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Economic Growth That Generates Poverty

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A very interesting concept whereby countries that generate surpluses end up causing poverty to its own people. Ireland being a great example of this. The Troika demand that goods and services generated, are exported all the while wage reduction and austerity are forced on the people.

The extreme form of what Adam Smith called a “folly” occurs when surpluses finance poverty and economic instability. Two infamous twentieth century examples were the German reparation payments after World War One, and the Latin American debt crisis in the 1980s and into the 1990s. In both cases, external powers pressured governments to generate trade surpluses in order make payments to foreign governments (in the case of Germany in the 1920s), or to foreign banks (the Latin American countries in the 1980s). The former led to Hitler and the latter to a generation of impoverishment.

In effect, these externally-imposed, government-generated surpluses take goods and services from residents and transfer them to foreign governments, banks and corporations. This type of trade surplus falls into the category of what Jagdish Bhagwati, the famous Indian economist (now at Columbia University), termed “immiserizing growth”, economic growth that generates poverty not improvement for a population. To put it simply, the country exports and the population grows poorer.

Armed with the ideas of “mercantilism” and “immiserizing growth”, we can have a look at the “Star Pupil”. The chart below shows why the Triad of the EC, IMF and German government (and the German opposition, it would appear) make Ireland the teacher’s pet. While the famous PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) languish in stagnation or plunge into decline, Irish GDP has increased, by 1.4 percent in 2011 and one percent in 2012. Not great, but looks good compared to decline. More important ideologically, the Triad assures us that this growth shows that “austerity works”. It shows the PIGS the shining path to recovery.

Here is the logic of the Troika

In case we missed it, the path to recovery runs along the following road. Austerity forces down wages, lowering production costs. Lower costs result in export competitiveness, and the growth of exports rejuvenates the economy as a whole. The rejuvenated growth reduces the fiscal deficit by raising tax revenue that can be used to pay foreign creditors. If the residents in the PIGS would show the discipline of the Irish, the euro crisis would soon end.

Who benefits from Ireland’s surplus?

The exposé of this ideological story would not be complete without pointing to the recipients of the Irish export surplus, the major banks in Europe that hold the debt of the Emerald Isle.

Even if by some miracle a mega-importer appeared on the world horizon (think China), the Irish path would still represent a road to misery. The chart below shows three economic trends since 2001. Unemployment rose continuously after 2007 in the land of the star pupil, with economic growth brining no reversal (measured in percentage of the labor force on the left). This rising unemployment rate went along with increasing exports per capita, from less than six thousand dollars per head in 2007 to over eleven thousand in 2011-2012 (measured on the right hand vertical axis).

While exports per head increased, domestic national income per person, total national income minus the trade surplus, declined, from $35,000 in 2007 to 25,000 in 2012, a drop of one-third. Domestic income per head declined in both the years of positive GDP growth. This appalling redistribution from the Irish to the European 1%, aka a trade surplus, was not the result of austerity reducing labor costs. For over twenty years Ireland ran a continuous annual trade surplus with no austerity to “lower costs” Under austerity imports contracted in Ireland because of falling incomes of the 99%.

Ireland, the Star Pupil of Immiserizing Growth, 2001-2012

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This is Bhagwati’s “immiserizing growth” in real time, unrequited transfer abroad of almost a third of national income. The star pupil fails the test of a decent society, to protect the welfare of its people. And if the cause does not jump off the page, have a look at the final diagram. The vertical axis measures Ireland’s export surplus per capita, and the horizontal one measures domestic income per capita (GDP minus the export surplus). From 2001 through 2004, more exports per person went along with more domestic income per person. Then came the bad news, more exports, less left over for the Irish population to consume and invest.

Ireland may be the star pupil, but for the sake of the 99% its government needs to find different teachers and perhaps drop out of school.

Ireland, Star Student of Export-led Impoverishment, 2011-2012 (thousands of dollars)

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Source: social-europe

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Irish Town Marches For 100 Weeks To Protest Odious Bank Debt

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The people of Ballyhea in Cork, Ireland have spent each sunday for 100 weeks marching in protest against the bank debt that Irish politicians have forced onto the taxpayers of the country. The bravery of this town has almost been completely ignored by the Irish Presstitutes but story went international as Aljazeera has reported on it. One community has woken up generating hope and energy for others to follow. 

The European Central Bank has rejected Ireland’s proposals to restructure some of the country’s huge debts.

The government wants to avoid paying tens of billions of dollars over the next decade to underwrite a failed bank.

But one community in southern Ireland is unwilling to accept the terms of the bailout, blaming the government and banks for the economic crisis.

Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee reports from the town of Ballyhea.

Source: Aljazeera

IMF Tells Ireland No More Austerity Next Year

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In October the IMF admitted that its Fiscal Multiplier(is not 0.5 percent but really 0.9-1.7) used for justifying austerity measures was wrong and in fact the implication was that austerity doesn’t work. Now shortly after Ireland announced the 2013 budget, the IMF has asked that Ireland does not implement austerity measure next year. It was worried that Irelands growth which is already weaker than forecast may hinder its ability to re-enter the bond markets.

IRELAND should not impose further austerity even if growth targets are missed next year, the IMF has said.

The agency also called on Europe to honour pledges to help make Ireland’s debt more sustainable, in its latest review of the country’s finances.

It outlined fears that growth may be weaker than expected during 2013 – but does not advocate more austerity.

Instead it advises the coalition that if it is failing to reach economic targets next year, it should not rush to bring in any further cutbacks, for fear of damaging any fragile growth. Instead the economic targets could be pushed out until 2015 to help recovery.

The IMF made the statement as it approved its eighth review of the bailout programme, authorising the release of a further €890m funding under the bailout terms.

It said Ireland had so far shown “steadfast policy implementation” with the conditions of the bailout programme, despite slower growth this year.

It is predicting more gradual economic recovery with growth of 1.1pc in 2013 and 2.2pc in 2014. But with many economists forecasting growth of less than 1pc in 2013, there is a real threat to Ireland’s chances of getting out of bailout and back to the markets as planned in 2014.

The IMF says that if growth is weaker than forecast and economic targets begin to slip, the Government should not introduce extra cuts or a mini-Budget. Instead the Government should wait until 2015 before taking extra measures, in order to protect whatever growth there is.

IMF deputy managing director David Lipton said: “The program with Ireland has now been in place for two years and the Irish authorities have consistently maintained strong policy implementation.

“The authorities have demonstrated their commitment to put Ireland’s fiscal position on a sound footing, with the 2012 deficit target expected to be met even though growth has been low.

“Nonetheless, if next year’s growth were to disappoint, any additional fiscal consolidation should be deferred to 2015 to protect the recovery.

“Continued strong Irish policy implementation is essential for the programme’s success,” said Mr Lipton.

In what may be a reference to the ongoing negotiations on repayment of Anglo Irish debt, Mr Lipton called on European partners to deliver on pledges to help Ireland.

“Ireland’s market access would also be greatly enhanced by forceful delivery of European pledges to improve programme sustainability, especially by breaking the vicious circle between the Irish sovereign and the banks.”

The IMF also said that the banking sector needs to be reformed and shored up to help improve lending. “Vigorous implementation of financial sector reforms is needed to revive sound bank lending in support of economic growth,” it said.

Source: Irish Independent

Irishman Takes Government To Court Over Illegal Tax

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The Irish Minister for the Environment is being taken to court along with other government minister and civil servants over the illegal LOCAL GOVERNMENT (HOUSEHOLD CHARGE) ACT 2011. The man in question has refused to pay the charge and is assisted in his case by Fitzpatrick Financial Solutions of Portlaoise  and the Common Law Society. Apparently the “Act” is against the Irish Constitution and the link to the summons which outlines the legal argument is below.

For the Irish Government to lose the case would have huge ramifications and this case could be used by many to avoid paying a multitude of taxes. A case of this magnitude you would expect to be reported by the MSM but as usual the Irish “presstitutes” are silent on the matter.

by Gabriel Donohoe  (Fools Crow)

The hard-pressed people of Ireland have had enough! They will no longer tolerate corrupt politicians working for vested interests and against the interests of the majority of the Irish people. They will no longer tolerate venal politicians working to feather their own nests by subserving a powerful moneyed elite. And they will no longer lie down like good little croppies and take what their lords and masters care to dish out.

In an unprecedented move, one Irishman has asserted his sovereign rights by standing up to the tyrannical forces of the State, a bought and paid for government that would unlawfully impose its will upon him. A gentleman from the west of Ireland (unnamed for reasons of privacy), after receiving a summons from Mayo County Council for failing to register for the infamous Household Tax, decided to fight back by summonsing three government ministers to the High Court, Hogan, Shatter, and Noonan, along with certain others, to answer for their fraud and deceit.

In a welcome reversal of roles, this courageous Irishman is now the Plaintiff and the ministers, et al, are the defendants. The Plaintiff charges that the defendants…

“…did and are wilfully conspiring to unlawfully, illegally, unconstitutionally and immorally coerce and force me, against my will, to make a declaration, that which is precluded by Bunreacht na hÉireann and by LAW.”

The Plaintiff further charges that…

“The herein named Defendants are in breach and contempt of the European Convention of Human Rights, the Universal declaration of Human Rights, and their collective and individual acts and actions constitute an offence under “the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997”.

He goes on…

” The Household Charge Bureau in and of itself, is nothing more than a front for an illegal and highly organised criminal gang. Whose aim is to willfully mislead, misinform and misdirect ME and the People of the Island into making “self-declarations” that are NOT MANDATORY, solely for the purpose of fraudulently and illegally coercing People into paying money to them, under the guise of the aforementioned Act.”

This is in truth a dynamite legal action which will have repercussions for years to come. It is long overdue. Is this the beginning of the fightback by the People against a gang of tyrants who have sold us all out for their own selfish interests?

Congratulations are due to Fitzpatrick Financial Solutions of Portlaoise for assisting this particular gentleman in putting his case together and to the Common Law Society for the marvellous work they are doing in helping to educate and inform the people of their sovereign rights and how injustices are being perpetuated against them.

This case was discussed at the Lay Litigation Day in Moate last Saturday which was presented by the Common Law Society of Ireland (not even remotely related to the discredited Law Society of Ireland). One of the salient messages of the day was that anyone who has received a summons from their county council for non-registering or non-payment of the Household Charge can now advise the court that it would be unwise to proceed with the case because of the above-mentioned Constitutional challenge in the High Court to this illegal Act.

A text of the summons:  Phil Hogan Summons 051212.

See also:

http://thecls.blog.com/2012/12/11/hogans-last-stand/

Source: foolscrow

Troika Want More Made Homeless In Ireland

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“Throw them out on the streets” cries the IMF. The Troika in its latest Memorandum of Understanding with Ireland is pushing for more house repossessions. The only reason it hasn’t happened so far is because the banks aren’t able to cover the losses and the State would have to go back to the taxpayer to further capitalize the banks. The fragile housing markets also would not be able to survive the shock of an avalanche of houses hitting the market coupled with the inevitable property tax.

Of course the politicians have framed it so far, that they are protecting the people’s interest. The country can ill afford this move currently, as the Troika well knows, but is pushing for this because of a repeal of the 1964 Act (used for repossessions) with a new Act in 2009 meant due to a drafting oversight, it applied only to loans taken out after December 1, 2009. The timing is lousy just as the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) announces that Ireland has the highest proportion of households without a working adult out of 31 European countries and more than double that of the euro zone average.

The EU-IMF Troika wants the Government to remove a legal impediment constraining banks from repossessing properties tied to bad loans.

In the latest revision of Ireland’s bailout terms, published today, the Troika says the Irish authorities must introduce legislation remedying a flaw in legislation governing property repossessions.

Last year, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne found a failure to save aspects of old legislation when the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 was introduced meant the only registered properties that lenders could repossess for failure to pay mortgages were those for which they had demanded full repayment before December 1st, 2009.

According to the Central Bank’s latest figures, there were 167,000 mortgage accounts with €35 billion of debt in arrears at the end of June 2012.

At the same time, some 265 orders for possession were granted by the courts in the first six months of the year, down by almost 32 per cent on the same time last year, when 390 orders were granted.

The Central Bank’s head of banking supervision Fiona Muldoon recently criticised the banks for their slow progress in tackling mortgage arrears cases. saying the scale of the problem showed that “wait and see” had become the strategy of choice for lenders.

The latest update to the Troika’s memorandum of understanding with the Government states the authorities must move to remedy the flawed repossession legislation once adequate protections for debtors and their principal private residence were enacted via the proposed personal insolvency legislation.

The document also obliges the Irish authorities to publish banks’ reported data on loan modifications, including defaults of modified loans, “to permit analysis of the effectiveness of alternative resolution approaches”.

The bailout programme review also called on the authorities to halt overruns in health spending and to keep overall health expenditure below €13.6 billion next year.

Source: IrishTimes

Ireland: Taking €5bn From The People To Give to The Banks

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ireland toxicbankLater on today Ireland will deliver its 2013 Budget. The Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan will stand up in front of the Dail  and outline how it will take €3.5bn in new taxes and cuts and at the same time will deliver €5bn to the banks. That €5bn (including interest of €1.9bn) is for  paying Anglo Irish Bank’s debts. That same bank, while it primarily only lent to developers and wasn’t important to the Irish economy, was wrapped up years ago and doesn’t exist anymore. Yet, two successive Irish governments have insisted the Irish taxpayers still pay back the banks debts.

On top of that, this Irish Government has insisted that the Irish taxpayer pays €1.1bn into the big fat pension fund of the banks in AIB. This bank went bankrupt and had to be fully taken over by the state but the Government wanted to do the right thing and look after them.

So to sum it up, the Irish taxpayer cuts shafted in the budget to the tune of €3.5bn and the Government hands over €5bn to its banker buddies that doesn’t need to be. Now thats what I called “Dumb-ocracy”.

Stephen Donnelly (T.D.) put it a little better than I could.

You could do a lot with €3.5bn – like doubling the number of teachers in our schools, or building seven state-of-the-art hospitals. You could reduce income tax by one-quarter, or bring corporation tax down. If you were feeling all Fianna Fail, you could just give €2,500 to every household in the country.

But that’s not what the Government is going to do with its €3.5bn.

They are going to take it out of your pocket and give it to Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Limited, IBRC. That’s the company created to wind down the assets and liabilities of the former Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society, INBS. The €3.5bn coming in Wednesday’s Budget 2013 will go some way to the total of €5bn that they are due to give IBRC in 2013.

It is true that the headline figure looked at by the troika will fall by about €800m. But due to some accounting wizardry, a full €3.1bn of the €5bn to be paid to IBRC isn’t included. When you add that in, the deficit will in fact grow, by a whopping €2.3bn.

So on Thursday morning, when you’re poring over the papers trying to calculate how much less money you will have next year, remember this – whatever the amount, every single cent of it will be poured into the former Anglo and Irish Nationwide, to cover their losses.

How on God’s earth could this be? Here’s a quick reminder of what happened. Over the course of 2010, the Fianna Fail Government invented a loan from the people of Ireland to Anglo and INBS. They essentially wrote a €31bn IOU, promising to pay it to the bank and building society over the following 20 years. In 2013, we are due to make our third payment on this, of €3.1bn.

But it gets worse. Now that we ‘owe’ them this €31bn, we must also pay them interest. This amounts to an additional €17bn over the 20 years. In 2013, the interest payment is €1.9bn. So contained in the 2013 forecasts is a payment of €5bn to Anglo and Irish Nationwide – two dead casinos, both under investigation on numerous fronts.

We may, in time, get some of this money back. And the Government is in negotiations with the ECB on the promissory notes. It hopes to lower the payments, possibly by spreading them out over a longer period of time. We don’t know how this will pan out. We do know, however, that Budget 2013, and the €3.5bn ‘fiscal consolidation’ coming our way, assumes the full €5bn will be paid.

This is madness. It is immoral. It is economic lunacy, and it should not be paid. I don’t say this lightly. Not paying has consequences. The ECB would likely stamp its feet loudly. The troika would undoubtedly grumble. They may take actions to hurt us. So be it. There comes a point where you have to say ‘stop’. Surely we have reached that point in Ireland.

One in 10 children is now living in food poverty. Unemployment is high and static – it is more than one in three for those under 25. One in eight mortgages is in arrears. Our universities are being decimated. Two-thirds of adults now have less than €100 left at the end of each month after bills are paid. Surely, at this point, political leaders are meant to say, ‘We are simply not prepared to take €5bn from these same people to give to these failed banks’.

If you take this step, recovery seems possible. And there’s more. To the €5bn, let’s add the €1.1bn that AIB used to top up its pension fund. This €1.1bn is our money, after all. And according to the Taoiseach, it’s being used to ensure that the 2,500 planned redundancies at the bank can be voluntary.

Why? It’s a failed bank. And in failed companies, people lose their jobs. Harsh, but do you see the Government topping up the pension funds of other companies with your money? A small tax on financial transactions, mooted by many, including the European Commission, Labour MEP Nessa Childers and economist Paul Krugman, could raise €750m in Ireland. So between the promissory notes, AIB’s pension top-up and a Financial Transaction Tax, that’s over €6.8bn from the banks.

And there are other options for raising revenue. Tax exemptions amount to over €11bn in Ireland. Excluding just one-10th of this would raise a further €1.1bn. A tax on high-sugar, high-fat foods, while not to everyone’s taste, could raise nearly €200m.

On the expenditure side, there are numerous options for saving money that do not lead to worse public services. In some cases, they will lead to an improvement.

The Comprehensive Expenditure Review identifies over €1.4bn in spending reductions for 2013. Just three of these measures would cut waste by over €600m. These are the better use of procurement (€150m), increases in charges for private beds in public hospitals (€270m) and better use of generic drugs (€220m). It also seems reasonable not to pay out the €170m in public sector pay increments planned for 2013.

These measures amount to about €9bn. That’s with no cuts to child benefit, no household charge, no water charge, no reduction in the capital budget (for roads, schools, etc), no reduction in social welfare or income tax rates, no cuts in public sector pay.

The various pre-Budget submissions by opposition parties and civil society groups like Tasc and Social Justice Ireland contain a number of relatively low-cost ways of raising money and cutting spending. Measures like better tax enforcement and raising DIRT, capital gains and the excise on tobacco.

There are opportunities on income tax, the capital budget and high-end public service pay, and a raft of other efficiency measures throughout the public service. Between all of these, there could be another €1bn to 1.5bn. But let’s leave all of them out, for the sake of simplicity. Let’s just stick to our €9bn. Using €3.5bn of this to hit our troika target next year still leaves us with €5.5bn to invest.

Where would you like to start? Increase the microfinance fund from €90m to €1bn. Build a network of innovation centres for entrepreneurs. Get the next generation of broadband into the cities and ensure companies get all of it they need, affordably. Invest €1bn in our universities, reversing the decline in rankings and standards.

Get the career guidance counsellors back into our secondary schools and reduce teacher-pupil ratios. Increase support hours for students with learning difficulties and reverse the cuts to the Deis schools. Build the primary care centres. Reverse the cuts to home-help hours. Start hiring teachers, nurses and gardai again. In short – stimulate job creation, brush down the education system, support at-risk groups and reduce inequality.

We could even use some of the €5.5bn to accelerate the closing of the deficit, bringing us closer to financial independence and possibly alleviating some of the political fallout from not paying IBRC.

The difference between what I’ve outlined here and what’s coming on Wednesday is just one thing – the banks. Leadership during crisis involves tough choices.

Right now, here they are: do we tax and cut to continue paying the debts of Anglo and Irish Nationwide, for fear of the ECB? Do we pour public money into bankers’ pension funds for fear of compulsory redundancy? Do we shy away from a sensible tax on financial transactions for fear our bankers will flee to London? Or do we make a stand and begin to do things differently?

For four years now, two subsequent Irish Governments have consistently put the interests of banks and bankers ahead of the interests of the Irish people. This is down to a combination of incompetence, political cowardice and legitimate fear.

Spanish philosopher George Santayana famously said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

On Ireland’s predicament, history is unambiguous – an austerity-only approach to this crisis has not worked. It isn’t working now. It won’t work in the future.

Sadly, I expect Wednesday’s Budget will show that the Government hasn’t yet learned the lessons of economic history. Only by taking a stand against the banks, and against the orthodoxy of the ECB, can we disentangle ourselves from the mistakes of the past and set ourselves on a path to recovery.

Source: Stephen Donnelly, Irish Independent

Time For Ireland To Default

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David McWilliams writes of Greece’s latest debt deal and how the smart option for Ireland now is to default. Of course when the country is run by school teachers and ex unionists there is no chance, as their only focus is securing funds to pay public sector wages as well as their own.

McWilliams has consistently argued against Irelands odious bank debt which lets face it is just being paid back for bondholders who gambled badly. Now is the time to push for a debt deal. Unfortunately the Presstitutes refuse to debate openly the merits of reneging on payments to bankers. Equally discussion of pulling out of the euro has been muted least it catch on.

ireland toxicbankGreece has defaulted again, and the financial markets have shrugged their shoulders. The euro remained unchanged versus the dollar. The Greek stock market even rallied. What does this tell us? It tells us that, as this column has argued again and again, the markets have no memory. Because it improves the overall position of a country, a debt restructuring will be welcomed since it adheres to the golden rule: a broken balance sheet is made better by less debt not more debt.

The media is reporting this as a “deal” in Greece. It is not, it is yet another default from a country where the economy is destroyed and needs to be nursed back to health rather than punished.

The big news for Greece and for us is that the troika has accepted that the country must be healthy in order to pay debt. This logic applies to Ireland too. Before we focus on the implications of the latest Greek default for us, let’s look at the broader picture. And before you think that I am advocating we follow the Greek route, I am not, I am simply pointing out the reality of the global economy and the realpolitik at the centre of Europe.

Effectively, the troika and the Europa group of Greece’s creditors have “agreed” (rather they have had their hands forced) to restructure their bailout loans. Interest rates will be lowered and even deferred to give Greece breathing room.

The crux of the agreement is that Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio should reach 175pc in 2016 and 124pc in 2020. So 120pc has become the new sustainability.

It has also calculated that this is how capitalism works. In a crisis, the debtor and the creditor suffer, they both lose out and that’s how the system works. It is called co-responsibility.

The eurozone’s economy is in tatters, carrying too much debt, unable to grow. Italian consumer confidence has fallen to a record low this month. It is now at the lowest level since the series began in 1996. The only countries that seem to be keeping their necks above water in Europe are Bulgaria, Romania and Poland. This is hardly a reassuring picture, is it?

As the great deleveraging continues and unpayable debts can’t be paid, it would be surprising if Athens is the only government to choose to face down its creditors.

This all brings us here to Ireland as we continue to squeeze the economy dry, foisting austerity upon austerity and the local economy falters. Next week will be more of the same. We have been at this for five years now and there is no sign of recovery. It is increasingly clear that the Irish domestic economy will not recover as long as the crushing debt burden on the country’s young workers is not lifted.

And as we all buy and sell to each other in the local economy, your spending is actually my income and my spe- nding is your income. And if we all stop spending at the same time and the Government exacerbates this by slashing spending simultaneously, who is spending? And if no one is spending, who is earning? And if no one is earning, who can possibly be saving without earning?

So you see that what sounds good for the individual, such as “I am saving”, is only good for me if others continue to spend; if we all save at the same time, there is no income.

Now as these macro-economic targets that the Government and the troika set themselves are always debt expressed as a percentage of income, if our income is falling because no one is spending, then debt expressed as a percentage of income will be rising, not falling.

Now is the time to push for a debt deal, instead of the excuses pushed by the government for nearly two years as to why they haven’t.

This is why there has to be a debt deal for these hundreds of thousands of mortgages underwater. We already have 128,000 mortgages in arrears. This figure is rising consistently. There are 400,000 tracker mortgages which will only get more expensive as interest rates eventually rise over the course of the mortgage. These people will face default when this moment arrives and our banks will be bust again.

Now is the opportunity, when the EU is doing deals all over the place, to propose a big bank solution for Ireland’s mortgage debt. Such a deal would aid the Irish recovery, the EU would have the victory it so craves and ordinary Irish people would have the debt relief they so desperately need.

This would allow the economy to breathe again and it could be made the centrepiece of Ireland’s EU Presidency in the next six months. The EU President sets the EU agenda for the period when it has this role. Let’s not miss this chance.

Otherwise Ireland will become known as the country that never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The Greek deal is an opportunity; let’s not throw it away.

Source: David McWilliams

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