Monday, August 24, 2009

Economics 24/08/2009: Alan ''Please read me!!!' Ahearne

The hilarity of a personal Ministerial Adviser sending an article defending his masters' views to a Sunday newspaper was not enough for Alan Ahearne [see that story cover here]. Never mind his article addressed not a single point of criticism levied against NAMA. Alan actually had to send out an e-alert [well, of some 979 words that is] to a list of his "colleagues". The email implored them not to sign up to an article critical of NAMA until they read his own article published in the Sunday B-Post. Given the fact that the said article had no useful information content regarding any potential or alleged NAMA problems, it is hard to imagine why Alan would actually publicise his own "efforts" with Irish academics. Then again, he might be simply keen on publicising his own efforts full stop.

Alan clearly forgot three major things in that email:
  1. He failed to include in the email recipients list the names of anyone actually critical of NAMA - surely a majour omission if his intent was to convince us to take another look at NAMA in light of his, then, forthcoming major contribution to the debate;
  2. He failed to notice that since he became an employee of the Minister for Finance, he is no longer an academic, so sending an email to academics and saying "Dear colleagues" should really be slightly offensive to the academics, assuming they are really valuing their independence from the political interference (which is, of course, now fully embodied by Alan's position);
  3. He failed to provide any real substantive arguments disproving NAMA critics' main positions.

So here we go - two pieces of work by Alan Ahearne, some 1900 words wasted between the two, and not a single coherent point of defense again NAMA critics... Gotta be a record for someone paid to do this kind of work, don't ya think?


Adrem said...

Seems a very petty post Constanin. Are we getting to the stage where we see the economist protesting too much, methinks?

Is your obvious dislike for Mr Alan Ahearne personal or do you dislike the fact that he took a job working for "the man" thus somehow betraying the intellectual collegial code of economists.

It is certainly not a little ironic (an to use your own sentiment somewhat hilarious too) for a guy who blogs so much and gets as much coverage as you do to be complaining that the object of his ire "may be simply keen on publicising his own efforts". Pot have you met kettle ?

TrueEconomics said...

Adrem, I take your point - it was a somewhat personal post. But no, my grief with Alan is not that he is "protesting" too much. It is that he has either managed to abandon all his self espoused "ideals" (of the days when he wrote for Indo and the likes) in exchange for a job advising the Master, or he has no beliefs to uphold.

I do not know him personally, and I do not know him academically. Let others judge him on this if they want to. But I do remember when he popped out of nowhere to jump on the bandwagon of criticising our policies of the past only, as we now see, to get in bed with those who pushed these policies through in the first place.

He first held high a moral ground of a different point of view and then sold it for a few bob so publicly, it actually makes me cringe.

I don't see how any of Alan's positions relate to anything I do on this blog or elsewhere - no one pays me to spin my thoughts one way or the other.

Anonymous said...

I though that the point of an advisor was to advise, quietly, in the background. Not to jump into the fray? We dont see Professor Peter Clinch sending emails to ex-colleagues, or writing op-eds or making speeches.

Unknown said...


I think your commentary on Alan is unfair. He is very qualified academically and well recognised as such - moreso than you or most of the other lecturers criticising him.

I know academics in general (and economists are as bad as any other branch for this) have a distrust and dislike for any of their breed that jump from academia to employment whether that be private or public sector - however it is wrong to allow that bias to influence your views on him and on what he is doing.

Alan was very clear in his views when he came back from the US - the property market was showing signs of a bubble, low LTVs and not the opposite should be imposed by banks etc. His contribution to the future shock property crash was pilloried by the property vested interests and by the government (right up to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern himself). In my view this gives him significantly more credibility in his current role.

Finally - he is absolutely correct in what he says about the letter in the Times today. The projected bank losses are 30-35bn which give a written down value of 55 to 60 bn. The peak to trough fall is estimated at 50-55% which would give a written down value of 55 to 60 bn. The 30bn number being used in your letter (well you did sign it) is not based in reality at all.

Maybe cut back on the personal petty attacks on Ahearne and focus your attention on accuracy and dispassionate objective comment. Of course that's easy for me to say - I'm not an academic economist fuming over the temerity of this upstart Ahearne !

Anonymous said...

I think many Irish people who closely follow the property market will feel betrayed and astounded by Alan Ahearne's volte face in relation to the high moral principals he seemed to espouse a few years ago. Certainly, one questions the motivation behind such a volte face.

Fungus the Photo! said...

AA is a hired gun. He has no influence over what goes into the legislation nor how it will operate. He is there simply to write to newspapers to neutralize some of the critics. He is a damage control measure in a suit.

If he offers advice which is not taken, what are his options?

He is on a learning curve and his reputation is at risk by acting for these creatures who are controlled by developers and bankers.

Pity him. He has been castrated. One of the reasons Barry StJohn Galvin was put into CAB was that it was felt that he would be better off on the inside urinating out than on the outside .......

So how do you silence a potent critic? Easy!

Daithi O'Searabhain said...

Alan has clearly joined a group of people under complement to FF masquerading as an independent impartial analyst who happens to support the FF View. He is clearly not just been paid for impartial economic advise but to be a public advocate in support of NAMA again under the Facade of academic impartiality. HE should provide his advise and stay out of the public debate due to his clear conflict of interest