They have a new idea for breaking up Anglo-Irish Bank.
Call me a stick-in-the-mud if you must, but I preferred the first idea: splitting it into a good bank and a bad bank. I’m not saying it was a good idea. I’m just saying I preferred it for its old-fashioned Hollywood values. At least with a good bank and a bad bank, we knew who wore the black hat. We knew who to boo and whistle at. The bad bank would think nothing of tying a heroine to railway tracks and twirling its moustache as it laughed. The good bank would rescue the hapless maiden and perhaps even marry her.
But now what are we looking at? They’re going to split Anglo into an asset-recovery agency and a savings bank. Repo Bank and the First Bank of Noddy.
I know you’ll correct me if I’m wrong, as usual, but don’t we already have an asset recovery agency called Nama? And didn’t we, until recently, have a deposit bank called the Post Office?
Look, I’m not a banker. I’m not an accountant. I’m not an economist. I’m just a regular Joe trying to understand what the hell is going on, much like Lenihan and Cowen. I don’t understand how all this works, but sometimes that can be an advantage. You see, it isn’t always necessary to understand what’s happening under the bonnet. Does it go or doesn’t it go? That’s all I want to know as I kick the tyres.
So forget about all the technical talk. I’m not interested, and you probably aren’t either.
We know that a big ball of money was lent out by Anglo and we know that a lot of it isn’t coming back. The world and his dog in the street know that the money lost is about €35 billion, even though the government won’t mention a figure, just as you don’t say hello to the Devil if you happen to meet him in a graveyard at midnight. He might just go away, because Satan is like that: stupid. Right?
Anglo has lost €35 billion and we, taxpayers, are on the hook for it whether we like it or not. After splitting Anglo into the Repo Bank and the First Bank of Noddyland, do we now owe less than €35 billion?
The answer, obviously is No. We don’t. The debt didn’t just evaporate. The people who are owed the money didn’t suddenly forget, just because Lenihan changed the name of Anglo to …
… to what?
What are they going to call the new bank?
How about the Aviva Bank? Oh, wait a minute. We’d better not go there after today’s grim news that the FAI has totally screwed up on pre-sales of tickets for the re-vamped Lansdowne Road stadium. John Delaney, it seems, is uncontactable, which is hardly surprising. He’s in a huddle with Lenihan and Cowen, heads under the blanket, all chewing their favourite Noddy dolls and trying to find a way not to talk about the monster under the bed.
Or the O2 Bank? Would that be missing the Point?
I already suggested the Schrodinger bank, and I’m sticking with that, although it might challenge poor President Bert’s limited repertoire of vocalisations.
Changing the name isn’t going to help. Splitting it into two isn’t going to reduce the debt, unless it implies something else, and I’m hoping it does. Perhaps the idea of the deposit bank is to create a clear distinction between depositors and bondholders, with a view to stiffing the latter, or is that too much to hope for?
Everyone was on message today. Nobody wanted to talk about a wind-up of Anglo, even though there has never in the history of banking been a more appropriate description of the shenanigans engaged in by the affable, businessman-looking Seanie Fitz and his little glove puppets. Everybody wanted to talk about a work-out instead of a wind-up.
You say Tomayto, I say Tomahto.
What’s a work-out? What’s a wind-up?
Will either of them make the €35 billion debt go away?
No. They won’t. It will still remain no matter how many million splinters they shatter Anglo-Irish into.
It seems to me, subject to correction, that a wind-up and a work-out are both ways of saying that we’ll pay off the debt bit by bit. Every last penny of it, to every gambling panhandler who hitched a ride on the stinking gutcart driven by Ahern, McCreevy, Cowen, Fitzy, Fingers, Goggin and all the other plum-pullers who created the debacle.
And by “We”, I mean “We”.
Elsewhere: Dermot Carmody
Morgan Kelly telling as it was two years ago, and nobody listened to him: