The Art of Economic Misdirection

(Originally Published on in July 2010)

That’s it folks. Game over. Ireland Inc is well and truly on the way down. I have been rather sceptical of the country having the ability to weather the recessionary storm that has gripped us for the last 2 years but now the game is well and truly up. The government on the other hand seem intent on either ignoring the evidence or they are just too dumb to read all the signs. The former, and more insidious fact, is what I believe to be the truth. They are actively ignoring the evidentiary statistics and figures in order to complete their “doublethink” and attempt to enforce this on the public via the government media outlets and their representatives. We have been hearing over the last number of months about how the country “has turned the corner” or “is turning the corner” and that economic growth is projected for next year and the years to come.

They have actively sought to keep the real information from the public at large through either obfuscation or by simply trying to cover it up by using other stories in the media to bury it. If the information does actually filter through to the public at large, then we the usual retorts are trotted out for us to hear. This has now failed as the true cost of the bailout of the banks and NAMA, the National Assets Management Agency (there’s a misnomer if ever there was one), has been brought to our collective attention.

While the political implosion of Fine Gael and the uproar over the stag hunting bill was taking place, the true cost of NAMA was beginning to be realised and as a result of the aforementioned incidents, it was being somewhat underreported. We had government ministers disclosing the true cost of NAMA on Irish television yet most of us missed it due to the shenanigans taking place in the Fine Gael camp. Well, now that there’s nothing to distract us we can finally focus our attention on what really matters; the cost of NAMA and how this is going to affect our economy and our economic future. NAMA is going to cost far more than the €22bn figure that has been consistently wheeled out to the public as its total cost. Now we are being told that it is actually going to cost up to €33bn. At the start, when NAMA was first mooted as the only way to save the Irish economy, the minister for finance Brian Lenihan, said that it wouldn’t cost the tax payer a penny. Well, this was a blatant lie. He wasn’t the only one lying though. The banks were lying too. I know, what a shock. The banks said that 40% of their loans, which NAMA bought up, were performing i.e., being paid back and generating a profit of some kind. Instead it turns out that only 25% of loans were performing.

Has the above changed how NAMA and the government work? Not in the least. As I mentioned in a previous article, here, the politicians and bankers are one homogenous entity. It is worth noting that it is a crime to lie to NAMA. As of yet there have been no prosecutions and I don’t expect any substantial prosecutions to take place in the foreseeable future. The banks have gotten everything they wanted from the start and are running the government. Once you examine the amount of money that has been thrown at Anglo Irish you can no longer be unsure as to whom is calling the shots. So far Anglo has received €22bn in fresh capital, €17.5bn from NAMA to buy up their property loans and a further €11.5bn from the Central Bank. Altogether, including the money thrown at NAMA and Anglo Irish, it adds up to €65.5bn and there is still more money due to be pumped into NAMA. This means that now we are in the middle of the most expensive bank rescue in world history in proportion to our economy and it is you, me and future generations who will be paying for it.

This leads me on to my next point. Who will be around to pay for the bailout of banks? This is something worth thinking about. As it stands, unemployment is currently over 13%; a level that has not been seen since the dark days of the fifties and eighties. The lack of any jobs in the foreseeable future is forcing the younger generation of Irish people to turn to the last resort that we all thought we had seen the back of, emigration. It has only just been reported that between now and the end of next year, 120,000 people are expected to emigrate. This is the same level that was seen during the fifties where on average 45,000 people per year emigrated to England, Australia or the United States. Who can blame them for this last act of desperation? The government has done nothing to create jobs or any other sort of incentives to keep young, qualified and talented people from going abroad. Instead, all of their energies have been focused on saving the banks and by de facto, themselves. As further proof that we are well and truly back in the fifties, it has been predicted that the economy will grow by 1% next year and then by 2.75% the following year. It is safe to assume that these are rather optimistic predictions. These miniscule levels of growth were seen during the fifties where the economy did technically grow by a mere 1% per year between 1948 and 1959.

The people in charge of this country just don’t seem to care though. All they are concerned about is protecting themselves and their own personal cash cow which they have turned this country into. When you have government ministers, such as that oaf Mary Coughlan actually encouraging the emigration of young people, when you have the government throwing money into a financial abyss, the game is well and truly up and Ireland Inc is dead. Even though Fianna Fáil is quite likely to be ousted from government after the next general election, the damage will already have been done. Why should they care though? They can retire on their ministerial pensions comfortable in the knowledge that they and their banker friends, as one homogenous entity, have been protected. The dictionary definition of a psychopath is the following: “A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behaviour without empathy or remorse.” That is exactly the kind of country that we are living in and we have no recourse against those committing the largest economic crime in the history of the Irish state.