More evidence of Irish success

The CSO press release on the latest Irish employment and unemployment statistics is here. They are pretty terrible.

As Colm has frequently pointed out, it is very difficult to credibly ask for a new deal on bank-related debt when you are simultaneously telling the people in charge in Brussels and Frankfurt how well we are doing (i.e. how successfully their strategy has been working in Ireland).

Perhaps it’s time to ignore Johnny Mercer and start accentuating the negative, even at the risk of a little pandemonium?

89 replies on “More evidence of Irish success”

The message I get from Europe is that if debt goes above 120% GDP you will get it written down for free.

Given that we are (at least) going to get to 120% anyway, we have basically been given a free bet from EU / IMF.

Take €50bn and invest it in some crazy risky stocks. Heads we win tails private sector involvement for €50bn.

The Irish fans are doing brilliantly in Poland.

Seriously: The Irish gov’t is lacking in the areas of market reform, privatization, political reform and public sector reform.

To what end ?
I just got visited by more people who want me to switch …..
I asked them do they mean switch off or what ?

Its time more people went off grid.
If that means rejecting the fools who voted yes as strange unintelligent alien creatures then so be it.

Question Richard :How much resourses is wasted by young kids asking us to go around in circles ?

We not only have a unemployment crisis but the majority of people employed waste more resourses actually engaging in the “work” – expressing a net negative return in the process.
I ask you where is the production in switching ? , where is the net benefit ?

The West is Dead…… its now incapable of engaging in any projects of consequence.

@ Richard Tol

“The Irish gov’t is lacking in the areas of market reform, privatization, ”

Who do you think is going to want to buy AIB ?

I don’t think there are many banks or investors who buy the line that things are hunky dory in Ireland. The bond yields say as much and a lot of balance sheets thar lear are clear of Irish sov debt.

Er, did I miss something? Didn’t unemployment go up to 14.8% today and the number of people in work fell in Q1? If that’s doing well I would hate to see what a recession might look like in Ireland.


You simply amaze me. It seems that you dont understand the word Market Reform. It normally means change and usually for the good. A simple example – 2 posts advertised recently by D of F at a salary of €145,000 pa , 41 hour week,6 weeks holiday and Rolls Royce Gratuity and Pension. There are Prime Ministers and Presidents of Countries around the World not receiving a fraction of this largesse yet our Politicos continue to dole these perks to low ranking Civil Servants et al. You spend your time telling us how broke we are but never pass comment on this codology.

It takes an outsider like Richard Tol from the outside to see what a joke this country is when it comes to market forces.

@Richard Tol


This government, like its predecessors, is long on vague, but media friendly, policy aspirations.

A curious feature of government policy, and it may be found elsewhere, is the lack of any failure criteria. Policies are designed to be scored on success cards alone. In that fashion, the need to deal with contrary empirical evidence can be brushed aside by calls for more time, more data, more resources or more ‘expert’ opinion.

Ireland is four years into an employment crisis and yet no radical measures regarding workfare have popped up. As ISME pointed out recently, the rise in long term unemployed should be troubling the sleep of ministers. How can bank balances improve when clearly more people are tipping into mortgage default each week?

The announced redundancies by Pfizer and some slice of CIE (that was) of 700 wipe out a significant portion of jobs promised in the second quarter by other sources.

It is bizarre to witness Minister Noonan on Bloomberg, CNBC, whatever, talking of a recovery and ‘back to the markets’ soon while at the same time pleading for debt forgiveness from the ECB and EU.

@Richard Tol
re “Seriously: The Irish gov’t is lacking in the areas of market reform, ..”

Yes. We certainly need a lesson on the economics of the free market. Perhaps the ECB could start running some courses. They appear to have come up with a completely new model.
A model to save Germany while destroying everybody else.

•The long-term unemployment rate increased from 7.8% to 8.9% over the year to Q1 2012.

Long-term unemployment accounted for 60.6% of total unemployment in Q1 2012.


Good thread. At this stage I think we get it:
Alchemist – you want public sector pay cuts
Richard has a menu of reforms including market reforms and public sector reforms
15 posts in and nobody has mentioned banks and the credit fraud schemes that allowed bubbles to blow up everywhere.
Before anybody thinks I’m not in favour of Richard and Alchemists suggestions let me state that I am but don’t let the bankers perpetrate the greatest crime of all – steal the citizens’ money and then turn them on each other.

“It seems that you dont understand the word Market Reform. It normally means change and usually for the good.”

Technically market reform means:

“changes a government makes to an economy, so it becomes more market economy.”

I dont see where this ‘change for the good’ is coming from, unless you’re offering an explictly blinkered ideological position?

“It takes an outsider like Richard Tol from the outside”

Well where else is an outsider gonna come from? Anyway Richard Tol is not an outsider, and neither, in this country, is the ideology that venerates the ‘market’.

Can we stop strawmanning the public sector and answer Karl Whelans point

I know the right in this country aren’t actually serious, but at least make an effort to pretend you are

Excellent thread; Below is what bankrupted our country;
Professor Neil Crosby’s online response to this Irish Independent letter
“Bubble values” 29th February 2012

“The analysis may be simplistic but unfortunately it is not flawed.
Banks ask valuers to tell them what the market value/exchange price is
at a point in time and then lend vast amounts over time based on that
simple number. The surveyor gives them that simple number and do not
think it is their job to tell the banks that the question they have been
asked is stupid on its own and what they should have asked for is the
underlying value. It was obvious in 2005 and 2006 that prices in the
property market were higher than could be sustained by any rational cash
flow analysis. But in a culture that rewards individuals for short term
performance rather than longer term perspective, it was in neither the
bankers’ nor the valuers’ interests to stop it. I cannot see anything in
what the UK regulatory authorities have proposed that makes me think
they understand the role of property valuation in driving asset bubbles
and will prevent it all happening again sometime in the 2020s.”

Neil Crosby
Professor of Real Estate and Planning
University of Reading

John Corcoran – Neil Crosby is quite right to point out the critical and corrupting role of valuers and banks in the property bubble. RICS and other property related professionals should hang their heads in shame for not raising the alarm bells and not challenging landowners, banks and homeowners about the outrageous rise in property valuations which had no relationship with reality or ‘underlying value’. Their role is similar to that of ratings agencies which were paid to sign off triple A ratings by their clients for instruments most of which related to property assets..Sadly it does not require a university professor to point this out.

Anyone with a modicum of experience in property and development knew we were headed for trouble and I am sure I was not the only person to flag it up. If these so called professionals had been held to account by their so called professional bodies ( as the General Medical Council regulates doctors) half of them would have been struck off. Their primary responsibilty should have been to the reputation of the valuation profession and not their commission. In many countries property is taxed and valuers are independent or are part of the state.

Radical reform is required or we will surely revisit this crisis again in the near future.


I agree 100% with your post, but it is easy to slag our hapless politicians and their strategy of dealing with the ECB/Germany. But what about some of your colleagues in Economics departments in Irish Universities who should know better.

Today Seamus Coffey wrote in a national newspaper “Ireland can repay the money”, without a whisper of criticism from anywhere, even though the Irish debt burden is obviously unsustainable. Similarily, John McHale regularly defends the policies of the ECB in relation to bank bondholders, past and present, without the slightest direct criticism from any Irish economist.

And (perhaps most egregiously) today an Irish Times headline quoted Draghi “Ireland on way back to private debt markets”. How is it that the Bundesbank has absolutely no hesitation in criticising the ECB when it is in its interest to do so, but it would appear that this outlandish statement did not raise an eyebrow in Dame St. It is all very well calling on the government to accentuate the negative, but what about the Guv’nor’s role in this?

Whatever you think about the economics of the likes of Paul Krugman, at least he, as a public intellectual, has the courage of his convictions and regularly criticises former colleagues such as Bernanke and Rogoff. In contrast, it would appear that the Irish academy is one large love in.

(Having said all the above, I believe that you, yourself, have swam against the tide more than most and I respect that. However, even you do not engage in robust and direct criticism of your colleagues.)

(Of course the one main exception in all the above is Morgan Kelly).

Why thank you John Corcoran. I’ve been following your campaign from a distance and it appears you’re pretty much dead right.
Keep up the good work

@Richard Tol

Seriously: The Irish gov’t is lacking in the areas of market reform, privatization, political reform and public sector reform.

So is your position that the unemployment issue is primarily a result of Ireland not being free market oriented enough rather than there having been a crisis in capitalism? Do you propose that if we sack a whole slew of public servants and sell our remaining state assets that it would lead to a rise in demand in some fashion and that unemployment would go down as a result eventually?

It just seems like an impossibly, crazily, antihistorically difficult position to defend after the Irish government’s commitment to letting the market decide in the financial and property sectors lost us 62 billion Euro (and counting) and left the domestic economy in free fall. I mean pre crash Europe’s right and indeed the US’s were wild for Ireland’s free wheeling entrepreneurial ways – what more should we have done to demonstrate our free market chops?

Renamed Sunday to Galtday maybe? Sold the ESB to Enron?

I am at a loss.

Things are going badly in Ireland? Really? For who?

Sure, the smelly poor people aren’t doing well, but then they deserve to be poor because they singlehandedly destroyed the economy. For the good people in the financial sector and other decent professions, times are just fine.

Besides, shouldn’t being poor be terrible and awful? Isn’t it better to let the children of the poor know early on how limited their options in life will be? Allowing the great unwashed any hope of advancement is just cruel really.

Why should we do anything different?

Things are bad out here in the real world, make no mistake about that, although thankfully not as bad as in Greece at the moment.

Every single policy as proposed by the shower in Dail Eireann is optics only, no substance, no KPI’s etc..

From my perspective it looks like their plan is really simple – Hang on until growth solves the problem. Well I have some news for them, growth may be a while away and may never hit the dizzying heights of the past again so now is the time to make the adjustments before it becomes a full blown crisis.


I only left in “market reform” because I wanted to include “privatisation” in the intro. Richard Tol and his privatisation make me laugh.

Virtually the entire domestic finance industry has been nationalised after less than 20 years of Irish neoliberalism. The country has been ruined. Privatisation would be a fine thing. Who wants to buy Anglo Irish ? Will the banks ever be privately funded again?

How about an ideology that actually works for the people for a change ? Sure the PS needs to be reformed. So does the legal system. 4 years into the biggest crisis since the 1800s and people are still heading to England for abortions and bankruptcy. The whole country needs a radical makeover. Mediocrity isn’t going to cut it any longer.

The notion that things run better in the private sector – maybe they do. But the private sector in Ireland isn’t much better than the public sector TBH.

@ seafoid

What we have is a trans-sectoral post-colonial elite, bound together by family and old school ties, party affiliations, sports clubs, and business interests. In truth, there is more ‘entrepreneurship’ on view in the upper reaches of the PS than in the state-protected private sector. Behind every official decision lies a whole nexus of private understandings, obligations, and confidences. Mr Nod and Mrs Wink.

While there are fierce rivalries within the elite, the facade of unity, respectability and common purpose is kept up. As the local media are fully ‘on board’, hard questions are easily deflected. There is a confidence, solidly based on history, that the Irish expect no better, and that changes in the makeup of the Dail can never impact the core of the power structure.

Radical makeover won’t happen, IMHO, without a much worse crisis. We are likely to get exactly that.

@paul quigley

+1 sad but true

There are some golf clubs and ‘Old’ school places here that are life the Mafia


One of the best comments I have read on this blog is this one :

Ireland is like most small ex-colonies…..

And so many people know their place

And some ideological makeover with PR is only going to scratch the surface.

I only learnt recently that in 1709 or so it was forbidden by law for Irish catholics to be educated abroad. There was a lot of intellectual infrastructure in the 1600s that was destroyed and it took a long time to get back to a similar level. Say that was the start of things.

And in order to effect any change you have to understand where the country is coming from. I just think people deserve better.

This documentary about debt really struck me.!v=3300969

4 people are portrayed. I think 2 of them will die early. And the young family- what does Ireland have to offer them? What sort of retraining options are there in Borrisokane ? What can they imagine ? And that’s presumably replicated down the list of the long term unemployed. And how does it happen to be like that? And what would you need to do to make the next generation work differently?

wee bit of PandeMonium [h/t Mark]


… Diarmuid O’Flynn, the protest’s organiser, said:

“I was just thrown out of the European Central Bank (ECB). Someone from the ECB press office came down and said they were afraid that I could cause havoc in the press conference. I had my official media accreditation from Village Magazine.”

The question the group wished to ask was: ‘The bailouts of banks and bondholders has so far cost the Irish people €67.8 billion, over 40 per cent of our GDP and it is approximately €17,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. Last week the European Commission said the likelihood of this debt not being sustainable is high. In light of this, will the ECB persist with the current policy in Ireland or will they re-consider especially with regard to the promissory notes?

The idea behind their protest is to try to engage directly with the ECB and make their presence felt. “Now it can be no longer said that the Irish don’t protest,” he said.

“We had signs in German and lots of people stopped to talk to us. They are not aware of the burden on the Irish people and if they had a similar burden there would be riots,” O’Flynn said.

Minor point:

The equivalent German banking burden would be €1.5 Trillion or so ….

@Lucinda et al

Why are you not communicating this FACT to the German Public Sphere?

Members of the group were surprised to find Patrick Honohan, governor of the Central Bank of Ireland on the same Ryanair flight to Frankfurt as them. They didn’t manage to talk to him on the flight but they did meet him as he entered the ECB this morning.

“He took our letter and said that he would present the letter to Mario Draghi, although he smiled and said that he couldn’t hand it to him personally as it mightn’t look great!”


No shortage of money in SW France……..(the French are preparing for something , I can feel it.)
26 million of investment ? for a 450 passenger a day line …(spending the remaining 70 -44 = 26 million(?) remaining from the Sarlat investment.

Massive oil price shock coming me thinks.

Sarlat un peu plus près de Bergerac –

Possible tram train for Arcachon ? using the existing line but with more stations.
Google : Transports en commun sur le Bassin d’Arcachon : neuf candidats répondent – SudOuest fr.

This with Tram D Bordeaux in the pipeline

Google : Tram D à Bordeaux : la voie unique se met aux voix SudOuest fr.

Tram Medoc (2014)

Oloron Bedous ……100 + million

Massive oil price shock coming me thinks – we clearly did not get the scouts motto into our little heads.

Last year on the Sarlat line…………..

re- Seafóid:The notion that things run better in the private sector – maybe they do. But the private sector in Ireland isn’t much better than the public sector TBH.’

It’s the ideology of a public sector actually existing that seems to be their anathema.
Our health service wasn’t great, but looking back on the nineties it was a golden age for patients. The reverse engineering that took place to try to introduce a Privatisation genome left us with what we have today – ‘cept now they might have to revisit their intervention with insurance-flight.
In several cases on the continent that have already privatised their mail service, the most lucrative sections were sold and the remainder held by the state – with the result that their is in effect no mail service, just a choice of expensive couriers or a letter delivery that takes a month.
There remains a growing lobby to bring education (primary & secondary) into this same net; thankfully, Ireland is too unattractive a market for this to have much immediate impetus, but once the plans are drawn, as we know, it takes a war to prevent.
There is a serious, unaddressed defectiveness in people who don’t actually recognise the concept of a service being an essential part of a society, hide though they may behind cost-effectiveness critiques.
A very many things simply do not belong in an unregulated market setting.


“Who do you think is going to want to buy AIB ? ”

You nearly got me going there. They are worth over 14 billion according to the Dec 2011 Balance Sheet. Shure we can sell it so to pay the bonds falling due in Jan 2014.
That balance sheet valuation was the work of a lot of very smart and very well paid people. They have to be right. Don’t they?

PS AIB has a deferred tax asset on the books for 2.7 billion at Dec 2011. Maybe its an example of QE. Who knows.
Who pays for assets like that? Is it a cash payment? Does the owner have an ATM card? I would love to know.

re- David O’D. -‘“He took our letter and said that he would present the letter to Mario Draghi, although he smiled and said that he couldn’t hand it to him personally as it mightn’t look great!”

I’m imagining the start of Godfather (I) here…

@ Richard Toll
There are some jobs the private sector cannot be trusted with. The private sector sucks a lot of the time.

The models that work are:
1: A state service which is driven by accountable people and which has efficiency and value for money at its core or
2: A private sector policed by a very good regulator

Option 2 tends not to work that well because the regulator is corruptible. I would much rather go for 1 and have heads that roll when things go wrong

Human beings have this odd little weakness where they always think that they can do a job better than somebody else. The only time they suppress that feeling is when the other person is richer than them. I think that’s why the public sector gets a bum deal. And why you have the greatest dumbasses in banking getting away with complete rubbish. People don’t criticize the people with trappings of wealth. A primitive little thing that probably lies at the heart of lot of Public versus Private sector debate

re- David O Donnell again..

This was noticeably absent from the HibernoPravda commentary in the run up to the referendum:Germany:
Tens of thousands protest in banking quarter of Frankfurt

Those attending included delegations from Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Finland and other European countries, each carrying banners in their languages…
On Friday, a delegation that had traveled by bus from Berlin was diverted to the suburb of Eschborn and the protesters were taken immediately into detention…“The crisis comes, constitutional rights are ditched” and the “Banks are killing democracy”.
Small and large groups of protesters who tried to exercise their right to free speech were surrounded by police and held for hours; many of them were arrested….By Friday afternoon, according to official figures, about 400 demonstrators had been arrested and transported to detention centres as far away as Wiesbaden and Giessen….several protesters were violently thrown to the ground by police, then made to stand against the wall and searched before being taken away
Any unbiased observer would have to come to the conclusion that this massive assault on democratic rights was not to prevent violence but to suppress any protest against the financial oligarchy and the EU’s austerity policies throughout Europe.
Previously, the administrative court judges in Frankfurt and Kassel had supported a total ban on the protests instigated by the Christian Democratic Union

More Integration, anyone ?

@ Mark
It is one thing to promote European integration.
It is quite another thing to promote a right wing agenda to be imposed on Europe.
German economic success is coming at a very high price for Germans and for Europeans.
This model won’t work. I’m sorry Angela but we don’t like you very much. If you set yourself up as leader of Europe then why not do something about our 14.8% unemployment??

Germans do not want to be leaders of Europe. The average German has no interest in it. The same industrial-state alliance that characterised national socialism is at work now. There are some minor differences – then it was jewish slaves working for BASF etc – now it is peripheral country slaves working for Deutsche Bank.

German Europes don’t work. This is not meant to be an attack on the German people – nobody can unite Europe happily. The Romans were the closest we came in 3,000 years and they didn’t exactly get it right either. Europe isn’t really ready for unity


Diarmuid O’Flynn of Ballyhea Protest Group who just got a First on seeking a Write OFF of odious debt on Vincent Browne now … Pascal Donoghue ‘suckin up time’ – he must gotta tutorial from Giggles Bruton … Laura Noonan is pining away waiting for Karl Whelan … Vincent is still waiting for Enda …

… and Blind Biddy has just hacked the key to The Bundesbanke.

Pascal now pontificating on the Wexford TD, Michael ‘Wexford Youths’ Wallace, who told the truth – course Fine Gael ‘can’t handle the truth’ … pandemonium in the Dail as there appears to be no precedent for a TD ‘telling the truth’ … Mattie, the arch_parochial gombeen appears to be totally gobsmacked … Pascal now delighted to be ‘suckin up more time’ as Enda has promised a juniorship when he has sucked up a 100 hours …. Laura still pining away waiting for Karl ….

O’Flynn gobsmacks O’Donoghue with a few words of a Song – The Aesthetic Turn strikes again ….. Where is Lucinda tonite? In Frankfurt probably ….

Interesting development tonight – the German equivalent of the head of the national treasury resigned. Might be a sign that Eurobonds are on the way….
But I really do think that Angela has done too little too late in this one.


They musta discovered that the key is missing … Biddy also changed the combination, and the password.

re- Eureka: ‘Germans do not want to be leaders of Europe.’

Yes, but the elements that are pushing this are the same elements that have most to gain from creating the chasm between the general movement towards local democratic solidarity and inter-community(-national) co-operation. They need a leader & see them as the only likely candidates.
Maybe you disagree, but it is absolutely essential to have a Europe of a bouyant interpenetration & partnership of equals who nonetheless remain as distinct and seperate entitities. Harmonious heterogeneity.
How reluctant is Germany to step into the role ? Collectivisation of debt is surrender of the type of conscious involvement & control of government that has been the fruit of centuries of struggle.
The European Union, in moving towards even any benign aspects of historical instances of unification (and the malign always outweighed these) is a regressive, reactionary force. But it aint even benign at this outset.

‘then it was jewish slaves working for BASF etc – now it is peripheral country slaves working for Deutsche Bank. ‘

Sometimes I can see some logic in the way the ancients believed in spirits who could be implanted in talismans, idols, temples, etc (as described by Plotinus, I think)
With an inanimate structure (or system, policy, corporation…) that is the means of the exercise of some of humanities more nefarious traits, it becomes the repository of them, and it’s operations assume an almost unified disposition as if it were an autonomous entity. Even when resumed with other objectives, it tends to posess it’s new ‘pilots’ by means of ingrained tendencies to resume old forms.
As for the still-living relics of the last century, certain ghosts linger in their old haunts .


1: A state service which is driven by accountable people and which has efficiency and value for money at its core or
2: A private sector policed by a very good regulator

Option 2 tends not to work that well because the regulator is corruptible. I would much rather go for 1 and have heads that roll when things go wrong

Remind me again about the role of the Central Bank and Financial Regulator in the lead up to the Celtic Bubble bursting. I can’t get that ‘green jersey’ image out of my mind.

Often problems arise when accountability, competence and responsibility are in conflict. The difference between the average and a fool is that the former is good at something.


The health service has not recovered from the bed closures of the 80s under McSharry and then Desmond.

@Richard Tol
A crisis wasted, ’tis a shame.

A follow on crisis is highly likely. Hopefully political, market and public sector reform will be dealt with in the next round. Things would have to get extremely bad before anything positive happens. The attitude is to hang on like grim death to what we are familiar with. I have seen this in other poverty stricken countries where they cling to behaviours that are counterproductive due to fear of change. The less people have to lose the more fearful they are of losing the little they have.

Spin permeates most areas of Irish policymaking and it is maintained by a supporting cast.

It may have served political leaders in 1958 for TK Whitaker to take public responsibility for ‘Economic Development.’ However, in the half century since, through boom and bust, no successor has dared say anything of consequence that could be seen as a departure from an official line.

It’s the same in respect of the enterprise agencies supporting ministerial newspeak, richly laced with a toolkit of vacuous superlatives.

The media, academics and the ESRI rarely challenge spin and the use of suspect data.

It’s easy to get sidetracked in a game of whataboutery.

It’s not commonly acknowledged that Irish business has a poor exporting record and the main markets are English-speaking countries. Strangely or not after 60 years of public support, Ireland along with Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg, do not track growth and death of firms.

An illustration of the sheltered life in a state agency is provided by the National Consumer Agency, which has a 14-strong board. The chief executive’s salary for 2010 was €176,383 ($225,000) [excluding pension and expenses]. For 2012, the Federal Reserve chairman’s annual salary is $199,700.

Long-term challenges are generally avoided in Ireland and it’s about time scenarios of down to zero growth to 2020 were done. It is not unrealistic.
This morning in UCD, ministers Bruton and Sherlock will announce measures to make it easier to create products and services from the results of publicly-funded R&D. Don’t expect anyone to highlight that in respect of 2010, Science Foundation Ireland said there were 4 early stage spin-out companies and 8 patents awarded to its supported companies.

On Thursday, ministers Varadkar and Bruton announced a Steering Group, Aviation Business Development Task Force and Change Management Task Force for Shannon Airport.

Among the insiders, Alan Ahearne got the academic slot.

The ‘Change Management Task Force’ is headed by a former Dublin City Manger who has several other public earners as well as a public pension.
The other members are civil servants, a retired head of Enterprise Ireland, executives from other state agencies and directors of the Dublin Airport Authority.

Change indeed?

Remember the Innovation Task Force? A 28-strong group of overwhelmingly insiders including the hired hand of the universities lobbying association?

Would anyone like myself who termed its report in March 2010 a joke, ever get on a task force or quango?

It sometimes pays to keep the trap shut and an academic member of the Commission on Taxation earned €46,000 in expenses — handy money when you can still pick up your regular pay.

@michael h


Apparently Ireland has become more competitive.

A curious finding given recent employment and unemployment figures. More good for Bloomberg spin. Presumably the raft of public sector increments approved by Howlin and Co. under Croke park and bumping up competitiveness. The streets are wet with evidence.

A cynic might conclude that the main function of expert committees in ireland is to surround pre-drawn politically palatable conclusions with a thicket of defensive arguments.

Michael O’Leary was dismissive of government committee ministrations to Shannon, characterizing them as likely tea and biscuits sessions.

And on the topic of national hobby horses, in the aftermath of the referendum vote that old favourite, the roll out of a national broadband service, was at the top of the list of ‘growth’ projects.

Should one laugh or cry?

@Hennigan: It is a closed club at the top and if you are “sound” you get handy earners. If you squeak you get to sit on the outside. It is of course outrageous that the head of NCA earns more than Bernanke but remember that the L’Oreal effect is still alive and well here. Even among academics on this site contrast the fortunes of say Kevin O’Rourke and Karl Whelan who were consistent critics of government policy with a couple of economists who shall go nameless but regular readers will find it easy to work out.

@ Michael H

+ 1

Most PS staff are not insiders in the sense you describe, but receive a range of benefits for keeping the trap shut about what their betters get up to. We didn’t invent the spoils system but we are pretty good at it.

@ The Alchemist

We shouldn’t forget that Microsoft’s workers in Ireland trump the rest of the world with revenue per employee of $27m compared with a measly $420,000 at S&P 500 companies in the US.

The Irish competitiveness/productivity indicators are for believers in leprechauns.

The IMD ranking have a bias towards the concentration of western multinationals.

Malaysia has a 14th rank ahead of Australia; Ireland at 20 is ahead of those basket cases Austria and Korea.

Austria’s jobless rate of 3.9% in April was the lowest in Europe.

The World Bank rankings of ease of doing business gives Ireland a 10th ranking and that is not spoof but never underestimate the market for fairytales.

@ paul quigley

I saw that Craig Barrett ex-CEO of Intel has offerred to sit on a state board.

Rather than the high tech area where he wants R&D spending ramped up to Israel’s level of 5% of GDP, his expertise would likely be best deployed
at the ESB, CIE or DAA.

It would be interesting to wonder how long he would stay.

@Paul Quigley

I understand the Fine Gael landlords Association and the property wide boys are in firm control of the cabinet. Our economic disaster started with one house….Leinster House.

@Michael H

Thanks for pointing that up. It is remarkable that even after maneuvering itself into a spectacular cul-de-sac, the ‘safe pair of hands’ ‘one of us’ mantra is still unassailable.

Calos Ghosn says that what organisations need to improve them is constant “challenge input” from people in his position. When he visits car manufacturing and R&D offices he asks questions routinely which would have him labeled “rude” by Ireland’s insiders. But what would he know?

Everyone should read this, just for the phraseology if nothing else.

@ Mark

I agree on the need for a public service. The debate in the US over “entitlements” is chilling.

There are certain services that can not be delivered competently by the market. In Ireland this would appear to include banking.

However I think that Ireland is way behind on the sort of framework required to serve its citizens adequately .

Here is just a sample from last year

110617 . Brian Hayes rattled private sector interest groups when he signalled an intention in April to seek better procurement terms from companies selling goods and services to the State.

1. Brian Woods Snr Says:
October 26th, 2011 at 9:27 am
Reflecting a little. This is the third time I recall serious (material damage) flooding along Dodder. Pretty stream in dry weather, but a monster after heavy rain. We know what will happen, just not the when.

• 111125Sir, – I couldn’t help but be amused while looking at the CV of Kevin Cardiff to note that while assistant secretary (banking, finance, and international division) at the Department of Finance between 2000 and 2005 one of his achievments was “Managing a major programme of financial sector legislation”. – Yours, etc,
Clonard Court,

110526 There was some praise from the OECD for the Government’s jobs initiative yesterday, with Mr Lenain describing efforts to regain control of the public finances as “remarkable”.
However, he was critical of State training programmes, saying bluntly that the Government should stop spending money on training people for the construction sector

• Labour also promises to introduce cost-benefit analyses for “major capital projects

• 110117 The Society of Chartered Surveyors has been calling for the establishment of a public database to maintain and publish relevant details of all property transactions including sales, lettings and rent reviews along with details of all incentives and side agreements which would address the issues raised.

• 110118 Ireland already has one of the worst records in the developed world for access to education generally, coming third from bottom among 31 OECD countries in a recent German study. The Hunt report itself puts third-level participation from the top socio-economic group at almost four times that of the bottom group.

• Health services everywhere spend a great deal on medicines, but work hard to contain costs (there are many ways to do so). Here, public spending on pharmaceuticals rose from €565 million to €1,901 in the eight years to 2008. Health ministers did almost nothing to contain it. Big pharma is never slow to spot a sucker.

• How drugs are procured is mirrored in how the State purchases legal services. They are not subject to competitive tendering. This allows lawyers to dictate prices, at massive cost to taxpayers. Astonishingly, this is still the case despite the enormity of the crisis.

Inaction is also to be seen in the administration of justice. Tribunals have failed by every measure, yet they have been allowed to grind on and successive justice ministers have put forward no alternatives – such as the creation of the role of investigating magistrate, as exists in other jurisdictions

We need new banks urgently.

There are people ready to buy properties who have jobs and who are better placed to service the loans than the current owners.

However, BoI are reluctant to give a loan to Joe Bloggs which will benefit AIB by repaying part of their debt owed to them by the current owner “Bust Borrower”. Also AIB maybe reluctant to crystallise losss on the loan to “Bust Borrower”.

Obviously, if they all started lending even relatively conservatively it would benefit all of them, but it is just not happening and there is no sign of it happening (a lot of talk but no real signs).

In the circumstances we really do need a “good bank”. Perhaps this is what the EU/EFSF/ESM/ECB should be looking at – National authorities taking one or two banks in each country, putting them through a resolution process and then recapitalising them with EU funds to start from scratch.

Wasn’t this thread supposed to be about unemployment levels? The completely-off-topic nature of the vast majority of the comments are a perfect example of why many people are starting to exit this particular venue. Many of the comments are the standard copy-n-paste diatribes that have been repeated across numerous threads on numerous occasions. Stop, please.

“Decrease of 14.7% in new private cars licensed in May

There were 7,986 new private cars licensed in May 2012, compared with 9,359 in May 2011, a decrease of 14.7%.
The number of new goods vehicles licensed in May 2012 was 1,049 compared with 1,190 in the corresponding month last year – a decrease of 11.8%.
The licensing figures also show that:
■In May 2012, the total number of all vehicles licensed was 14,412 compared with 16,185 in the corresponding month last year – a decrease of 11.0%. See Table 1 below.
■The total number of all new vehicles licensed during May 2012 was 9,895 compared with 11,418 during the same month in 2011 – a decrease of 13.3%.
■In May, of the 7,986 new private cars licensed, 1,896 (23.7%) were petrol and 5,965 (74.7%) were diesel. See Table 2A below”

In the light of these figures and the continual ageing of the private car fleet is it wise to revisit our transport strategy ? … you Betcha … in particular the manic effort to peserve a completly unsustainable road network and its sunk “capital”……. it strikes me as very NAMA like – this policey.

Much better to have one team of men working on our rail lines on a continous basis as has happened in the Aquataine regional rail network since 2010…… its much cheaper and more effective to do this then have a stop start operation.

Also simple inexpensive LUAS extensions such as the Greenline link up withen spitting distance of Shankill Station is a much better use of resourses.

Its best to recognize our transport policey has been a failure either withen the Euro or out (see N.I.)
Its time to Depreciate the Albert Reynolds money in our time monuments.

Do you want those poor souls to build a Giant Pyramid in the Midlands or something ?
What will that achieve ?
Unemployment is a symptom of the energy / debt crisis – to save a stock of debt these people are retired from the system.


We urgently need a modern blog that can carry a miscellaneous thread to capture the latest insanities in the EZ.

And the direction any thread takes is subject to market forces.

FYI – Irish Success

Rugby: Ireland U20 vs England U20 in South Africa World Cup

Today: TG4 5.35


@ zhou_enlai

What is there to stop us from giving out new banking licenses to banks that have had absolutely no involvement in the previous mess. They start with a clean Irish balance sheet. They will have customers who are buying (cherry picking) valuable assets at in my view are artificially, depressed prices, they can make their own minds up about peoples job security, deposit to be payed etc and what the downside risk to the mortgages are from further declines in property prices.

The state has got hung up on the idea of “pillar banks” there was a clear and imminent danger that once banks had been nationalised that they would be protected from competition because they were “the state”, The government mistakenly believes that these banks have to be nursed back to profitability and sold hence they are going to be shielded from ‘unnecessary’ competition. They need to do the exact opposite, they need to bring in uncontaminated banks from outside the loop. I have been saying this from very start and I am more convinced than ever that needs to be done.

@Mr. Bond,

I’m breaking my own rule, but I’m sure you’ll be pleased to note I’ve heeded your admonition for some time. As one of your favourite bloggers, BLTCD, reminded us many moons ago, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome is a definition of insanity. I had no option but to admit defeat in the face of the wilful deafness, blindness, incomprehension and pusillianimity, if not the ‘trahison des clercs’.

I hope it will stay fine for them, but I fear it won’t.

@Paul Hunt

Read Nietzsche – we are in an ‘eternal recurring’ in which you yourself have more than amply contributed …

Forget rules – what matters are principles …


Here, public spending on pharmaceuticals rose from €565 million to €1,901 in the eight years to 2008. Health ministers did almost nothing to contain it.

Well of the health ministers, one went on the become Minister for Finance and then Taoiseach, famously describing Health as ‘Angola’. Another became the minister for report production and shelving, finally arriving as leader of a small opposition party. Another was embroiled in guerrilla war with medical professionals which appeared to serve no one’s interests efectively. The comment about being closer to Boston to Berlin has boomeranged embarrassingly since the heady days of ‘co-location’. Closer to the IMF than berlin perhaps?

All of these very successful ministers promoted, enthusiastically, very successful Smart Economy policies. Everyone lived happily ever after in a very successful society.

Time to add more soma to the water supply.


Point taken, but I don’t think that unemployment is the sole indicator of poor economic situation in Ireland.

My own impression is that things have deteriorated in a number of ways in the last 12 months (employment, mortgage arrears, bank lending, retail, disposable income levels, people needing help of SVdP etc.

The thread, as far as I can tell is about the fact that the combined effect of internal devaluation, austerity, Irish banking sector reforms, EU banking reforms, the Troika programme have all had a dampening effect on economic activity and on expectations. We are short of cash and we are short on reasons to invest what cash we have.

Kevin O’Rourke is suggesting that licking arse isn’t really getting the message across that the hoped for benefits of the various initiatives are not materialising. Confidence in the economy is not returning. People are not spending money to benefit from lower costs. There has been no flood of investment into the country. There has been no new sense of purpose under new leadership.

I don’t doubt the need for structural reform but I don’t think it is sufficient or can be rapid enough to address our current problems. I also don’t believe other measures will prejudice continued structural reform. As per Galbraith, the memories of disaster last a full generation (70 years).

@grumpy – you in twitland?

@Robert Browne

Nobody is applying for the licences. We need state intervention. This was a core policy of Richard Bruton as main opposition finance spokesman. Brian Lenihan said it had merit and should be examined. Noonan has made no comment that I am aware of.

The critical factor for FG and Labour being the council elections in 2014. Saying we were doing badly might risk a number of council seats.

The post crisis western France regional rail policey did not start with a kiss…. it started with a Cognac………à_Angoulême

At 450,000 passengers a year this is a average Irish type of line , much less then Limerick to Dublin stuff ~ really.
Goggle : La modernisation de la ligne coûtera 65 M€ –

(100 people employed on track renewal) …. won’t solve the unempoyment thingy directly)

But there is a different method to their madness.

La Rochelle – the Atlantic terminus of this line handles Grain exports , oil imports…….. this rail terminal has declined since the late 80s (EMU false price signal ?) due to truck competition.

They now wish to service their agricultural heartlands with rail….. the new signalling will be able to handle the mixed traffic of the line or enable a higher number of passenger railcars.
Limerick to Ballybrophy may not need modern signalling but it needs 30 million or so (~?) of continuously welded steel.


Nah. Twitland is too speedy, brief and trashy. I couldn’t keep up with it.

@Bond. Eoin Bond.

Unemployment gone up. This is no surprise to anybody working in the real economy. And those results are for the first quarter.
April was much worse in the general economy.

About this time last year the government dipped into private pension funds for ~500 million to be used purely for a ‘jobs program’.
The second annual ~500 million is due about now.

But of course the pension monies were not used for capital expenditure. They were used to fund current expenditure and existing PS jobs, bonanza payoffs and pension deals.

I saw a comment from @Hoganmayhew some time ago to the effect that the government is making the same the same mistake as the 1980. He argued that the governmet should concentrate on the I in C, G, I and not on C where a lot of the expenditure is on imported luxuries (the scrappage scheme being the prime example).

I note also that Seamus Coffey made a strong case for a switch of expenditure from current to capital as did our European ‘partners’.

But there is no money for such a switch!
It seems as a society that it is preferable for the State to a sizeable section of society very rich or well off while consigning another sizeable section to the dustbin of society.
That this policy is supported by some who call themselves ‘the left’ is simply unconscionable.

So while the ECB/ EC and France and Germany have contributed greatly to our destruction, our current polity too has helped them every step of the way by either supplication or domestic policies designed to protect the insiders.

What can one do about unemployment.
Nothing, unless one is prepared to redistribute government spending in favour of employment.

Peadar Coleman

That was a very welcome post by you on the Spiegel forum.
I’m fairly certain that there has been a policy of – not quite lying, but ‘giving the impression’, or allowing it to be formed and letting it go unchecked, that the Irish people & govt.were the beneficiaries of the lost money.
It is not too much to say that our own representatives were complicit in this misinformation husbandry, and it is not too much to call them traitors (there is a real and serious betrayal sincerely meant here; no mere online rancour).
Only in the last few weeks has the British media given this much attention.
In Europe, only the genuinely left-wing ‘fringe’ media have mentioned it (mainstream European ‘socialism’ adopted market liberalism ideology decades ago – the Irish case is studiously ignored by them).

Our German friends might also be interested in the fact that Brian Cowen relaxed regulation of the activities of several of the same foreign finance firm’s operations here at their behest (see Kathleen Barrington’s pieces in the Sund. Bus. Post). And the ECB certainly knew.

One of the few Irish finance professionals in a domestic role trusted with authority post wipeout

Does she feel that the pendulum may have swung too far towards over-regulation?

“I come from a North American public company environment and I was dealing with Swiss regulators, the UK, the Bermudians, the New York insurance department,” Muldoon says.

“I can tell you categorically that a lot of what feels like over-regulation in Ireland is just catch-up.”

@ grumpy

If I am in “twit land” it appears I am in excellent company. What’t that line McWilliams has about being attacked and ridiculed before they steal your clothes and tell you sure that was our intention all along.

New banks that’s the only possible solution to our credit squeeze as our pillars continue to deleverage by the 83bn under the MOU they will remain completely zombified up to and including the second bailout.

BTW give me the job and I would have them in here in the morning!

re Judge

‘20,000 to 50,000 visas’ ?
Are there really that many new IT places created per year ?
The article mentions the ‘knock-on’ jobs in construction etc, which presumably are meant to constitute part of this number.

For ten years we had similar thinking, but based on the construction industry.
I think we should look solely at creating secure, stable and sustainable for the existing population, and cease treating the country as a canvass for others to manipulate to their own ends.

Isn’t that American gent on ‘Dragon’s Den’ lobbying for something along those lines ? Bring the population up to 10 million by 2030 or something.
To bring it back to the thread-topic, I think it’s great the way RTE provide jobs and platforms for the profile enhancement of megalomaniac ne’er-do-wells and their ‘projects.’

“Are there really that many new IT places created per year ?”. Its very hard to say. I think IT work by its nature can be a bit ephemeral/project orientated/task based, so there is constant churn. bit like construction i guess.

The examiner seems to have a theme on this whole IT visa issue and said in the print version last thurs that over 50% of the IT roles in dublin are staffed using workers on visas. Dont know about the authenticity of that claim, but thats what the article said.

I think from an IT perspective, companies are far better off bringing cheap workers in from abroad. much much more productive than the 20something uni grad who likes to meet with his mates at lunchtime or take Christmas off etc….but that’s just my feeling. the private nature of these organisations makes it very hard to generalise.

Ultimately, in ireland , we operate the same neo-lib model as most other western countries nowadays, so I dont see how secure, sustainable work for the existing population could be achieved. At a guess, i would say that it is cheaper to bring workers from abroad AND far higher productivity is obtained from these guys. Most people just shrug their shoulders at this notion, but it worries me I have to say.

@ Joseph Ryan

The big question is whether the vast majority of those that require funding from bailouts to maintain the status quo can keep doing so indefinitely? The country has not implemented any discernible structural changes to save itself. Eventually, it will just collapse under the self inflicted wounds of do nothing. I look forward to the day when pensions that were not earned cannot be paid.

Croke Park will come to an end one way or the other, and personally I believe the cost of it has been staggeringly high both in monetary terms and social terms. Unemployment and emigration. In fact, the cost has been what you allude to as those consigned “to the dustbin of society”. There are many, many Irish people who are taking their qualifications and leaving a country that wants to consign them to the ‘dustbin of society’ residing on social welfare is not the future they envisaged for themselves. We used to call it the brain drain and it is happening again and it is a deliberate decision by those that will have much to answer later on.

On the pensions “debate”, I can’t see what’s the big deal with the Govt just announcing that from a certain date any new entrants to the public sector will no longer have DB pensions, instead they’ll be DC and the Govt will match employee’s individual contributions upto 5%. It’s the very definition of a no-brainer.

re- Judge

– There can’t be a system of visas that does not take into account a clear and truthful analysis of genuine vacancies / realistic projections of future vacancies set in relation with the ability of the existing & projectedpopulation to fill these vacancies.
Whatever about neo-liberal models, we are not beholden to them; and we certainly are under no obligation to pander to any call to become a resource for any sections of industry requiring a pool of temporary, expendable labour.
The fact that they’ve been getting away with it and are used to it won’t prevent good governance from pulling the rug from under them.

There’s IT & there’s IT, of course – quality sustainable industry and dross.

The ineffectiveness of Tribunals Irish style was raised above. If things continue along their current trajectory the problem will be solved by military tribunals under SF. I could see scenarios such as happened in the Iraq parliament under Saddam Hussein as he denounced members of parliament who were then taken out and executed. A majority of the public would be delighted. Business as usual is nearing the end of its tether

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