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Vincent Browne v the ECB
March 15, 2013 8:08 PM   Subscribe

Tenacious Irish journalist demands an answer at a European Central Bank press conference (SLYT)
posted by moorooka (44 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I really hate that "The Irish are so quaint!" look on that gobshite's face.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:26 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I bet he regrets leading in with that bullshit anecdote about the cab driver, huh?
posted by codacorolla at 8:27 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


what are they talking about?
posted by facetious at 8:27 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apparently the ECB is bailing out a defunct EU bank, but in reality they are just giving refunds to the bank's bond holders, none or very few of whom are even Irish. Bonds that were uninsured or something. That's all I could glean.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:31 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


For my fellow Americans, I must put this in context:

A bunch of big banks made some risky investments, and they sold these risky investments to other financial groups and rich people. These rich people were told "hey; if this works out, you'll make a fortune... if not, sucks to be you."

Well, it didn't work out, the banks tanked and shut their doors, and they took a bunch of other industries with them. Now, the EU helped these investors, who were told up front of the risks mind you, recoup some of their money. Now, per this agreement, they want Irish taxpayers help these investors recoup their losses. This journalist had the nerve to ask "Why do the taxpayers owe your rich friends a fucking penny?"

German guy and prissy bitch did everything they could to dodge that question.

Sound familiar, USians?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:04 PM on March 15, 2013 [28 favorites]


The comment thread to this had the best description I could find (couldn't find the perma-link -- see #8). Ah.
posted by smidgen at 9:15 PM on March 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Just one: how may I convince you to remove "prissy bitch" from your vocabulary?

To be (maybe) more precise, the entirety of the EU is probably bailing out the bank, but the journalist is Irish, and so is the bulk of his audience.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:16 PM on March 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


That was excellent. I wish American reporters were more like that.
posted by shoesietart at 9:16 PM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also, additional context...

Vincent Brown is half Taibbi, half Paxman. But the financial sector plays up his opposition to abortion and his remarks about Israel to get the religious lower class to dismiss him as a "nose in the air", "anti-values", syndicalist.

Again... Sound familiar?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:18 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


When asked, the German Finance Minister said that he didn't like the deal, but he had to go along with it.
posted by Copronymus at 9:19 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Again... Sound familiar?

that's what the powerful always do. turn natural allies against them against each other. divide and conquer.
posted by philip-random at 9:22 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]



Unpleasantness in Belgium, Silence in Ireland.
Sugarman was the risk manager who resigned from Unicredit when his warnings to senior management, that the bank was routinely failing to hold enough capital to protect depositors from a bank run, were being ignored.
Irish law says clearly a breach of the minimum holdings of even 1% must be notified to the regulator immediately. He was finding UniCredit being routinely 19% short. When he asked an independent company to check his figures they told him the breaches were as high as 40%. This means the bank was short billions. Such a shortfall means if there was run on the bank it would not have a hope of surviving.
Sugarman was ignored and told to stop complaining. He resigned.
A month later Northern Rock collapsed when a run on the bank exhausted its cash reserves. A year later the Irish banks collapsed.
You might have thought the Irish Bank regulator would want to know what Sugarman had to say. You’d be wrong. The Irish regulator has gone out of his way to ignore him. I have been privy to all the emails and correspondence and it is a shameful and tawdry story of obfuscation, lying and threats. Meetings where he was told he could come and tell the regulator what he knew, but that if he revealed any wrong doing by the bank that occurred during the time he was there, the regulator would have to report him to the police. Despite the fact he had been the one trying to raise the alarm.

posted by 445supermag at 9:24 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just one: how may I convince you to remove "prissy bitch" from your vocabulary?

You aren't. When certain people are acting in a manner that is deleterious to the greater population for no other reason that appearances and self preservation, I'm going to call them all sorts of nasty names, and sometimes it will pertain to their gender, nationality, or stature for no other reason than to differentiate them from the other selfish sods in proximity.

That German guy was an arrogant dick, and she was a prissy bitch who did everything she could to help arrogant dick avoid the question a mere 2 seconds after it was asked. Yes, both of those insulting terms pertained to their designated genders, but only I am the less for resorting to such childish terms. I accept that, and suggest you learn to cope.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:29 PM on March 15, 2013 [34 favorites]


I thought "prissy bitch" was apt.
posted by shoesietart at 9:38 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm going to call them all sorts of nasty names

Relevant MeTas.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:47 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


[MeTa or drop it, folks.]
posted by restless_nomad at 9:52 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


When asked, the German Finance Minister said that he didn't like the deal, but he had to go along with it.

He should ask his grandparents how that defense went over circa 1946-1950
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:52 PM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Horrible, contemptible, scummily evasive bureaucrat" works nearly as well. Not as succinct though.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:53 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apparently the ECB is bailing out a defunct EU bank, but in reality they are just giving refunds to the bank's bond holders, none or very few of whom are even Irish. Bonds that were uninsured or something. That's all I could glean.

And they're doing it so that the rich people don't lose confidence, because if that happens rich people won't invest anything anymore ever forever and ever amen.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:05 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


"I've already answered the question" ...by not answering. Utterance ≠ content.
posted by moonbird at 10:16 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sound familiar, USians?

Wish it did. I don't think we have journalists like that over here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:30 PM on March 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Via link above from 445supermag, we have this :

Q: Do you ever regret having been shut out of the world of banking?
A: I used to earn good money according by Irish standards. I had a beautiful home, a nice life. I had dinners at expensive restaurants. I travelled a lot. But I would never trade my beliefs for a life of luxury. Unfortunately, it seems these days that many people are willing, if not even eager, to sacrifice their children’s future for a fragile present of luxury. I cannot do that.

Q: Is something haunting you now?

A: The laziness of the educated middle class is the thing haunting me. Rich bankers see what is happening, and laugh all the way to the bank, while the middle class works to serve their interests. Risk managers, lawyers, chartered accountants, all these people pretend that they are working hard, while in truth they are lazy – morally and intellectually. The same holds true for the university professors of law and of economics. Where is constructive criticism today? This laziness has become so widespread, that very few can see it for what it is.

posted by armoir from antproof case at 10:47 PM on March 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


So the Germans figured out that it was easier to take control of Europe via economic manipulation rather than via another episode of violence?

Or is this more a worldwide case of the wealthiest people taking everything over? All I see, wherever I look, is an ocean of privatize the profits and socialize the losses.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 10:50 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wonder if there is an app which allows me to slap the smug smile off German bankers that appear on YouTube videos? There has never been a more smug smile in the history of smug smiles.
posted by zardoz at 11:11 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a German, we've totally figured out a way to take over everything, InsertNiftyNameHere. It's in our nature. Here's how we did it this time:
1. Force everybody else to live above their means
2. Force them to buy our stuff
3. Concentration camps (I think)
posted by dhoe at 11:31 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


The youth unemployment rate in Greece has topped 61%. Have a good night, everybody!
posted by phaedon at 11:35 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


dhoe: "As a German, we've totally figured out a way to take over everything, InsertNiftyNameHere. It's in our nature. Here's how we did it this time: "

Well, third time's the charm, as the saying goes. (Now let's not derail the thread because of a silly joke I made.)
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 11:36 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bathtub Bobsled: Also, additional context...

Vincent Brown is half Taibbi, half Paxman. But the financial sector plays up his opposition to abortion and his remarks about Israel to get the religious lower class to dismiss him as a "nose in the air", "anti-values", syndicalist.

Again... Sound familiar?


Vincent Browne isn't anti-abortion.
From this article: http://tinyurl.com/cdpvmfh

"A new amendment is required permitting the termination of pregnancy if a woman so demands and if medical – including psychiatric – reasons support her demand. The unborn do not have an unqualified right to life: that qualification centres crucially on the pregnant woman and only she should decide."
posted by BlueMarble72 at 11:49 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not the Germans that are taking over everything... it's the Banksters.

The Germans seem to be on top, but they can get wiped out in an instant if the Bankers so choose to do so. All the bankers have to do is to stop lending on a given date, and start calling in loans, and they'll fold just like the US did in 1929.

It's all about money and power, and anyone who goes along with the extraction process is favored, those who oppose it are crushed.
posted by MikeWarot at 11:50 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


/his remarks about Israel to get the religious lower class to dismiss him as a "nose in the air", "anti-values", syndicalist.

Again... Sound familiar?


"Syndicalist"? This is America. Talk slower
posted by notyou at 12:07 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"sindicalist" sound evil enough for O'Reilly or Alex Jones to condemn. Yeah, we hear ya.
posted by telstar at 12:29 AM on March 16, 2013


The only thing this dude is right about is the fact that the EU is expecting all taxpayers to be on the hook for bad decisions made by rich bankers and investors.

The Irish Nationalism injected into it is a load of crap. The Irish signed on to the EU, they signed on to a joint economy. They have no more business saying "why should the Irish pay for this" than a Texan has any business saying "Why should I pay for Delaware problems?"

If he was saying "why should the European people have to pay off these shitty investments by rich people?", I'd be 100% in agreement. His agenda as he expressed it is more about nationalism and separatism than it is about demanding that the poor not be made to pay or the mistakes of the rich.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 2:26 AM on March 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


The only thing this dude is right about is the fact that the EU is expecting all taxpayers to be on the hook for bad decisions made by rich bankers and investors.


I think that was the only point he was making - I'm sure the average Dublin taxi driver is well aware of the ramifications of EU membership
posted by the noob at 2:34 AM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the Irish people bit is a red herring; Browne was only riffing on Masuch's (I felt condescending) assertion that even taxi-drivers in Ireland - as opposed to Parisian or Münchner taxi-drivers? - were well-informed about the issues with the financial sector.
posted by the cydonian at 2:55 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, whatever.
posted by spitbull at 5:23 AM on March 16, 2013


So the Germans figured out that it was easier to take control of Europe via economic manipulation rather than via another episode of violence?

Actually, I think the general policy, pushed by Germany, is driven by a certain level of ambivalence about sustaining the (now revealed) costs associated with a banking system to go along with the common market. And, in the beginning, the search for higher returns by the large German state banks goes back to the high debt incurred with unification. If the Germans really wanted to take over, they would have built an ECB that followed the federal reserve and they would have stimulated German consumption, which could have then driven export economies in the depressed periphery. But, the resulting inflation would have hurt all of those German savers, and the Germans have a high rate of saving and the cost of having a European "federal reserve" would have to be carried by the European core countries and Germany in particular.

If he was saying "why should the European people have to pay off these shitty investments by rich people?", I'd be 100% in agreement.

But they aren't rich people. They are just ordinary Germans (and French and Nordic etc.) who have spent their working lives saving, put their money in the bank (along with some very rich people) and expected to be paid interest on it. And Masuch's point, about the consequences of a collapse of the banking system, is very real. It might have felt better let the bondholders feel the pain, but those bondholders are mainly other European banks and the result would have (arguably) destroyed the banking system leading to even worse problems in the periphery.

But, on the other hand, characterizing the Irish "bailout" and austerity as a result of open debate in Ireland was arrogant in the extreme and reveals just how unconcerned the European bankers are with the disaster in the periphery.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:33 AM on March 16, 2013


Related:
European finance ministers have agreed an £8.7bn bailout for Cyprus which includes all Cypriot bank customers handing over up to 10% of their savings.
posted by adamvasco at 6:39 AM on March 16, 2013


Just to add, you could say the fault really lies with all those German and French workers who saved and thought their "interests" coincided with the banking and industrial concerns. Much like how the autoworkers in the US thought their high standard of living was part of a durable entente between labor and capital in the US.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:41 AM on March 16, 2013


But they aren't rich people. They are just ordinary Germans (and French and Nordic etc.) who have spent their working lives saving, put their money in the bank (along with some very rich people) and expected to be paid interest on it.

So it wasn't rich people but the ordinary european workers who bought the risky bonds, then wanted taxpayers throughout the EU to protect them from that risk? I have to admit I know nothing about this.

But in the US, we are told we have to kowtow to big financial players playing their greedy games and damaging the economy because ordinary workers have a stake in the stock market with their 401K accounts, and in fraudulent derivatives because they have home mortgages. It's getting a little old.

Oops, sorry, I guess I'm engaging in class warfare...
posted by tommyD at 7:24 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


So it wasn't rich people but the ordinary european workers who bought the risky bonds, then wanted taxpayers throughout the EU to protect them from that risk? I have to admit I know nothing about this.

Ordinary people in the European core with excess income which they saved, rather than used to consume, put the money in a bank with an expected return on interest, and then the bank bought bonds with that money, which turned out to be risky, to earn money to pay that interest.... more or less. Not so different from 401Ks although the level of savings is quite a bit higher than in the US.


Oops, sorry, I guess I'm engaging in class warfare...


For the putative Marxist, class warfare isn't something you engage it, it's a fact of nature and a way of understanding policy made by people like that German bank regulator and classes of well-paid German employees. A Marxist might say, screw the bondholders, let the banks collapse as prelude to revolution, but they would be aware of the consequences of that action.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:22 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


taxi-drivers in Ireland

I think his point infers that the taxi-drivers, the everyday folks, of some other EU countries, say, Greece or perhaps even Italy, do not get it. Just seems like Ireland is angry but onboard for the best/worst plan to save the Euro, where some other countries are still trying to figure out how much more money they can squeeze out of, essentially, Germany.
posted by relish at 9:09 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


What should his answer have been? What would an honest answer look like? Did a democratically elected Irish government not choose this path? Was the calculation to guarantee all depositors in Irish banks not taken to protect the long-term interests of Ireland and all its people? That may have been a mistake, but it was an Irish mistake. I'm not clear why "the Germans" get the blame.
posted by grahamwell at 11:55 PM on March 16, 2013


grahamwell: Did a democratically elected Irish government not choose this path? Was the calculation to guarantee all depositors in Irish banks not taken to protect the long-term interests of Ireland and all its people? That may have been a mistake, but it was an Irish mistake. I'm not clear why "the Germans" get the blame.

Quick banged out response to this thread, apologies if rough around the edges.

To get it out of the way: "ze German's dunnit" - that's pretty unsophisticated rhetoric that has a lot of traction I agree. Keep in mind for most people "Germany" is a synonym for "the ECB". All the same it's worth thinking how Germany's exports would have done over the past decade if they still had the Deutschmark.

What has happened here is a complete clusterfuck, doubtless.
This wasn't a guarantee of depositors - it was a guarantee of all liabilities. The government at the time (who I loathe) were given no option by the ECB - they were told so save the banks to stop "contagion". And you could argue that for "pillar" banks (AIB, BOI, a few others possibly) that was necessary (personally I don't think so, but I'll admit to being ever so slightly to the left of the consensus zeitgeist in Ireland ;-) ). So for example let's take Anglo Irish Bank. They were lending literally billions at a time on a nod and wink basis to the (relatively small) wealthy class in Ireland, not a pillar bank, intertwined with politicians, basically an example of everything wrong with Ireland at the time.

Are Irish people responsible for this: yes absolutely in the sense that people believed the hype, despite some of us spending the past decade shouting from the rooftops about the idiocy of it all. But where do we draw the line? Over the past few years we've continued (at the behest of the ECB) to pay out on bonds to investors in this bank (a deal was recently conducted on this debt which makes the terms of payment less onerous perhaps - but the principle that all unsecured liabilities of this bank are the problem of the Irish people in perpetuity is sacrosanct).

I see some "but most of these bondholders are pension funds / normal people" evasion upthread. Nope. These are unsecured bonds. The vast bulk of them were sold for cent on the euro when the bank crisis began - the losses have crystalised already for pension funds and the like - the current holders of these bonds are financial vultures. We spent more last year paying out money to these pricks than we did paying primary school teachers. All the while being patted on the head and told we're awfully good boys for toeing the line so well.

So spare a thought for my blood pressure as I watch Enda Kenny spouting bollocks in far-off Amerikay for the Paddy's day celebrations - “we're still team players lads not like those striking protesting Mediterranean types”, no no: Ireland is open for business! The whole charade sickens me to my core. But I don't expect people to know about all this, or to sympathise really. Is it shit that people in Europe feel they're being forced to lend Ireland money - yes. But how much shitter is it to know that money is being handed straight over to "investors" while I'll be paying that money back (tens of thousands of euro for every man woman and child in the sate) for the rest of my life. Rot, stagnation, hopelessness. Socio-economic rigor mortis. Things are awfully quiet now, but there's precedent for that. The old sow that eats her farrow indeed.
posted by nfg at 3:21 AM on March 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


In the meantime, the decision to destroy Bank Deposit Insurance in Cyprus looks insane.
Worse than Lehman Brothers
Unfair, short sighted and self defeating
"Savers will pay for the mess. They are the only ones that have any money left."
posted by grahamwell at 6:25 AM on March 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


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