It seems that the Irish government were given incorrect information, not once but several times, on the extent of the financial damage - on the basis of which they guaranteed the banks and most of their debt.
Mr. Bacon suggested the government buy loans from the banks at discounted prices, effectively handing them cash and easing doubts about their viability. By insisting on steep discounts, Ireland would be less likely to lose money on the purchases. On the flip side, bargain prices would trigger losses at the banks—which the government would probably have to patch with more capital. The taxpayer would foot the bill either way, but at least Ireland would understand how big it was.The approach "has the merit of certainty and clarity," Mr. Bacon argued. But, he added, it would only work if "the projection of the extent of impairment is accurate in the first place."
A correspondent writes :
The British magazine Punch used to depict Irish people as thick-browed, ape-like, half-humans, concerned only about one dimensional matters like eating and drinking. We railed against the racist stereotype. We were wrong. We are, after all, a shamelessly base people that clearly cannot sit at the same table as the more civilised peoples of Europe.
Does anyone ever wonder if the endless process of ethnic cleansing we call emigration, might have had a devastating affect on our gene pool, in a form of natural selection? Have we exported the good genes, and retained the genes for selfishness and stupidity?
A view from the ground - an Irish farmer fills in the politics for the Englishman :
Meanwhile, we have a government with a majority of 2. This arithmetic depends on the green party, who don't have a lot to contribute in the way of sound financial management (!) and 2 independents. One of these independents has told the Government that he will only support the budget (December 7th) if it includes MORE money for Kerry, while overall it must cut total public spending by more than 10%. There's a by-election next thursday, which the government will lose. They know this, which is why they delayed holding it for 17 months and were eventually forced to by a legal action brought to the courts by that well known champion of democracy, Sinn Fein. There are 3 more by-elections which are also long overdue for the same reason, and despite the judgement about the first one, the government is using the delays inherent in the court process to delay holding these three till after the budget. The boss, Brian Cowen, has an opinion poll rating of just 11% and a track record as finance minister 2002-2007.
The excellent Kevin Myers doesn't think much of the new Lansdowne Road either :
The combined resources of the GAA, the FAI and the IRFU could have created a 100,000-seater super-stadium. But instead, the lords of IRFU settled for an almost studio-sized ground at their old haunt on Lansdowne Road: with not the 83,000 spectators at the present Croke Park -- which was filled for every home international including Italy -- and certainly not the 100,000 of some future all-code Croke Park, but with just 50,000.
Which other sporting organisation in the entire world has built a stadium that is known to be 30,000 seats below market demand?
There were as it turns out nearly 20,000 empty seats in Cardiff a week ago, not as I guessed 10,000 - and not many more on Saturday, either. Lansdowne Road had 15,000 empty seats.
A/c/t Kevin Myers, the President of the IRFU earns 400,000 Euros a year - which maybe why they think 430 euros (about £320) is a reasonable price for four rugby matches.