Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Car buying

A couple of months back I totalled my car and since then I have been looking for the bargain of a century to replace the crappy runaround I bought after my crash.

Last week I thought I found it, a reliable good looking car, diesel, low mileage and all for less than €5k. Happy days.

Oddly though its an email only contact...a little wary I send off a short mail saying "saw the ad, I would like to see the car"... the plan being to ask a mechanic friend of mine to check it out.

Anyway earlier today I get a response to my mail from a man called Lucas Miller who tells me

"The car is located in Liverpool/United Kingdom. Now i am located in Germany with my bussines and i have nobody in Liverpool that could show you the car.I need to come personal to meet you and present the car.

Fee days ago a buyer told me that he'll buy the car, so we must meet in Liverpool.I came to United Kingdom because I trusted his word,but when I arrived I called him and no answer, so I lost money and precious time on his promise.I don't want to ask you to send me any money in advance, I just want to see that you are a serious buyer. If you don't want to buy it after you will inspect it, no problem, but I need to be sure that you will be there."

and Lucas goes on to outline his proposal so that he knows I am serious;

"1. The service name that we'll use is Money Gram transfers.You will find Money Gram agency at all the Post Office in your city and you will go there with your best friend or your wife. Your wife or your friend (relative) will be the sender of the money and you will be the receiver in Liverpool.

2.Ask your wife or your friend to send € 4,200 eur by Money Gram to your name in Liverpool.Is enough for me too see that I have a interested buyer. (I will pay the Money Gram fees when we will meet)

3. Only you can pick up the money from Liverpool, so this is no risk on your side.

4. Once the money is sent,you will have to email me or fax me Money Gram papers.

5. In the same day I will buy the flight ticket and I will email you the scanned ticket.(We will verify the car with a mechanical service and at police to. I also accept any test)

6. We will meet in Liverpool and we will finish the deal. I will help you to make all papers.If you don't want to buy the car I will pay for your transport. I assure you that you will love this car and you will buy it. It is in perfect conditions."

So I think its clear where Lucas wants this to go namely him being €4,200 wealthier and me still in my bashed up runaround.

I was just about to delete the mail when instead I was inspired to hit reply. I drafted a expletive heavy reply pointing out his grammatical errors but realised that was a waste of time so instead I rewrote and sent the following.

Lucas, that's really interesting as I will be in Tranmere town next Monday and my flight back to Dublin is late.

What would be best for both of us is if I can have a look at the car to help make me an informed decision. I will pop down to your mechanic and have a quick look and I'll get back to you then. In this way we don't have to go to all that trouble with Moneygram and Flight tickets and the rest!

How does that sound to you?



Might be funny to see how this evolves.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


A graph of Fianna Fail polled support will soon resemble the ISEQ. An appropriate reflection considering their role in designing our economic collapse.

The October RedC/Sunday Business Post Poll is out.

RTE, Politics.ie, Dan Sullivan, Cian on Irishelection.com all cover it.

In one way this is huge news, FF falling behind FG in a poll hasn't occured for 25 years, but in otherways its irrelevant; as Cian notes "The problem, as ever, will be to keep those voters who are angry now, away from FF on election day".

As for us Shinners, an upward trend is always nice, but....1% rise in a time like this is not promising. Matters are exactly helped by a complete lack of media coverage of out statements, positions and policies.

Friday, October 24, 2008


The part of the political process I find so fascinating is how public opinion is shaped.

You can buy books on the subject, study it, marketeers and brand managers dream of unlocking its secret and billions is spent by corporations and political parties trying to subtly and not so subtly influence the opinion of citizens.

At the moment there is an important battle being waged between the Government and Opposition in relation to the economic condition the country finds itself in. Fianna Fail's preferred narrative is that the budgetary crisis we find ourselves in is unfortunate but reflects nothing more than being caught in a global shitstorm. Sinn Fein, Labour and Fine Gael insist that the recession has been caused by Fianna Fail, specifically accusing them off reckless spending, unnecessary tax cuts for the wealthy and the "buying" of elections in 2002 and 2007.

By and large these two conflicting interpretations are the only ones that have been debated in the papers and on the airwaves over the past couple of weeks.

So how does one explain the growing alternative interpretation emerging, which simply goes like this.

Agh Bertie wouldn't have ever let this happen.

I first heard this on Monday during a canvas in Edenmore, Raheny from a pensioner and a long term supporter of Fianna Fail. Since then I have heard it from taxi drivers, the mothers on the school run, in the local sandwich shop, yet nothing on the mainstream media.

Bertostalgia, the longing for the good auld days with Ahern in charge is growing and creates an interesting problem for both the Government and the oppositions parties.

The Government can slope there shoulders in a "ah shucks were doing our best" and hope that the electorate has pity rather than anger on them next June. After all Offaly's greatest ever politician is clearly no match for His Bertness.

The opposition has to put up with the reserve scapegoating of a problem of which the entire government helped create and sustain over years.

Its not entire clear what the effect, particularly in Dublin, of Bertostalgia will be, but barring his return as Taoiseach it, this meme looks set to grow and then set as conventional wisdom.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The pursuit of triviality

The Dow Jones loses the gains of last week, The Nikkei is plummeting, Britain reports the highest quarterly rise in unemployment in 17 years, Ireland finally manage to beat Cyprus and the last US presidential debate is about to take place.

Yet the Sky News lead story on its website and every fifteen minute TV headline is that a middle aged past it singer and a one hit wonder director have split up.

And then we wonder why its so difficult to engage people in politics.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Political activists aren't they great

This is so far gone that you'd have to believe that he is working for the Obama camp!

Sort of reminds me of the freakology that these loo-las get up to.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Is this a pyramid imploding?

Are we looking at the wrong comparsion? The media talk over the past few weeks has been looking at the 1929 wall street crash.

But seemingly this has the potential to be a fundamental collapse of the entire financial system. The International Monetary Fund warns of a "systemic meltdown".

Given that effectively what has occurred is that the property market pyramid scheme has collapsed perhaps we need to think beyond some problems with the banks, people losing money in stocks and a slowdown - but try and imagine what a full melt down means.

For a start paper money of whatever sort loses all value. If there is a global meltdown, there will be no hard currency to revert to. We will be reduced to barter.

I was twice in countries when the local currency lost all value. In Romania in 1990, I once went to the doctor and paid her with a bottle of "western" shampoo and in Yugoslavia in the mid 1990s when the inflation rate was so high, that Marlboro and Kent cigarettes was what you bought with your dinar as a form of stable currency.

But more interesting I spent some time working in Albania following the implosion that country had when a variety of pyramid schemes collapsed. The outcome of that was economic, social and political anarchy. UN food aid was needed to keep people nourished and the Italian army and navy and the OSCE was needed to restore some semblance of security.

The question is whether the shenanigans going on in the financial industry are the start of the collapse of a global pyramid scheme and much more than a issue of confidence. If so then its difficult to see who or what will be able to come to the assistance of a USA and Europe without a reliable currency and angry citizenship.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Psycho Palin

The globes greatest potential danger, Sarah Palin, has been found guilty by lawmakers in Alaska of abusing her power in a vindictive case of familial revenge.


Whether this will make a difference to the rednecked, racist, homophobic, gun lusting, god bothering, deytukkyerrjerbs, Fox News lobotomised American "patriots" that is her support base is doubtful.

No doubt Plain and her republican party lizards will spin it as a conspiracy by the liberal media.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Black Friday??

In a few hours the the Irish Stock Market, ISEQ, will open with an index price of in the upper 2k range. For a host of reasons I think today will see the ISEQ absolutely tank. The bail out, once copied, has not added the necessary confidence. The ECB rate cut is a nice little snifter for consumers but for corporate lending adds little.

Watch movement with the big four Irish banks. The contrasting shifts in Anglo Irish and BoI shares late yesterday suggest takeover chatter has spilled into investor speculation.

What to do, well. Auditors from outside this country should be sent in to the banks to examine the loan books and try get a true values of the balance sheets in the institutions. Only then can recapitalisation occur as the companies value will be clear (or clearer anyway).

Given the failure of the regulator and the Central Bank and the general stench of cronyism that pervades Irish life an audit done by the Central Bank or Dept of Finance is not going to engender confidence that's is needed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The bail out to where?

Where is this all going. Ireland, followed by Greece and now one of the big Euro four, Germany.

Watch the Irish banking stocks tomorrow, I expect drops, as their unique competitive advantage from last tuesday disappears.

Here's whats most worrying about this; it is plainly obvious that at least one of the six guaranteed Irish institutions is a basket case - weighed down with loans tied up in deprecating property.

Its increasingly difficult to see how their collapse, or lets say, their end of being an independent company, can be avoided. The benefit of the Irish bail out was that, overnight, bogey Irish institutions became globally unique (with exception of Northern Rock).

But now that the Germans, Greeks and presumably the other Euro countries by the end of the week, are also guaranteeing deposits, their USP disappears. At this point they will be naked to the market and off we go again, collapse in share price and flight of capital irrespective of Ireland's guarantee. Remember confidence is an emotion.

I have no doubt that the end of this week will deliver a longer term indicative verdict on the Irish Banks future.

p.s. - From Finfacts.com. Worth a read.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Door..shutting..horse..after...barn etc

I must say I find this odd. In todays Irish Times, ICTU boss, David Begg has a passionate, informed and well written topical critique of the global banking system and model of capitalism. There is nothing in the article I disagree with he sums up the mud we are in.

"Let us be absolutely clear. This crisis was caused by greed and recklessness in our own country, on Wall Street, in London and in other major financial centres. Senior executives permitted speculation on a huge scale on investments they ill understood. Speculators have exacerbated the serious rises in fuel, food and raw materials.

The losers are many and include workers in the industry and, more generally, pensioners, families, firms seeking investment capital, and all of us as taxpayers now bailing out banks. It will take years to recover the money - if we manage to do so - and our future ability to fund high-quality public services is now jeopardised."

Excellent - this needs to be stated repeatedly in black and white. And Begg is a well connected and a player in power circles in this country.


He is also been a Director of the Irish Central Bank for the past thirteen years!

By no means do I think Begg is at fault for the banking crisis in Ireland but what I would like to know is what exactly he did during all those years to try and prevent the inevitable results of the greed that he writes of.

There is no point of a senior Union leader being on the Board of the Central Bank in Ireland if they are not there to keep an eye on precisely what he despairs of. He has been at the heart of the Irish Banking System, he had held this powerful position for 13 years and yet now, way too late, shouts Fire.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Windfall tax needed on banks

The people who we should seek not to reward or protect in the Irish bail out are the executive and management of the banks and developers with outstanding loans sitting on lands banks and unsold properties. Properties unsold because they won't lower the prices. A comfortable enough position they find themselves in because the banks are refusing to call in the loans.

However there is another group of people that are currently benefiting massively from the bail out.

The new shareholders of Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Bank, Anglo Irish Bank and the others. Since the furtive conclave on Monday morning of bankers and the Government that cobbled together the plan, there has been a four fold increase in the volume of these banks shares traded.

In the past three days Anglo Irish share price has more than doubled, Bank of Ireland has risen from €3.26 to nearly a fiver and Allied Irish Bank has seen a nearly 50% rise.

The "deal" that the Irish Government put together ensures, that by not taking an equity stake in the banks, that the state will not garner any of the hundreds of millions in value that the Irish taxpayers have added to the value of the banks.

Its safe to assume that some of the most recent trades are new. They bought into a risk free investment. Yet the Irish taxpayers are the ones underwriting this.

What needs to be done is the introduction of a targeted capital gains tax on bank shares to accompany the bill. As the legalisation stands the profit on any capital gains is merely 20%.

For the banks lets increase this to 50% for the lifetime of the state guarantee.

The bail out is appartenly only about liquidity. If so and also to reduce the short term speculation and bring stability to the share price lets see a chunky tax introduced that ensures the Irish state itself can directly benefit from our taxpayers insurance policy.