Tuesday 26 June 2012

THE DIRTY DOZEN - w/e July 1st 2012

This is Patrick O'Brien, son of John and Clara O'Brien, grandson of Pat and Frances O'Brien, the youngest participant (if a child can be said to be a participant in anything!) on Sunday last in the weekly Ballyhea/Charleville march in protest against the ongoing bank bondholder bailout.

Patrick was born on Jan 2nd 2012, by which time our weekly protest had already been going for 43 weeks and during which time our banks paid out nearly €10bn in bonds. 

Since Patrick was born our banks have paid out a further €13.7bn. Because we now own outright (within a percentage or two) five of the six remaining banks (AIB, Anglo, EBS, IL&P, INBS), with a considerable stake in the sixth (BofI), the bulk of those payments have come from us, from money we have poured into those banks.

Patrick O'Brien, and all the other Patrick O'Briens out there, will pay and pay dearly for that bank bondholder bailout. This is the legacy being left to this generation by our generation, this is the policy adopted by Brian Cowen, the late Brian Lenihan and the Greens in the last coalition government, this is the policy now being pursued by Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore and the others in this coalition government. Cuts in health and education, those two basics of any civilization, additional taxes when they finally reach working age, that's the future as now being presented to Patrick.

To try to end this lunacy, to try and awaken people to what's happening, the crime being committed against us all, John and Clara march with us.

This week, for example, two zombie banks will pay four bonds valued between them at over €1.1bn. Those bonds are from Anglo and from INBS, are totally unsecured and unguaranteed; to pay them we will be taking from the future of such as Patrick, to give to failed bondholders from failed banks.

Yesterday I was 59. This is what my generation is doing to Patrick's generation, this is the option taken by Enda Kenny, Michael Noonan, Eamon Gilmore and Pat Rabbitte, to bail out bank bondholders at the expense of the new and future generations of Irish. This is our legacy to them.

As a member of this generation I feel shame and I feel anger, deep shame and deep anger. Gutless and gormless, those have been the hallmark qualities of our political leadership, craven capitulation in the face of the ECB's financial blackmail and the Merkle-led political bullying. Fear has been their guiding light, a stark contrast to the those who founded their parties. Michael Collins cycled around Dublin when he had a price on his head, Enda Kenny skulks around the country with a bevy of heavies in two whenever he does choose to appear but refuses to engage in public debate.

This week in Ballyhea we will be holding our 70th weekly march to protest this crime against the people, not just a crime against Irish people but against people right across Europe, including the German people. Be under no illusion, what Europe is suffering is a banking crisis; the ECB's solution is to ordain to the individual governments that the people must bail out the banks. The banks, they tell us, are too big to fail; our message to them now must be - No! We the people are too big to fail!

This week's table of shame - note the three bonds due today, think of the ethics involved in this transfer of wealth, the morality. March with us.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

THE DIRTY DOZEN - w/e June 24th 2012

And so, the trick is complete, Minister Noonan's 'where's the pea' con-job on the Promissory Note for 2012 sold to the Irish public as a 'deal' that has postponed payment. The mainstream media has been mesmerised by all the sleight of hand of the past few months - where exactly did Michael slip that €3.1bn?
Our man 'Marcel-so-what' at the BofI EGM on Monday morning
Now we know. On Monday Bank of Ireland finally held their EGM and decided by an overwhelming majority (I think the final vote was over 99% 'for') to buy from NAMA the sovereign bond it (NAMA) had been ordered by Minister Noonan to purchase from Minister Noonan, a bond which will 'mature' in 2025. Well they would, wouldn't they? Bank of Ireland will simply take the cheap money on offer from the ECB (ah, generous selfless people, those ECB bankers), then charge the government (that's us, people) a nice little markup to assume this bond. Their annual take? Oh, around €38m - money for jam.

While all this has been happening though, all this moving around of the 'cups' to distract people, what has happened to the pea, or in this case, what has happened to the P Note of €3.1bn? Why, it's gone! Anglo took from NAMA the €3.1bn given to them of OUR money (thanks...), in turn gave it to our Central Bank (thanks again...) who in turn, and by order of the ECB (did I mention them earlier?), destroyed that money. Every cent of it. Thus was the Promissory Note of 2012 paid, in full.

The deal? A sordid, shameful episode of 'financial engineering' (get used to that term) whereby a problem debt of this generation's creation that was eminently arguable has been transformed into a sovereign bond, but a bond that will be paid by the NEXT generation, when Minister Noonan and his friends are long gone from office.

We've been conned, people, and even as we speak the same Minister Noonan and HIS people are looking to pull a similar con-job on us on the remaining P Notes, taking today's problem and very arguable debt and transforming it into sovereign bonds to be paid by our children, and possibly even by our children's children. Is that how you would conduct your own affairs?

Anyway, to the latest dirty dozen and watch for the bonds coming due next week. Four bonds, two each from the rotting corpses of Anglo and INBS, all four totally unsecured, coming to a total of over €1bn. My friends, we are locked in a dance of death with those zombies. Time to break free.

Monday 11 June 2012

THE DIRTY DOZEN w/e June 17th 2012

'I'll do everything I can to lighten your load but I'm not getting off your back.'

For those who state that the bank bonds are a dead issue, a few numbers:

€106bn - amount paid in bank bonds since Sep 2008 blanket bank guarantee
€21bn - amount paid in bank bonds since May 27th 2011
€52.5bn - bonds outstanding in the six Irish banks (per info on May 27th 2011)

€13.7bn - amount paid in bank bonds so far this year
€6.2bn - amount still to be paid in bank bonds this year
€13.7bn - yearly average in bank bonds to be paid 2012/12/14/15

€2.4bn - next 12 bonds (see table below), of which
€1.5bn - unsecured unguaranteed, of which
€1.14bn - Anglo and INBS combined.

This is the lifeblood of the Irish economy being drained from us through our banking system on an ongoing basis. Guaranteed (immorally and unethically so anyway) or unguaranteed this is mostly our own money (we own five of the six Irish banks) but it is all money we simply can't afford to give away without a fight. 

It is for this and for this alone that our banks were 'saved', so they would continue paying out those bonds week after week in full (including their 'coupons' or interest), as they came due. WE didn't need to keep those six banks alive; the ECB did and it was at their insistence that it was done. 

It's also at the ECB's insistence that we are picking up the full tab for this. They strongarm our weak government into taking out huge loans from them, we give it to the banks, the banks pay the bondholders, we now owe the ECB what previously the banks owed the bondholders and we repay it with interest.

They will keep a close eye on us and if it appears as though we're going to break under this imposed burden they'll give us a break on the interest rate or the terms - they will not give us a break on the principal sum.

Bank debt writedown and the Promissory Notes written off in their entireity, that's what we need, that's what justice demands.

Monday 4 June 2012


In July last year, this government and its predecessor having failed miserably to negotiate with the ECB a single cent of either writedown or interest relief on the bank debt, a break on the interest payments fell into our laps, a by-product of the Greek bailout. Hasn't stopped this government from claiming - shamelessly and blatantly dishonestly - that they 'secured' the subsequent savings.

This week, having since then failed miserably to negotiate with the ECB a single cent of either writedown or interest relief on the bank debt, the Irish government is 'watching carefully' as Spain's negotiators look like securing a deal which will see the Spanish banks bailed out directly from the ESM rather than through government, as was done to us; if that happens our government has hopes that a similar deal will be gifted to Ireland, to be applied retrospectively. They will then of course again claim - shamelessly and blatantly dishonestly - that they 'secured' the subsequent savings.

What are those savings? What it amounts to is this; IF there's a deal done and IF it's applied retrospectively, the government will be able to take the bank-debt element from its gross government debt, transfer it to the banks and VOILA! Just like that, as the great Tommy Cooper used to say, over €40bn of debt is magicked away.

But of course it will still be there, every dishonest red cent of it. All our remaining five banks will continue to pay out the failed bonds, every cent of the principal AND of the coupon; the remaining Promissory Notes will all still have to be paid, in full. So it is that the next dozen bonds (see below) WILL be paid, a total of €1.53bn in totally unsecured bonds, an additional €925m in 'covered' bonds, a grand total of €2.46bn sucked from the Irish banks and by extension from the already banjaxed Irish econony over the next six weeks.

After 66 weeks of marching locally, we in the Ballyhea and Charleville protest group have had enough. Our officials don't negotiate, they beg, and in the process have beggared this country. This week we're going to Frankfurt, a dozen representatives from the protest reinforced by several others from the Anglo Not Our Debt group. We will not be begging; we will be demanding that which is our basic right - justice and fair play. Our intention is to hand in a list of our demands to Mr Draghi of the ECB, and to spend June 6th protesting - peacefully and with dignity, as is our practice - outside the ECB building. We wouldn't say no to a bit of support, from home and from Europe.