With the stroke of a pen Cowen and Lenihan shifted hundreds of billions of private debt incurred by greedy, fraudulent banksters and dumped it onto the backs of the Irish people. This was an incredible act of treachery against the Irish nation. What could possess these two politicians to put their people into impossible debt and penury, perhaps for generations, just to save a few mega-rich banksters from taking a loss on their reckless gambling? Was it utter ineptitude or was it something more sinister than that?
As Marcellus said to Horatio in Shakespeare's Hamlet, 'Something is rotten in the State of Denmark.' He said 'Denmark', but he might well have been describing present-day Ireland. This bank guarantee deal stinks to high heaven!
Inflicting a risk exposure of --450 billion on the Irish nation was tantamount to state suicide. The willing and needless placement of an entire people into such peril could only be the result of criminal incompetence or criminal collusion. There could be no other explanation, except, of course, criminal insanity. Take your pick. Are Cowen and Lenihan criminally inept, corrupt, or insane?
At 3.30am the four bankers left. According to Shane Ross, author of Bankers, they had 'put the gun to the Government's head and the ministers had delivered.'
Ireland was aghast. Cowen and Lenihan said the bailout was necessary to preserve Ireland's creditworthiness with 'the markets'. This was hogwash and was said so by many people at the time, including leading economists. (The fallacy of the ministers' thinking is borne out by the approach of the plucky Icelandic people who refused to take on private bankster debt and whose economy is now in a much healthier position than that of Ireland.) But Lenihan persisted with the bailout declaring that it would be 'the cheapest bailout in history'. Those words, like the ghost in Hamlet, would soon come back to haunt him.
Another fiasco in the making, the brainchild of Lenihan and Cowen, is NAMA (National Asset Management Agency), set up to restore the banks' balance sheets by buying their toxic loans to the tune of some 54 billion euro of taxpayers' money. This is another huge and needless risk that is likely to go disastrously wrong and which hangs eternally over Irish taxpayers like the Sword of Damocles. The slightest miscalculation and the sword falls, with devastating effect.
This writer, and many others, pointed out at the time that there was a much better short-term solution to the Irish banking problem. The Government could have let the banks fail (that's what happens in capitalism when businesses are reckless or make mistakes) and set up a state bank. A state bank could have created all the credit the country needed with a much, much smaller outlay. Through fractional reserve lending, a bank can create some twelve and a half times the amount of credit that it holds in assets. For example, if a state bank is capitalised with 10 billion euro it can lend out 125 billion euro. With only 20 billion euro in capital a state bank could create and lend out 250 billion euro. This would have boosted Irish businesses and given the economy a huge injection and would have obviated the need to go back to the exploitative money markets.
(It is important to point out that this would be a short-term solution only. The real cause of global financial chaos and prohibitive national debt is the permitting of private banking cartels to create a nation's money, money that is based on debt and bears interest and which makes an immense fortune for the international banksters, to the impoverishment of the people.)
But Cowen and Lenihan seemed not to be focussed on what was good and efficacious for the people of Ireland but on how to save a few criminal banksters from incurring gigantic losses.
Before the bank guarantees, Ireland had a manageable sovereign debt. But after taking on the private debts of reckless, fraudulent banksters Cowen and Lenihan drove Ireland into insolvency. Interest on Irish government bonds rose dramatically and threatened to destabilise the Euro. Uncertainty about Ireland's ability to handle its deficit caused unrest in Portuguese and Spanish bond markets. There were concerns too about Belgium and Italy. The EU, fearful that panic and contagion would spread and collapse the Euro, bullied the Irish Government into taking a joint EU/IMF bailout. The high placed members of the self-serving Brussels elite were willing to impose hardship and needless austerity upon the people of Ireland in order to save their precious Euro and to preserve their positions of opulence and power.
The Irish economy per se did not need a bailout, but Irish banks did. The IMF does not lend to banks but only to sovereign countries. (That way, they can force a country to bleed its taxpayers to get their money back.) Cowen and Lenihan then proceeded to sell the idea of an EU/IMF loan to the country as a 'rescue package' for the Irish nation. This was a complete lie. It was a rescue package mainly for German, British, and French banks who had recklessly and greedily loaned billions to Irish banks during the Celtic Tiger boom.
David McWilliams, Irish economist, broadcaster, and writer, says of the IMF, 'It is not here to bail us out; it is here to bail [the banks] out. The bailout is a bailout for the banks of Germany and France and the Irish taxpayer foots the bill. It is that simple. And where will the EU and IMF money come from? It will be borrowed from the very investment banks that will be bailed out. So they will get interest payments from us, in order that we pay for their mistakes.'
This view is echoed by Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev, adjunct lecturer in Finance at Trinity College, Dublin, who likens the ECB/IMF bailout to 'corporate welfare' (as opposed to social welfare). 'It's worse than corporate welfare, it's corporate welfare with a massive moral hazard loaded on top. This is an undemocratic, corporatist transfer of wealth from ordinary citizens to a tiny group of people: bank bondholders...'