If you’re a regular visitor here, you’ll know what I think of the 2008 bank guarantee issued by the two Brians in the middle of the night, with a metaphorical gun pointed at their heads by the bank bosses. In my view, it was the most monumental act of stupidity ever committed, an act so utterly moronic that I was forced to invent a new word for Brian Cowen.
If you think that I know nothing about economics, you could well be right, but Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel-winning economist, is fairly clued in, as you might imagine. This is the man who said that Nama is a criminal venture, and now he’s back, in the company of many well-informed authors, who all contributed essays for a new book called What If Ireland Defaults?
I have a proof version of it here in front of me and it makes gripping reading, but I can’t tell you anything else or the chief editor, Brian Lucey, will personally come to my home and kill me. They’re having an official launch in early April and after that we’ll have a proper review. Lucey has lately flung his professional reputation to the winds by contributing to this site, but all the same, he’s the top editor.
It’s embargoed. I can’t say a word about the content so I’ll have to go all Sunday Independent on it instead and tell you inconsequential fluff just like the society pages.
So who’s in the book?
Quite a stellar cast, actually. Joseph Stiglitz himself, complete with his Nobel badge and gun. Karl Deeter, noted economist and savage bluegrass player. Stephen Kinsella of this parish, who collects doctorates like some men collect old Captain Beefheart albums.
There’s Megan Green and Nuriel Roubini, Gloom and Gloomier. They remind me of an old nonsense rhyme I read years ago.
Hengist was coarser than Horsa,
And Horsa was awfully coarse.
Horsa drank whiskey,
Told tales that were risqué,
But Hengist was in a divorce.
Horsa grew coarser and coarser,
But Hengist was coarse all his life.
That reprobate Horsa
Drank tea from a saucer,
But Hengist ate peas with his knife.
Then there’s Constantin Gurdgiev, the man who saved the livelihoods of all Ireland’s broadcast comedians, goin forward, and revived the career of Sesame Street’s Count. Five! Five bailouts!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha. If Gurdgiev ever decides to quit economics, he’ll have a wonderful career in the movies as a Central Casting Russian. Send down a generic tortured intellectual!
There’s Charlie Larkin, formerly of the NYPD. He’ll taser you if you disagree with him.
Sean Barrett is professor of economics in TCD and also a member of the Senate. He provides a deeply-engaging analysis of something I’m not allowed to discuss or Lucey will kill me.
And then there’s Lord Ganley the Clamped, still peeved after his car was immobilised in NUI Maynooth. Even though I’d love to say something about Ganley’s essay, I can’t or Lucey will beat me with a haddock.
There are many more besides, who contributed. This is just a quick fly-by, and I hope to do a more detailed critique after the book is published. It’s aimed at the thinking person, not the academic and it will be well worth your while to read it when it comes out shortly. The cost is €17.50, and I’m told there will be an electronic version as well, but even if you take it from the library, it will give you a perspective on the current crisis that perhaps you didn’t have before. It certainly informed me and I’ll be reading it again and again to see if I can make any more sense of the current insanity. Truthfully though, I think the chances of that are slim.
The bank guarantee decision, in my view, must rank as the greatest single act of financial stupidity any government, anywhere in the world, has ever engaged in. Some of the commentators in this book agree, while others have a more nuanced view.
You can order the book from Orpen Press. It’s due to be published on the 3rd April. Read it for yourself and see what you think.