Posts Tagged ‘Brian Cowen’

Is Ireland On The Brink Of Economic Collapse?

November 23rd, 2010 Comments off

The Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland, Brian Cowen, has a paper-thin majority of a mere three seat in the Dail, Ireland’s parliament. Its junior coalition partner, the Green Party, is already threatening to pull out and force a general election, unless Cowen agrees to call new elections by late January. Whether or not the current Irish government is forced into an immediate dissolution of the Dail, or agrees to new elections in January, it faces certain retribution at the hands of an increasingly irate and depressed Irish electorate.

There are two primary causes to the soon-to-be finale of the Cowen government. The first involves the disastrous management of the Irish economy and its acute financial crisis. Reckless speculation by the Anglo-Irish Bank created one of the worst banking crises amid the global financial crisis of 2008. As in other countries facing a similar predicament, the Irish government used the taxpayers of the nation as a backstop for the banking system. In effect, the troubled institution was nationalized, and the entire banking system had its deposits and obligations underwritten by the government, meaning the taxpaying citizens. The net effect has been an ever-escalating figure for the cost of bailing out Anglo-Irish Bank, and the concomitant public obligation to cover the surreal expenses of the banking bailout. While the banking system was being “saved,” the ordinary citizens of Ireland have been punished with higher taxes in synchronization with sharp cuts in social appending, as the unemployment rate reached historic highs.

Despite the cuts in public spending and tax increases, the cost of the bank bailout and the increasing spreads  on government bonds defied the ability of a nation of four and a half million people to cover such a large fiscal obligation. Yet, when word leaked out regarding the secret negotiations between Dublin, the EU, IMF and European Central Bank over the terms of a bailout of Ireland itself, the Cowen government at first sharply denied the widely circulated accounts. It turns out that the Cowen government was lying through its teeth, and has now openly admitted to the need for an EU bailout of the Republic of Ireland, to the tune of at least $120 billion.

With Ireland already confronting an annual deficit equal to about 35 percent of its GDP, the even higher levels of tax increases and public spending cuts the EU and IMF bailout will require, on top of the emergence of political instability, point to the meager prospects for the long-term future of the Irish economy. Her sovereign debt crisis is now clearly of catastrophic proportions, and the Irish nation is facing the very real danger of a sustained economic implosion.

First it was Greece and now it is Ireland. In each case, the European policymakers boasted that their massive binge of public borrowing to put together sovereign bailout packages has saved the continent from a much worse financial and economic disaster. But given their track record, how certain can we be that Portugal and Spain won’t be the next dominos to fall? The financial and economic disarray within the European Union appears to be metastasizing rapidly.

Irish Prime Minister Predicts Cost of Anglo Irish Bank Bailout for Ireland’s Taxpayers is 70 Billion Euros

September 4th, 2010 Comments off

Ireland’s own case of a financial institution that is “too big to fail” will probably in the end impose a penalty of €70billion on the already beleaguered people of Ireland, according to a prediction made by the Irish prime minister, Brian Cowen . The tale of woes concerning this bank I have reported on in a previous blog posting.  Let us just point out that if this projection is correct, every man, woman and child in Ireland, which has a population of about 6.2 million, will pay 11,280 euros for this financial disaster not of their making, or about 14,500 U.S. dollars at the current exchange rate.

If a typical Irish family of four is told they must fork over approximately sixty thousand dollars to bailout the no doubt well paid (and well bunused) executives of  Anglo Irish Bank and their bond holders, will they remain quiescent? On top of massive unemployment, brutalizing austerity and a shaky economic future, the people of Ireland must now add  higher future taxes to pay off the excesses of a few to their growing tab of  financial and economic suffering.

Ireland’s Economy In Free Fall Collapse

April 12th, 2009 Comments off
Once known as the “Celtic Tiger” for its sustained record of double-digit economic growth, Ireland is now in the midst of a financial tsunami. Unemployment is soaring, economic activity is contracting, banks are over-loaded on toxic assets and government spending is out of control. In many ways, Ireland seems to be a microcosm of the United States, only with a Gaelic accent. However, sheer size and the status of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency has delayed the full replication of what Ireland is currently experiencing. For that reason, what is occurring to the Irish economy in the present may be a window of what might soon lie ahead for the United States.
The strength of Ireland’s economy during its glory years was largely based on the seeming success of the globalization economic model. International businesses, especially in the high technology sphere, set up shop on the Emerald Isle, taking advantage of a well educated, cost-competitive workforce in close proximity to the European mainland, and an economy fully integrated into the Eurozone. This globalized corporate presence ended the historic migration of Irish workers overseas, as the local economy’s demands even drew immigrants from Eastern Europe into Ireland. The increase in domestic opportunities contributed to a massive explosion in property prices. Irish banks bet heavily on securitized assets, as the financial sector assumed a leading role in the Irish economy. This is a scenario we have seen elsewhere, and led to Ireland being especially vulnerable to the consequences of the Global Economic Crisis.
Since the onset of the synchronized global recession, the Irish economy has undergone a rapid contraction, erasing almost overnight the economic gains of the past several years. Unemployment in the Irish republic stands at near 11%, and is likely to get much worse. According to Ireland’s Central Statistics Office, the nation’s GDP shrank by 7.5% in Q4 of 2008. Added to these grim numbers hangs the dismal situation characterizing Irish banking and financial institutions; approximately $110 billion of toxic assets are eroding their balance sheets.
The Irish Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, has reacted with desperation. Recently, his government unveiled a second emergency budget. Ireland’s finance minister, Brian Lenihan, submitted a spending plan that contained a smorgasbord of selective tax increases and spending cuts. These steps were taken in recognition of the dual emergency facing the Irish economy. The once “Celtic Tiger” is not only incurring massive unemployment and social distress; the collapse in revenues has driven the nation’s budget deficit through the roof. The steps proposed by Lenihan sought to reduce the government’s budget deficit from nearly 14% to about 10.75% of GDP. These steps were not nearly enough to comfort the worried rating agencies. Standard and Poor’s has removed Ireland’s coveted AAA rating, while Moody’s downgraded all 12 Irish banks.

With expenditures of 55 billion euros and revenues falling below 35 billion euros, Ireland is facing the daunting paradox confronting a growing host of nations, including the United States. The politicians maintain they cannot implement draconian spending cuts in the face of severe human hardships being created by the Global Economic Crisis. Yet, mathematical realities may constrict the ability of political leaders to infinitely borrow money in order to maintain high structural deficits. With the rating agencies having made their move, the ability of Ireland to finance its deficits through the largess of the global credit market will become increasingly more problematic. It appears that the IMF may be the ultimate lender of last resort for Ireland, and that kind of assistance will impose costs of its own.

The economic catastrophe facing Ireland will cause sorrows that cannot be suppressed by a pint of Guiness. Nothing less than national insolvency threatens this once robust economy. And lest the United States pretend that the economic collapse now underway in Ireland is irrelevant to its own situation, the elements that have brought down the “Celtic Tiger” are almost identical to those now eating away at the very foundation of the U.S. economy.



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