How the EU plans to control Ireland

 

             The last week has seen a gripping struggle for power between the EU and one of the smaller member states. It began when Frau Merkel, probably for German political reasons, undermined confidence in Greek and Irish bonds by saying that Euroland “sovereigns” might have to cut the interest or capital they owed to bondholders. It continued with strenuous efforts by the EUauthorities and leading member states to get Ireland to discuss a refinancing package for the country. Ireland protested loudly and in public that it did not need any money, and had its finance arranged through to the middle of next year.  Despite this the EU continued with its deliberations, leaks and press statements in a way which was bound to destabilise markets further pending an outcome. Now we learn that Ireland is being persuaded that it  needs money from the EU to help it to recapitalise its banks more rapidly.

Why would members of Euroland want to do this, as all the public debate about crisis and the need for emergency  responses is bound in the short term to make things worse.? All the talk of contagion just puts the idea into the market that the problems might not end with Ireland.  Either the Euro powers that be are incompetent, and do not understand how they can induce falling markets by saying too much and doing too much, or they are out to ensnare Ireland into new controls and conditions, to strengthen the EU’s hand in economic governance. The EU has never liked Ireland’s attractive low Corporation Tax rate, and would dearly love to be able to force that up.

The UK should make it clear that we are not part of any Euroland rescue or facility. We should say we do not think they can use EU disaster relief provisions to offer Ireland more cash. If Ireland does not wish to take any EU money, the UK should be Ireland’s ally. The stated Irish wish to see their own way through their own deficit problem is wholly admirable. Let us hope the EU does not make it unrealistic, by their market destabilising statements.

You do not make a currency area stronger  by taking money from the heavily borrowed to give to the overborrowed. The heavily borrowed have to borrow more themselves to prop up the overborrowed.  If done on a large scale,  that migth weaken them dangerously. You do instead need to bring deficits and in due course the debt down. You do not do that by borrowing more collectively.

The EU spin suggests Ireland is being selfish by refusing the money. They argue that if Ireland does a deal soon it will remove the risk of the problem spreading to other Euroland states. This argument ignores the fact they told us that when Greece accepted a deal. Markets sometimes take a hint – if pushing hard produces a subsidy or favourable borrowings for one country, why not push on another weaker country and do the same all over again?

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46 Comments

  1. Paul H
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the EU also doesn’t want to risk another Irish referendum holding things up?
    However the bigger point is that, between cockup and conspiracy, in your view it is the latter? If that really is the case it is tantamount to war.

  2. Stuart Fairney
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Much as I dislike the idea of any bailouts, the historian in me finds the idea of a UK bailout of Ireland utterly hilarious, even setting aside how much the EU would hate it.

    Only condition, every one of ’em refers to it as ‘Londonderry’ in future. (Even I would resist the erection of a statute of the Lord Protector in Dublin).

  3. Nick
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    The Irish should default. It’s the economically sensible thing to do.

    Here is why.

    1. Would you lend to a basket economy crippled by debts?
    2. Would you lend to an economy debt free, but who has defaulted?

    2 is far more attractive for future lenders.

  4. Posted November 17, 2010 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I think I am right in saying that any rescue has to be agreed unanimously. Britain should say that it stands shoulder to shoulder with Ireland and will vote as requested to by the Irish government. If the Irish government decides it does need some cash then we should be happy to help it out. If the Irish government says it has everything under control then we should go with that.

  5. lifelogic
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I was very pleased to see the royal marriage has cheered up the nation (should help Cameron’s silly happiness index and help him distract them from the real issues of the EURO, the economy, regulation ….). I wish them both every happiness together.

    I assume though in view of Charles’s clearly strong green views he will not be inviting anyone to fly round the world just to attend. Or will it be “do as I say not as I do”?

  6. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    We shouldn’t forget that each time the Irish had a referendum result with which their EU masters disagreed they were forced to vote again until they produced the “correct” result. Clearly, Ireland is seen as a small state which can be made to dance to the anti-democratic EU tune. Just why forcing them to increase their low level of corporation tax is expected to do anything other than drive out business and enterprise is beyond me.

  7. lifelogic
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    War by other means indeed against the Irish. It must be conspiracy not incompetence surely. Doubtless Cameron will take refuge in the Royal Wedding.

  8. Posted November 17, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    France and Germany will do what is right and best for France and Germany and no-one else. If Germany wants Ireland to take EU (ie mainly German) money, their must be some huge benefit to Germany. The Irish aren’t stupid (in spite of all the Irish jokes which suggest otherwise) and in practice their government seems to have done far more to cut expenditure than any other EU country (including the UK) and in general this has been accepted by the electorate – unlike here. Portugal feels the need to stir the issue in order to detract from its own shortcomings, and meanwhile, no-one seems to have noticed that in Greece, in spite of the money and promises, there has been no real change.
    If Ireland had any sense it would pull out of the Euro and restore the Punt which undoubtedly would fall in the short term, but which they could seek to align with Sterling in the longer term, as it always was.
    But then, of course (the Euro control plan would be ended-ed)

  9. Gary
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Yes this is a banker bailout with strings attached to enslave Ireland, not a sovereign Ireland bailout. Ireland should turn the tables , and ask the EU how much the banks are worth to the EU, and extract no-strings payments out of the EU. Ireland holds the cards. Time to put a stop to this extortion. The banks are almost all insolvent, time to stop enslaving these countries and their people having to repeatedly bail the bankers out, so that they can continue stealing fat bonuses and laughing at us.

  10. StrongholdBarricades
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I agree with some of your analysis, particularly with respect to what changes the Euroland is trying to wring from the Irish Government.

    I do not agree with the UK allying itself to Ireland because of the history of bad blood, and it would be extremely ironic fo the help on the white charger to be the big bad UK. I also do not agree with the “loan” without security, especially when further “cuts” there are likely to make the rest of the population’s lives even poorer.

    The social impacts and fallout of the euroland negoitiations will also affect the UK as even Today admitted this morning. Will the UK have to impose limits on Irish immigration?

    The UK should allow and promote Ireland’s right to self determination, but the solution must also take into account the future as well as the lessons from history, and if one of those is leaving the euro then we should help them to look for the “way out” and support them on the otherside once they have chosen the “model” they wish to follow.

  11. Amanda
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Ah ha, now I understand. ‘They’, really are evil aren’t they? (words left out) Is Dave ‘Chamberlain’ up to this? I can never make up my mind if he really has a ‘cunning plan’, or, he is just a Quizling !! But, that may just be the triumph of hope over despair!!

  12. Alte Fritz
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this view on a situation which simply baffles me. The Irish have done as much as anyone could ask of them, and more. It is has been in the public domain that they are funded; recently they did not need to borrow money as they had expected.

    So this must either be a market reaction or a market manipulation. If it were the former, would the markets not have panicked when the Irish governemnt announced the further bail out some weeks back?

    As Paul H said, if you are right, this is war. And this is what the EU does to what has been one the biggest Euro enthusiasts of the lot.

  13. Dave E
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I seem to remember Ireland getting ‘bullied’ once before over a little matter of a referendum that went the ‘wrong way’! mmmmmmmm

  14. Posted November 17, 2010 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    The Irish property bubble came about because, being part of the Euro, they were not able to increase interest rates.

    It is quite clear that the EU’s “price” for a “bailout” is raising corporation tax. – since that would cut their long term growth it is something they should never accept. Ireland is, after all, still about 30% better off than us per capita (instead of 40% poorer as it used to be).

    I suspect it would be in the UK’s interest to support Ireland here since it would signal the markets that we understand that low CT would help in our “relentless” pursuit of growth.

    Ireland does have a long term problem – that they refuse to produce inexpensive nuclear electricity (though they are actually dependent on nuclear from Hunterston in Scotland), have “invested” heavily in windmills & thus have some of the world’s most expensive electricity & are facing blackouts. But who are we to criticse them for that?

  15. alan jutson
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    This is what happens when Countries try to converge financial management/Currency when no two Countries/Economies run in the same way.

    How can a Southern European Country like Greece have similar Financial arrangements/rules to a huge manufacturing Country like Germany, or to a Northern European Country like Ireland their priorities are totally different.

    John you have missed the real point.

    The EU argument will be that the real reason why this is all failing, is because there is NOT a single system/control of management of the economy of all Country s which are in the Euro. They will claim they need total control over Tax, Benefits, Pensions, Vat, Corporation Tax, Employment Laws, so that every Country operates in the same way, with the same rules/management and control criteria, to make it have a chance of working, and to be fair that is probably true.

    The Multi Trillion Dollar question is:
    Do Countries want to give up the ability to control their own Country, and divest that power to a central body, who are not elected, and where most decisions appear to be taken behind the scenes, behind closed doors.

    The real aim of the EU is a single political and economic state.

    Put this to a referendum in any Country and the answer would probably be no, so they are doing it by stealth, “slowly slowly catchy monkey”.

    Never know, they may one day want a single foreign policy, or armed forces !!!!!!!!!!

    We need to wake up, and wake up fast before we get really sucked into this grand Socialist experiment that is doomed to expensive failure at some stage in the future.

    When the chips are down lets see who will be the first to protect their own.

    • Bob Eldridge
      Posted November 17, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      I think it is too late. We have been sucked in to this new soviet European superstate, (building more and more tractors). Cameron like Blair sees the chance to be European President. The builderburgers are gradually succeeding. The only pleasant point about all of this is, eventually the uk government will become a regional council pvoving that turkeys do vote for christmas.

  16. JimF
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Given that successive UK governments here have been anti- joining the Euro, for the very reason that has gotten Ireland into its present situation, it seems bizarre that we should be helping them either via the EU or directly unless they ditch the single currency. This will happen eventually, so why “blow” into the wind?

    The reason, of course, seems to be that our beloved RBS is up to its neck in Irish debt. That’s all right then, government by the Bonkers for the Bankers?

  17. Tom Donnelly
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    It’s selfish of Ireland to bask in the reflected glory of the Euro safety-net while creating mayhem within the wider Eurozone.

    The reason the debt spreads are as ‘low’ (sic) as they are is because the bailout will rescue the nation as a tax-raising sovereignty. Until there is clarity, they will jeopardise the wider interests of the EU, of which they were once so supportive.

    It’s time for bond holders to take a haircut and prudent buyers of CDSs to have their day in the sun as capitalism intended.

    Tom

  18. Winston's Black Dog
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    How and why can that traitor Osborne find £7 billion to bail Ireland out yet UK citizens face austerity measures, students face increased tuition fees, old people will die because of stealth green taxes via energy bills.

    The Tories a Eurosceptic party? Don’t make me laugh!

    We’re not even in the bloody Euro yet we still have to bail out the dambn thing!

    Can’t you Tories grow a pair of balls between you and say “non” and “nein” to forking out UK money we don’t have?

    If not why not?

  19. lifelogic
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Spot on on radio 4 just now on the end of Irish democracy/EU bail out of Ireland. This is clearly a power war and Cameron and the Irish must fight it with all the levers they have.

    Doubtless the Cornish floods will, like all recent extreme weather, will be blamed on the “settled science” of man made global warming. Just a shame the “experts” can only predict the weather for 100 years and not a few hours or so – which might have been rather more use to the residents concerned.

    It always seems rather odd that the “experts” find 100 years so much easier to do than four hours. Surely what happens in four hours must affect what happens in 100 years -so if you do not know 4 hours then how can you?

    Then I am only an physicist by training – clearly climate science is a very interesting science indeed with politics, vast amounts of money and religion all in the heady mix.

  20. Norman Dee
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    As I have said on another site, any help for Ireland must be contingent on them leaving the Euro, before we even put their names on the top of a list of suggestions they must be out. Then maybe we should consider it, not before, money to Ireland ? maybe, money to Europe to support the Euro in Ireland ? No NO NO

  21. Johnnydub
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Gary,

    You miss the point – it was the governments decision to underwrite all the bank debt that will bankrupt Ireland. The politicians had a straight choice between protecing the people and protecting the bondholders (mainly french and german banks)

    They chose the banks and the poeple be damned. See:

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2010/1108/1224282865400.html

    • alexei
      Posted November 18, 2010 at 2:11 am | Permalink

      I think you overlook the 100,000 + Brits who have savings in Irish banks, not to mention any other nationality, including the Irish. So, not such a “straight choice” between the people or the bondholders, as you suggest. The Irish government were allegedly concerned that the entire banking system would implode, if they didn’t intercede – rather like the US bank bailouts.

  22. Javelin
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    In order of danger to banks I think Italy is the most likely for the banks to go bankrupt. It’s banking sector is heavily exposed and too big to bail out. Governments are not just too big to fail they can squeeze the tax payers for the next 50 years.

    It’s the banks you need to worry about.

    In that case Italy should be Followed by Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Germany, France, Iceland, Holland then Ireland.

    • Javelin
      Posted November 17, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Just wanted to add this is the order of bets against the banks in the credit default swap Market.

  23. Winston's Black Dog
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Now we know why the British Navy has been decimated. An EU double whammy. First step towards the Single European Defence Force and Little Georgie can satisfy his masters in Brussels like a good little lapdog.

  24. Posted November 17, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    The UK should make it clear that we are not part of any Euroland rescue or facility.

    Cast Iron Dave won’t, though, will he? So far, he has accepted every single EU power grab going – one or two of which were optional.

    Dave will do the WRONG thing. You can bank on it.

  25. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Germany is up to its usual game of trading money for pwer (in Europe). Mrs Merkels remarks were deliberately designed to make it more difficult for Ireland to borrow in the bond markets. She is not a stupid woman and she knew exactly what she was doing.

    The UK’s best response is to start talking about the extent to which creditor nations could allow Ireland to default, then leave the Euro and reinstate the punt. Perhaps Ireland owe us too much for that to be plausible. But even talking about it would be a warning shot across Germany’s bow.

  26. Javelin
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    I think key to understanding what is going on in the world is to understand that Governments and regulators have used houses as security for loans. In the past they used gold then bonds and equity. Now it’s houses. Using Houses creates instability because of the geared feedback loops into the economy.

    As house prices went up in price they were used to secure more funds for loans. It was a win-win when prices went up Low interest rates meant the cost of houses fell and the demand and price went up. Low inflation due to globalisation provided the basis for the bubble.

    Now house prices have dropped or are about to drop there is a lose-lose mentality in the BofE. As inflation rises the BofE realises that raising interest rates or keeping them the same will both weaken the economy.

    The only way to move forward is to stop Using houses as security, raise interest rates to a normal level and let their value fall.

  27. Gary
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    alan jutson

    spot on. It is worth repeating and I paraphrase Paul Warburg chief architect of the FED who said to the US senate committee on the 17th Feb 1950, there will be world govt whether you want it or not the only choice is whether it will come volutarily or through force.

  28. Mark, Edinburgh
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Why do they want to force the loans on Ireland, and why now?

    I read that effectively the Irish already have very large loans via the ECB provision of short term liquidity funds directly to the Irish banks.

    Seems this is cheap finance and the way the lax (French) ECB rule book works is that its effectively you “help yourself”.

    Consequently the Irish banks now have 35% plus of all ECB euro liquidity loans for 2.5% of Euro turnover and this incredible ratio is rising all the time. So if it’s not stopped soon the ECB itself runs into trouble.

    Of course what should be happen is for the Irish government to recapitalise their banks, but there is no way they can afford this (ever).

    So the ECB now want to force an immediate loan to take the risk away from the ECB and their threat is that if Ireland refuses the loan they can collapse the Irish banks.

    However is this a credible threat? No one thinks so, although I suppose they could go for a progressive squeeze, but surely very dangerous?

    What the Irish government seems to be about is trying to get very favourable terms for a loan because of this fundamental weakness in the ECB bargaining position. They think they have the stronger negotiating position and they may well be right.

    So we should be extremely chary of put into the position of matching any ECB terms by being a joint participant in their loan without controlling any aspect of the negotiation.

    Presumably this is why the C of E talks in terms of a bilateral only and that there is no pressure on Ireland coming from the UK?

  29. Winston's Black Dog
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Why was it that, allegedly, not one MP in the House of Commons considered spending £7billion we don’t have an important enough topic for Prime Minister’s Questions?

    Reply: Perhaps because some of us had thought it important enough to demand an urgent statement immediately after PMQs, which the Speaker kindly granted, when we were able to ask our questions.

  30. Ryan Bourne
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Permalink
  31. Kenneth
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I reckon more cock-up than conspiracy; they have always been leaky.

    However some eu quango mandarins may warm to the idea that it was a conspiracy as that at least makes them seem less like half-wits.

  32. Hoover
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I hold no torch for Angela, but it’s very difficult to hold her responsible for Ireland’s troubles. As has been pointed out in the comments here, the Irish government made the mistake of guaranteeing bank deposits way beyond their means.

    What’s more, this didn’t start a week ago. It’s been brewing since the summer when the scope of lending to Ireland by the ECB became clear.

    Then they did the fraudulent stress tests, which just made people more anxious.

    By the end of September , credit default swaps on Irish debt were already at record levels. The market already had serious doubts.

    In October, Lenihan said the failure of Anglo-Irish would “bring down Ireland”, and promptly recapitalised it.

    At the end of October, Colm McCarthy said it was likely that the IMF would have to step in.

    So as far as I can tell, Angela was responding to events rather than steering them.

    If people think otherwise, I’m here to be educated…

  33. Boudicca
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    The UK should not be contributing to an EU bailout of Ireland. We are not part of the Eurozone; any Euro bailout should be funded entirely by those nations who all voluntarily gave up their own currencies to join the Brussels-currency folly.

    However, if Ireland decides to ditch the Euro and needs support to do so, as their closest neighbour and as the only one of the ‘big 3’ who stayed outside the Euro, we should assist – particularly if they decided to switch to Sterling (as Dan Hannan suggests in The Telegraph).

    Cameron/Osborne are being very foolish indeed if they think the UK taxpayer will support a decision to get the country in further debt in order to participate in a Euro bailout.

  34. james c
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Frau Merkel is obviously playing some kind of game in precipitating a crisis. It seems as if she will demand concessions from the rest of the Eurozone,not just Ireland, in return for Germany leading a bailout.

  35. Jamie Illingsworth
    Posted November 18, 2010 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    I believe it is reasonable to require Ireland to increase their predatorily low corp tax rate, they’ve used this low rate to coax business from the UK and other EU states.

    They will ultimately require the remaining UK/EU businesses & tax payers to bail them out, how ironic!

  36. Gary
    Posted November 18, 2010 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Jonnydub

    and the EU, if they were not on the bankers’ side, but on the ide of the people, should told Ireland to cut the bankers loose. Or better still, the EU should have done nothing and let Ireland make that decision themselves. By our govt backing the bailout, we see again whose side they are really on. Baling out the bankers does nothing for the people, the people pay for it and the bankers pocket it, and as sure as the sun rises they will be back for another bailout soon enough. If any baling out should be done, and I don’t believe that there should be any, then bailout the retail depositors only and cut the bankers loose. Then instigate a 100% debt free banking system where people are free to choose the money they tyransact in and rates are set by the market. That way you will save taxpayer money and solve the root cause of the problem. There will be extreme pain either way, but rather short sharp pain than decades of malaise and drift.

  37. andrew
    Posted November 18, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    How can we lend Ireland billions when we could not lend Sheffield Forgemaster,s £80 million ,where will the cash come from
    Andrew Edinburgh

  38. John Moriarty
    Posted November 18, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    @ Jamie illingsworth

    [“I believe it is reasonable to require Ireland to increase their predatorily low corp tax rate, they’ve used this low rate to coax business from the UK and other EU states.”]

    It is predatory. So what. All states employ inducements. I can understand the annoyance it causes continental states with their massive government & welfare bills, but what is to prevent the UK from reducing its own rate?

    • Jamie Illingsworth
      Posted November 18, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

      John Moriarty
      [“…what is to prevent the UK from reducing its own [corp tax] rate?]

      1) A £150bn deficit
      2) A culture of welfare
      3) An anti-business culture – especially financial services

  39. John Moriarty
    Posted November 19, 2010 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    @ Jamie Illingsworth – again!

    I saw Kelvin McKenzie on BBC Question time tonight,
    so I now have a slightly better appreciation as to why
    there may be some raw feelings in the UK. Yes, we’ve
    lured some of your head offices here. (Personally, I’ve
    never understood why governments tax employers
    at all, save maybe rates & utilities etc.).

    Nevertheless, a single CT rate only becomes an
    imperative for a unitary state. Thankfully, we are
    not there yet.

  40. Posted November 19, 2010 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    I feel if Ireland was to pull out of the euro and went back to the Punt or Pound it be worth very little in value, could Ireland seek to align the Punt with Sterling no I think Ireland should stay away from Sterling and the UK because the UK will then start telling Ireland what can and can’t do, other words indirect rule from Westminster. Also giving a loan to Ireland would not be fare on British tax payers.

    I also feel Ireland should leave the EU this also includes Britain as Britain would just be interfering and see Ireland as a very weak small country it could boss about but Ireland should still clear is debts before leaving the EU and IMF.

    Also Ireland could learn from south Korea a country that was invaded by Japan, China and so on and has a border with a hostile north Korea, its a country that has built it self from scratch after the Korean war and produces cars computers televisions and many other goods and exports worldwide, Ireland could do the same if it would wake up and stop looking at Britain as a role model we are not British we are Irish we may speak the same language use British three prong electric plugs drive on the wrong side of the road as British do plus to much British TV on Irish TV channels including sky TV. Wake up Ireland stop holding on to the the Britains coat sleeve we must have are own standards.

    As for (anyone-ed) wanting a united Ireland but with the Queen as head of state and part of the UK he is asking for war a another 800 years of British Rule and for the Irish fighting for independence again NO THANKS and as I say the Republic of Ireland should stay away from Britain plus I think it would not be fare to the British public being drag into a conflict that nobody wants. I think Afghanistan and Iraq
    was enough not unless you are a mad Northern Ireland loyalist or a right wing Tory warmonger and maybe the nutty BNP which most British citizens are not. Their are a lot of good people in Britain trying to get on with their lives worrying about health, tax, schools and so on.

    Some times governments and banks do what they want and not what the you public wants this is not democratic.

  41. Frances Howard
    Posted November 22, 2010 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    How many Keynsians are there in the Coalition who still believe in printing bits of paper?

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