Tag Archives: economy

‘We’ overload from the Examiner

“ANYONE who loves this country, anyone who takes pride in the idea of being Irish, has had their view of their country, and their place in it, challenged over the last few years.

The once-great, or at least that’s how they were imagined, cornerstones of society have squandered their moral authority as their self-serving instincts and corruption were revealed to a population no longer prepared to be deferential or patronised. We once respected a sovereign government and a powerful political class, we once respected an unchallengeable church, all-powerful banks and public sector unions but how things have changed.” [Public sector reform – Enough of this insane nonsense, Editorial, Irish Examiner, 30/10/10]
Read on if you can, it doesn’t get a better. The summary is, everything bad that has happened to the country over the last 50 years is down to some low paid public sector workers taking a half hour off to go to the bank every couple of weeks.
This is without doubt one of the most absurd editorials written in the last 2 years, in any paper.
A corrupt Taoiseach, leaving a incompetent government; a corrupt banking industry, leaving a legacy of debt; a morally bankrupt church, leaving a legacy of abuse. Yet the Examiner does not cry “Enough!”
Yet when the Civil Public and Services Union “oppose moves to end arrangements whereby their members were given half an hour a week to cash pay cheques” on the grounds that “secretary generals and assistant secretaries general had not volunteered to give up privilege days” the Examiner has a veritable awakening.
It’s about time I guess, only about 37 days until the budget.

Remember children…

Eamon Gilmore is not a serious man:

“EAMON Gilmore’s lack of a credible cabinet of policies is the modern day political equivalent of the vain emperor’s folly.” [Irish Independent, 18/10/10]

“On Saturday last, Mary Byrne brought ‘The X Factor’ house down with a stunning rendition of ‘You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, Just Be Close at Hand’. Her performance was marked by clarity, honesty and dignity.  Eamon Gilmore might prefer that other old number, ‘You don’t have to give the details, just tell us we’ll be grand’.” [Irish Independent, 18/10/10]

“Gilmore has been sailing along, careful to avoid nailing his colours to any mast. Presumably he is doing so in the hope of gaining power, where he could implement whatever agenda it is that he is being very coy about.” [Irish Times, 18/10/10]

Forget austerity, we’ve won the lotto

Matt Cooper’s introduction to an interview with Lorna Siggins on The Last Word, Today FM, 7/10/10:

“For many people getting an oil or gas find is a bit like winning the lotto, untold riches flow, great benefits for everybody involved. Unfortunately it’s not always like that, certainly when it comes to the Corrib gas field discovery, made as far back as 1996. It is a decade since the works started, trying to have the gas from that field processed in Ireland and yet all we’ve had over the last decade is misery and anger and rows and disruption and people’s lives, in many cases, not quite ruined, but very very adversely effected, and it is all part of a new book by Irish Times journalist Lorna Siggins, Once upon a time in the West.”

Listen here. [starts Part 1 – 17:30 mins]

The remainder of the interview, while interesting in the areas covering the social consequences of the project and the safety concerns, entirely failed to explore the subject of these ‘untold riches’. Given the state of the economy, the tone of this introduction is depressingly familiar. Just as negotiations or, god forbid, proposals to renege on zombie bank debt are marginalised in public discourse, so too are suggestions to revisit contracts made by previous governments in relation to these finds.

We needn’t bother even mentioning the phrase ‘Climate Change’, it is so far removed from the discourse at this stage that even whispering it would be to make oneself an outcast of intelligent mainstream debate.

For more on those untold riches and how they are to be divided:

The Great Corrib Gas Controversy, Centre for Public Inquiry, November 2005

On a slightly unrelated note, there is a photograhpic exhibition of Canada’s tar sands between London and Tower Bridge:

Image via Oil Change International

Wallets Full of Blood

Together with our interview with filmmaker Eamonn Crudden, A curse on the zombie establishment, we would like to present below the trilogy of short films that make up Wallets Full of Blood, his cinematic account of Ireland’s property fuelled crisis. Enjoy…

Wallets Full of Blood: Houses on the Moon

‘A chilling and original take on the golden circle that is quickly turning the country to rust.’ Notes On The Front on Houses on the Moon

‘The most mordantly evocative document of post-‘Celtic Tiger’ Ireland there is.’  Most Sincerely Folks on Houses on the Moon

Wallets Full of Blood: Zombie Banker Blues

‘A nice little going away present for ‘Fingers’ Fingleton when he finally ‘steps down’ this Thursday.’ Dublin Opinion on Zombie Banker Blues

‘An outstanding evocation of the emotional devastation of negative equity.’
Eurotrib.com on Zombie Banker Blues

Wallets Full of Blood: Roscommon Death Trip

‘Not one for the shockers, I loved this one. The directing, the filming, the cut, the audio is simply genius’. Culch.ie on Roscommon Death Trip

‘I strongly advise you all to watch this.’  The Punishment of Sloth on Roscommon Death Trip

Ireland is at a crossroads

The Media – A week in review

[Click on the image to enlarge]

Text reads:

Left (to the pub) – Economic Hardship and a scarcity of jammy dodgers

Right (to bed) – Economic Prosperity and an abundance of jammy dodgers

This is just an example for illustration purposes, almost any mainstream news editor could equally fill the role.

I don’t fully understand the alleged jammy dodgers obsession [via @Madam_Editor], but it is funny.

End Times

What happened today? What was all the noise about government bonds, spreads, cats in bins. This is what happened:

The graph shows the 10-year bond yield for Irish government bonds (essentially the cost of borrowing), which looks fairly dramatic, until you look at the same data over a longer time frame, in this case the last 3 years:

Data provided by Bloomberg.

ESRI – Thought-provoking or depressing?

There’s another ESRI report out today. Below are two takes on it, one from a Nobel Prize winner in Economics and the other from the Editor of a newspaper that has an expensive sideline in property advertising and has championed fiscal consolidation since the ‘downturn’:

“In a thought-provoking excercise, published today, the ESRI sketches both a “high growth” rebound and a more plodding “low growth” pace of recovery.

Stronger international demand for Irish-made goods and services will act as an engine of growth, hauling the economy back to sustainable prosperity.

But the positive effect on the overall economic outlook of its upward revision for exports is more than offset by its more downbeat analysis of the costs of the banking crisis. These are far greater than it believed just 14 months ago.

[T]he ESRI concludes that even in its best- case scenario, the Government will need to introduce further budgetary consolidation measures, on top of those to which it has already committed, if it is to bring its budget deficit below 3 per cent of GDP by 2014, as it has targeted.

At a time when kites of many kinds are being launched in anticipation of the forthcoming budget, the ESRI flies its own. It suggests that there may be real benefits, in the short term and long, of a more front-loaded fiscal adjustment.

Specifically, the report’s lead author, Prof John FitzGerald, calls for the Government to consider a reduction in the deficit next year of €4 billion, rather than the planned €3 billion. This additional pain could yield gains in terms of lower debt servicing costs and higher investment. The Cabinet will begin its consideration of all these matters today.” [The Irish Times, July 21, 2010]

“There’s a new report out from Ireland’s Economic and Social Research Institute (pdf) calling for even more austerity, arguing that this will lead to faster economic growth. And the report looks authoritative: it’s full of charts and tables, and frequently refers to an underlying quantitative model.

What the careless reader might miss, however, is the fact that the policy conclusions are not, in fact, derived from the analysis — they come out of thin air. The authors simply assert that more austerity now would lead to a lower risk premium and hence higher growth, based on no evidence I can see. They don’t even offer any quantitative assessment of the extent to which more austerity while the economy is still depressed would reduce future debt burdens. In short, it’s a pure appeal to the confidence fairy.

One more thing: a key element in the ESRI analysis is the assumption that the financial crisis has permanently lowered Ireland’s growth track. That may be so — but if it is, a large part of the reason is the effect of a prolonged slump on investment and structural unemployment (the long-term unemployed tend to stay that way even after recovery). Now, some of us would argue that these effects suggest that government should do all they can to avoid prolonging the slump even further, that austerity may be self-defeating. But such concerns don’t even get mentioned.” [The New York Times, July 21, 2010]

Outsiders by David McWilliams – This is not a review

Since I haven’t seen a review anywhere (well to be honest I haven’t looked, but in not looking I haven’t found one) I thought it would only be fair to put pen to paper and give my thoughts on the “part stand up, part discussion, part social observation” performance. This is not intended to be a review, because I simply wouldn’t know how to go about one, just some incoherent thoughts tied loosely together with full stops and capital letters.

Outsiders is probably best described as economics stand-up, the discussion part is nonexistent and the social observation part is at best selective. It’s an attempt to put McWilliams’ writing over the last number of years into a fully formed narrative – in this sense it is thoroughly engaging.

As you might guess the story comprises all the characters McWilliams has created to explain economics to the unfortunate readers of the Irish Independent, so breakfast roll man and whoever else all play their part in the Irish history of financial meltdown.

While these collective caricatures are a pretty irritating form of satire, admittedly, McWilliams is funny, in an uncompromisingly upper middle class way. He can also wield compassion, in an uncompromisingly upper middle class way. Which is pretty handy considering the audience he is likely to be playing to. McWilliams intersperses his economic analysis with personal stories of gay Australian surfers and his fathers’ humiliating period of unemployment, in a sense, it felt as if to try and convince the Abbey’s patronage that there is actually a recession going on.

In Outsiders McWilliams brings little new information to an audience familiar with his work, but it should come as a rude awakening to those who aren’t. Outsiders builds to a crescendo of damning criticism against NAMA and Fianna Fáil’s bank bailouts. However McWilliams does offer some reprieve, he argues that Ireland is well positioned to recover and gives one possible solution – suggesting that the funds of those corporations availing of Ireland’s tax haven (amounting to billions apparently) should be temporarily appropriated to stimulate indigenous business.

Outsiders is a call to arms, only time will tell whether Dalkey will rise up and take on the challenge.

Outsiders by David McWilliams
Abbey Theatre
On the Peacock stage
Wednesday 16 June – 3 July
Previews Wednesday 9, Thursday 10, Friday 11, Saturday 12, Monday 14, Tuesday 15 June
Tickets: €14 – €22