Tuesday 9 April 2013

THE DIRTY DOZEN - w/e April 14th 2013

I wish I had eloquence, I wish I had influence; eloquence enough to be able to tell the true tale of what's happening in Ireland in the last five years, influence enough that this news would negate the lies and propaganda being spread both at home and abroad by our own government (growth, falling unemployment - that one debunked in no uncertain fashion by the IMF who have pointed to a 'staggering' 23% unemployment/underemployment figure, which would of course be far worse but for the safety valve of emigration).

Contrary to the message being spread worldwide, Ireland is not doing fine. On March 27th last the Ballyhea & Charleville campaign group, part now of the 'Ireland says NO! to bank debt' movement, delivered six letters to Sharon Bowles MEP, Chair of ECON, detailing the effects of the current austerity programme; it could have been six thousand letters, six hundred thousand, and we could have brought them from Greece or Portugal or Spain or Italy or Cyprus.

When bankers and financiers (as in the ECB) are making their decisions all they see are numbers, figures, credits and debits, profit the bottom line. But when parliaments are making their decisions our politicians are supposed to also factor in the human cost. Across Europe for the last five years of this crisis, even within the EU parliament itself, that has not been happening. The banks, the financiers, the markets, they have all had the whip hand, every decision (including the 'haircut' in Greece, which should have been more) has gone in their favour.

The ECB will protect its own, isn't going to stand for the people, ever; it's time our politicians did, in every individual government and in the EU itself. Banks should be subject to the power of the people, to the power of sovereign nations, not - as is currently the case - the other way around. Time to tilt the balance.

The following is what we in the 'Ireland says NO!' propose as a solution to Ireland's current ills:
  • Destroy the €25bn in sovereign bonds currently held by our Central Bank in lieu of the Promissory Notes, Notes/bonds issued to cover a flagrant abuse of the Emergency Liquidity Assistance fund when €31bn was pumped in to two already insolvent institutions, Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society, abuse the ECB itself approved;
  • Restore to the Irish Exchequer the €6bn already destroyed on the basis of those Promissory Notes;
  • Swap all of Ireland's remaining interests in the various Irish banks for a) the €20.7bn taken from our National Pension Reserve Fund to bail out those banks and b) write off the remaining €13bn or so borrowed from the various emergency funds to bail out the Irish banks.
The first move above will ease the long-term debt burden, making Ireland more attractive to the damned markets; the other two measures will put money back in the national accounts, money that can be used to invest in infrastructure, to kick-start this ailing economy. Do this and Ireland will soar.

We'll be told of course that it can't be done, that it's not in the remit of the ECB/EU. So what?

For years we were told that bondholders couldn't be burned, until it happened, in Greece.

We were told that was a one-off, couldn't be applied anywhere else, til it happened again, in Cyprus - so much for that one-off.

In Cyprus you had the initial proposal to burn all depositors including those under €100,000, agreed to by the Eurozone finance ministers despite a supposed EU-wide guarantee to the contrary and (shamefully) welcomed immediately afterwards by our own government; when the proverbial hit the fan those same Finance Ministers (including our own Michael Noonan) all did a Pontius Pilate, washed their hands of a decision they had approved when they should never even have allowed it be debated; it took an outpouring of popular protest for the proposal to be overturned - another one-off, though this one was stymied by the people.

In the second Cyprus proposal we did see depositors burned, another first (albeit above the €100,000 guarantee threshold) but again, according to the ECB/EU, a 'one-off'.

So, how many 'one-offs' is that? Where, we ask, is Ireland's 'one-off' deal? So many times we've been told we're 'special' - let's see the money. Our government may not be fighting for it - we are.

By the way, did anyone notice that Bank of Ireland paid nearly a billion euro in an unsecured bond yesterday? No? It's okay, we own just 15% of that bank so it cost us a mere €150,000,000, and we're now left with just over €8bn in legacy debt junior and unguaranteed bonds to pay off. Happy days, eh?

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