Sunday, 20 March 2011

Irish Property Recovery Is Crushed...

Tiny green shoots of property recovery brutally crushed by our Central Bank...

Our leaders are facing the mother and father of all political and diplomatic battles in Brussels.

'I'M not happy with the idea that some governments obviously find some pleasure in torturing Ireland in the meetings and outside. I don't like this way of dealing with serious problems."

These words are not those of Michael Noonan but of Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the euro group of finance ministers. Juncker criticised the link between a lower interest rate on bailout loans and pressure to increase corporate tax.

Again, they are words that could have been written by Noonan -- and my guess is that they were, in fact, inspired by Limerick's master of the soundbite.

Only a few months ago, Noonan was bitterly critical of the Government for its failure to nourish our diplomatic relations with small EU countries such as Luxembourg, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium -- our allies from the early EEC days in the 1970s.

My hunch is that Noonan lost no time in restoring some of those neglected alliances, and his tactics are already paying off.

The hubris of the Celtic Tiger years seduced us into losing the run of things and we liked to think of ourselves as anybody's equal, including Germany's. We hung on to Germany's coat-tails in the delusional belief that we were heavy-hitters.

Now our people are being crucified on the altar of German monetarist dogma which, it seems, we daren't challenge.

Why is it unthinkable that we should even contemplate the idea of leaving the euro or, heresy of heresies, quit the EU altogether?

I'm not proposing that we take such action, but why are we not even allowed to express the thought?

Such suffocating dogmatism is redolent of the time when the church was at the height of its power and when to challenge its teaching, however tentatively, was to risk banishment into the dark void.

The EU has grown into one of the most powerful empires in history and its dogma is intended to protect power and money, the fundamental pillars of imperial-ism. Its grip, however, does not rely on armies, navies and air forces but on something more insidious: the perpetuation of the biggest bureaucratic gravy train in history, which has at its heart a Faustian Franco-German pact.

Recently, a senior eurocrat remarked: "France needs Germany to disguise its weakness, and Germany needs France to disguise its strength."

If I might put it less elegantly, Nicolas Sarkozy is 'on the take' from Angela Merkel, and she uses him to hide the fact of Germany's ruthless economic hegemony, a feat that requires at least one major collaborator, and who better for this role than France?

By now, it would require a leader of the iron willpower and fanaticism of Charles Stewart Parnell to rescue us from our desperate status as a puppet state of the Frankfurt-Brussels axis.

We need greatness as we have rarely needed it before, even in the darkest times in our history.

But superficially, at least, there appears to be hope in the air lately with the change in government and the arrival of spring. One otherwise sensible person told me last week that he thought the recession was coming to an end.

"Most people had a good time on St Patrick's Day, we have a new Taoiseach, most people like him, including President Obama, we had a great Cheltenham, and both the queen and Obama are coming. It will be a wonderful boost for tourism. Something good is definitely happening. Feelgood is a real thing, maybe people will spend more money," he said.

Only a sadist -- or the Central Bank -- would destroy his illusions, particularly last Friday as thousands took 'bridge day' leave between the bank holiday and the weekend to enjoy the sunshine.

Only 48 hours previously the Central Bank had issued a self-fulfilling prophecy of a further collapse in property prices as well as forecasting negative economic growth.

The tiniest green shoots of a property recovery were brutally crushed instantly, for who in their right mind would buy anything against such a forecast of doom?

Over the past few years I've become a convinced conspiracy theorist, in that I detect the hidden hand of the European Central Bank in most of our economic policy decisions. I believe that Frankfurt-Brussels wants to keep consumer demand depressed in this country, to keep property values falling, and to allow businesses to close and jobs to be lost in pursuit of the Holy Grail of cost competitiveness and export-led recovery.

The fact that people's lives are blighted and sometimes ruined is neither here nor there as far as they are concerned. Every war causes collateral damage.

To the unblinking Teutonic eye we have made a dog's dinner of managing our own affairs, and if we are to be bailed out it will be on their terms.

We still don't know the full story of the notorious bank guarantee of September 28, 2008, brought in after the ECB had given vast loans to Irish banks stricken by the flight of deposits, and at a time Frankfurt wanted Irish taxpayers to guarantee its exposure.

There is a huge amount of blame for our debt mountain that we cannot but lay on our own shoulders, such as our chronic failure to control public spending culminating in the surreal Croke Park agreement.

But the mammoth debts our taxpayers have taken on to save the banks are not of our doing, but instead can be blamed on the ECB and its efforts to protect itself and its masters from the consequences of reckless lending by European banks to this country during the boom.

We are now facing the mother and father of political and diplomatic battles for economic survival.

Already, appeasement is in the air in some quarters.

The Irish Times, in a defeatist leading article last Monday, warned: "Mr Kenny has a very weak hand. His trump veto is simply unplayable"'

Parnell and his party went into the House of Commons -- the heart of the British Empire -- and filibustered their way, against powerful intimidation, into a position of critical influence.

We need such independence of thought and spirit, and such steely determination, every bit as much today as we did in 1875.

Report by Aengus Fanning - Sunday Independent

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