”

    The only problem for government is that, rightly, they can ‘ensure’ nothing – unless we end up with an Italian or Russian kind of situation which is not desirable. This word raises hackles.

    ‘Balanced’ coverage sounds reasonable, but is tricky in practice. Where a subject is say, 99:1 split, you willbe able to find a panel with two people each expressing an opposing pov., as this is may be considered ‘balanced’.

    Further, the whole economy thing is so complex and full of varied stories, that it will never be neatly balanced. It creates a good vs bad simplicity that is not really the case. If I was aking the media for something I would be asking them to keep the seperation of opinion from fact – particularly in headlines. The front page of the Irish Times yesterday seems to me to be very slanted, though presented as straight news.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2011/0317/1224292406625.html

    A better phrase might be, “in order to seek to accurately communicate the full spectrum and variety of economic news stories such that the public might be better informed as to the changing condition of Ireland.”

  22. @ grumpy

    They want someone to fill NAMA’s sack with magic beans. QEire. The rest of their programme has plenty of wishful thinking too. Its not that hard to look good in a credit boom. Especially when the regulators are asleep.

  23. @Gavin, Karl, Sarah

    “Fox News – Fair and Balanced”

    “We report [selected parts of the whole] – you decide [very likely what we want you to]”

    ’nuff sed.

  24. @ Brian Woods

    You are being far too sensible!

    By the way who do we sell the airports and ports to? Let me guess? Even if they agree to reduce costs for the first five years is there any guarantee that costs will not quadruple in year 10? These are strategic assets once sold they are gone look at the damage the toll bridges did to the economy imagine that damage scaled up 100 fold?

  25. @Karl Whelan,

    The document is already out of date, since we now have a government, which has a programme, which has been agreed with our paymasters (IMF & EU) and which will work, or not, as we will find out in the fullness of time and in the wake of the impact of the Japanese crisis on the world economy.

    The whole thing has the air of ‘the oligarchs have spoken’ about it. It reads like an amalgam of half-baked ideas plucked from the manifestoes of Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fail and the Greens. I agree with your description of it as being good in spots, bit like the curate’s egg. But for the life of me I can’t find anything in it – not a single idea – to get excited about.

    This production of this kind of ‘blueprint’, though, is indicative of the extent of failure of our political institutions and the so-called ‘social partners’. Those involved in putting it together are to be commended and admired for their patriotism and obvious commitment to the common good of this country. However, their prescription for reform proposes tweaking around the edges of an already excessively centralised model of government. Inevitably, it doesn’t take long before the document lapses into aspirational statements about Ireland becoming a ‘global leader’ in this or that or the other area of activity, which is nonsensical. The section on energy policy is illustrative.

    As for this business of closer liaison with media management and owners to ‘ensure’ balanced coverage – whatever that means – I share your unease. I would have thought that the problem is that our media are not nearly independent enough. Access to the mainsteam media in Ireland is highly restricted as it is, particularly for anyone advancing any ideas of alternative policies or fundamental reform of society. What these gentlemen are advocating is a further consolidation of media power among media owners to act in concert with the political powers that be to shape the way in which journalists represent the world to the public. There has been a shift in power in recent years in favour of media owners – and their commercial priorities – determining newsroom output and journalistic values. This trend is unhealthy for democracy and the maintenance of a ‘free press’ in the interests of society and proposals to galvanise it further are not in anyone’s interests, including those of the business community themselves.

  26. @Veronica

    What these gentlemen are advocating is a further consolidation of media power among media owners to act in concert with the political powers that be to shape the way in which journalists represent the world to the public.

    JTO again:

    You are letting your imagination run riot. All that they asked for is “balanced coverage and that good news stories are covered”. I assume that they mean this sort of thing:

    http://www.irishexaminer.com/business/recruitment-firm-to-hire-40-graduates-to-cope-with-surge-148622.html

    Recruitment firm to hire 40 graduates to cope with surge.

    By Niamh Hennessy

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    RECRUITMENT firm Hays said it is hiring 40 graduates to manage an Irish jobs growth surge in the largest recruitment campaign they have undertaken here.

    The graduates will work in offices in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. Hays said it is aimed at meeting an “unprecedented increase” in demand for positions.

    Hays expects a 40% increase in the number of positions it places in 2011 compared to 2010. It said this expected increase is mostly attributable to increased activity in the Irish market, particularly among multinational companies and export-led indigenous firms.

    Hays’ managing director, Richard Eardley, said there is no better barometer for the Irish economy than a recruitment agency.

    “When recruiters recruit for themselves in large numbers, you know their clients are flat out and that’s great news for the jobs market. In turn, companies only recruit in such numbers to feed significantly increased activity,” he said.

  27. Prof Whelan is right to be wary about media “engagement” by the government.

    But I think – as Prof Whelan also notes – the problem has been more the other way around, the media in Ireland, like elsewhere, failed to develop a critical voice in the face of obviously bad policymaking.

    Perhaps this will change now that the cult of Fianna Fail has been revealed as a suicidal Peoples Temple. I somehow don’t see the media getting sucked in to FG/Lab spin the same way they did with the Tribe.

    Still, perhaps we need an Irish wikileaks? A sort of “wikiligean”?

  28. @ JtO

    Statement of fact, not imagination. In any case, whatever else my ‘imagination’ might be accused of, it certainly wouldn’t be ‘running riot’! I’m far too pedestrian and pedantic an old bird for that.

  29. @Karl Whelan
    “These are facts. Big facts. The media are entitled to give them massive coverage. The idea that every time they report such stories they should then pick out a story on a positive exporting success is one that I would profoundly disagree with.

    The media should report the truth. If the truth is bad, say it’s bad. If “balanced coverage” means having to say “well, maybe it’s not so bad” when it really is, then this is not a goal that media organisations should aspire to.

    And frankly, I found the insinuation that governments should be “engaging” with, for example, state-owned broadcasters, to influence their coverage to be creepy.”
    +1

    Do I really have to read anything that some of these bozos put their name to? All along some of them have been telling us it’s fine, that it’s temporary, that signs of recovery are on the way, that Ireland is well positioned, that if we just all cheered up a bit, doffed our caps and hurrahed a little more, we’d be grand. Sure will you not have a pint before you get back on the plane to tax exile?

    For heaven’s sake, some of them are property holocaust deniers! They don’t believe that there was a bubble and believe that prices have just dipped! Return them to normality? Return some of these people to normality. When was the last time any of them used a public hospital? Or school? Or transport?

    Ireland first? Is that the country over there that those little people live in?

  30. @Sarah Carey
    “Q: what kind of people are considered qualified to make suggestions?”

    Maybe people who care enough about the place to pay tax here? Just sayin….

  31. Property holocaust! Helloooo – Godwin’s Law.

    on the meeja

    @Karl

    On the insolvency/TINA issue. Aha. Now, here you are bang on, but this didn’t happen because the government went to the heads of the media organisations and asked them to print their stories. This happened because the government targeted individual journalists (and as you know they tried this with me) and did two things
    1. Used their position of authority to insist that their version of the truth WAS the truth and that those outside government didn’t have access to the real facts – which is a powerful argument.
    2. Undermined personally those outside government (which was easy to do when there were occasional deposit selling moments).

    In that respect the government had actually excellent communications skills – though of course you also have to admit that there was no shortage of those opposing the policy all the time.

    Anyway, the fundamental point is that I don’t like seeing the document knocked not on the basis of the weakness of the proposals but because the authors can’t possibly know what they are talking about.

    @Gavin

    “do you think you have done enough to bankrupt JtO?”

    Em, don’t know what this means!

  32. @hoganmayhew

    Here, as elsewhere, it is the political elite and their activities that predominantly set the news agenda. The relationship between politicans and media owners is complex to say the least and on a different level to relationships with political journalists/Leinster House correspondents and/or the cadre of media contacts that may be cultivated and nurtured by individual politicians and which is all part of what they have to do if they’re going to be successful in their careers. Depending on the media outlet, owners influence coverage, as do the commercial interests of the medium they own which has to make profits to survive – anyone remember those glossy property supplements and certain newspaper campaigns on elimination of stamp duty at the height of the property bubble?

    Seeking to dictate coverage to newsrooms via owners and management might just as easily backfire on any politicians that would seek to influence media representation in that way. If the journalists don’t arch their backs and put up a fight in the name of their own professional integrity then a nakedly partisan outlet risks losing credibility with the public in the long run anyway, since the public are not fools. As for the media representing ‘truth in the news’. Nah, they’ve never done that, and never will.

  33. The Plan a.k.a. Our own gentry have spoken

    @Toxic Avenger

    Re tax residency. Same thought crossed my mind…

    But it is important that the media not engage too much with that issue. Might not be sufficiently positive.

  34. IS there a section in this “Ireland First” document where Desmond and O’Brien volunteer to change their tax residency back to Ireland? One would have thought that would be the minimum necessary to be part of group called “Ireland First” without severe cognitive dissonance.

    What is needed i this country is for ALL of the elements of society to shoulder their share of the burden instead of playing pass the parcel. Everybody has ideas about the contribution other people should be making…including Denis O’Brien and Dermot Desmond. So what.

  35. The media has always been “told” what to say:

    1996-206 – Insane bank lending – media calls it a boom.

    2007-Banks reap the whirlwind – media calls it a bust.

    RTE pumping out the “lifestyle” property programmes, loving the ad revenue and not wanting the party to stop.

    Irish Times pumping out bigger and bigger property supplements and buying property websites.

    How much ad revenue did the banks contribute to the media during the bubble-boom? What % of overall media spend do they account for now? My money is on them being more important to media companies now!!!

    We’ve had regulatory capture and media capture.

    The regulators have been imprisoned…. oooooops! I mean pensioned off – but the media are pretending like they were some innocent, blind to it all and now shocked – shocked! – to discover gambling going on here.

    The Irish media is a sad institution.

  36. @what goes up

    generalising never a good idea since those voices who were against policy will feel a bit sore.

    but remember – its not about politicians warning media OWNERS what to say. It’s cultivating the pack and indoctrinating them…

  37. Karl and Sarah, you really need to pick up the phone to each other !!

    With regard to the Blueprint, I think any document of this nature can only be regarded as being helpful. If only one idea comes out that proves beneficial, then the document will have been worthwhile. So what if no economist was involved. Overall economists have not covered themselves in glory since the start of this crisis and by that I mean the build up to it going back to 2006.

  38. I am sure that BP and Goldman Sachs would also like more favourable media coverage!

    As it is, too many people in the media served as unofficial government spokesmen during the past two years.

    The notion that merging our universities (thus stifling competition) will lead to the creation of a world class university (by which one gathers they mean top 20) is risible.

  39. @Sarah Carey

    generalising never a good idea since those voices who were against policy will feel a bit sore.

    Point me to any of your articles calling the Irish Times on their property porn fetish please!

    Equally, I would love to see a more critical dissecting of the track record of those now publishing blueprints for the future.

  40. @Karl

    Am with you on this one. You’ve raised another interesting point which is the marginalisation of the economics profession in Irish political debate over a number of years.

    Big decisions have been taken going back to the introduction of the Euro which have often gone against many economists better advice. I don’t think the profession has necessarily helped themselves in this regard. Why for example, is their more prestige attached to advising a central bank than a finance ministry?

    All said, good to see that you, C.McC and others are fighting your corner

  41. @ Robert Browne

    “By the way who do we sell the airports and ports to?”

    I understand there was a firm offer for leasing the ports. Someone should phone Whitehall, tell them it was just a misunderstanding, the geopolitical situation has changed, and see if they can dig up the file from 1940. Try to get it indexed-linked though.

  42. As an aside and without commenting on the merit of the report…

    I wonder do people realise just how financially compromised the business and professional elite in Ireland are.

    It would be interesting if this Blueprint contained an addendum of the contributors’ and their families’ investments.

    A huge number of the powerful sections of our society are under-water at the moment and they are fighting for their financial lives. This is literally skewing their thought processes.

    An example is the argument that defaulting on private Irish pension funds through bank default is “defaulting on ourselves”. It may have negative economic effects which means it is better avoided but it is certainly not defaulting on ourselves. It is defaulting on the wealthier classes.

    In a globalised world, the high earners in our domestic economy are simply not worth what we have been paying ourselves. Ditto current and retired Ministers. There is a great deal of denial about this.

  43. Maybe the good news vibes would return if bond yields came back down to 5% . Maybe the bondwallahs need to hear something positive. Maybe if they had the feeling the people in charge knew what they were doing they might change their views.

    There has been far too much spoofing over the last 2 years.

  44. BTW, most of the higher earners in society do not realise that they are amongts the highest earners.

  45. Knowing how to successfully run a business is a very important skill, but it does not give you any particular qualification to advice on macro issues.

    What you usually get from business people is a hotch potch of micro ideas. That’s not to say that they are not good ideas. Further if you add lots of little ideas together the big idea that emerges is “lets run things better”.

    However, when it comes to genuinely macro issues what you typically get from business dudes is talk of ‘confidence’ – positive mental attitude kinda stuff. I remember in the great crash J.K. Galbraith wrote about the same sort of thing in relation to the great depression.

    I suppose if you’re generous you could interpret this talk as going to aggregate demand. If you’re not generous you could say its just hot air

  46. Q: “By the way who do we sell the airports and ports to?”

    A: A Hedge Fund who has obtained legally binding guarantees from Gov that they (aka: taxpayers) will pay all costs, and user fees!!! :-))

    I sense the local KGB types have had a Lazarus-type recovery. Big into dis-infomation and Spinola our KGB lads*. Why? Take our minds off the REAL predicament? Could be? Are they actually that clever? Hmmmm.

    Real predicament: What do you do when you have less energy than you need? Vide japan when elec. goes down – not completely mind, just a bit. That’s us in a decade or so. So when to we start planning for this future? Oh! in about a decade or so. Next!

    And don’t anybody attempt to give me the ‘Green Tech’ bit. You need lots of conventional energy to get there. So you have to siphon out quite a lot of conventional from current use. Now what would that entail? Next!

    The Knowledge Economy. Chindia is already on top of that one. Next!

    Agriculture: Here’s one. Impose full exise and VAT rates on agri diesel. Yeah, I thought so! Next!

    Forget that damn Blue (porno) Blueprint. Its a pap wrap.

    Start making real noises (like banging on yer pots and pans) about what plans are not being made about a future economy that may be a tad deficient in credit and energy. Its coming to an economy near you. In a decade or so!

    BpW

    * Did they BluTack on the lady for decoration or what?

  47. @zhou: +1

    A good thought experiment is to ask: what if 100% of the banks’ creditors were Irish? Would this mean that Irish taxpayers should indeed ensure that the creditors were paid back in full? Would the argument for burden-sharing be weaker or stronger than it currently is, in such a situation?

    Leaving aside the obviously important distributional issues that zhou raises, there would be the distortionary impact of the taxes needed to pay back the creditors. (And this is even leaving aside the costs of the State going bust as a result of pursuing this policy…)

  48. Since “connections” is kind of relevant to this thread, this:

    http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2011/03/18/516931/the-kaupthing-share-support-operation/#comments

    is not really off topic.

    Now, OK, this is an economics blog not a market blog. But in this case I think some of the contributors should be looking at this because the way the Anglo scheme slowed down the fall in Anglo shares and hid the extent of the financial problems there – until they couldn’t be hidden any longer – probably contributed to the eventual switch from complacency to panic in government. That in turn probably caused the hurried decision to guarantee all the banking liabilities and closed off the state’s options for avoiding insolvency.

    Yet again; you should note that the precedent for share support schemes and market manipulation is the Guinness case which led to prosecutions of the financiers, Guinness boss, stockbroker who executed the trades, and others. Naff all financial manipulation in comparison to Anglo.

  49. @ Sarah

    Tongue in cheek is hard to do!

    On John’s original post on this thread he said:

    “I have just bet my entire life savings on the Paddy Power website that this blueprint will not receive one favourable comment on this site. I trust that, when I return from the Saint Patrick’s Night celebrations at Saint Kiernan’s GFC, I shall not have been let down by anyone on the site acting out of character.”

    I was wondering if your agreement with him was enough to make his lose his bet. Ragusa seems pretty positive. I wouldn’t know how Paddy Power arbitrate these things. I’d say they’re fairly sharp.

  50. @Zhou

    “An example is the argument that defaulting on private Irish pension funds through bank default is “defaulting on ourselves”. It may have negative economic effects which means it is better avoided but it is certainly not defaulting on ourselves. It is defaulting on the wealthier classes.”

    This line doesn’t add up from a fund management perspective. A long time ago I found out Irish banks fund management departments had been outperforming their City counterparts by basically failing to diversify and holding lots of investments connected to…..Irish banks. Portfolio diversification is one of the most basic basics.

    I find it hard to imagine a portfolio that would be any more than somewhat negatively affected by a haircut of senior Irish bank bonds. Whatever the argument might have been pre Euro for investing predominantly in “Irish” assets, it vaporised a decade ago. There is in my view no excuse for a fund manager if he has such a large % of funds under management in Irish senior bank bonds that his clients would be wiped out – or even notice much of a difference – if the bonds were bought back at 50%, or even 10% of par value.

    “In a globalised world, the high earners in our domestic economy are simply not worth what we have been paying ourselves. Ditto current and retired Ministers. There is a great deal of denial about this.”

    This is true and again, I cannot see foreigners taking Irish claims about being unable to make the agreed repayments being taken seriously (except by a few analysts) until payroll costs are squashed more into line – from the top down, not starting with the minimum wage and the more vulnerable welfare recipients. Croke Park (yawn), c’mon!

  51. HI
    I had a quick glimpse of Irish Times article today on the blueprint – the transparency rating of the Chairwoman was slated.

    I also thought- here we go again – more top down thinking, though some good people and idea – very much a business viewpoint . Not one culture/heritage person on the panel or tech/it/science expert.

  52. @grumpy

    But does the evidence not show that it is people at the lower end of public sector pay levels are by far the most overpaid relative to the private sector?

    If we accept (and the unions do, or at least did during the boom) that public sector pay levels ought to mirror comparable wages in the private sector than it is the lower end of the pay scale that needs to be got at. Moreover, as teh number of people at these levels s large cuts here make a substantial difference to the overall cost.

  53. Hey Guys an Gal – We’re INSOLVENT! Wonder why The Upper_Echelon True_Blues didn’t invite Ivan Yates?

    Ivan Yates on an Insolvent Nation ….. well worth a perusal – especially by The Neu Minister …. De Blues … & Sarah’s lite_blue rinse brigade ..

    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.’

  54. Ireland defeat the Dutch Roight by 6 wickets.

    Sterling performance by Stirling hitting a neat century.

    Wonder might the True Blues toss in a few million to Irish Cricket …. a group that really is ‘punching above its weight’.

  55. @zhou
    “BTW, most of the higher earners in society do not realise that they are amongts the highest earners.”

    Probably because they are amongst the most indebted. There is no denial outside Ireland that the elites in the Public service, legal and financial cabals, trade unions, etc, overpaid themselves. The problem now is unwinding this overpayment without herding many of them into bankruptcy. Without some form of debt forgiveness within the country, all the speculation about sorting out external commitments makes less sense than it would otherwise. Default begins at home.

  56. @grumpy

    “until payroll costs are squashed more into line – from the top down, not starting with the minimum wage and the more vulnerable welfare recipients”

    According to the 2007 National Employment Survey 14 percent of all employees in the State had hourly earnings below €10 while a similar percentage had earnings above €40 per hour.

    When account is taken of hours worked, employees earning less than €250 a week account for only 4 percent of the national wage bill as compared with a 13.5 percent share for those earning over €1,500 a week. A ten percent reduction in wages for all 233,000 employees earning less than €250 a week would reduce the national payroll by 0.4 percent whereas a similar reduction for the 233,000 highest paid employees would reduce the national payroll by eight times as much.

    For maximum impact, any campaign to improve national wage competitiveness should start with high-paid employees, directors and self-employed rather than the lowest paid.

  57. I would see it as healthy that any Group be they experienced Businessmen (this case mainly) or Economists or whoever would put forward coherent suggestions to start logically dealing with the mess created by the incompetence of the previous cabal of Politicians, Civil Servants, Financial Regulators,Trade Unionists,Bankers and Business people (in certain sectors). This country took more than 10 years to creep into this state of affairs and it will take as long or more to creep out again. We need all of the help we can get to try to move forward. The typical Begrudger in the Irish psyche comes out here with attacks on Denis O’Brien and Dermot Desmond both of whom have invested significantly here and in the main still headquarter their operations in Ireland employing significant numbers and paying sizeable amounts of VAT, Payroll Taxes and CT. They have every right to express opinions on the way forward which is more likely to work in making positive steps for the country as a whole. Denis O’Brien’s Digicel also sponsors cricket!!!!

  58. @ Alchemist: “Without some form of debt forgiveness within the country, all the speculation about sorting out external commitments makes less sense than it would otherwise. Default begins at home.”

    Well, well! Who could have guessed? Keep punching that bag, real hard. The math might, just might, start to sink in. Doubt it though, cognitive antennae are tuned to different wavelength.

    @ Maeve: “Not one [culture/heritage person on the panel or] tech/it/science expert.

    That’s ’cause latter folk are ‘kopped-on’ and speak with a contrarian tongue. Can’t have any of that sort of loose talk about.

    Someone was bemoaning absence of econs. Probably valid, since aforementioned might not differentiate between money unit costs and energy unit costs and just ignore the negative effects of debt burden when quoting G*P values.

    BpW

  59. @ DOD

    I get the impression that Mr Noonan is a little subservient in the company of high powered European leaders.

    Frankly I don’t think he has the lithroidi.

  60. Good news / bad news.

    At a glance, today’s Irish Times’s Business this Week, 18th March, has 38 items (some composite, some international).

    Using a broad sense that what is good for the economy is good news, and what is bad, bad. There are:

    9 that are overall neutral
    9 that are bad news
    20 that are good news.

    Make of that what you will.

  61. @Eamonn Moran

    Let’s give him 10 days to settle in – otherwise what’s the point in the eu_neuchs taking over the asylum?

  62. Slightly off topic but are European regulators going to mess up the stress tests again-
    from IT
    “This year Germany is battling behind the scenes to include within the definition of capital silent participations, a kind of debt-equity hybrid exclusive to its banks that has been criticised for not being able to absorb losses while a bank is still in business.

    “There will be very clear criteria. If an instrument meets those criteria then it will be in. If not, it will be out,” Mr Enria said.

    Germany’s BdB banking association said using core Tier 1 was inappropriate and brought forward stricter global Basel III bank capital rules not due until 2013. The tests must also not spark demands for capital raising, it said.”

    Silent Participations as capital – we could have lots of that. IOU’s, Promissory notes etc.

    The tests must NOT spark demands for capital.
    So the stress tests are fixed already.

  63. @Christy
    “But does the evidence not show that it is people at the lower end of public sector pay levels are by far the most overpaid relative to the private sector?”

    Well that depends on if you believe conventional wisdom in the private sector is correct.
    In America and Europe CEO and other senior pay has been ballooning relative to Average wages over the past 50 years.
    Essentially these people are part of the L’Oreal generation.
    They think they are worth it.

  64. @The Alchemist

    I understand that the IMF are now assisting countries in designing and drafting personal insolvency legislation. Personal insolvency was not something they previously concerned themselves with. Perhaps we should ask them to run their eye over the Irish proposals.

  65. @ Eamon Moran

    I suppose the point is that the private sector ought to set wages and the public sector follow that lead.

    Why should the state pay more than it has to for labour? When it does the result must be higher taxes and/or lower quality public services than would otherwise be the case.

    if we wish to get the best bang for our buck from the public sector we must change the pay and conditions of people on lower incomes. While it could be argued this is unfair, I would say that argument is misplaced – there are hundreds of thousands of people unemployed – the state may default on its obligations to creditors – there is a hiring freeze in the public sector.

    Particularly in these circumstances the state is entitled to look to save money wherever it can. The state ought to pay the lowest level of wages that is consistent with efficiency.

    I would suggest that it is beyond argument that there are currently tens if not hundreds of thousands of people who would accept and are qualified for a public sector job that is payed at the lower end of the public sector scale.

    This ought to imply that wages fall and significantly so for public sector workers on low wages – but the protected nature of the sector implies this doesn’t happen – the insiders (those with such a job) benefit and the outsiders (the unemployed who would and could work for less and thereby save the state money) lose out. Thats the unfairness in the situation – not cutting wages for people who are paid more than they would receive in a free market

  66. @Christy

    “But does the evidence not show that it is people at the lower end of public sector pay levels are by far the most overpaid relative to the private sector?

    If we accept (and the unions do, or at least did during the boom) that public sector pay levels ought to mirror comparable wages in the private sector than it is the lower end of the pay scale that needs to be got at. Moreover, as the number of people at these levels s large cuts here make a substantial difference to the overall cost.”

    What I am trying to suggest is that there is a false binary presentation in the media that needs to be addressed. The competitiveness argument is always diverted to the minimum wage and welfare rates. Therefore competitivenes = minimun wage and welfare OR zero (more on to something else).

    This is done – not least by RTE – to divert attention from precisely what you describe. Rather than considering the payroll and pension costs relating to public sector and semi state sectors – which are way generally way over minimum wage, including some real fat cats – the Croke Park diversionary “human shield” tactic is to go straight to discussing the minimum wage.

  67. @Maeve

    Culture people – well they can submit their own ideas if they want. Nothing to stop them! and the whole culture thing is being hugely pushed by the gov – Culture is the Carrier, the year long culture festival in the US, etc

    @Gavin
    D’Oh! Well technically I haven’t said anything positive about the proposals because I didn’t read them yet. And I don’t think many commenters here have either. (Karl did obviously) Which was the point – all this discussion about the people and the one quote that Karl did highlight re the meeja and none on the substance yet. So I guess JtO’s savings are safe until someone actually reads the proposals and says something positive about one of them.

    @What goes up

    Hmm I did a quick search of my blog to see what I said about property and sadly I found just one quote by-the-by from 2006 “Those property supplements in papers are usually a total bore. Puffed up copy submitted by the auctioneers describing a house in cliched and of course, only positive terms. ”

    But no column AFAIS. I recall asking two property editors how they lived with the advertorial that counted as journalism. One said if they wrote anything negative about a house, they’d be sued for damaging the sale and the other said it wasn’t the auctioneers, but the owners of the houses for sale who spent all their time ringing them with cajoles and threats.

    @whoever was saying there were 20 positive business articles today

    Am not surprised. When I worked in PR I was always amazed at how easy it was for companies to get a press release published almost word for word without much critical comment from the journalist. I haven’t looked but I’d guess those positive articles are job announcements, product announcements, takeovers, annual reports etc. I think this happened for a couple of reasons. 1. Journalism hugely under-resourced. A desk journo doesn’t have time to phone around 10 people checking if the blurb in the PR is all true, or just blurb. 2. They need to keep in with the business people and are relying on them to give them stories about the competition or scoops on announcements. 3. Sometimes a good news story IS a good news story.
    Political journalists are much more cyncical/balanced/check out the other side etc.

    I think Liam Delaney’s comment is the most interesting so far

    Is there a team/skill base in the gov that can offer a sane analysis of proposals such as these.

    Right, I’m off to READ them now.

  68. @Sarah Carey

    “Culture people – well they can submit their own ideas if they want. Nothing to stop them! and the whole culture thing is being hugely pushed by the gov – Culture is the Carrier, the year long culture festival in the US, etc”

    I agree, and if there could be a coordinated approach I am all on for it,.. though culture isn’t the panacea. I did also mention science/tech/it… multidisciplinary – lots of interesting stuff happening there.

    We always seem to defer to the same top down “experts” even in culture. And they don’t always understand what is really happening on the micro level.. too cushioned by high pay and perks.

    slightly off topic ….I for one am part of a campaign to save an historic building in Nama ….. one of many facing neglect and just treated as fiscal assets on a balance sheet… but that’s another story.

  69. @Maeve

    I am intrigued by the day to day goings on in Nama. I know someone who’s renting a house that was subsequently Nama’ed. They’ve sent in repeated cash offers to buy it and nuttin’. I think they don’t have deeds for piles of the property. So good luck with your historic building! Send me info you like.

  70. @TRP dismissing it as “begrudgery” doesn’t cut it. There is a substantive issue here.

    The difference between what our government raises in taxes and what it spends is one of our primary problems both in and of itself and because it constrains the options for dealing with our insolvent banks. Dermot and Dennis could do their bit to help in this personally, but they chose not to. Does that seem like “Ireland First” or more like “Me First” to you? What sort of message does that send to other
    elements of our society who will be called upon to make sacrifices?

    It is reasonable to demand that those who aspire to roles of civic leadership match their actions to their words.

  71. @TRP

    Is that the same Denis O’brien that avoided 40 or 60m – don’t recall exactly – in capital gains tax due to the state after declared on the Late Late Show that he was happy to pay it.

    Didn’t he do so by claiming that he had no residence available to him in Ireland despite having a whopper of a house there. Thing is it was being done up and the kitchen fittings had been removed – so it wasn’t available to him.

    Ireland First. Not.

  72. @what goes up

    oh yeah – poor Richard. That was an outrage. And hardly a word about it in the rest of the press…glad you reminded me about that……

  73. @ Toxic Avenger,

    Not sure I follow your logic fully.

    Are you saying that to make a suggestion on improving Irelands financial woes you have to be resident in the state for tax purposes? Anglea Merkel, Nicholas Sarkozy, Ajai Choppra are not resident in the state for tax purposes, does this mean their opinion, advice is irrelevant?

    What if I am on the dole, hence I am resident in the state but I don’t pay income tax (due to the fact I don’t have a salary) then would I have a right to have a opinion about improving Irelands financial situation?

    What about American tourists, who on leaving Ireland are asked to fill in feedback forms to Board Failte about their visit to Ireland. Would they be allowed to express an opinion as they are not tax resident here either?

    To be honest I don’t care if a person is tax resident or not, if they have a good idea then we should be prepared to take it on board.

    Even if little green men from Mars arrived in Dail Eireann with the definitive plan for Irelands recovery then we should be prepared to take it on board, provided it makes sense of course.

    I’m not sure if this plan is the way forward, however if it has good points then these points should be considered.

  74. @Sarah Carey

    “I am intrigued by the day to day goings on in Nama.”

    Yea – so am I – so I phoned them up trying to get info on Nos 3-8 Hume Street, Dublin (serious vandalism and theft of roof lead) Couldn’t tell me if building was in NAMA or not, but listened and asked me to put it in an email. Got a response from AIB – they said they were following it up. I said I hoped there was immediate action, as the “asset” will be more costly to repair later.

    also It would appear that NAMA can apply to the courts “to repair or make secure any building or structure on the land.”
    http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/2009/en/act/pub/0034/sec0141.html

    for more info visit – http://www.facebook.com/savehumestreetfromdestruction
    also – Irish times 18/02/2011 http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0218/1224290140231.html

    so when I saw this from from ” Ireland First” my blood boiled:

    “3.3 MAKING NAMA WORK
    3.3.1 The role of NAMA in assisting recovery must be clearly defined and understood

    A Key priority must be the facilitation of appropriate forms of external capital to restructure many of the NAMA borrowers. Dealing commercially and in a constructive manner with such capital must become a priority for NAMA”

    I seriously object if the so called owner of Nos 3-8 Hume Street is recapitalized after treating this historic building so badly, ignoring complaints by neighbours, his own architects (who were not paid), leaving the building open while all the copper and lead was stolen, allowing addicts to sleep in the portico for several years, needles in the lanes .. meanwhile he has an operating serviced office rental business with full CCTV, security etc.. just a couple of streets away.

    … complaints were made over a month ago, DCC issued section 59 planning notice to owner and NAMA. Security in place- but the roof is still not covered – even in plastic sheeting – luckily its dry – so many unemployed builders ??

    Ireland First. NOT

  75. @ Sarah Carey

    “I am intrigued by the day to day goings on in Nama. I know someone who’s renting a house that was subsequently Nama’ed. They’ve sent in repeated cash offers to buy it and nuttin’. I think they don’t have deeds for piles of the property. So good luck with your historic building! Send me info you like.”

    In relation to NAMA, stories about this issue of title deeds (lack of) is surfacing a lot in recent weeks.

    A story in the Irish Times on Friday seemed to point in this direction also:
    “Nama’s loan documentation was “much more cumbersome than what we have been used to”, though she acknowledged that Nama believed some of the documentation used before was “disgraceful”.
    Outlining Nama’s “extraordinary” powers, she said verbal agreements between banks and borrowers were not being honoured by Nama.”
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2011/0318/1224292504640.html

    Anybody have any idea why this title problem seems to be an issue?
    Are we looking at a break in the chain-of-title attached to some of these huge loans?
    If so, our banking problem will be magnified by a factor of about 100.

  76. I am sure that some folk who contribute to this blog-site have a realistic understanding of the predicament this country is in, in respect of our twin debt burdens.

    What appears to be completely lacking – with only a few contrarian exceptions, is any realistic proposals to extract ourselves from our self-imposed debt swamp: that is, you must default on a debt that you are unable to pay back. Its difficult, even embarrassing, but if you follow the legal route, that’s it. This is what has to happen with the domestic bank guarantees: they have to be dumped. Sooner, not later. The sky will not fall in.

    The almost hysterical comments that the global financial system will ‘melt-down’ if we (or others default) are true. But the same financial system is already in ‘melt-down’ – its just in SloMo mode. Anyone who asserts that the system can be rehab’d back to its original nature is either a fool or a knave.

    The current difficulties in Japan are a golden, “wake-up and smell the coffee” moment. Lets see if any sensible folk are encouraged to come out of their shells and spell out the message.

    This country and Japan share one un-enviable attribute: we both have a very high dependency on imported primary energy sources (aka: fossil fuels). I brew a Java:Colombia, 50:50.

    BpW

  77. @Cearbahail

    My understanding is that there a few issues

    – same property cross-collaterised
    – shoddy paper work originally by banks and solicitors
    but other problem is that say for instance – when Zoe went down and they all walked away from the company, there is no one left behind to explain where everything is filed and where the paper is. IF there was any paperwork! So big legacy issue from cowboy conveyancing.

    Where were the lawyers!!??

  78. We are a very conservative people and strangely, given our mainly Latin origins, we tend to be both friendly and relaxed about life and very gloomy.

    There are no magic solutions for Ireland’s problems and it is fair to say that Ireland’s business leaders were happy to dine on the fatted calf during the Ahern era, but not one business leader challenged the conventional wisdom.

    I have read the document and I wil respond to the specific proposals on Sunday.

    Conservative Ireland has been very slow to embrace the Internet and the concern about the media is in relation to the newspapers and broadcasters.

    When most government announcements on for example enterprise policy are dominated by spin, it should hardly be surprising that journalists who have no experience in the business sector, repeat it as fact.

    The Blueprint group ignores this and presumably their criticism of media coverage on the economy is targeting commentary that with the exception of the likes of Sarah Carey, is based on a narrower experience of life.

  79. @Sarah Carey

    I understand solicitors were giving undertakings to banks when they were not in a position to. There was pressure on “ambitious” solicitors to go along with this to get deals closed partly to get repeat business and partly because they were sometimes paid with a stake in the project.

    It is rather ironic that the solicitors’ lobby managed to keep out competition by preventing “conveyancers” as there are in the UK that are much more readily available and competitively priced (quality of service was the preposterous reasoning).

    Then there’s the local/Irish language anti-competitiveness wheeze.

  80. Irish First.
    I spotted a few names among those who produced this document who certainly don’t put Ireland First when it comes to paying income tax!

  81. Tied to the rack as EU tightens the thumbscrews – article in the Indo today makes for sobering reading, I cannot see who wrote it as I am reading it on the web.

  82. The document is a useful synthesis of an extensive number of issues where Ireland can directly impact or better prepare the economy to take advantage of emerging trends.

    The challenge is to create 200,000 jobs and that should have a laser beam focus along with fixing the banking system.

    It’s not that these ideas are new as many people including myself have made proposals on various policy changes.

    What is needed is action and Richard Bruton for example should take a serious look at the senior management of the enterprise agencies. He could do with people less prone to spinning and sycophancy.

    The target of 20% of FDI coming from China and India to be achieved by 2015 is fine but we need to understand that this is a different market from one where for new US investors, there is already a big US population of companies; Indian group Tata is the UK’s biggest industrial employer but our own record in attracting or keeping investment from for example Japan and South Korea hasn’t been good.

    There have been moves in recent years to make the €16bn public procurement system more balanced for small companies. The biggest change Brendan Howlin could make is to make all tenders above a low value, public.

    Tourism, food, production, professional fee cartels, energy supply, public service reform are all areas where urgent action is required.
    Reflecting the views of Seán O’ Driscoll, chief executive of Glen Dimplex, the document says “In the last decade, there was a general undervaluing of manufacturing and a misplaced over-emphasis on other sectors including the smart-knowledge driven economy. The reality is that a well-balanced, effective and sustainable economy requires a strong broad-based indigenous manufacturing sector.

    Other leading international economies such as the US and the UK pursued similar economic strategies to the detriment of their manufacturing sectors. Today, the US and the UK are changing this strategy and also their views on what can and should be manufactured in their own countries.”

    There are also useful points made in respect of NAMA, SMEs and the risk of losing key skills in the construction industry.

    These items may not be as exciting as incinerating bondholders but in the long-term will be more important.

  83. @MH-ff: “What is needed is action” “. . .are all areas where urgent action is required.”

    Action. Yes Michael, but the authors were curiously silent on naming items of action – like abolishing all tax incentives, reliefs, write-offs, etc. Where is the empirical evidence that these activities actually pay back more in taxes than they cost in foregone tax? Plenty of Spinola, little evidence.

    Action: Reduce all salaries/wages paid out of taxation (not more borrowing!). I did not see that mentioned. Though they did seem to imply that there was scope for ‘cuttings’ in welfare transfers. Some mention of fraud. Reforms in financial sectors to cut ‘frauds’? Hmmmm.

    Can I really accept that the author’s Grounding Straps are actually connected to ground if this is what they are offering?

    “The reality is that a well-balanced, effective and sustainable economy requires a strong broad-based indigenous manufacturing sector.”

    This comment by SO’D. Its the two words – sustainable economy, that are the problem here. Contrary to popular opinion, a ‘sustainable economy’ has the following characteristic: – a long-term trend of an annual, compounding percentage decrement in aggregate economic activity – less and less each succeeding year! Think that might raise a few hackles? Yes, I thought so! But that’s sustainability for you.

    The 200,000 employment opportunities are, I presume, reinstarting those that were lost, not new, as in never existed before? Now I wonder how the authors might explain how this could be put into effect, absent any taxpayer driven ‘incentives’, that is? Some silence there also.

    As I alluded to above, I have formed the unpleasant opinion that the authors have failed to engage, in a meaningful intellectual manner, with the real crises – a slurry pit full of fermenting debt. That must be drained if we are to have any chance at all.

    BpW

  84. @ sarah carey

    ‘Where were the lawyers ? !!!’

    On the inside, especially where large corporate law firms are concerned. We have a change of suits these days, but no change in the policy of non disclosure. Commercial sensitiviites covers a multitude. All professions protect their members.

    The inner workings of NAMA will remain opaque. There will be no enquiry into the professional malfeasance which characterised the bubble economy. The rot was too widespread and the embarrassment to the social order would be intolerable.

    Huge fees are accumulating in the course of the post hoc clean up, just putting some minimal order on files and ensuring that none of the really mucky stuff is ever unearthed. Meanwhile time passes by and such ‘unfortunate’ matters can be relegated to history. It’s all business….

  85. It seems to have escaped the notice of these very concerned people that the gov’t is skint. The problems are budget deficits and increasing national debt. Then they get right into reducing taxes while at the same time increasing expenditures on a multitude of programs. The same old, same old tune now played on a right of centre fiddle accompanied by keening and ologoning. Are we completely incapable of facing the facts.

  86. Below is the link to an article dated 13March 2011 in the Sunday Independent by Ronald Quinlan headed “Nama will hinder recovery,business experts warn:
    http://shar.es/UJ4gD

    In this article it states:
    “Outside of Nama’s remit, but still in the area of property, the same source said the new Government needed to move to end the uncertainty surrounding the future of upward-only rent reviews for commercial premises. Under the Programme for Government, the Coalition has given its commitment to end upward-only rent reviews for existing leases.
    Commenting on this, the source said: “The rent review issue has to be addressed now. The uncertainty surrounding this is having a serious and direct impact on our potential to attract foreign direct investment. Nobody wants to put their money into commercial property in a country where the goalposts can be moved overnight.”
    It is understood that the co-chairs of Ireland First — One 51 chief executive Philip Lynch and Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins — will lead the various delegations once meetings can be agreed with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Government.”

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