Greek referendum: a lose lose for Europe

I have always tried to avoid making predictions as unlike Mr. Ashdown, I have few hats and no desire to devour any of them. It does seem, however, as though the Greek population have rejected the terms of the latest bailout. The saga of the Greek Eurozone experiment and its travails seems to have gone on rather longer than the Trojan War. How one analyses the blame depends to a large extent on one’s views on economics and the whole … Read more

Ireland has missed a glorious chance on Greece

As the Greek tragedy rumbles on France has said it will keep up efforts to reach a deal. France has also maintained that the biggest critics of Greece are the other smaller countries. This brings Ireland into the spotlight. Has the government really been politically clever in how it has handled the Greek crisis? Ireland has a strong reputation in Europe. At several junctures in the history of the EU it is Ireland that has helped to bring people around … Read more

CNBC: Ireland we hardly knew ye!

I know we like to think that our wee island packs a punch beyond its size, but any illusion that we are a household name kind of comes crashing down with one interview on one of America’s most respected financial networks CNBC. If you have not been following this story, the Chief Executive of the Irish Development Agency, Martin Shanahan was invited onto the programme to discuss Ireland’s tax system which has been debated in the corridors of power in … Read more

Yes, Ireland can apply to the IMF for money, but…

If you want proof that SF dropped the ball on the anti case last week by putting partial quotes from Karl Whelan and two other eminent economists, it’s the fact that they have lent their own authority to an economist who is way off base from their own anti Fiscal Compact position. On Morning Ireland this morning Whelan gently debunked the idea, arising from (though strictly speaking, not contained within) a Sunday Times’ story yesterday that Ireland would be able … Read more

Referendum: Hollande “is not intending to renegotiate the fiscal pact itself”…

One of the problems the Yes camp will have to contend with is the shifting sands in Europe (see Arthur Beesley for the latest political collapse in the Netherlands, far from the feckless PIGS…) And indeed the front page of today’s Irish Times carries a story on the leading contender for the French Presidency, Francois Hollande, and his reference to the capacity of Ireland to say No in the up coming referendum: “There will be a renegotiation,” Mr Hollande said. … Read more

The politics of leaving the Euro not as simple as Govt’s critics make out…

Nice piece from Brian Feeney in the Irish News yesterday… It’s worth quoting at some length, not least for those who imagine that default is likely to be a pain free option… Not least because of the political cost… Here’s the position. Over the next three months or so, the nuts and bolts of the Merkel/Sarkozy pact to stablise the Euro will be screwed together and what in effect will be a new treaty will emerge. The Republic will have … Read more

Cameron needs to review and politicise his government’s negotiating effort…

It’s an odd twist of fate whereby we face a situation in which most of Ireland ought to be putting some store on David Cameron’s (albeit abortive) attempt to renegotiate a better and more fitting solution to the solvency problems of the currency that no lender of last resort it seems can be made to love. As Micheal Martin pointed out after his meeting with the Taoiseach last week: I asked the Taoiseach why Ireland did not consider supporting the … Read more

Of Greece Germany and Porsches

I am no economist but I thought I would try this: The interlocking woes of the Eurozone seem endlessly complex. The wasteful Greeks, Italians etc. are all denounced as compared to the hard working Germans living within their means and now being forced to bail out the profligate southern Europeans. A classic example is presented in the revelation that there are more Porsche Cayennes per capitia in the Greek city of Larisa, the capital of the relatively poor agricultural area … Read more

Greek PM to resign Update: Not going to resign

The BBC are reporting that the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is to offer his resignation to be replaced by a coalition government, led by former Greek central banker Lucas Papademos. It is unclear but seems likely that this will prevent the referendum on Greece accepting the latest deal on its debts. Fortunate that: Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel could not have pesky Greek democracy getting in the way of their plans could they? Already the European Commission had said … Read more

I share the Irish public’s dismay at the cost and unfairness of this policy

In this morning’s Irish Times, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, offered everyone the wisdom of his thoughts on the payment of a €700m unsecured unguaranteed Anglo-Irish Bank bond. The whole piece is worth a read. He states that: Part of the existing agreement with our external partners is not to allow any Irish bank, including Anglo Irish Bank, default on its debts to bondholders for fear of paralysing wider European financial markets. I share the Irish public’s dismay at the cost … Read more

Charges brought in Laois counterfeiting operation

It’s taken a while, but four men have finally been charged in connection with the sophisticated counterfeiting operation and underground bunker uncovered in a joint operation by Europol and gardaí in Ballybrophy, Borris-in-Ossory, County Laois, in May last year.  From the Irish Times report A former leading member of the Provisional IRA and prison escaper was one of four men who appeared at the Special Criminal Court yesterday, charged with possessing equipment to make counterfeit money. Anthony Sloan was arrested last year … Read more

Euro crisis: “For good or ill, she is perceived to set policy, pace and tone at every turn.”

In the Irish Times Arthur Beesley’s assessment of the “mammoth task” European leaders face in the year ahead is well worth a read.  From the Irish Times article Strain and anxiety were everywhere in 2010. Merkel held the line against easy bailouts but her dogged intransigence on core principles led to accusations that she was making matters worse, not least in Ireland. From the summit room came whispered reports of shouting matches between French president Nicolas Sarkozy and ECB chief … Read more

The European view on insolvency

The new proposed European Stability Mechanism looks like it will come into force via a change to The Lisbon Treaty, and will avoid facing public vote by referendum. It provides a process for sharing losses with sovereign creditors in the case of national insolvency. (More details on that below). In yesterday’s FT, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, an executive at the ECB, made the case against sovereign debt restructuring in the Eurozone. He argues that government debt is a central plank of … Read more

Comment of the day…

We’re running in a few new commenting tools on Slugger, which we hope will help raise standards on the blog. But I also want (from time to time) mark out good content from the comments zone. So the reader’s comment of the day (so far) is from Laughing (Tory) Unionist on Mr Reckless’s Red C poll: I still regret ’79 (when the sterling link was broken, by the South, in favour of the ERM), but having made that mistake then, Dublin’s … Read more

43% of Sinn Fein voters want to return to Sterling standard…

Mark Reckless is Tory MP for Rochester and Strood. He’s also the grandson of one Henry McDevitt, who briefly sat as a Fianna Fail TD for the now defunct Donegal East constituency. It seems Mr Reckless has taken it upon himself to commission a Red C poll on the question of whether the good folk of the Irish Republic would like to return to the calmer waters of the sterling zone. (H/T Gawain) He has hosted the detailed report on … 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

“It is the long term nature of this crisis that is just beginning to gain recognition.”

If there was any uncertainty about the markets’ reaction yesterday to Ireland’s bail-out, and to subsequent events, today’s plummeting Irish bank shares and more evidence of the fear of contagion in the markets should remove all doubt. The euro has hit a seven-week low against the dollar and global stock markets retreated today on fears that the Republic’s debt crisis may spread to other European countries with large budget deficits. Investors fear that Portugal and Spain may also have to seek financial help. The Spanish … Read more

Irish Times: “For Ireland’s political class the prospect of another [EU] treaty referendum is nightmarish”

Whether the European Commission succeeds in introducing its proposed directly levied EU taxes, including a possible EU-wide value-added tax (VAT), in the face of opposition from a number of national governments, remains to be seen. But we’re still looking at interesting EU times ahead… In agreeing new sanctions for countries in breach of EU budgetary rules, France and Germany are now calling for a permanent bail-out facility for Eurozone countries, before the current one expires in 2013. As the Irish Times reports … Read more

“The weakest link? Maybe it’s best not to ask that too loudly.”

The Irish Times‘ Arthur Beesley has been asking some ‘stupid’ questions in Brussels about the Irish Government’s plan for the Anglo-Irish Bank and its dependence on Europe.  From the Irish Times Investor types who lend billions to Ireland want final figures for the Anglo wind-down; the Government can’t provide same yet, its credibility over the bank is in some doubt anyway and Europe anxiously wants the brouhaha to quickly go away. But will it? Can it? When people do talk … Read more

Euro Crisis : Soros on the Euro’s deficiencies and what needs to be done

Excellent George Soros essay on NyBooks – The Crisis & the Euro. In it he forensically examines the structural issues with the single currency, points out Germany’s critical role within the project and how they have been making bad policy decisions, and how this threatens political and social stability within the union. All is not lost, as he outlines three steps that need to be taken (cleansing the banks, huge monetary stimulus to offset fiscal tightening, European infrastructure investment funded … Read more