Michael Noonan: Opening Statement on Dáil Éireann Private Members Motion – Debt Conference


23 replies on “Michael Noonan: Opening Statement on Dáil Éireann Private Members Motion – Debt Conference”

Irish Times Jan 14: “Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has expressed broad support for the prospect of a European debt conference following the forthcoming general election in Greece.

Government sources suggested last night that any European conference could consider not only the Greek debt but the Irish, Spanish and Portuguese debt as part of a new approach to remaining problems facing the European Union bailout states.”

Irish Times Jan 26: “Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said that a proposed European debt conference is “not necessary yet” as he gave his first response to yesterday’s Greek elections which saw radical left party Syriza top the polls.

“Asked about his comments earlier this month in which he indicated his broad support for a debt conference, Minister for Finance pointed out that all bailout negotiations so far had been conducted within the context of the eurogroup.

‘I don’t think it’s necessary yet. Cyprus and Greece and Portugal and Ireland and Spain have all been resolved by negotiations at euro group and ecofin and there’s no suggestion that that model won’t succeed again. I have no doubt even without going to the meeting, that there’s sympathy for the Greek people and that there would be a disposition among colleagues to be helpful.'”

No mention of the June 2012 “seismic shift” on debt – it was what could be called an economy with the truth as nobody could says what leaders had made the promise that the stability fund would acquire the bank-related debt.

It’s interesting that Noonan’s example of growth reducing the debt burden in the 20 years to 2005, includes the bubble years that he regards as a period of fake growth.

“The solution for heavily indebted countries is growth. If you take Ireland during the period 1995 – 2005 as a model. In 1995 our general government debt was €43 billion or 80 per cent of GDP.
By 2005 the debt had increased in nominal terms by €1 billion but as a percentage of GDP then stood at 26 per cent. ”

That was driven by credit and will not be repeated.
What is the driver of Irish growth if the US is not on the path to exit velocity? The Squid couldn’t even grow its business in q4 2014. Minus 7%
Noonan is a nice guy but he is not ready for the dying of the memes of neoliberalism.

“Our debt is sustainable – evidenced by the fact that borrowing costs are the lowest on record.”

What do economists think of this? Italy’s borrowing costs are the lowest on record- does this mean Italy’s debt is sustainable ?

Michael Noonan is sending a love letter back in time to Fianna Fail and in particular to Brian Lenihan. Perhaps Noonan is right about that but it does not address the wider problems for Europe. In fact the whole speech is incredibly insular. Ireland’s minister gazes at his own navel while Europe faces disintegration. It about sums up our political elite’s competence or vision on these matters of critical importance for the future of the European Union. The DoF official who drafted the speech should be ashamed.

Noonan could be said to make the concession that growth is the real cure for debt burden’s which is something he Greeks agree with. However, he displays no real solidarity with our Greek compatriots who find themselves in desperate straits. The Greeks would be right to hold him in contempt ever since he derided their nation and plight by saying their collapse would have no impact on Ireland beyond the availability of Feta cheese. Their finance minister is correct that the fiscal compact was a bad agreement which we were blackmailed into per DOCM’s link.

I am praying that the Greeks Government get the good result they deserve for their efforts at shocking Europe into meeting the challenges that face it. I am also praying that they make good on their pledge to collect taxes from those making money in their society to be used to support those who are suffering.

Noonan talks about the EU like it has any say over the EZ cross of gold.
The nice guy EU is as influential as the lady at the reception in ECB towers.

Der Spiegel has some not very subtle fun at the expense of all concerned, the French in particular.


Merkel has also just said that the she has spoken with both Paris and Rome and that there are no differences among members of the EZ in the matter of how to deal with Greece; while still awaiting the government’s detailed proposals. A bit contradictory!

The interesting aspect of the Der Spiegel article is that makes reference to the possibility of linking debt repayments to growth, more than hinting that the Greeks might fiddle the figures but indicating that supervision had greatly improved.

An idea whose time has come?


The other thing about the “no, honestly, we are fine, we don’t need any debt deal” is that there is no margin in case things take a turn for the worse.

Echoes of Honohan here!

Debt burden sustainable/ manageable = screwing the living daylights out of essential frontline services, making the coping class pay through the nose for the mess, knocking the stuffing out of capital spending, being ‘best boys and girls’ for ECB, IMF, MERKEL etc

While doing all of the above keeping the old state gravy train puffing merrily along – must look after the vested interests, the ‘rentiers’, the senior admin sectors…

Uh, oh!


How not to approach a central bank, especially the ECB!

The story he tells is a good one. It is of course based on growth. Which at this point looks likely to deliver, but may not.

The position is ‘We’re all grown up now, it’s our debt, forget what we said about shouldering the costs of Europe’s bank bailout, we’ll be able to get as much back from selling to the private sector and shure that’s all that matters’…. In short, ‘We’re Northern Europeans now’.

This position is one that might be successfully used to undermine Sinn Fein if growth does deliver and/or Greece don’t get a reasonably good deal.

Of course it could blow up in his face if Greece stays in the euro and there’s some mutulizatioln of debt or worse, if growth doesn’t show up, then it would be Austerity with a capital A, can’t see him pulling off two 180s on bank debt.

McKinsey Global Institute has published another interesting report on debt and deleveraging and it is less sanguine than Noonan on the potential for countries to grow out of high debt.

Even with growth in the UK, the Institute of Fiscal Studies suggests more austerity is needed.

As for Ireland, it is foolish to think that we will be an outlier long-term on growth when we remain dependent on a small number of US firms for export growth.

MGI link etc here:


@That’s legal

‘… successfully used to undermine Sinn Fein …’

Pray tell – why do you wish to see SF ‘undermined’?

“This position is one that might be successfully used to undermine Sinn Fein if growth does deliver and/or Greece don’t get a reasonably good deal.”

Well that’s the bet they’re making isn’t it? The portents for a Greek deal aren’t good at the moment.

@Sarah Carey

Hi Sarah!

A nod from Nietzsche’s eternal recurring; methinks your delicately aesthetic lite blue slip is showing again?

Very becoming!


I wear my blue on my sleeve always 😉

But seriously, while my romantic heart would be thrilled by revolution, and I was swept away by optimism for the first 72 hours, I think things could look pretty different in a few months. Keeping our distance could turn out to be a wise move.

What the Greek people need is for Syriza to govern. Priority no. 1: collect taxes.

Greece needs more than tax collection. The people know the last “bailout” was a dud to cover banking ass . There has to be an honest programme from the troika that recognises the limits of what is possible. There has to be a reestablishment of trust. There has to be patience. Lots of germans who know neoliberalism is insane are saying nothing. JTO style wingnuts who bring up albanian gdp contribute nothing to the debate.

If greece is forced out (what el erian would call a policy accident) a lot of debt will be written off and a precedent set. With many sov bonds in negative yield territory the stance of germany is not coherent. And the longer germany refuses to face reality the bigger the risk buildup.

For those interested, a piece in online DeR Spiegel details some of the reforms being put into place by the new government….

@Thats Legal

if growth doesn’t show up, then it would be Austerity with a capital A, can’t see him pulling off two 180s on bank debt.

But, the growth has already shown up. Its already here, big time. So, ‘if growth doesn’t show up’ is an impossible condition.

The only thing in doubt is how long the growth lasts.

I honestly have no idea.

The previous period of growth lasted 21 years, from 1986 to 2007.

The one before that lasted 24 years, from 1958 to 1982.

There is absolutely nothing on the horizon that indicates the present period of growth will end soon. All the indicators look good.

But, of course, the unexpected often happens. So, when the present period of growth ends, as it undoubtedly will one day (for a period of probably 3-4 years before the next period of growth), it will most likely be due to some relatively sudden and unforeseen external event – possibly a war, possibly a disruption in energy supplies, or something else that we can not predict now. Such an event might happen tonight. Or it might not happen for 25 years. Anyone who claims to know for sure is bluffing.


‘Mr Adams said the decision of the Government to “line up with the EU elite and put the boot into Greece is shameful”.

“The issues which the Greek government are seeking to tackle are not a Greek problem. They are a European one. This state’s debt problem is not an Irish problem, it is a European one. The debt issue needs a European solution.”


A Syriza MEP, Kostas Chrysogonos, on Saturday addressed a Sinn Féin conference in Dublin on the living wage.


@Greek Citizenry

In solidarity.

@The Irish Government

$ham€ful. Quite”

Graciously accept the award of a Hiberno-Hellenic FIG LEAF.

Comments are closed.