Irish Worries For The Global Economy

By Peter Boone and Simon Johnson

Is the global economic recovery still on track? The mainstream view is: yes, without a doubt. But increasingly, there are reasons to fear another financial disruption – particularly given the latest developments in Ireland.

The consensus among officials and most of the international banking community is that the global economy has stabilized and is now well down the road to recovery. The speed of this recovery is proving disappointing – as seen in the revised second-quarter growth estimate for gross domestic product in the United States, with annualized growth down to 1.6 percent. But, according to this view, easy monetary policy and still-loose fiscal policy around the world will keep sufficient momentum going.

Never mind that Japan, the United States and most of Europe are running unsustainable fiscal policies, while the Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is fretting over how to prevent deflation with a limited toolbox, and Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, is calling for more fiscal tightening. To enjoy this rosy global picture, we are also told to ignore the plight of heavily indebted peripheral euro-zone nations still suffering from uncompetitive wages and prices, and concerns over default, that strangle their credit markets and growth.

An essential part of this relatively positive view is that the euro-zone economies have stopped the series of “financial runs” that, earlier this year, took intense market pressure from Greece to Portugal and Ireland and threatened to move on to Spain and potentially almost everywhere else (except, presumably, Germany). A collapse was averted in large part by the euro-zone countries agreeing to rescue each other – meaning that the Germans agreed to support Greece and other weaker countries – with some additional cash resources provided by the International Monetary Fund.

However, let’s be clear: Europe’s headache remains large, and this should concern all of us – just look at Ireland to see how misunderstood and immediate the remaining dangers are. Ireland’s difficulties arose because of a massive property boom financed by cheap credit from Irish banks. Ireland’s three main banks built up loans and investments by 2008 that were three times the size of the national economy; these big banks (relative to the economy) pushed the frontier in terms of reckless lending. The banks got the upside, and then came the global crash in fall 2008: property prices fell more than 50 percent, construction and development stopped, and people stopped repaying loans. Today roughly one-third of the loans on the balance sheets of major banks are nonperforming or “under surveillance”; that’s an astonishing 100 percent of gross national product, in terms of potentially bad debts.

The government responded to this with what are currently regarded as “standard” policies in Europe and America. It guaranteed all the liabilities of banks and began injecting government funds to keep these financial institutions afloat. It bought the most worthless assets from banks, paying them government bonds in return. Ministers have promised to recapitalize banks that need more capital. Despite or perhaps because of this therapy, financial markets are beginning to see Ireland as Europe’s next Greece. In the last few weeks the perceived probability of default by Ireland (as traded in credit-default swap markets) has shot up, so that markets now price a 25 percent risk that Ireland will default within five years.

Until very recently, Ireland was seen as Europe’s poster child of prudent reforms. Mr. Trichet himself highlighted Ireland as an example that Greece and other financially stricken nations should follow. His message was simple: If only Greece, or Portugal or Spain would cut public wages, reduce the budget deficit and make structural reforms as Ireland has done, then growth could occur and default prevented.

However, it is now apparent that Ireland has not done enough to stem its march toward further crisis. The ultimate result of Ireland’s bank bailout exercise is obvious: one way or another, the government will have converted the liabilities of private banks into debts of the sovereign (that is, Irish taxpayers), yet the nation probably cannot afford these debts. According to the Royal Bank of Scotland, Irish banks have debt worth 26 billion euros, or one-fifth of Ireland’s national income, coming due in the month of September alone.  Ireland’s third largest bank just announced it will likely need 25bn euros in total capital injections from the government (19% of Gross National Product, GNP), while Standard and Poor’s argue this figure is too low.  In total, the debts of Irish banks could easily result in a charge to government debt equal to one-third of G.N.P.

These debts need to be added to the fiscal deficit, which also remains dangerously out of control. This year the government will run a deficit of 15 percent of G.N.P., and with nominal G.N.P. falling, it could well remain that high next year, even if the government cuts spending by the 2 to 3 percent of G.N.P. currently envisaged.

The government is gambling that growth will recover to more than 4 percent a year starting in 2012, in order to make all this spending and debt affordable, and officials insist that growth is already under way. Ireland’s gross domestic product did grow in the first quarter of 2010, but that was not the good news that many press and officials claimed.

This misunderstanding stems from Ireland’s success as a tax haven. Many years ago Ireland cut corporate taxes to attract business. This created one of Europe’s most impressive tax havens – it is possible to set up a corporation in Ireland, channel sales through that head office (with some highly complicated links to offshore tax havens in order not to pay Irish tax) and then pay a minuscule corporate profits tax. Ireland boasts a large industry of foreign “tax minimizers” that do this, but these tax minimizers hardly employ any people. Nearly one-quarter of Irish G.D.P. comes from the profits of these ghost corporations.

The likes of Google, Yahoo, Forest Labs and many others helped Ireland’s exports grow in the first quarter, but the domestic economy when excluding their profits, as measured by G.N.P., actually contracted, and so did Ireland’s tax revenues and employment. Today Irish unemployment is estimated at 13.8 percent, up from 13.1 percent at the start of the year.

Ireland, simply put, appears insolvent under plausible scenarios with current policies. The idea that Ireland, Greece or Portugal can cut spending and grow out of overvalued exchange rates with still large budget deficits, while servicing all their debts and building more debt, is proving – not surprisingly – wrong. Such policies leave nations burdened with large debt overhangs that effectively tax businesses and borrowers – because interest rates must stay high to reflect risk.

Investors must wonder whether businesses and homeowners can afford these higher interest rates, so banks and investors cut credit lines and reduce lending. This strangles economies, even when the fiscal authorities take tough steps needed to cut deficits.

Ireland had more prudent choices. It could have cut the budget deficit while also acknowledging insolvency and requiring creditors to share some of the burdens. But a strong lobby of real estate developers, the investors who bought banks’ bonds and politicians with links to the failed developments (and their bankers) prefer that taxpayers rather than creditors pay. The European Central Bank, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund share some responsibility; they advocate these unlikely programs in order that European and global banks, which provided the funds to the Irish banks, do not suffer losses from such bad lending decisions.

The Irish government plan is – with good reason – highly unpopular, but the coalition of interests in its favor seems strong enough to ensure that it will proceed, at least until it either succeeds and growth recovers, or ends in complete failure with default of banks or the nation itself.

Under the current program, we estimate each Irish family of four will be liable for 200,000 euros in public debt by 2015. There are only 73,000 children born into the country each year, and these children will be paying off debts for decades to come – as well as needing to accept much greater austerity than has already been implemented. There is no doubt that social welfare systems, health care and education spending will decline sharply.

Watch for renewed emigration from a famously footloose population. If current policies continue, the calamity of the Irish banking system will lead to a much deeper recession and the consequences will be felt for decades. Watch also for further global financial disruption as this kind of deal starts to unravel.

This post was prepared for the NYT’s Economix and is used here with permission.  If you would like to reproduce the entire post, please contact the New York Times.

135 thoughts on “Irish Worries For The Global Economy

  1. …as scary as it is fascinating, with emmigration an intereting new angle. What about political instability? That can also feed back into the economy…

  2. Irish government policy over the last few decades has relied far too heavily on attracting multinationals and has not invested nearly enough into supporting homegrown industries. The government before last (where our Taoiseach/Prime Minister Brian Cowen was the Minister of Finance) oversaw and actively encouraged that building boom with disasterous consequences.

  3. When I hear an IMF expert discuss capital controls I will begin taking him seriously. These guys are financial hit men and their only message is austerity. Why not tell us how you feel about currency speculation, usury and asset stripping?

  4. Three years ago in Ireland I was amazed at the seemingly endless construction, the prices of homes, and the number of them that were empty. Even more amazing was a program by the government that seemed to be giving money away to the citizens. I remember my wife shaking her head and saying, “this can’t last.”

    On the next day, the Taoiseach assured everyone that everything was well and that those issuing dire warnings were not to be believed. After reading about his statement, my wife said: “what a liar! How can everyone not see the country has no clothes?” I suggested that perhaps the Taoiseach had better information than she did.

    She finds time to remind me of it every time I tend to disagree with her over economic matters. It kills me to think how right she was.

  5. This process of shifting crippling levels of debt around the system as if doing so could somehow magically reallocate it to someone likely to pay it back is uncomfortably close to the history of the period between 1918 and 1938.

  6. Why not do what the US does?Find some rather small country that you can beat in a war and attack them.Then you can create a Military Industrial Complex(MIC) like the US has and create millions of jobs by producing otherwise useless products such as weapons.Assuming you win this little war you can also get the Eurobank to lend you millions of euros to rebuild this little country and this will create more wealth in Ierland.Just look to the US for your economic solutions and your problems will go away into the sunset.

  7. But then the deficit will grow. I thought the point was to prove that reducing deficit and wishful thinking can lead to growth.

  8. Watch for renewed emigration from a famously footloose population…

    “Have we not seen, at pleasure’s lordly call,
    The smiling long frequented village fall?
    While, scourg’d by famine from the smiling land
    The mournful peasant leads his humble band;
    And while he sinks, without one arm to save,
    The country blooms – a garden and a grave…

    Ill fares the land, to hast’ning ills a prey,
    Where wealth accumulates, and men decay…”
    – Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village

    Poor Ireland! She is one of the costs demanded by history in the growth of what we familiarly call our civilization. …

    Under the current program, we estimate each Irish family of four will be liable for 200,000 euros in public debt by 2015. There are only 73,000 children born into the country each year, and these children will be paying off debts for decades to come – as well as needing to accept much greater austerity than has already been implemented. There is no doubt that social welfare systems, health care and education spending will decline sharply.

    “Irish misery forms a type by itself, of which neither the model nor the imitation can be found anywhere else. In all countries…paupers may be discovered, but an entire nation of paupers is what never was seen until it was shown in Ireland. To explain the social conditions of such a country, it would be only necessary to recount its miseries and its sufferings; the history of the poor is the history of Ireland.” – Gustave de Beaumont, Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious

  9. Emigration has always been the preferred solution to Irish economic problems; at least since the famine in the 1840s and possibly before. Politicians here disgracefully refer to it as a “release valve”, meaning that the social tensions built up by huge unemployment can be released by clearing the land of its people. Like most post-colonial states in which the natives are running the show, the Irish political elite simply will not accept the blame for their mistakes, and will invariably find some bogeyman to blame our ills. Before it used to be the bad old Brits, Unionist discrimination in the North of Ireland, and, in a nod and wink kind of way, the protestant community down South.

    There certainly a bit of truth to these accusations, but they eventually only served to cover up the criminal rapaciousness of the “gombeen man” politician who the great Irish playwright J.M Synge defined as “groggy patriot/publican/ge-neral shopman who is married to the priest’s half-sister and is a second cousin once removed of the dispensary doctor … the type that is running the United Irish League anti-grazier campaign, while at the same time they are swindling the people themselves in a dozen ways and buying back their holdings and packing off whole families to America”. (cf David McWilliams).

    The only hope I see emerging from this failed state is that with monetarist, deflationary policies about to take over in the UK and the US, the emigration safety valve/expulsion policy will no longer be feasible, thus forcing the downtrodden Irish to finally give their gombeen masters the comeuppance they so deserve. Nonetheless, between the start of this crisis in 2008 and the next general election in 2012, there could be up to 200,000 angry (young) voters who have left this country, and in that sense the governing class will feel it has its job done.

  10. I guess the key is watching the 5-year CDS rates on these individual nation’s sovereign debt. I’ve found it’s a little difficult just grabbing the most recent ones on the internet without paying for some service. But if you dig hard you can usually get a pretty recent number. If anyone knows a free place to access those for the most recent 24 hour period I’d be interested and appreciative to know that.

    It’s also interesting to compare the different countries 5-year CDS rates on the sovereign debt. It can be surprising or eye-opening.

  11. Excellent observation. I have always compared Ireland with Isreal. They both have long histories of a storied diasporia, high levels of education and literacy and a strong reputation for independence and creatively. So why is Isreal booming and ireland in a slump (apart for the Isreali propensity to reverse engineer American hi-tech military products and sell them as their own)? The key has been isreal’s ability to build internal industries and then list them on NASDQ. ireland could have done the same but they chose not to.

  12. They’re stealing all of Joseph Cassano’s best ideas??? Then the doctor comes back to Ireland’s congress after he knows nobody will press charges, testifies to the irish congress he could have saved the Irish government a lot of money if they had hired him to liquidate the derivatives, then runs back to the hills yelling over his shoulder “Suckers!!!”

    You know just skimming this pretty fast and using my semi-fertile imagination, it’s not to hard for me to imagine that Goldman Sachs has done some secret work with the Irish government. Maybe creating some special derivatives or swaps for them to hide their true debt picture????? That’s only conjecture on my part, but I don’t think it is that wild based on past experience.

  13. I pulled up “The Deserted Village” by Oliver Goldsmith on Google but was unable to identify this paragraph.Can you enlighten me?

  14. This reminds me of the 60’s Peter Sellers movie “The Mouse That Roared”, where a fictional tiny European country was bankrupt and had no way to make money so it decides to declare war on the US (with a handful of citizens in armor) knowing that the US will destroy it then come in and do massive reconstructing and investing.

  15. “So why is Isreal booming and ireland in a slump”

    Because the Irish had to buy their land at market prices, Israel, they just steal it.

  16. Irish air traffic controllers’ get paid $350,000 per year. They went on strike last year because Spain’s air traffic controllers’ get paid over $400,000. Us and British air traffic controllers’ make less than $150,000. This sums up what is wrong with Ireland.

  17. So should I buy that little place in the West of Ireland in the Gaeltacht or not? Speakin’ as an Irish American.

  18. He’s not wrong. How many “settlements” have been built from confiscated Palestinians lands. As and Irish man, I can tell you that the level of corruption in Ireland is massive. The scandals that are peaking through the cracks of the political picture are only the tip of the iceberg. None of the mainstream political parties want to touch the issue because they know ultimately their party has as many skeletons in the closet. Until we get on top of corruption and (as has been pointed out) invest in local job creation rather than multinational jobs, we wont see change.

  19. Post-colonial states? Blame the Brits/Southern Protestants? Failed states? What on earth are you talking about? You are describing conditions that have not existed in Ireland since the ’50s, if then. The Irish political system is admittedly inept, but you are conflating Ireland and Zimbabwae. A far more plausible comparison is with the US’s political and economic woes, the only significant difference being that the world still considers the US to be “too big to fail.”

  20. Oh, you know perfectly well that opportunistic wars don’t create deficits. Only Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid can do that.

  21. This kind of thing exists on all levels..It is truly amazing. Civil servants are still retiring to Spain with multi million gratuities plus pensions bigger than their salaries (my brother in law for one). Academics have been left out of the entire discussion: they got in under the wire in the months before Ireland collapsed with a retirement package that rivals the minister of finance; solicitors yearn to get on a commission at multi million salaries…etc..etc.. anyone who thinks it is not absolutely beyond hope does not understand it. .. It is in far worse shape than the late 1950s when I decided in my teenage wisdom that there was two options: get out or change it–at that time I decided that leaving was the only hope. Thank God I had such teenage wisdom. I now have wonderful responsible American children.

  22. You have hit the nail on the head. They are hit men and all they want is to make the people of the world their slaves and their piggy bank. We need to scrap the IMF and World Bank all together – they are more of a problem than anything else. If capitalism is to continue, it must accept certain rules and regulations and abide by them or it will die a sure death by the cancer called greed. Corp. Tax havens only destroy a true viable market and should be banned by every country so there is a level playing field. We are all in this together and we have to share this life, this planet, and we cannot let greed rule.

  23. I am a Canadian immigration lawyer. Our firm has had an increase in inquiries from Irish people.

    I remember when I was in university Ireland was seen as a booming country and a model of success. Numerous friends went there to study.

    Now, on the phone, all I am hearing is that there are no jobs, and that the wages that they are being offered by potential employers in Canada dwarf those being offered in Ireland.

    It really is quite surprising to me.

  24. “Is the global economic recovery still on track? The mainstream view is: yes, without a doubt. But increasingly, there are increasingly reasons to fear another financial disruption – particularly given the latest developments in Ireland.”

    Really? The global recovery is on track? Without a doubt? Really? Where is this recovery? I see China, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. all on track but I don’t see the U.S., UK, the PIIGS, etc. recovering.

    This latest film will show us that the global elite doesn’t want a recovery.

  25. Re: @ JoeMomma___”A far more plausible comparison is with US’s political and economical woes,”___NewsFlash: A small town in Newton, Massachusetts with approx. ~20% Irish Population recently finished building a “State-of-the-Arts” High School at the low-ball cost to the taxpayers of $187million (total population of Newto,Ma. was/is approx. ~84,000 people! You do the math and tell me if the United States still considers itself “too big to fail”? :-)) Go Ireland!!! PS. “May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields and, Until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand.” (Traditional Irish Blessing… ) (from a transplanted Bostonian)

  26. I’m not a fool (OK, minority view!) but when one reflects on this article about Ireland and thinks how many other countries are technically broke, I still can’t understand the range of possible outcomes that are talked up.

    If a country is broke in the way that Ireland is described, ergo “Under the current program, we estimate each Irish family of four will be liable for 200,000 euros in public debt by 2015.” then is there any viable alternative than years of austerity?

    If Ireland, many other countries and the USA are all, more or less, in the same state why are there so many different views about where this is all heading?

    My naive mind says that there are only two realistic outcomes; years of dreadful austerity or massive social unrest.

    What am I missing?

  27. H’mmm, maybe I should read the book

    “If the wads of money you’ve stuffed into your mattress for safekeeping don’t keep you up at night, Simon Johnson and James Kwak’s 13 Bankers will–a disturbing and painstakingly researched account of how the banks wrenched control of government and society out of our hands–and what we can do to seize it back.
    Bill Moyers”

  28. Hi Bill,
    Buy cheap and remember us Irish are an ancient and great race, but easily duped by mouthy politicians, ach beidh lá eile againn, and there will be blood!


  29. Letter in Irish Times 3 weeks ago

    Madam, – At a recent morning coffee, colleagues were aghast to discover that entry level consultant physicians and surgeons in the Irish health service receive a basic salary of circa £170,000, while their entry level counterparts in the British NHS receive a basic salary of circa £75,000 per annum. A discussion ensued, and despite exploring benchmarking, relative living costs and rates of taxation, I, as a proud Irishman, found this difference very hard to justify, especially in the context of a catastrophic and devastating economic climate.

    Perhaps someone from the Irish medical fraternity, or indeed the Irish Government could offer some explanation, so that I might do a better job of justifying to my colleagues this embarrassing difference. – Yours, etc,


    Thistle Street Lane South West,



  30. “So why is Israel booming”

    Don’t forget that Israel receives massive support from the USA.

  31. I am sorry but sometimes I have to remind people, the Israel and the the Republic of Ireland may of some sentimental similarities, but that’s all they are sentimental. I should note I take the right of the State of Israel to esist peachfully as a human right, but sometimes I feal sorry for those who have not witnessed history.

  32. Peter Boone and Simon Johnson wrote “these big banks (relative to the economy) pushed the frontier in terms of reckless lending”

    But let us not forget that regulators who allowed only 1.6 percent in capital requirements for banks when lending to anything AAA related, which means an astonishing authorized leverage of 62.5 to 1, really pushed the frontier in terms of reckless regulating.

  33. I’m still glad to be living in this country today, the Republic of Ireland, than at any time of my life, I would just wish one change and that would be the influence of religion on this country, I have always felt that people in power, especially De Velara, used it as an excuse to exercise power.
    I look at the Republic now and no matter what the author of this article say’s I believe, hand it hand, the Ireland has a future that will be better than what we left behind 1960’s.
    My grandson, officer of the 1990’s UN force in Kosovo, was shocked by what he heard of the troubles there. It was sad that I thought the history of Europe changing, yet the world kept repeating itself.
    I think that the economic change we are see’ing today should be used as a reminder of our history, for it has been economic change that has allowed the troubles of our past to reignite themselves.

    Sincerely yours,
    Anderson Ward.
    Leitrim, Republic of Ireland.
    Retired Doctor, Lieutenant
    UN and IRC, West Germany, Israel and Palestine 1968-1986

  34. Peter Boone and Simon Johnson wrote:

    “However, it is now apparent that Ireland has not done enough to stem its march toward further crisis. ”

    Irish Economy Is Now At Its Most Vulnerable

    Friday, September 3, 2010 – excerpt

    “Ireland’s debt/GDP ratio has now reached levels that give serious cause for concern – and it will continue to rise over the short to medium term, writes RAY KINSELLA

    IN THE absence of transformational economic and social policy changes, a sovereign debt crisis is now all but inevitable. Whether such a crisis would ignite, or be part of, a more generalised crisis in the euro zone is not yet clear.”

  35. Roger Ebert called the the film, (‘Inside Job’) “devastating” summed it up this way in May:

    “From Roosevelt until Reagan, the American economy enjoyed 40 years of stability, prosperity and growth. Beginning with Reagan’s moves against financial regulation, that sound base has been progressively eroded. The crucial federal error (in administrations of both parties) was to allow financial institutions to trade on their own behalf.

    Today many large trading banks are betting against their own customers.”

  36. It seems to me that austerity is unavoidable. But there is still a choice between two routes. One is to put on the mantle of austerity and crawl around on your knees as a debt slave, with whatever you manage to eke out of the world siphoned off to your masters.

    The other is to recognize that all of this debt is the result of wrongdoing and simply repudiate it. That will lead to austerity because credit will become unavailable, and for a time, people will have to learn to make do with real assets instead of fake debt. But once that is learned, there will be real growth, and the opportunity to keep it, and invest it in productive activities. And there will be some degree of satisfaction in saying the debt-overlords get their commeupance, to boot.

  37. Well, this is really no surprise, Andrew. The economics ‘profession’ is not immune to the same forces that ‘capture’ our Hill Gang.
    “Priceless: How The Federal Reserve Bought The Economics Profession”

    “How Fed Rigs the Economic Debate”

  38. line 51
    Ill fares the land, to hast’ning ills a prey,
    Where wealth accumulates, and men decay:
    Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade;
    A breath can make them, as a breath has made;
    But a bold peasantry, their country’s pride,
    When once destroy’d, can never be supplied.

    The earlier lines are from The Traveler, also by Goldsmith

  39. Peter, Simon

    Thanks an accurate analysis of what is going on and what is to be expected.

    It will have an effect on the EURO to where it will explode. Germany’s money injections are the desperate attempt to keep its export going based on an artificially soft currency which it shares with the rest of EUROPE that, however, needed an even softer currency to blast some life into their dying economies. The summer is over.


  40. Thanks, Simon and Peter, once again, for such a clear and cogent job. Sounds, once again for the umpteenth time, a vote of the wealthy to have taxpayers shoulder the burden. Sadly, also may become real global dynamite, since whatever global recovery is now happening is very tenuous and untrustworthy. As a matter of fact, anyone who actually believes that the world economy is moving forward and will stay on a solid growth path in the near term is living in cloud cuckoo land. So emblematic are things like using a 1.6 percent GDP growth rate to argue that we are out of our recession, or to argue that we have a jobless “recovery” happening (what is that, anyway?), or to use 9.5% unemployment as a real number to be accepted (the real number is much closer to 20% than 15%). But, this just shows that whatever is happening here is still happening around the globe. Where is Robin Hood in corporate clothing when we need him?

  41. Re: immigration. You don’t have to wait for it to happen in the future. It’s happening on a large scale right now. While our govt, as always, doesn’t like to reveal embarrasing stats, so we’ll never know the true numbers leaving, the fact remains that immigration á la 80’s style is back in vogue.

    Frankly, I don’t blame the young, especially the well educated, leaving. I wanted to flee the madhouse in the early 2000’s when assets prices became absurd. My spouse wouldn’t go. So now we pay until retirement (and probably beyond) for the bond, equity, govt and banking cabal’s grave errors.

    Will we get any thanks from this cabal? Will we ****. There just trying to figure out how they can screw the last penny from our pockets before they eventually immigrate to sunnier and more comfortable climes themselves.

  42. Great commentary Fergus, agree fully with what everything you said. Unfortunately the political systems which ultimately protects The Gombeen Man is one which the ordinary citizens will not see changed – that of electing your local TD so your village can be “looked after”. There should only be 50 elected officials from all parties with ministers elected through a national vote.

  43. Bill,

    I’d hold off buying any property in Ireland for the moment, we’ll still a long way off the bottom of this slide.

  44. Emigrate is the word you’re looking for there fella.

    Problem is, it’s getting harder to find somewhere to go. I’m 38, a software engineer and the only place I can find that wants me is New Zealand. Too damn far and because of the weak currency, hard to leave if you don’t like it. I might yet go for that option though.

  45. “One is to put on the mantle of austerity and crawl around on your knees as a debt slave, with whatever you manage to eke out of the world siphoned off to your masters.”

    And that will just not do it. Either because people (and the economy)will revolt or because people (and the economy) will be so weakened they will not muster sufficient production.

    Ireland, as many others, is not really any longer a debtor problem, it is a creditor’s problem… and the creditors better start marking their assets to reality fast, or they going to drown in false expectations… unless of course they can unload their assets during a weekend when central banks are offering some of their special quantitative easing programs.

    That said it is sure getting harder to know where to move to… the world is running dangerously low on green valleys.

  46. The key paragraph here is “Ireland had more prudent choices. It could have cut the budget deficit while also acknowledging insolvency and requiring creditors to share some of the burdens. But a strong lobby of real estate developers, the investors who bought banks’ bonds and politicians with links to the failed developments (and their bankers) prefer that taxpayers rather than creditors pay.”

    There has been no shortage of howling from the independents in Ireland about the need to allow capitalism to run its course, and not to shift the burden to taxpayers. NAMA was the final crowning turd in all of this. Sadly, we witness again our politicians putting their friends before the interests of the nation.

    Equally, there were several independent (and qualified) voices raised against the startlingly obvious property bubble back in the 2003-5 time period. Also ignored.

    Just like in the US, unless voters respond by throwing the bums out, you get what you deserve.

  47. The problem is that Heyho and Mrs. Heyho have likely bought a home in Ireland, which they cannot sell without incurring a massive loss. (I do not know Irish property or mortgage law, but I know that all mortgages are recourse in many jurisdictions.)

    Even if the Heyhos have not gotten on the “property ladder” they likely have established jobs, qualifications, have had children, etc. in Ireland, all of which may make it harder to leave.

  48. rene,
    Speaking of sanity, when you quote Max Keiser, you’re one step away from quoting Alex Jones. When you quote Alex Jones (of shortwave radio infamy) it’s time to call the local funny farm for self-admittance. Trust me, I’m an expert on these things (haha).

    Just teasing. What I said is nonetheless true, but just teasing.

  49. What can I say Ted K… your advice is well taken :)

    In my opinion, the Max Keiser report is not only entertaining but also HIGHLY informative. Period. (you might want to type in Michael Hudson or Paul Craig Roberts or William Black in his search engine)

    Only recently have I been investing some time in listening to Alex Jones. For me to make sense of it all, gathering information from a lot of different sources is mandatory. As the Sheriff of Wall Street said, “conspiracies do exist.”

  50. Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion – the hoax that so many have taken to using as their “bible”.

  51. I was thinking about the Bilderbergers. How is it possible that 100+ of the most powerful people in the world can come together on a yearly basis without the public knowing what is been discussed at those meetings? This is socially unacceptable behaviour and we should no longer tolerate it.

  52. It doesn’t seem to be directly relevant to this forum, but oriented more towards the minutia of his PhD work. In the cited post James is talking about the quality of footnotes in scholarly legal publications and using one as a cautionary example that happens to have an interesting statistic on unemployment in the 1980s.
    James just decided not to publish it here.

  53. Re: @ Bayard Waterbury___Can you even imagine what the unemployment would be if not for the “Two-War’s?”, never mind the hundreds of thousand mercenaries piggy-backing this lucrative golden tiara of bravado,…? Can someone say “1934”!

  54. We can certainly see, taste and “feel” the FRUITS of their discussions, so here’s a pop quiz – do we use inductive or deductive reasoning to figure out what they “talked” about? :-)

    As for the “socially unacceptable” part, Rene, I thought we are moving forward with the certainty that they do not care about the human animal as anything other than a consumer or a commodity in a math formula?

  55. It depends on your perspective.

    “I like to think of space and time as analogous to the ocean, and changes in it as analogous to waves on the surface of the ocean, but those waves, of course, don’t show up when one’s miles above the ocean. It looks flat. Then as one gets down closer to the surface one sees the waves breaking and the foam.”


  56. Let’s get this right: Reduced corporate taxes to attract behemoth businesses…allowing them to accumulate funds that can exit the country at any time,weakened the fiscal soundness of the government and didn’t do anything to help the average citizen except to make borrowed money available for a few years so individuals could plunge into debt.

    Sounds like the Republican/Wall Street theme song for this country.

    I wonder if Larry Summers, Robert Rubin or Goldfein were financial advisors to the Irish government.

  57. The GFC explained in two short paragraphs…

    “…acknowledging insolvency and requiring creditors to share some of the burdens. But a strong lobby of real estate developers, the investors who bought banks’ bonds and politicians with links to the failed developments (and their bankers) prefer that taxpayers rather than creditors pay.”

    “The plan is – with good reason – highly unpopular, but the coalition of interests in its favor seems strong enough to ensure that it will proceed, at least until it either succeeds and growth recovers, or ends in complete failure with default of banks or the nation itself.”

  58. Speaking of too much time, it;s time for musical time breaks. I don’t know which time break this is 2/4/ 4/4 8/4. Break it down in response musical freaks…… get the echo break time also if you can, ambience double time………..

  59. Here it is friends, be very compassionate to your nation, but never lose your original thinking or original mind, at my weakest moments, this is one of the best.

  60. Turn the volume 3/4 up. When I was in China, near the end, this China like song gave me deep feeling, but My “darling” never gave me that “Start-over” but every time I hear him say “Look-out!!!” in that rebelious feeling, I felt that Chinese girl’s parents weren’t watching really.——-

  61. ok, crazy bit now–let’s see when Kwak or Johnson will “take me out”. go for it now, ok??????? This is it Brothers and Sister’s. listen carefully.

  62. You want to say your old friend “ted” “Crazy” ted, is just a monstrous guy??? watch this. ok. I”m done after this video……….

    That’s a deep feeling friends…

  63. You want to say your old friend “ted” “Crazy” ted, is just a monstrous guy??? watch this. ok. I”m done after this video……….

    That’s a deep feeling friends…

  64. Judging from the vast amount of evidence being provided by professors, intellectuals, experts, bloggers and commmentators on our current economic affairs, we can safely induce that we are being had.

    I seem to have to re-adjust to the fact that we are “anything other than a consumer or a commodity in a math formula” every single day.

    In regards to algorithms, CIA Invest in ‘Future’ of Web Monitoring (!)

  65. “it’s time to call the local funny farm for self-admittance” Only teasing. Don’t let the bastards get you down, brother. Have another dry gin and visit the paradise city :-)

  66. My understaning was the idea in the 1960s was Multinationals would bring Ireland in to the modern age. Their knowledge and expertise would be picked up by Irish companies who would then grow and prosper. The government was hugely successful in attracting multinationals. However the second part of the plan the transfer of knowledge and the setting up on world class Irish companies hasn’t happened in any meaningful way to date. I can only speculate two reasons for this. The first is people have decided to stay in well paid secure multinational jobs. The second is the Irish government has not been effective in promoting the establishments of Irish copmanies through active polices like procurement.

    I asked once why when working on an IT Project why we were using Accenture instead of a local Irish company that was half the cost. The reason I was given was a civil servant would not get in trouble if the project went bad for hiring someone from Accenture compared to an smaller Irish supplier.

    The political system in Ireland is dominated by Boomers. A new polictical party that represents the interests of the generation X and Y is badly needed. The boomers are out to maintain the status quo before the whole thing falls apart.

    Irish people are well Educated and we like to travel so if it does go to hell I’m off to a country with nicer weather at least.

  67. I was asked where did all the money go that people paid for their new houses over the past 10 years. Over 50% went back to the state through direct and indirect taxation. The state then spent it in one of their three main areas (1) Healthcare (mostly wages) (2) Social Welfare incl Pensions (3) everything else (mostly wages).

    So if you are sitting in a house in Meath that cost you 400,000 and now is worth 200,000 you can wonder should 100,000 of that money go on paying state employee wages, pensions and welfare over the past 10 years.

  68. My wife is a doctor (Training SPR). Your conclusions are correct. I don’t think it’s going to stay like that for much longer though.

  69. Here’s a line: “…With a hefty mortgage and a note on his truck, a country boy’s out of luck…”

  70. The inevitable conclusion is also unstated: The euro experiment has failed, and the system is in the early stages of dissolution. Ireland and the rest don’t have a debt problem as much as a relative cost problem. Time to bring back the punt, devalue it by 40% go into an IMF program and convert those debts to a currency it controls. The be all and end all of policy is not to protect foreign holders from their own mistaken judgments.

  71. … yes, and all the other PIIGGS just will do the same, and then Eastern Europe and Western Europe, Japan,and the US. So the only currency left is beautiful Yuan and good old Swiss Franc, may be.

    Disolution sounds so peaceful and nice, it won’t be …!

  72. Ted K

    “ok, crazy bit now–let’s see when Kwak or Johnson will “take me out”. go for it now, ok??????? This is it Brothers and Sister’s. listen carefully.”

    Don’t Bogart that joint my friend. :-)

  73. I firmly believe “All” banks should hold 25% (Wow!) in reserves, and that includes “TBTF”, period! I have my reasons – the rating agencies should be abolished! The US Treasury must get absolute congressional support for a specific amount of credit from the Fereral Reserve when it inceases our National Debt in GNP terms by 1.0% – and that it is all inclusive – especially for wars{(???)(IMHO the US is in a twenty-year +/+ perennial state of war)}. The Federal Reserve is a cartel (monopoly) backed up by the US Gov’t laws that works hand-n-hand with the US Treasury orchestrating the central banks role as all powerful, and all knowing. This is happening all over the world where “Central Banks” were never present and as today the only countries without a “Central Banks” control are Iran,and Somalia (although interesting…best of my knowledge). Ref: “The Creature from Jekll Island, The Federal Reserve, talk by Edward Griffin” Pages 8-15/33 excellent read, and your summary does matter also regarding the authors. Thanks Simon, and James :-) PS. I’m sure the German’s will help the Irish out…just my gut feeling,…

  74. Correction: Without Central Banks as of 2003 – Iran; N. Korea; Sudan (not Somalia); Cuba; and lastly Libya. The data could have changed from “03” with Libya? Thanks

  75. I think, sorry, neoliberalism but also the sheer need to survive does not allow for any retarding the action. It will be a competition for the weakest currency to push exports trying to make a buck… by attracking labour and tourism…

  76. Rene,

    You get an “F” on the pop quiz – LOL.

    But that just means you are “special” and will get an endless supply of make-up tests to get wrong until all those wrongs make a right.

    In the spirit of the 4 year brat that is passing for peace and silence – how about this?

    Get the garbage can – hurl the contents on the wall – and then graph, connect the lines, find patterns, etc and present the “labeled” version of garbage wall art

    as the NEW “economy”…what else can you do with all that was consumed and deconstructed…?

    It’s ART.

  77. There are always reasons to fear another financial disruption… especially when our banks are under the thumb of dumb regulators.

    I ask you, in banking, what has much chances growing into a systemic risk that could threaten the whole system? Excessive lending or investments in what is perceived as risky, or excessive lending or investments in what is not perceived as risky? You’ve got it! What is perceived as risky will never grow into something systemically important.

    But, our bank regulators in the Basel Committee imposed as their prime and really sole regulatory pillar, capital requirements which are much lower when banks lend or invest in what is perceived as having little or no risk… and the regulators also insist in doing so, even after the explosion caused by excessive investment in triple-A rated securities backed by lousily awarded mortgages to the subprime sector.

    You see now how you are so much smarter than those in the Basel Committee?

  78. The Concert for New York City 2001 – Disc 2 – 1. Mike Moran FDNY – “…in the spirit of the Irish People…”

    Tough when it’s “math”, “bubbles”, “derivatives”, “profit”, “sub-prime”, etc. to get the same fire from the stone….

    “_______ (one name?) you can kiss my royal Irish _____ (different body part?)”

  79. Per Kurowski wrote:

    “There are always reasons to fear another financial disruption… especially when our banks are under the thumb of dumb regulators.”

    SocGen’s Grice Says Laugh, And Maybe Buy Some Stocks

    Sep. 2 2010

    “Societe General’s Dylan Grice, in his latest “Popular Delusions” column, demolishes the idea that central bankers have a clue, let alone the key to economic recovery. The best you can do is laugh at their efforts to come up with a workable policy, Grice says — and maybe bet on inflation and China’s economic and military ascendancy by purchasing commodity-sensitive stocks.

    Grice has a wonderful way with words, likening central bankers and policy wonks to New York City pedestrians fruitlessly pressing on “walk” buttons that long since have been disconnected.

    Unfortunately, Grice says, nobody knows what `effective’ is because nobody knows what basic economic measures like `full employment’ are. To provide a temporary cut in sales taxes, or use the Fed’s printing press to buy Treasuries and push down long-term rates further might be “smart …it might even be sexy.” But “how do we know when we’re at full employment? Didn’t the Irish think they were at sustainable and full employment in 2007, only to discover they had been dangerously overheating?””

  80. The fact that property prices dropped 50% in Ireland should be a cause for celebration. Imagine if food prices dropped 50% for everyone. Housing is a basic neccesity and incidently a human right. Unfortunatly just as I was about to celebrate the new affordable housing meaning that young people would stay in the country instead of emigrating and have more disposible income to boost the ecomony something happened. The government pushed all of the private banks losses on property (from all over the world) on top of the young generation of Irish people meaning very low growth and massive interst payments. They did this to protect the upper echlons of our society, it was sadly predictable really. The whole story is just sad and proves both that life is not fair and the devil is alive and well in his kingdom.

  81. The Catholic Church is the spiritual wing of the Fianna Fail Party in Ireland. The Fianna Fail Party is the political wing of the Catholic Church, and the police are the military wing of both. Throw in a bit of culture, like a few words of Gaelic, a bit of the diddly idle, along with the GAA, and you end up with a cozy little fascist state, where priests, politicians, developers are all untouchable.

  82. Civil servants do not want to take risks in this country. Which is strange, since they have by far the most secure jobs around. It is nigh on impossible to fire civil servants for them not doing their jobs so by “trouble” I imagine you’re talking about a scolding. While opportunities to raise Irish industries slip by daily.

    I can’t say I blame you for wanting to head off!

  83. Thank you. Ireland has had tens of billions from EU coffers and in fairness at least some of it wasn’t wasted. We have something resembling a modern infrastructure. Though broadband coverage is pathetic for a country whose leaders crow on about a “knowledge economy”.

  84. The Irish believed the free-market palaver and may have been recolonized in a different guise.

    “we estimate each Irish family of four will be liable for 200,000 euros in public debt by 2015.”

    I guess there is always MMT modern monetary theory.

    I’m not an economist. From what I can tell, the theory here is that with fiat money, a country with sovereign currency should be focused on managing on the economy; the deficit hawks have got it wrong. The theory is when there is high government debt there is a high surplus in the private sector, and vica versa. The challenge is the balancing act to create a vibrant social-economy.

  85. Well, Ted K. I like the Willy and Chris “Lovin’ Her
    Was Easier Than…” best.

    But, I can escape, only temporarily. Every morning, I’m still here.

    *This* one, Rene, is for you. Time for us to face the music… stop kicking the can down the road. We’ve been doing it for nigh on half a century with social security, medicare — and damn if the “progressives” are not still trying…

    Hell. It’s time to upset the apple cart, start over.

    ……Lady in Red

    No defence left against double-dip recession, says Nouriel Roubini

    The United States, Japan and large parts of Europe have exhausted their policy arsenal, leaving them defenceless against a double-dip recession as recovery slows to ‘stall speed’.

    By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor in Cernobbio, Italy
    Published: 9:49AM BST 05 Sep 2010

    Nouriel Roubini said the US growth rate was likely to fall below 1pc in the second half of the year
    Nouriel Roubini said the US growth rate was likely to fall below 1pc in the second half of the year Photo: BLOOMBERG

    “The US has run out of bullets,” said Nouriel Roubini, professor at New York University, and one of a caste of luminaries with grim forecasts at the annual Ambrosetti conference on Lake Como.

    “More quantitative easing (bond purchases) by the Federal Reserve is not going to make any difference. Treasury yields are already down to 2.5pc yet credit spreads are widening again. Monetary policy can boost liquidity but it can’t deal with solvency problems,” he told Europe’s policy elite.

    Dr Roubini said the US growth rate was likely to fall below 1pc in the second half of the year, despite the biggest stimulus in history: a cut in interest rates from 5pc to zero, a budget deficit of 10pc of GDP, and $3 trillion to shore up the financial system.

    The anaemic pace compares with rates of 4pc-6pc at this stage of recovery in normal post-war recoveries.

    “We have reached stall speed. Any shock at this point can tip you back into recession. With interbank spreads rising, you can get a vicious circle like 2008-2009,” he said, describing a self-feeding process as the real economy and the credit system hurt each other.

    “There is a 40pc chance of double-dip recession in the US, and worse in Japan. Even if it is not technically a recession it will feel like it,” he added.

    Hans-Werner Sinn, head of Germany’s IFO Institute, said the US would have to purge its debt excesses the hard way.

    “The bitter truth is that there is no way out of this with monetary and fiscal policy. They will just have to see their living standards go down. I see a decade of difficulties for the US,” he said.

    Dr Sinn said the US the market for mortgage securities (CDOs) had collapsed from $1.9 trillion in 2006 to just $50bn last year, leaving the US property market reliant on federal agencies.

    “The world is simply not willing to buy these dubious financial products again. Germany is leaving, China is no longer there, and Japan is pulling away. The US system of mortgage finance is on government life support and that cannot drive a sustainable upswing,” he said.

    Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson said the US has exhausted fiscal stimulus given warnings from the Congressional Budget Office that interest payments as a share of tax revenues will reach 20pc by 2020 and 36pc by 2030 without drastic retrenchment.

    “The fiscal crisis seems to be out of control. The ‘big crossover’ is approaching when the US spends more on debt service costs than on security, and historically that is the tipping point for any global power,” he said.

    Mr Ferguson said the “Chimerica” marriage of recent years is on the rocks. China is no longer willing to fund the US Treasury bond market, cutting its share of holdings from 13pc to 10pc of the total debt stock.

    While China must find ways to recycle its trade surplus and hold down the yuan, it is doing this by stockpiling commodities, buying hard assets around the world, or rotating into Asian bonds.

    Dr Roubini said US companies have plenty of cash but are boosting profits by a policy of “slash and burn” on labour costs. “We’ve lost 8.4m jobs and if you include the loss of hours worked it is equivalent to another 3m. We need to generate an extra 450,000 jobs every month for three years to get it back,” he said.

    The US non-farm payrolls data released on Friday was better then expected but still showed a net loss of 54,000 jobs.

    Dr Roubini said average public debt in the rich countries would rise to 120pc of GDP by 2015 in the rich countries, leaving no scope for a further fiscal stimulus. If they push their luck, they too risk the sort of bond crises seen in Southern Europe this year.

    In the US, the fiscal boost has faded, switching to tightening over coming months The lift from the inventory cycle is finished. Capex spending by companies has held up well, but this slowed sharply in July. Housing is already in a double dip. The last support for the US economy is consumption, barely growing at 1pc.

    “All we did was kick the can down the road and stole demand from the future,” he said.

  86. Yes, and hopefully Israel will continue to receive that support, and more. In that corner of the world, militant islam is the enemy, and we would all be stoned and conquered if the mullahs had their druthers. The West needs to declare absolute war against the fundamentalists. They should be stoned back into the stone age, where they got stuck, and belong.

  87. @ Lady in Red:

    As long as the MSM and MSE keep the propaganda ministry placated, the sheep will continue to believe the recovery mantras, and when the market crashes in the fourth quarter, many will be left holding the bag. Afterall, the mainstream economists and media are just partners-in-crime. Thanks Trevor for posting the following very interesting links:

    “Priceless: How The Federal Reserve Bought The Economics Profession”

    “How Fed Rigs the Economic Debate”

  88. Others paint a much different picture than the one peddled by ‘institutional’ economists and those employed by bodies that caused the crisis in the first place. According to GEAB!-Global-systemic-crisis-Second-half-of-2010-The-global-system-s-four_a4810.html

    There are a number of points of coming failure any one of which will result in the potential collapse of the worlds financial system and these are noted by the GEAB report as:

    • Western public debt: when insolvency becomes intolerable
    • European austerity: when contextual growth is abandoned in favour of structural stablility
    • Chinese inflation: when China is going to begin to export its inflation
    • US contraction: from « hidden mass austerity » to « imposed Federal austerity

    None of the above have been addressed and any one could trigger a global crisis.

  89. And NONE of these problems with “religion” running the “states” were around when Israel incorporated itself into a country in that neighborhood after WWII?!

    location location location

    I’m betting on the East ultimately solving the problem because it matters more to them than to the West.

    Start asking China for increased funding against “fundamentalists”…

    The Ottomans have been tracking the number of Israeli Peace Talks – it’s 873…

    Who kept track in Ireland – how many did it take?

    As for “economic” analysis, if we could put a penny in the piggy bank for each word used – written and verbal – I believe the system would be solvent :-)

  90. The stoning of the Iraqi girl in the CNN video was not done by Muslims. It was done by members of her family and her community and they are YAZIDIS.

    So, ‘militant islam’ is not the enemy in that one.

  91. Over-running Paris instead of Beijing or Tokyo is just making it easier for the Far East to take Africa away from the “fundamentalists”.

    Whatever else it may be, “Islam” is not a civilizing force. It never even tried to make something of itself with all the resources of Africa. It went to Paris to take.

  92. I saw an interview wuth Kotlikoff today where he emphasized that the U.S. was bankrupt and that its creditors could cause collapse overnight. He also stressed that just because an economy is growing and getting stronger does NOT mean it won’t collapse. It’s a question of investor perception about a nation’s ability to repay its obligations. Once that’s undermined, collapse can instantly come, without warning.

  93. Holmes and Watson were summoned to help with a case that was a two day journey away from London.

    Holmes, “Watson! Wake up, Man! Quick, what do you see?”

    Watson, “I see a clear, moonless sky. Overhead are the Pleiades, so it is about 3 AM. If we leave now, we can lunch at our final destination.”

    Holmes, “Watson, you idiot, someone stole our tent.”

  94. I don’t know much about the economic problem of Ireland but I believe that every problem has a solution. When we say economy it really involves big deals of problem and worrying is but normal, what is important is that we join together and we help each other in our battle to global crisis. I think we can recover for as long as we work together.

  95. “So why is Isreal booming and ireland in a slump”

    because we have Fianna Fail, a backyard mentality / tribal political party who can never ever except responsibility for their actions, and have to be the most morally corrupt party in Europe. To coin a phrase ‘they have a neck like a jockeys bollocks’.

  96. That is the other side of the coin. William Black has been lucid on this topic, and clear on the morality of the current age and how to fix it. Put people in jail and let everyone know why they were sent there. If you want to change perceptions then change the reality. The anger of the general public and the disdain of Wall Street are tied to that one issue. No one has paid for the crime of the millenium and everybody knows it.

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