Monday 25 March 2013

THE DIRTY DOZEN - w/e Mar 31st 2013

Amazing isn't it, how often since this global banking crisis began that we in Ireland have been told 'this can't be done, that can't be done', only to subsequently find that actually, it can be done. And so it is that now we learn that senior bondholders can, in fact, be burned. So we have Angela Merkel declare that tax-payers, in fact, should not have to bail out failed banks. 

"I am very pleased that a solution for Cyprus was successfully reached last night which meant that the country's insolvency was averted," she said in a statement released by the chancellery. The deal, she added, represents a "fair distribution" of the burden and "also requires those who have contributed to causing these undesirable developments to take responsibility, and that's as it should be...On the one hand, the banks must take responsibility for themselves. That's what we have always said. We don't want taxpayers having to save banks but that banks save themselves."

Where then does that logic leave Ireland? How does that balance with the fact that we, the Irish people (it's not just 'taxpayers' by the way), have had to pump €69.7bn into our failed banks; how especially does it square with the fact that under pressure from Angela and the ECB henchmen we had to pump €31bn into Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide when both of those weren't just failed banks, they were already zombie banks?

Once again of course our own Michael Noonan covered himself in glory. He chaired the meeting at which the original Cyprus plan was concocted, signed off on the 'taxing' of the savings of even the smallest depositor, then sat back as this government - not for the first time - issued a smug, self-congratulatory statement extolling the terms of the deal, declaring it as a “positive development for Cyprus, the eurozone as a whole, and Ireland”. 

It wasn't of course, and when the shinola hit the fan Minister Noonan quickly washed his hands of the deal, declaring it was that unfortunate little nation's own idea to hit its own bank savings, down to the littlest cent. He conveniently overlooked the fact that as chair of the meeting he could have and should have immediately ruled out any such proposal, on the simple grounds that all deposits Eurozone-wide up to €100,000 are supposedly guaranteed. He could even have ruled out the proposal on the grounds that it was patently daft, destructive, likely to cause panic. But he didn't; not alone did he go with it, he sat back as the Irish government officials went on to extol the 'deal'.

A forgotten element of the original deal also - Cyprus would have to raise its Corporation Tax rate by 2%; now, when the pressure comes on Ireland again to raise our Corporation Tax rate, who do we appeal to in Europe for support? Ah, our great negotiators.

This week a representative group of us from the Ballyhea & Charleville campaign group are going to Brussels to meet with Sharon Bowles MEP, Chair of ECON, to put to her Ireland's case for bank debt writedown, and to request that she help us set up a meeting with ECB itself. Sad, isn't it, that even with one of the highest-paid governments in the world, a citizenry is reduced to having to go to Europe and negotiate for itself. We're told that we're only wasting our time and our money but if we come back with even one euro of debt writedown, that will be one euro more than Kenny/Noonan/Gilmore/Howlin has even asked for.

By the way, just so ye know, already this month our banks have paid out over €106,000,000 in senior unsecured bonds.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

THE DIRTY DOZEN - w/e Mar 24th 2013

So, Cyprus said NO! and sent the EU/ECB back to the drawing-board.

To what? First of all the cost applied only to those who had bank deposits and even then, only to those who had deposits greater than €20,000. Up to a limit of €100,000 they would have had 6.75% of their savings grabbed from them, a maximum of €6,750. Unless Cyprus is one hell of a wealthy society, I'd reckon that's the vast majority of Cypriots covered right there. They rejected that proposal, and in no uncertain terms - they were right to do so. If they want savers to take a hit let it be those who can most afford it, the big savers.

Here in Ireland, and when the €5.6bn NAMA 'contribution' is taken into account, we've already sunk €69.7bn into our banks - that works out at €15,200 per capita. Not per bank deposit, per capita, €15,200 for every man, woman and child in the country, many multiples of what was being proposed in Cyprus.

Here in Ireland also, we've had all private pension funds raided by the government, an annual 'levy' impose.

Where is the media exposure of what has happened here? Where is the forensic investigation of what Minister Michael Noonan has recently done, transposing €31bn of very challengeable Promissory Notes to rock-solid sovereign bonds that will make debt slaves of generations? The then Irish government was forced into guaranteeing the issuing of €31bn to Anglo, Irish Nationwide, and EBS at a time when those banks were already well past the point of no return. Of what benefit was that to the Irish people?

This sellout has now been accepted as a fait accompli by the majority of the Irish media, Noonan lauded for doing a deal that simply takes the pressure off him and off his cabinet colleagues for the few remaining years they have in government, at which point they ride off into the sunset with their fat pensions, leaving behind 40 years of debt, with balloon payments at the end.

Cyprus said NO! to far less. It's time for 'Ireland says NO!'.

In Ballyhea and then in Charleville,for over two years we've been campaigning for the lifting of the bank debt burden off our shoulders. Next Tuesday, as part of that campaign, we go to Brussels to meet Sharon Bowles, chairperson of ECON, the only body to which the ECB is answerable. Even if we continue to work in a media vacuum at home we are determined to expose the ECB for what they did in Ireland, we are determined to right the wrong that has been done to us.

Today, March 20th, and again without a word of publicity, Irish Life & Permanent paid an unsecured bond of €10,000,000. Below, the updated tables.

Monday 11 March 2013

THE DIRTY DOZEN - w/e Mar 17th 2013

"Look, we had to recapitalise our banks!", so declared Minister Simon Coveney on yet another national radio programme this week, and yet again a blatantly nonsensical statement was allowed go unchallenged. We had to Simon? We had to recapitalise Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide, we had to sink €31bn into two already dead, zombie banks?

Why? For what benefit to the Irish people? Would someone - anyone - in this government please explain that to me, explain it to the nation, explain it to the world? Would you then please explain why this government has now converted the very dubious Promissory Notes backing up that 'recapitalisation' into solid, sovereign bonds, bonds that enslave us for four decades at least as we are now forced to pay for loans we never took out?

This was the triumph trumpeted by Michael Noonan a few weeks ago, then taken up by so many in our national media, again allowed go almost unchallenged.  Michael's explanation as to why he hadn't asked for debt writedown? 'The ECB has never granted debt writedown.' Never Michael? The euro has been in existence since 1999, all of 14 years, the crisis has been there for a mere five. Never? Never, in only five years? Michael, everything the ECB has done so far in their bumbling efforts has been new and unprecedented for them, everything they've done has been something they never did before.

Making matters worse,  even as all those billions were still being drained from Irish banks and from this economy, how many times in the last few miserable years have we been patted on the head and told we're 'special'? If we are so special, then surely we merited special treatment, surely we should have demanded special treatment, surely we should at least have asked for special treatment?

Yet Michael never did, never even asked 'because it had never been granted'. And again, he has never been fully and properly challenged on this, that one-liner accepted as full and final explanation time after time from him and from every other government spokesperson, all the government cheerleaders spinning their web of lies and deceit, the truth kept from the people.

That €31bn, along with the tens of billions plundered from our National Pension Reserve Fund and the billions borrowed from the ECB's emergency funds, is money coerced and extorted from the people by an institution which, in threatening the weak government of one of its smallest constituent nations, didn't just go outside its own remit, it went outside the law. That is why, for over two years, we've been marching in protest in Ballyhea and now in Charleville, that is why we are now asking all of Ireland to join us in our new campaign, Ireland says NO!, details on @ballyhea14 on the Twitter machine.

Anyway, in the tables below some more bitter truth - oh look, another billion of unguaranteed bonds coming up! But you won't read these details anywhere else. Unless of course you RT on Twitter, or Share on Facebook.

Monday 4 March 2013

THE DIRTY DOZEN w/e Mar 10th 2013

It slipped everyone's notice, except of course those millions who are tuned in here (right!), didn't merit mention in any publication or on any media outlet anywhere, but last week our banks paid out €80,000,000 in unsecured unguaranteed bonds. Today, another unsecured unguaranteed bond, from Irish Life & Permanent, $8,745,000 of our money gone south. Or maybe it's east, west, north - who knows? Our Finance Minister has never bothered to ask.

Interesting too to note that according to reports just out, last year Bank of Ireland made a pre-tax loss of €2.1bn; not mentioned, the fact they paid out €5.5bn in bonds, have another €6bn to pay this year. But sure that's all fine, aren't the doors still open?

As a result of the deal proposed by Michael Noonan a few weeks ago (it hasn't yet passed full muster with the ECB) the cost to us now of Ireland's bank bailout is a locked solid €69.7bn, the €64.1bn as detailed by Mr Noonan in reply to a Parliamentary Question plus the additional €5.6bn contribution from NAMA to the banks when it was taking over the bad debts. That's a baseline cost, by the way, does not include the interest or 'coupon' being paid annually on those bonds, nor the interest on the borrowings we have made to date to bail out those banks, coupons and interest that will continue to be paid and thus to accrue as part of the bank bailout in the coming years. When all those costs are added, then before we're finished that €69.7bn will become €100bn.

Unless we do something about it. 

In the weekend just past, and to mark the 2nd anniversary of our weekly protest, we in Ballyhea and Charleville launched a new campaign, 'Ireland says NO!', a flag under which all the various 'says NO!' groups can gather and  march.

On March 27th we'll be in Brussels, meeting with Sharon Bowles, the Chairperson of ECON, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, the body to which the ECB is answerable. At that meeting we will be doing what our own government didn't even attempt to do when 'negotiating' its recent deal, we will be presenting a case for bank debt writedown for Ireland. Wish us luck.