RTÉ reports that the Irish government plans a new economic recovery plan for the New Year [it’ll all be over by Christmas? – Ed]. But the Sunday Business Post has a couple of articles worth considering. First up there’s a report on the ongoing discussions on the recapitalisation of the banks, and the disagreements over who needs what, whilst David McWilliams argues that the market’s growing realisation of the default risk of the state, as opposed to the banks, means that Finance Minister Brian Lenihan must act decisively now.
If they [the management of the banks] play ball they might have a chance; if not, they are out. In short, Brian Lenihan is the don and he has to accept this. Any minister for finance who guarantees his banks is the last man. He makes the decisions. If this inconvenient truth hasnt sunk in at the department, it most certainly is clear to the financial markets. As far the rest of the world is concerned, ever since the guarantee was issued on October 1, the state more or less owns the banks to the extent that, if the banks collapse, the state picks up the tab.
Update In the comments zone George links to this Irish government announcement.
This extract from the government statement indicates the absence of detail at present
In that context, the Government has decided either through the National Pensions Reserve Fund or otherwise and subject to terms and conditions, to support, alongside existing shareholders and private investors, a recapitalisation programme for credit institutions in Ireland of up to 10 billion.
The States investment may take the form of preference shares and/or ordinary shares and the State may where appropriate participate on an underwriting basis. In principle existing shareholders will be expected to have the right to subscribe for new capital on the same terms as the Government.
A key principle in the operation of such a fund will be to secure the interests of the taxpayers through an appropriate return on, and appropriate terms for, the investment.
And I’m not convinced that it actually addresses David McWilliams point. From the Sunday Business Post article
Given that the management of the banks is in self-preservation mode, any meaningful bid that comes in now will be hostile, not to the institutions, but to the individuals who ran these companies into the ground. Therefore, in the interests of the state, the minister has to act against the interests of the individuals who run the companies. Things couldnt be clearer. If the minister wants any progress on the banks and, by extension, the economy, he will have simply to go over to the banks, put a friendly arm around the shoulders of the current bosses and usher them out the door. If not quite out the door, at least in the direction of the foyer, explaining firmly but sensitively that they are part of the problem.