David Drumm Interview

With extracts carried in today’s Sunday Business Post, IrishCentral.com carries a very extensive interview by Niall O’Dowd with David Drumm here.

73 replies on “David Drumm Interview”

The Chinese are said to have a saying: when you ride on a tiger, you cannot dismount (Chinese often look blankly when presented with common Western ‘Chinese’ sayings).

David Drumm was lucky to become rich and in charge of a bank with an apparently impressive record. He fell off the tiger as tens of thousands of unemployed did.

Even though he was CEO, FitzPatrick was inevitably going to continue to call the shots. He could have shouted stop but so many more in the Central Bank and public service could have also.

The former bank governor, regulator and Ahern, McCreevy, Harney and Cowen have gilted meal tickets for life.

Only a fool could believe that in an unreformed system/culture that there has been fundamental change.

The black swan is rare ( long before I heard of Taleb, a Paddy O’Sullivan at UCC used to add some spice to dreary proceedings with discussions of Popper) and going with the flow usually pays dividends and a socialist silk safety net.

Radicalism is rare and going with the flow is still the default.

The tumbrils should be lined up for more than just David Drumm.

@Niall O’Dowd & Molly Muldoon @IrishCentral.com

Well done! Unlike the WSJ, the NYT, the CIA, or others of note – you have found some real empirics here – sans the psychological projections – of a WMD (Weapon of Mass Destruction) – same being The Irish Banking System and its upper-echelon Political, Administrative, Business, and Regulatory Fellow Travellers. And the WMD_spear-carriers simply strolled out of Dodge while the Fellow Travellers circled the wagons with business-as-usual as they survey the wasteland while ignoring, once again, the lessons of The Somme.

And the supine citizen-serfs bleed on … and on … and on …

DDI have great regret that no one in any bank or any government agency or anybody at all saw it coming.


DD It came out of America and it wreaked incredible damage.


There are very few people who know the full Anglo story. Klaus Regling is one of them.

DDSo this issue of lying about the bad debts is just not true

Yeah right, and here we take a break… This Interview is nothing but a Layers coached and stage managed white wash.

Going with the flow is highly valued in Ireland. It comes from the era of large families where internal dissent was frowned upon and discouraged by mothers with cast iron frying pans. Mr Drumm coming out of a large Irish family would have had coaching on smooth flow from birth. I am guilty myself of coaching my children to avoid high speed collisions on the road and at work. I haven’t been 100% successful but I like to think I exerted some civilizing influence.

David Drumm was a believer and put his money where his mouth is. Even though visiting Americans were surprised at the value of land he still did not twig to where it was headed. I remember once reading that property in Geneva was selling at twelve times annual income. This was used in the context that property values in London could go much higher. As the old saying goes it is difficult to persuade a man whose income depends on the continuation of a bubble that a bubble actually exists.

@Michael Hennigan

Before lining up tumbrils, it is necessary to have a criminal trial and a conviction.

Before that, it is necessary to identify crimes, to find evidence linking individuals to commission of the crimes, and charge the individuals with the crimes.

Many crimes occurred during the collapse of the Irish banking system, but as I have pointed out before, they did not cause that collapse. It does not necessarily excuse the crimes, but the most obvious ones were clearly committed in an effort to avoid that collapse.

The criminal offences which took place prior to, say, 2008, were (a) relatively minor and (b) did not contribute to the collapse.

I have stated this many times. I have also offered to help anyone who wishes to bring a case and believes that they can both identify a crime, and have evidence that will convict a named perpretrator.

There have been no takers. Not one. Zero. (See http://bit.ly/qNcf4G)

@Georg R Bauman

If you know something about these alleged lies, is it not time to share it ? I am contactable via my website.

The fact Drumm says he ‘did not see it coming’ is testimony to his incompetence and greed as a banker.

Writing down losses and setting up the NAMA was a rod the government created to beat its own back, I agree with that, but that’s another story.

His piece is full of self pity. We’ve never had anything less than a whitewash of the banking meltdown in Ireland.

But he’s highly disingenuous regarding his own role in the debacle. We need thorough investigation of the B&B loans and the regulator’s involvement.

It’s rather simple to do this.

1) Take the 10 ten toxic loans given out by Anglo. Forensically examine the decision making evaluation and process procedures involved in these loans.

2) On the macro level look at the loan to value procedures adopted and implemented by Anglo and give public account of these. Particularly investigate any anomalies such as developer/political crossovers.

3) Account for the relationship between the ECB, the Irish Central Bank and the European Stability and Growth Pact, loan to deposit ratios, and other safeguard cushioning that should have led to wise and competent bank management.

4) What exactly was the procedure for giving out loans and receiving bonuses on the foot of these loans inside Anglo?

Is a clandestine share support scheme a crime? That has been openly admitted and, it appears, that the Quinn family believe that the debt taken on to fund the operation is not legally binding since the “use of funds” was clearly illegal?

Of course there are no “crimes” on the way up. The insiders could change the rules to allow ever more credit/debt extension on the assumption that, in a market system, a failure would be dealt with through legal channels.

It was only when the inevitable collapse came that the iron rule of market systems was broken. Failure was resisted first and, when that didn’t work, it was not allowed to hit the actors that caused the failure. That’s a Crime!


Hi again Fergus,

as I indicated to you before, we briefly exchanged on constitutional issues, the years that I spent already on this planet taught me to avoid closer contact to the professional class of lawyers.

My views have not changed.


Leave it to Michael Hennigan to get a dig in at the public sector in the course of a post about David Drumm and Anglo-Irish. If it were in a work of fiction, nobody would believe it.

@Colm Brazel

It is my information that the Nyberg team did an exercise pretty much along the lines you suggest.

The results failed to confirm what are obviously your own investigation-free conclusions.

@Georg R. Baumann

Sigh. Avoid us if you must, and if you can.

But I am pretty satisfied that it is not only lawyers who would like to know whether your confident assertions concerning widespread lying have any reality outside your own head.

@ Fergus,

Nyberg was a disgrace and a whitewash! It told us what we already knew and didn’t need Nyberg to tell us.

As regards ‘investigation’, we havn’t had a proper investigation into the banks.

Persuade the government to give me ten good detectives though, and I’ll have a real report on your desk inside 4 months:)

By the way, if you arn’t satisfied that a layperson like myself can do it, why not have the public hearings associated with:


I should add Nyberg and Honahan inquiries did flag further Garda investigations, but I believe their findings are delayed until at least another year from now.

Lots of people fall for the trick of being pampered and confirmed that the partial knowledge they have about something they seek to know, is true; but fail to realise they are not being told ‘the real truth’ regarding that which they seek to know:-)

So far our mickey mouse propaganda and coverup of our banking meltdown hasn’t yielded up much information.

David Drumm fled to the US to escape justice at home in Ireland. He fled to escape having to explain his part in bankrupting Anglo Irish bank and in loading those losses upon the Irish people.

He fled Ireland to better secure the personal assets transferred to his wife in the dying days of the bank fiasco in Ireland. He fled to avoid questions about how much he knew about the coming collapse, then he knew it, and what he did in response to it. He fled to hold onto the fortune he had made for destroying this country.

He fled because he knew the game was up and that he would be safe and secure from all the consequences of his actions in the US. He fled as far as he could from the Irish government while still being in a legal system which would help him do so. He fled to set up a shell game of bankruptcy abroad, his wealth with his wife, his residency within the use, and Anglo reduced to a foreign creditor.

David Drumm is a fugitive from justice, and a symbol for everything that is wrong with accountability and responsibility in Ireland. His continued freedom and impunity undermines the legitimacy of the rule of law in this country, and his continued remuneration in the face of failure undermines all pretence of meritocracy in Irish commerce. His continued impenitence makes a mockery of ethics in Irish public life.

Drumm and all the rest of the justice exiles in the US and elsewhere, should be brought back to Ireland to face the consequences of their own actions. Until they are, its is the Irish people who will continue to bear the burden of those consequences in their stead.

@Colm Brazel

Like everyone else, it seems that your complaint about Nyberg is that it did not confirm the conclusions which you had pre-determined for its investigation. On this basis, it seems that no investigation is ever going to satisfy you or the rest of the commentariat that the reality is as banal as Nyberg stated it to be.

I agree that there are other ways – i.e. other than the Regling/Watson/Honohan/Nyberg sequence – in which we could have approached the task of investigating our banking crash, and that these might have been more satisfying.

But the word is “might”. After all, did the Americans or British actually find material which confirmed the sensational suspicions so often ventilated here and elsewhere ? I suggest not – Michael Noonan’s “40 American bankers in prison” were a figment of his, or someone else’s, imagination.

More tellingly, the shareholders of neither Anglo nor AIB have been calling for their directors to conduct further investigations into possible criminal activity. One has to suspect that this is because they know well that there is nothing else to discover.

But if I am missing something important, my offer is still open: I will help anyone who has the evidence to privately prosecute the wrongdoers. We won’t have to wait for the ODCE or the DPP (until/unless a jury trial is required, for which DPP consent is needed).

To be clear: I am only interested in prosecutions which are of crimes which played a part in causing the collapse.

I won’t be holding my breath.


DD is nobody’s hero. However, a fugitive from justice ? Get a grip.

There are no charges, as far as I know, outstanding against him. If there were, there are extradition arrangements which could be invoked.

If we want him to co-operate with investigations, constantly repeating that he is guilty of criminal behaviour is not a good strategy to achieve that end. IMHO, he is quite correct to have concluded that he will not get a fair trial here.

In any event, if the investigations are being directed towards prosecuting him, he as the probable accused is entitled to remain silent, as everything he would say could be used in the prosecution case.

All that said, my offer is open to you, too.


may I add… and he made a deal with DoF/Lenihan concerning the possible use of evidence in any Irish court.

As to what DD knew and when he knew it, we know enough. He went to the Central Bank, DOF and the Regulator when it was necessary. You can rest assured that the Taoiseach and all relevant Cabinet Ministers were in the loop before he went to the bureaucrats (this is Ireland). It was the Irish Gov’t that decided to backstop the banks and bondholders not AI, AIB or BOI.

The prevailing mood is that shooting would be too good for some of these people and slow hanging would assuage the public. Thousands of people are directly responsible for the mess we are in and hundreds of thousands turned a blind eye to nepotism, cronyism and outright fraud and corruption for decades. The attitude was we will send as cute a hoor as we can because we too are entitled to a slice of the pie. One of the few positives is that eyes have been pried open and the necessity to send men of unimpeachable integrity to the Dail should now be evident.

Aristotle said that for ideas deeply embedded in the culture change occurs at a snails pace over generations. (The exact words escape me but that is the gist of it.). I am not expecting sudden conversions on a mass scale.

@ Ernie Ball

Why surprise that Michael Hennigan would look at Anglo, poster-boy of Irish shark capitalism, and see only a public sector villain?

I have to say that I am extremely dissapointed to see the Sunday Business Post so credulously printing this interview. It is riddled with dubious, self serving, and outright incorrect statements from Drumm from start to finish.

Let’s start at the beginning:

DD: Ireland had a 15-year boom, unprecedented and the Celtic Tiger. There wasn’t a person in Ireland in 2005/06/07, not a person, who did not believe Ireland would just rage on for decades.

Drumm is either being disingenuous, or is trying for a “complete incompetent” defence. Actually, this may not be far off the mark as later we have

DD: Sean was a very, very powerful person; he was a controlling person not just of the executives, but of the non-executives. He ran the board, in a highly premeditated, controlled manner there were meeting before board meetings to make sure he got what he wanted and so on. Sean was like that before I became CEO, he was 18-years as CEO and he wasn’t planning on changing. So as chairman he was an executive chairman for all intents and purposes and a highly controlling one, there is no doubt in that. Anyone that knows him, knows that is true.

NOD: Do you feel in any way that you were brought into that job, because you were the least experienced of the people applying for it and that he was then able to control you?

DD: I am pretty sure I was his candidate, he thought I could do the job, I worked for the bank for many years and done a lot of good things in the bank for many years but as the youngest person there, I was the likely person who would give the least resistance. I think that is true.

Wow, it’s like Niall O’Dowd thinks the incompetence defence is the way to go too. Our poor buachaill David, pushed around and bullied by that mean Goliath Sean Fitzpatrick, barely able to do enough to justify his €2 million salary. The poor creator.

I don’t find this attempt to offload responsibility very compelling.

I also found it incredulous that Anglo Irish was unaware that Sean Quinn held a 25% stake in the bank, even more so since Quinn was so candid about it when asked. There’s more besides

NOD: At what point did it spark danger?

DD: […]So we in our heads thought maybe he[Quinn] had five percent or six percent, so we go up to the Ardboyne hotel we meet Sean Quinn and Liam McCaffrey.

It was just staggering. Sean’s sitting here, we were in the hotel room , Sean Quinn there and Liam McCaffrey is sitting opposite me and Sean then proudly tells us that he has 25 percent of the bank, even at that time he had 28 . I looked immediately at the chairman and I tell people the story, he physically moved backwards with the shock. We had it in our own heads, maybe it was single digits. So immediately we knew it was an issue for the bank, Quinn realized in our faces that he had missed something about it.

NOD: What do you think he thought your reaction would be?

DD: That maybe it was a compliment to us, that he was buying a big chunk of the bank. What he didn’t realize , this is the unfortunate sad bit about it, he was a great entrepreneur , built huge businesses and employed a huge amount of people in areas that would not have seen employment. What he missed was the manner in which he did it, he went to these investment banks, nine investment banks and he went on margin. So they went out and bought the stock but because they had the stock on this CFD thing, they were able to lend the stock to hedge funds. A way for an investor/broker to make additional money on CFD is to actually use the physical stock to lend it out and they make a margin, they charge two or three percent margin on it. I am sure he wasn’t aware of it, the more of these CFD’s you do, the more there is available to short and the easier it us to short the bank and give yourself a problem. He didn’t get advice and he will tell you that himself.

How convenient–for all involved: Sean Quinn’s “innocent” purchase of Anglo shares–enough to spark a regulatory investigation–went unnoticed by everyone in the bank and on the board. And it was his equally innocent–and only incidentally highly convoluted–manner of purchasing of the shares which caused such unfortunate instability in Anglo’s share price. And naturally, the savvy Sean Quinn of course did not take any advice before embarking on a complicated financial brokerage scheme to purchase a 25% share in billion euro bank–I mean who would!!?

Incidentally on an unrelated matter, didn’t the interviewer Niall O’Dowd seek the Sinn Fein nomination for the presidency recently? And isn’t Sean Quinn a SF supporter? Or was I thinking of Fianna Fail in both instances? Never mind,I digress.

Lets move on to yet more eye openers from David Drumm

NOD: Yeah, but the counter to that would be the banks misled the government about the extent of debt, is that a fair comment?

DD: No that is another misrepresentation and myth. What happened was, you will hear the words liquidity and solvency get batted around. In 2008 the problem was liquidity, literally cash flow.

In other words Anglo was not insolvent in 2008. It just became insolvent afterwards–by magic! No really, it’s true!

DD: In 2008 they board of the bank agreed given the times that were in it that the non-executive board away from the executive should independently review it’s loan book and they did so under the tutelage of Donal O’Connor, who took over the bank after Sean went and Lar Bradshaw, who used to be the head of McKinsey. Experienced guys went and reviewed the reviewers, the risk department. They reviewed all of the loans, came back to the board when the 2008 accounts were being signed off and said we agree with the provisions and that they actually are prudential.

See. The Anglo board memebers but on their “independent review” caps and double checked all their own sums. Everything came out hunky dory less than 12 months before Anglo became one of the most insolvent banks in history. “Prudential” I say!

But Mr. Drumm really is contrite and regretful for his failures.

DD: I wish I could have done more, I wish I knew more, I wish I was better than what I was. But I did try my best. All the time I was trying to protect the bank, I had 15years of that attitude, that didn’t change, it became even more intense in me when I became CEO, so I was doing my job and doing my best and I failed and of course I regret it.

Yes well, perhaps if he had spent a little less time transferring assets to his wife and preparing for his new consequence free life in the US, perhaps he would not have so much cause for regret. But hindsight is 20:20 after all, isn’t it Mr. Drumm

NOD: Looking back what could have been done differently?

DD: Oh…(laughs), how broad do you want to be? The group think in 2004 could have been like ‘you know what maybe we are in a bubble’.

Yes, hind sight is 20:20. And I’m sure the whole thing seems terribly amusing when you’re 3000 miles away from the epicentre, in a trim Massachusetts mansion, sitting in a mid-town Manhattan lawyers office, completely safe and sound, secure and insulated from consequences and conscience. I’m sure it’s all terribly amusing.

You have expertly dissected his position.

I would say days of preparation and expert legal opinion went into this interview.
I am particularly struck by how Quin’s comments and Seanie’s reaction were portrayed. This in light of how Quinn is positioning himself on the same matter.

Sure we never promised him the sun, moon and stars we never even knew he had invested in our failing concern. Ireland at its worst.

@Fergus O’Rourke
Dear Fergus, I won’t be taking you up on your offer. I don’t think your heart would be in the job.

I would say days of preparation and expert legal opinion went into this interview.

It was held in Mr. Drumm’s lawyer’s offices in Manhattan. Go figure.

William Black provides an entertaining dissection of Nyman’s gelded investigation:

“Because he [Nyman] was barred from investigating fraud (which was outside his expertise), he investigated “why the Irish financial crisis occurred.” He knew, of course, without investigation or expertise in detecting fraud, that the crisis did not occur because of insider fraud even though insider fraud is the most common cause of such crises. Nyberg’s report is the third report Ireland has paid for (at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars). It contains no essential new facts not already known from the prior reports – because it did not conduct any real investigation. It reads like a defense lawyer’s brief for the senior management of the failed Irish banks. Ireland paid Nyberg large amounts of money to make it far harder to prosecute or even sue the CEOs that destroyed the Irish economy. This is significantly insane.”



“He could have shouted stop but so many more in the Central Bank and public service could have also.”

No point getting annoyed with MH for stating a fact. As David Drumm says, and as has been observed before, it’s pretty clear that the efforts to save Anglo were done at the behest of and with the approval of the Regulator, the CB and I think it’s fair to speculate, DoF.

This includes the Maple 10 deal and the Green Jersey deposits. Why do you think Gillian Bowler never resigned? Because no matter how much Lenihan wanted a head, I’d bet anything she was able to say “No way – you guys told us to do this, and now you want me to resign over it?”

Remember Seanie phoned Brian Cowen to tell him what Quinn had done. Everything from that point on included the public sector.

Save your outrage for the those at the bottom of the PS instead of taking umbrage when the highly paid fools at the top are a legitimate target.

it’s pretty clear that the efforts to save Anglo were done at the behest of and with the approval of the Regulator, the CB and I think it’s fair to speculate, DoF.


Save your outrage for the those at the bottom of the PS instead of taking umbrage when the highly paid fools at the top are a legitimate target.

Do you really believe that when Michael Hennigan uses the term ‘public service’ – with no qualifier, and as others of like mind do – he doesn’t really mean it?


… the legitimacy of the rule of law in this country …’

Love your sense of humour … so, one assumes, does the ‘precious’ octet ..

@Sarah Carey

The time-delayed reflections in Spectacles says it all. Do you sense an op-ed coming on? ‘L’eegit_imacy of the rule of law in this country’ – Le Monde would love it …


Bill Black’s comments are spot on!

He also mentioned:

‘Systemically ignoring fraud, is a systemic risk’, and concerning Ireland I would add, the deficiencies in the Irish legal system prohibit the view of ignoring fraud to be a criminal offense. Apart from that, I have no doubt that a massive operation was undertaken to dilute or destroy evidence.

Just one last comment to this Lawyers scripted event.

As I already pointed out above, because it is such a blatant lie, DD states:

I have great regret that no one in any bank or any government agency or anybody at all saw it coming.

This is precisely the spin that the public sphere is indoctrinated with all the time, it is plain wrong and nothing but pro establishment propaganda.

As early as 09/2004 the FBI warned explicitly in open testimony that there was an epidemic of mortgage fraud. Anglo Irish Bank became a major player in this global fraud.

OMF, well done ….

These people can’t understand anything, they see nothing. Yet their regulators are conveniently neutered and prevented from investigating anything that could even faintly smell of fraud. Their assets are magically whisked away to relatives well before bankruptcy and they conveniently flit to a well furnished abode in a bankruptcy friendly jurisdiction. Yet, to actually assume responsibility for failing to do what they were paid to, no, too much!

Sarah Carey I hope I misunderstood your last sentence, but if you are saying that this was the fault of the minions in the PS, then shame on you. Every individual in that vipers nest carries individual and joint responsibility for what they did. Lenihan deserves to be disinterred and strung up, and all of the FF’ers that were knee deep in this corruption deserve to be prosecuted and imprisoned. But so do the Drumm’s Quinn’s Fitzpatricks and all of the other shudders that created this mess.


Sure, I was including my sister and two brothers also in the cast of public service characters responsible for the crash of the Irish economy.

During the boom, there were many like you attacking the small number who dared claim that the free lunch hadn’t been invented.

@Georg R. Baumann

You say:

“and he made a deal with DoF/Lenihan concerning the possible use of evidence in any Irish court.”

If this is a fact, please supply the confirmation of it.

I won’t be holding my breath, though.


How exactly is it that you think DD ought to have known of Quinn’s 28% shareholding ? You appear to be of the incorrect view that it was simply a matter of looking at the shareholders’ register.

You also appear to be ignorant of the Massachusetts bankruptcy proceedings, as well as several other indisputable “consequences” for DD mentioned in the interview, because you more than once refer to his position as “consequence-free”.

Hardly an expert dissection.


I assure you that you are mistaken, but you can hardly be blamed for feeling that my heart would not be in the job 🙂

That does not absolve you from your duty to do something if you believe that it can be done. There are about 13,000 lawyers, quite a few of them under- if not un-employed, and most of them agree more with the Georgs of this world than with me. You should find one to help you if you cannot trust me.


What is really noticeable about Bill Black’s writing and speaking is that he knows a lot about the S&L phenomenon in the United States. A consequence is that he sees every other banking crisis as another S&L. He is great on broad-brush smeary characterisations of people he has never met or studied as perpetrators of “fraud”. I get the impression that he does not know what fraud is, really. (He also does not understand the European bank regulatory environment. OK, who does, even now ? 🙂 The difference is that some of us do not smear others on a misunderstanding). Great company, though !

We are asked to believe that our former bank managements ran their companies into the ground in order to line their own pockets. Yes, you can find some facts that fit this theory, but the overwhelming number of facts is on the other side.

Just have a look; you haven’t, have you ?

@Georg R. Baumann

You say:

“…the deficiencies in the Irish legal system prohibit the view of ignoring fraud to be a criminal offense.

I, with some diffidence, interpret this to mean that you assert that the legal system discourages prosecution of fraud as a crime.

If so, there is some validity in this view, but you are clearly equating the law’s imposition of (possibly over-strict) standards of proof in cases of fraud to toleration of fraud even in clear cases. And of course you assert that the banking collapse was caused by a series of clear cases of fraud.

Having standards that are too high is one thing; having no standards at all is another. As long as you continue to make allegations e.g

“I have no doubt that a massive operation was undertaken to dilute or destroy evidence”

“As early as 09/2004 the FBI warned explicitly in open testimony that there was an epidemic of mortgage fraud. Anglo Irish Bank became a major player in this global fraud.”

for which you offer only Black-ian generalisations from earlier scandals but no current provable facts, I will suspect you as falling into the latter camp.


of course you misunderstood.

Not a minion in sight. I’m talking about the people at the top whose job it was to, you know, regulate. The ones who got the huge pay hikes and pay offs. But every time they are targeted for accountability and blame, the lefties dash in with moral outrage to defend the PS as a whole, instead of pointing out that its lowest paid members are being forced to may a huge reputational and financial price for the failures of their superiors. I can distinguish between a minion and suit at the top who was asleep on the job, or for a more benign interpretation, a minion and a desperate effort by the people at the top to salvage the situation, however incompetently. Can you?

The bottom line: I think DD is telling the truth when he says the regulator knew about the Maple 10 and I think the regulator and CB and DoF were urging green jersey deposits. I’m looking forward to Gillian Bowler’s tell all interviews in 10 years…

Come on, folks. Ease off on the moral outrage. Any capitalist (or person in a position of power or influence) worth his of her salt will push the limits of any system of governance to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible. In Ireland they were pushing against an open door. The fault lies with those who were paid well to slam the door – and to catch a few fingers so that it might encourage the others.

It’s difficult to prove illegal behaviour if proper governance wasn’t applied – and even more difficult if there was a nod and a wink that it was just there as an optical illusion so as to pull the wool over the eyes of any external parties, such as the European Commission, ECB, IMF, OECD, or various NGOs, which might take a look.

We have a bigger problem now. Do people really believe that the replacement of those who gave political sanction to this optical illusion of governance with a new bunch spouting all sorts of good intentions about the public and national interest has solved the underlying, fundamental problem of governance?


“Talking to family on the phone, one of my siblings was trying to get a job, applied for a van driver’s job and was told not to bother sending in the CV because there were 1,700 applications for it.
MM: When you hear stuff like that do you feel guilty in any way?

DD: I have great regret that no one in any bank or any government agency or anybody at all saw it coming. It came out of America and it wreaked incredible damage.”

When it all fell apart and the Soviets were at the gates of Berlin Hitler said the German people didn’t deserve him.



Cop to thief who stole the money he was supposed to be guarding: Aaaagh! I’ll deal with you later, but right now, we HAVE to get this money back. Let’s sort this out – we might have to cut corners, but we’ll worry about that later….

So let’s prosecute the thief for stealing the money in the first place.

But let’s ask:
1. Where were the cops during the robbery? Eating donuts?
2. If we’re adding to the charge sheet the efforts to replace the money, then the role played by the cops must be acknowledged.

Except for you’ve forgotten one thing: your crowd were some of the most vociferous cheerleaders for deregulation as the solution to all problems, for the Market always knows best. Now, faced with an obvious market failure of epic proportions, you and the rest of the right-wing media have decided the best bet is to try to deflect attention to the public sector as a whole and away from the private sector 1% who caused the problem and are benefitting from all the “solutions.”

Never mind your own role in abetting the corruption of those who serve the public. But I suppose that’s their fault too.

I absolutely agree that the boys and girls at the top who were supposed to regulate and didn’t should be made to account for themselves. That said, I agree totally with Ernie about the right’s campaign to deregulate and it’s subsequent “it’s all the fault of the regulators”

The infuriating thing about Anglo is that it was run so outrageously badly and its rescue was nothing more than a heist by insiders. The government guaranteed it, but nobody impounded accounts or data. Depositors/borrowers were allowed to withdraw deposits and even today there is no sign of any real investigation of what went on in there. We do know that all of the main players are alright though. Their cash was transferred safely ahead of time.

It’s likely too late to ever find incriminating data against these traitors, but the circumstantial evidence against all of them (private sector and politician) is overwhelming.

@ Paul Hunt
I believe the answer to your last question may be a solid’no’!
But I have no ‘evidence’ to support my belief!
@ Ernie Ball – you are right about the market failure and the small number causing the debacle but it’s also a strong perception that the productivity levels in public bodies, especially non-frontline, are well below what they should be in order to support the delivery of good services to citizens….


That perception is being fed by a concerted propaganda campaign. There is little evidence that the Irish public sector underperforms or fails to give value for money, no matter what the Sunday Independent may have said every week for the last three years.

There has been a number of suggestions recently on how to tackle the finance industry….

Clearly the finance industry needs to be tamed. The entire industry from high frequency trading, to the various CDO’s etc is just one big unregulated haven for gambling, it has long since lost its function as an efficent allocator of capital.

various suggestions have been put forward on a Tobin tax or tax on financial transactions, I’d like to suggest an alternative

HFT, CDO’s CFD’s etc etc etc all depend on the legal system for them to be enforceable…. If I bet a trillion dollars to make a million, or issue a CFD or trade 1000 times a second… each trade must be supported by the legal framework and subject to the laws of some country..

I propose all transactions requiring a contract (whether express or implied) have a CVAT applied, a Contract Value Added Tax…. It could be 0.05% of the total contract value, and for items subject to VAT, it could be included in VAT…

Simply put…. if you haven’t prepaid the CVAT to a country, you cant sue in that country…. if you haven’t prepaid the CVAT, the other side can simply not honour the contract and you are screwed….. No agreements, covenants etc similarly can be honoured without the CVAT

it buys your right to sue on that specific trade and only that specific transaction for an amount not greater than the value of the contract.

The argument against the Tobin tax is that unless it is applied globally, it wont work but this approach could be applied such that if a small country is setting this at 0%, their contracts can be rendered useless….

If companies are setting up offices in the small country for the purpose of HFT, well the problem is localized to that host country or transactions between countries with 0%….

But it would be possible for the laws of countries with a CVAT to ensure that only paid for transactions have recourse to their legal system, and probably even possible to organize internationally that contracts in 0 rated countries are not recognized internationally

I’m sure they will game it but it certainly would be possible to stop much of the madness with some imagination

“There wasn’t a person in Ireland in 2005, 2006 or 2007, not a person, who did not believe Ireland would just rage on for decades. There was a report done by, I think it was NCB Stockbrokers, I think it was in 2005 or 2006 and it was called 20:20. It predicted this economic miracle going on and it would be 2020 before this extraordinary growth, which I think was averaging six per cent a year, would ever waver, because everybody believed it.”

Presumably they never ran any scenarios chez Anglo. Very DoF.

Genius is leverage in a rising market. You just put all your money and all the money that isn’t yours on the Greenspan put.


You say

“The infuriating thing about Anglo is that it was run so outrageously badly and its rescue was nothing more than a heist by insiders. ”

Sorry don’t follow “a heist by insiders”

“… nobody impounded accounts”

Why do you feel so sure that this is so ?

“or data”

What makes you think data has gone missing ?

“Depositors/borrowers were allowed to withdraw deposits and even today there is no sign of any real investigation of what went on in there”.

What kind of signs would you expect ?

“We do know that all of the main players are alright though. Their cash was transferred safely ahead of time.”

Do we know that ?

“It’s likely too late to ever find incriminating data against these traitors, but the circumstantial evidence against all of them (private sector and politician) is overwhelming.”

Whatever else the people involved were, they were not traitors.

What is the circumstantial evidence that you consider so overwhelming, and of what is it evidence ?


Your remarks on Prof. Black…

I get the impression that he does not know what fraud is, really. (He also does not understand the European bank regulatory environment.

…are quite ‘remarkable’.

Such a statement is frankly impertinent and risible.

You come here fishing for whistleblowers, and I would think you are not doing yourself any favors with such remarks about a colleague with a proven track record and analytical insights into the global accounting control fraud.

That is all I have to say to you.

Oh I agree too that the deregulation was a disaster.

Do send me the link to the column I wrote against the interfering pests in the PS ruining the noble work of the financial industry. And the one about how the PDs were great. Oh and that other one where I said FF’s business links were really terribly useful to the country (for all the jobs, don’t you know). And the place where I said it’s “all” the fault of the regulators.
Then there was the one about how it was a great time to buy a (second!) house; how wonderful it was that the working and middle classes were liberated through easy credit, that privatisation of industries like health and transport were eminently sensible, that conspicuous consumption was a celebration of capitalism and that yes, funding the exchequer on spending rather than income taxes was a great policy, and you know what, the people at the top in the private and public sector DESERVED all those high salaries because they had delivered a rising tide!

All those right wingy ideologies that led us to this pass…I should publish a book really.

(better leave out those ones I wrote complaining about the government pressuring us into subsidising the pension industry, which was a) useless at investing money and b) making outrageous profits through fees. )

What I HAVE said, from the outset, is:

There is no point expecting criminal prosecutions because the worst was done
i) initially: within the (loose) law
ii) in the “rescue” period: with the knowledge, approval of and request of the regulators.

So far, my (low) expectations have been met.

@Ernie Ball
I write from a position of having been exposed to public service back-office and front-line delivery or non-delivery as a consultant and citizen/consumer.I do not read or rely on any media for my assertion.
Here are some,just a smidgin, of the ‘tricks-of-the-trade’ affecting productivity:
1.Promote the diificult non-performers out of your unit rather than confront their non-performance.
2.Allow a union member to shake the union rattle, on any issue that suits them, knowing full well that ‘management’ will back-off.
3.Modulate the productivity of new entrants to a unit down to the accepted lower norms of longserving colleagues.
4.Empire build,engage in turf wars, construct organisational arrangements which ensure that the managerial share of the public sector salary bill goes to more and more ‘managers/directors/assistant directors/assistant-assistant directors…………….
5.Ignore correspondence that cannot be answered with a xeroxed letter,be downright rude to citizens from the point of initial contact to full transaction or don’t answer the phones at all………
6.Arrogantly fail to properly consult or communicate with citizens on major changes to services.
And on and on.There is much evidence of low and poor quality productivity.

My ‘belief’ is based on faith in Paul Hunt’s frequently very apt observations on the shenanigans of the crew and vested interests that have and still are running this country – into the ground I might add!
(Are you a Jesuit?!)

@Ernie Ball
None of my evidence is anecdotal…and I merely scratched the surface…
Productivity= Ratio of measured input to measured output – there is nothing that cannot be measured except the arrogance of public sector ‘managers’ – a misnomer if ever there was one – it’s immeasurable!

There is no point expecting criminal prosecutions because the worst was done
i) initially: within the (loose) law
ii) in the “rescue” period: with the knowledge, approval of and request of the regulators.

But you–and more importantly the state–fail to see the wider damage that is being done by this policy. You fail to see the continued impunity of men like Mr. Drumm undermines public confidence in our legal system and makes a mockery of whatever sense of shared public ethics or morality we as a society ascribe to.

This isn’t an academic issue or cultural discussion. This is very real. Recall the case of Teresa Treacy, the 65 year old woman in Offaly, jailed for obstructing the ESB work on her land. She was not the first farmer jailed for such recalcitrance, but there was such protest and agitation about the case across the country that within three weeks the public outcry was such that she was promptly released.

One constant thread in that case was the juxtaposition between the jailing of a 65 year old woman and the lack of jail for even one banker, developer or any other person responsible for the state of the country. The lack of any repercussions at all in fact. Explaining his support for Ms. Treacy, one of the protesters at the time said: “We’ve been asked to lie down for too much in this country”. The protesters would not accept that an old woman could be jailed in that way in a country which would not jail, or even upbraid, the bankers.

In short, by its inaction in bringing justice to those who wrecked Ireland, the Government has lost its moral authority to impose the law–at least in some, less serious areas. The legitimacy of the law in Ireland and the Government’s authority to impose it has already been undermined and will be eroded further as the innocent are punished by austerity and unemployment while the guilty go free to new lives abroad.

This is a lot more serious than the usual GUBU nonsense. This “Occupy” movement is the first sign of a deep discontent among the public, and the sickness will only get worse as the disease goes untreated. The disease is amorality, unaccountability, plutocracy, and corruption within the body politic.

England, with its established church and parallel power structures, seems to slowly be beginning to recognize and tackle the disease, by appealing to old ideas of morality, ethics, fairness and responsibility; Ideas which its old structures held on to. But Ireland lacks such an immune system. Without it, the great danger is that matters will only come to a head when the public’s nausea towards the State erupts into a fever, and at that point all bets will be off.

Or, we can treat the disease now using tried and trusted methods. Hold a full , complete, and powerful public inquiry; extensively investigate and prosecute wrongdoing from the top down in the Irish bank and property development sector; remove the burden of paying for the bank’s mistakes from the ordinary citizen; reinstate the concept of failure and facing consequences for failure into commerce and public life in this country. You can treat the sickness now, or cope with the fever later.

Something wrong with my browser.

I type in irisheconomy.ie but I keep ending up on politics.ie

@ Sarah.

politics.ie is constantly down these days, perhaps it’s higher life forms are gravitating towards your words on here?

Take it as a compliment……..

The financial and crisis has become inextricably linked with politics. Do not adjust your set.

@ Vinny

You are so spot on there on your explanation of the ways of the CS/PS. There is nothing anecdotal when you deal with these people on a regular basis and know it to be fact. Ernie Ball lives in La La Land where the bad guys are always the other guys………………

Well fergus, blowhards indeed. Commentators here may not have your brilliant legal mind, but they can identify an insider stitch up when we see it. Also, maybe you didn’t notice, but this is an economics blog, not a legal one.

Anglo was horrendously badly run for a long time prior to it’s collapse. I would imagine one needed trot out evidence for that, but the extent of leverage, the low degree of deposit support, the banks reputation in the Uk and across Europe as a bunch of cowboys, the shareholder loans (concealed of course) and the CFD transactions should be evidence enough that it was a badly run (as in irresponsibly managed) entity. Add to all of that the heavy sector concentration (real estate developers), a notoriously volatile sector, and it is not an exaggeration to say that this bank was managed horrendously.

Indeed, according the Boomerang, the Michael Lewis book, Anglo had only one reasonably effective system for managing risk and that was to insist that loans granted MUST be deposited with the bank. Indeed, a minimum deposit was required or the loan would become callable. In 2008, apparently, when Lenihan was presented with a series of choices surrounding the guarantee, he chose to guarantee everything AND to allow deposits to be withdrawn, including those subject to the minimum deposit requirement.

Finally, if you want to demonstrate your superior legal skills by offering a definition of treason, feel free. I don’t pretend to have training here. However a dictionary says it is acting to weaken or harm your state or sovereign or offering help or succor to your country’s enemies. Well, IMHO, foisting what were clearly private sector losses onto the sovereign in order to protect the banks of Germany and France, was an act that weakened Ireland. Indeed, it weakened the country to the extent that we are now bankrupt and have to go, “cap in hand” to the Germans and French to plead our case. How’s that for weakening your sovereign state?

@Sarah Carey
Paraphrasing ..The worst of the damage was done, initially within the (loose) law and in the rescue period at the request and knowledge of the regulators.

I can’t agree more with OMF’s reaction to this statement. I always imagined that a republic’s laws and it’s constitution were more important than the individuals that hold office. The fact that regulators allowed this to happen and then acted in a manner which effectively shielded the malefactors from the consequences of their past actions may not have been deemed illegal, but they were in fact contrary to the best interests of the country. Indeed these acts were so egregious that it is shocking to think that concealed management loans, back handers, irresponsible lending practices, nefarious share support schemes were, and I suppose are still, legal. Is this a capitalist state?

And that those who ran the country into the ground (public and private sector) are allowed not only to flit around the world from one mansion to another but to boast of it is scandalous. That they are given an opportunity to state their side of the story to an obviously sympathetic journalist is shocking to me.

This blog is really excellent, it deals mainly with the economics of the crisis. Both authors and commentators are generally respectful and focused on the economic policies. In this case, a provocative interview with one of the most spineless, grasping thieves, and I will say it again, a traitor to boot is really too much to bear. And “what about” sentences won’t do to justify why NOBODY, including this traitor, has been called to account


Thank you for putting my name and “brilliant legal mind” in the same sentence; unfortunately, there are other opinions on that issue 🙂

As I write, there are 67 comments to this article, almost all of them anonymous, including yours. I don’t normally contribute to blog comments section which go beyond 2 or 3, and I am slow to engage with people who hide behind pseudonyms. “Hide” is not a nice word, and I regret that I have no time now to choose a better one, but let me say that I acknowledge that not all anonymous comments are to be deprecated on that ground alone.

As you say, this blog is, as blogs go, a really excellent one, but I do think that it has too many anonymous commenters and too little discipline in the discussions. (Both of these criticisms are general, and not specific to this discussion, which has been good). Despite frequent use of the term “thread”, there is in fact no threading. This is a feature of the format, not a management issue.

I don’t have an answer to this. Usenet, when it worked well, was better for this, but we can’t go back to that, I don’t think.

Your comments above, timed at 11.32 p.m and 1.31 a.m., raise further issues (none of them issues of “economics”, by the way – and this is par for the course here, even when I am not a participant). I am not going to engage with them here, but will address them on my own website in the near-future. You are welcome to contact me through the contact-form on my website if you cannot wait 🙂 and be warned: I am less tolerant – but not TOTALLY intolerant – of anonymous commneters there.

I hope that it goes without saying that the implication that I see some merit in some of your arguments (and not just yours), even while I disagree with them, is 100% correct


“As you say, this blog is, as blogs go, a really excellent one, but I do think that it has too many anonymous commenters and too little discipline in the discussions. ”

If you don’t like it Fergal, you don’t have to post. The blog is for those drawn to the carcase of the Irish economy. We covered Nyberg a long time ago. There is no formula of words that can undo the impressions derived from the last year’s worth of reading.

“You are welcome to contact me through the contact-form on my website if you cannot wait and be warned: I am less tolerant – but not TOTALLY intolerant – of anonymous commneters there. I hope that it goes without saying that the implication that I see some merit in some of your arguments (and not just yours), even while I disagree with them, is 100% correct ”

Did you collect Matchbox cars as a child?

@Ernie Ball
To answer your question – there is much happening in measurement practices across all of the headings you list – sadly, little or none of it happening here – and there are mounds of research on the same subject.
There is a document produced by the IPA in 2006 – cpmc.gov.ie.Documents/Measuring – good index, particularly Annex 2.
Little or noa action subsequently – what a surprise!
Sources referred to regularly by those working in this area include –
‘Managing and Delivering Performance in the Public Sector – Bernard Marr’
‘Managing Performance in the Public Sector – J A de Bruijn’
‘Systems Thinking in the Public Sector – Jon Seddon’
‘Freedom from Command and Control – John Seddon’
And if you are really interested! – Google ‘productivity measurement in health/justice/education public sectors – a lot of practices outlined plus research papers.
I note you chose frontline service providers for your question and that is of course legitimate but there are greater productivity issues at management and back-office/bureaucracy levels!

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