The end of Thatcher’s experiment with ‘reckless banking’?

Nick Cohen with a pithy sign off on the banking crisis: Margaret Thatcher had the annoying ability to produce quotes that even her opponents had to admire. “The trouble with socialism,” she said, as she began the west’s experiment with reckless banking, “is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” We have learned the hard way that it is the trouble with financial capitalism too. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the … Read more

Friday thread: Eleven axe treatments for the weekend

Friday. Three PM. Time for some strings and things to wind a Friday down with. The common theme here is plucked strings. Warning: If you’re an aspiring musician, it may not be wise to to watch any of these as they set the bar a bit high. I don’t want to send you into the weekend in a slough of depression… Firstly, here’s what to do if you’ve got a guitar but can’t get a drummer: This is Iranian-American guitarist … Read more

False Economy: a change-up for the left

The new False Economy website (building on the success of The Other Taxpayers’ Alliance and the MyDavidCameron sites) marks something of a change-up for the left, not least because it it something of a tribute to the strategic successes of the right over recent years. Watching the student protests throughout the UK and Northern Ireland, alongside the GPO rally in Dublin last Saturday, it’s hard to see what the political utility of street-protest really is. We may have an answer … Read more

IRISH TAXPAYER (Séan): “I am really furious right now, Helmut…”

As I mentioned yesterday, the markets were distinctly unimpressed with the details of Ireland’s bail-out.  The Irish Times today notes that Although banking stocks rose yesterday, global stock markets closed lower as markets failed to be convinced that the €85 billion package for Ireland would solve the euro zone debt crisis. EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn said yesterday that Spain may need further austerity measures to reduce its deficit if growth was lower than forecast next year. And the paper … Read more

Ireland can’t afford to bail out European banks

I think this point is worth highlighting more clearly. Below – Simon Johnson ex-CEO of the IMF – on who is owed money by the Irish banks German banks are owed $139 billion, which is 4.2 percent of German G.D.P. British banks are owed $131 billion, or about 5 percent of Britain’s G.D.P. French banks are owed $43.5 billion, which is approaching 2 percent of French G.D.P. But the eye-catching numbers are for Belgium, which is owed $29 billion – … Read more

vote early, check how it was counted often

Continuing on from a post on 1 November about “faith-based” e-voting. Some interesting ideas from David Bismark at TEDGlobal 2010 about e-voting that tries to simultaneously increases transparency and reduces fraud. One of the main objections to e-voting is that it’s difficult for each voter to know that her vote was recorded accurately and counted correctly, while she remains anonymous. In the system designed by David Bismark and his colleagues, each voter gets a takeaway slip that serves as a … Read more

Sovereignty is less Ireland’s issue than not knowing what to do with it…

A fair amount of rubbish is talked about Irish sovereignty. Despite what some have said, it is not like virginity (ie, once it is gone, it is gone forever). But then again, like sex, it is not something that Ireland likes to talk about in public either. In our Lisbon essays (scroll down) it formed the base of some of our liveliest contributions. I was particularly struck by Ben Tonra’s suggestion that the country was too timid to make any … Read more

Fintan’s Enough is Enough petition is a better start for reform

Although no fan of Fintan O’Toole’s spasm of direct action, his headline political reforms are admirable. Once he’s won some support, he surely needs to transform the petition into a collective enterprise. Political reform is no solo run or quick fix. He will also realise he needs support from among those he has  been slagging off or he’ll not get very far.   For Irish reform, old ghosts should not inhibit a comparative analysis with the British experience. Ireland like Britain … Read more

Tell us honestly, Fine Gael and Labour. Are you in favour of default?

Is there an alternative strategy after all? Might the euro’s continuing adversity become Ireland’s opportunity? The first thing to notice is that the Irish government rejected the Financial Times’ stern advice and succumbed to overwhelming pressure. Ireland is readying itself to sign the dotted line of a rescue package foisted on it by Europe. It should not accept before securing terms that avert a bail-out of European lenders paid for by Irish taxpayers thrown into debt bondage. Although we won’t … Read more

Euro crisis: “This might be the last chance to bring stability back to the European’s financial system…”

The day after the details of Ireland’s bail-out were revealed, the BBC notes the markets’ reaction On Sunday, ministers reached agreement over a bail-out worth about 85bn euros ($113bn; £72bn). On Monday, the euro fell 0.8% to $1.3136, its lowest since 21 September. And Irish, Spanish and Portuguese bond yields remained stubbornly high, indicating the market is not convinced European debt problems have gone away. Meanwhile, major European markets were also lower in midday trade. The euro also fell against … Read more

The Irish people should not be teased with false choices

“The best under the circumstances”, says Cowen or “almost unaffordable” according to Noonan? The battle lines for the general election are drawn up immediately. But the contest won’t be about real alternatives. It’ll be about how the Irish people respond to a settlement they have to work through whoever is in power, give or take a tweak or two. This poses a big challenge for Michael Noonan, Joan Bruton and the rest of the government in waiting.  They have to change … Read more

Details of Ireland’s €85 billion bail-out agreed

As RTÉ reports, European Union finance ministers have agreed the €85 billion bail-out for Ireland. Of the total package €35bn is to be used to support the banking system. Of that €10bn will be used immediately to inject fresh capital as a buffer against expected loan losses. The remaining €25bn will be made available as a contingency fund, effectively a massive overdraft facility, to be drawn down by the banks as and when required. And the other €50billion?  The Irish … Read more

Likely to be bailed-out? Then it’s a ‘going concern’

I’m not quite sure why this story isn’t topping every news bulletin, but the US-based Auditor’s Blog has an account of the big four auditing firms’ appearance before the UK’s House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee to answer questions on competition and their role in the financial crisis. Do read the whole thing if you have time, but this line leaps out: The leadership of the Big 4 audit firms in the UK has admitted that they did not issue … Read more

Friday thread: Embeddable anxiety

Friday again. Time to lighten up and start chilling out in advance of the weekend? In anxious days like these? Maybe the soundtrack is less Van-the-man and more Dead Kennedys?  Well, every cloud has a silvery lining. For the past 20-30 years or so, politics seems to have developed a safer veneer, and this has been reflected in a more anodyne mainstream music scene. Elections don’t seem to have been about quite as much once The End of History had … Read more

Euro Crisis : History repeats

The Guardian report that – the Portuguese prime minister José Sócrates insists Portugal is under no pressue from EU states to accept a euro bailout. Meanwhile After Financial Times Deutschland reported eurozone nations and the European Central Bank were urging Portugal to follow Ireland and capitulate to financial aid, the office of the Portuguese prime minister José Sócrates said it was “totally false” that the country was under such pressure. So the politicians deny any contact while financial journalists say … Read more

Euro crisis: “The avoidance of such a meltdown must be the over-riding interest of both Ireland and Europe now”

I’m not entirely convinced that the “strongest argument against a State default has disappeared” completely, but in the Irish Times Dan O’Brien provides the rationale behind the argument against a default in the short-term It is no longer in Ireland’s narrow national interest to prevent senior bondholders from suffering the consequences of their own bad judgement. But this is very unlikely to happen, in the short term at any rate. That is so because a consensus exists among European policymakers regarding … Read more

Counting the cost of bailout

As flagged up by Mack yesterday, the Irish Times reports that the EU/ECB/IMF team is examining how to force bondholders to share the burden with Irish taxpayers of the 15 billion euro deficit reduction plan. At present attention centres on two similar schemes. In the first, bank debt would be converted into equity shares. In the second, bond investors would be given the choice of injecting fresh capital into banks or face a cut in their investment. This seems an … Read more

London Letter: Newspaper journalism student seeks job on paper

The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade says that we are “marching slowly towards the death of newspapers”. The internet is awash with blogs such as ‘Newspaper Death watch’ and ‘Cynical journalist – Tracking the demise of the newspaper industry’. Figures show that sales of the newly launched ‘I’ paper, the first new national to be launched in years, have fallen by over half in the month since its launch.

So, what idiot would pay thousands of pounds to do a newspaper journalism course?

Well, I’m one of 37 idiots at City University London doing the MA in newspaper journalism. Call me naive, but I’m confident that I’ll come out the other end with at least some sort of job vaguely related to newspapers and journalism, and if I have to wait a year then so be it. I might not be on the Guardian news desk, or writing features for the Sunday Times, but even if I was, it surely wouldn’t be THAT outlandish or unbelievable, would it? The world wants news and trained journalists are needed to provide that news. Ironically, the aforementioned blog, ‘Tracking the demise of the newspaper industry’, is written by one of the students in my class.

Read moreLondon Letter: Newspaper journalism student seeks job on paper

Catherine Wylie is a reporter at the Press Association in London.

Europe gets serious. May double the EFSF, may burn bank senior bond holders

The Wall Street Journal are speculating that the size of the EFSF may double to almost €1trn, if German opposition can be overcome. This is an effort to assure markets that Europe can bail out Spain if neccessary. Doubling the EFSF’s capacity to €880 billion would remove any doubt about whether the facility has enough firepower to prop up Spain’s government. Such an expansion would require a bigger financial commitment from Germany, where many lawmakers and voters are skeptical about … Read more

Even Anglo’s good assets are going up the flue…

Without doubt, over a period of time, and in aggregate, market economies tend to be a lot smarter than planned ones. However, in the short term, market panics can cause a lot of unnecessary damage. Take the Anglo Irish Bank for instance, currently a byword for rash investment in property development. But in their haste to clear their books, they are also burning some of the good investors. Here’s Paul McMorrow in the Boston Globe: Last week, Anglo initiated a … Read more