Friday, May 22, 2009

Economics 22/05/2009: Tumbleweed Brain?

Imagine a high desert scene outside Los Angeles - vast expanse of nothingness, sandy patch of a road and a massive, prickly and menacingly fast advancing tumbleweed rolling at you, kicking up dust of sand every time it bumps over a rock or a hillock. Thus, the picture of devastation complete, the sense of stable equilibrium achieved, the landscape is all but a sign of devastation.

Would you call it an image of hope?

Well, Brian Cowen does.

Today reports claim that Mr Cowen told FF gathering that the Government had taken necessary decisions to ensure the Irish economy could bounce back next year. So what can go wrong? Jobless and about to lose your home? Pay-up to the Revenue and shut up, for FF has taken the necessary decisions. We are but the roadkill for Cowen and Co on the road to his recovery.

Mr Cowen also decided that the high cover achieved in the last auction for 5-year bonds was a sign of investors regaining confidence in Ireland Inc.

This blog has long argued that the demand for Irish bonds is similar to a Ponzi pyramid due to Irish banks rolling over Government debt to the ECB and monetizing it. Yesterday's Irish Times editorial finally bowed to the facts and agreed. Last week, Michael Somers of NTMA has "pointed out that 85 per cent of Ireland’s debt is held abroad but that in recent bond sales, Irish banks were significant buyers of Government debt" to be used as collateral to borrow from the ECB. This was not, he said, “a genuine end investor result". How much did the latest bond auction success depend on investment by Irish banks which have already received some €7 billion from the Government to help secure their survival? The NTMA should ease investor concerns and set out the details," said the Irish Times.

I think it is time we ask a hard question about our bond market revolving door to the ECB. Is it true that:
  • as Brian Lenihan takes our taxes, we are hit once; then
  • as Brian Lenihan issues bonds, we are hit again with the debt to be repaid in the future; and
  • as the banks buy these bonds and go to the ECB to borrow against them, we are saddled with the banks-held debt that will have to be repaid to the ECB at some point in time and which is, in the end, our - taxpayers - liability too? so that
  • the entire scheme requires continuous borrowing to sustain itself...
And what is all of this Ponzi pyramid used for? To finance early retirements of the civil servants and to pay their increments? This, indeed, is what Mr Cowen calls 'the necessary decisions'.

Cowen also stated that "we have a way out that is working". Remember the brilliant German movie Downfall about the last days of the Third Reich? (See a reminder/spoof here). Say no more... our unbeloved leader is in a state of delusion that is equivalent to awaiting the arrival of a miracle weapon (which does not exist) as the real enemy tanks are crushing your city.

What plan does Mr Cowen have? Brian Cowen claimed that economic recovery will be based on 4 pillars:
  1. Banking crisis resolution;
  2. Public finances gap closure via revenue increases and spending cuts;
  3. Jobs protection; and
  4. Investing in the unemployed to return them to work.
Brian Cowen has produced not a single policy to address any of the four pillars. Not a single one.

The entire country now is aware that NAMA cannot be made to work. Brian Cowen is in denial of this.

The entire country knows that he has not cut public spending (his own Government Budget shows increasing public current expenditure in every year through 2013). Brian Cowen is in denial of this.

The entire country knows that his Government is drawing blood out of taxpayers to raise revenue and that it is not working. Brian Cowen is in denial of this.

The entire country sees jobs being lost in thousands week, after week, as Brian Cowen and his Government choke enterprises, workers, investors and entrepreneurs with higher and higher taxes and charges. Brian Cowen is in denial of this.

The entire country knows that it was Brian Cowen as Minister for Finance who raised our social welfare rates to such a level that no programme that FAS can run will ever turn former construction workers off the welfare. The entire country knows that FAS should be renamed FARCE because it is one of the most wasteful and least productive Government organizations. Brian Cowen is in denial of this.

It is my sincere hope that his own party colleagues stop listening to the man for two reasons:
  1. Brian Cowen no longer speaks for the people, about the people and with the people; and
  2. No one listens to Brian Cowen anymore.
Brian Cowen is in denial of reality.


Ciaran Daly said...

I couldn't have put it better myself, what I don't understand is the acquiescence of the general public for high taxes, maybe in a month or 2 it will sink in...

Anonymous said...

You wont have to waite for long some of us are at the stage of open revolt!