Thursday, December 16, 2010

How Do You Say "Buggered" In Irish?

Whatever it is, I'll bet that word is on the tip of the tongue of most Irishmen today as their country staggers on the brink a financial disaster that just won't go away.

Ireland recently relented and accepted an E.U. bailout but on terms that might make the IMF look like the Sally Anns.   According to Der Spiegel, the bailout is shifting the crushing burden of the rash profligacy of Ireland's banks from the speculators onto the backs of the Irish people.

The EU has failed to make the foreign bondholders take a hit on the losses from toxic real estate loans. In particular, the ECB insisted that the interests of the German, British and French banks would continue to be protected. Instead, Irish taxpayers are being asked to pay the bill: at a hefty interest rate of 5.8 percent, to ensure the foreign creditors will get their money back rather than face any losses.

That may be something German banks welcome, but it is a disaster for Ireland. And many economists now predicts that it is just a question of time before the country defaults. " This 'bailout' will sink the Republic,"   warns economist David McWilliams in the Belfast Telegraph. "  It is the EU giving us enough rope to hang ourselves in the hope that we don't hang all of them."

If Ireland fully exhausts the EU bailout then it will double the national debt to €175 billion by 2014, he calculates, and the interest on that would come to €8.5 billion a year -- more than even the thriftiest of governments could afford.

To make sure that the state does not drown in its debts, the annual rate of growth has to be significantly higher than the interest due on the national debt, McWilliams argues. If the Irish economy does not grow by 8-10 percent, then the country will end in a debt-deflationary spiral. And even the most optimistic government projections are just below 4 percent.

Barry Eichengreen, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, makes a similar argument. It would be neither politically nor economically sustainable to force Ireland to pay 10 percent of its national income as reparations to bondholders, he wrote recently in German business daily Handelsblatt, " as anyone who remembers Germany's own experience with World War I reparations should know."   It would be more sensible to have a debt restructuring and offer the bondholders 20 cents on the euro, he argues. 

[Trinity College economics professor Kevin] O'Rourke's prognosis is as foreboding as that of his colleagues. " We now face a negative spiral in which austerity causes emigration, which increases the burden of the debt, which ultimately leads to more austerity,"   he writes. He recommends as a way out the path pursued by Iceland. In a referendum, the voters rejected a proposal to pay back their banks' international creditors. Ireland, O'Rourke argues, needs a "  radical change."

And so ends the once vaunted Celtic Tiger.   The average Irish household is predicted to be 7,500 Euros poorer annually by 2012 due to government austerity.   The initial bailout adds another 17,000 Euros per capita to the national debt.   But the bondholders, the European banks that colluded with the Irish banks in the recklessness that brought Ireland to its knees - they'll be safe.


Beijing York said...

Disgusting. I was just checking out on how Iceland was faring with their IMF bailout dating back to 2008.

Seems unemployment is ridiculously high and people are having their homes repossessed.

The Mound of Sound said...

It's hard to imagine Icelanders losing their homes. That place is a closed system like a terrarium. I wonder what they do? Foreclose but leave the former owner in possession as a tenant?

The banks and their shareholders should be taking this hit, not the general public. If a bus skids into a ditch you don't convict the passengers of drunk driving.

Beijing York said...

That's an excellent parallel, MoS.

Okie said...

"How Do You Say "Buggered" In Irish?"

When you get a package in the mail and the label says

Seasons Greetings from the IRA

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, corruption and greed rules all countries. And, corruption and greed kills countries. Canada is a vast morass of corruption. Banks, large corporations, gas and oil company's, are given billions of our tax dollars. They get huge tax reductions. Because, big businesses are bottomless pits of greed. They all lined up at the trough, squealing for the HST too. I watched all of this on, the House of Commons Channel. The government steals from the citizens, to give to big business. It is really big business that governs. Politicians, are merely figure heads. BC's HST, was for big business, and big business only. Why would a government, tax the hell out of citizens in BC, who have lost their jobs, their homes and everything they had? We can't even support our local businesses. Our BC HST goes directly to Ottawa. Why? The HST does nothing for the BC citizens, what-so-ever. All the HST has done is, drive costs up even higher. All for big business and Harper's Global governance, rant.