Archive for August 25th, 2012

Graph of the Week

On Thursday, the Central Bank of Ireland published data on owner occupier mortgages, which confirm that the mortgage crisis is intensifying though at a slower rate than previously. Nearly one in four owner occupier mortgages in the State is in arrears or has been restructured. Minister Noonan previously said that under the right conditions, the Irish economy could take off like a rocket and here is Japlandic’s response incorporating the latest mortgage arrears data. It shows that actual arrears over 90 days have risen to €1.4bn on loan balances of €16.5bn.

(Graphic above produced by Japlandic.com, contact here)

Racial Slur of the Week

“chinky Orange bastard” William Magee, chairman of the Sandy Row Amateur Boxing Club in Belfast which, during the week, published a 57-page report on sectarianism in boxing in 2000-2010, and who claimed “one of our best boxers, a lad from a Chinese ethnic background, was called a ‘chinky Orange bastard’” The report is not online. Following the fantastic success of two Belfast boxers, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan, in the recent London 2012 Olympics and the announcement of €4m of Assembly funding for the sport, it is to be hoped that the noble sport of boxing becomes an inclusive activity that generates pride in all communities.

Budget 2013 conniptions of the Week

It’s still three months away but Budget 2013, which An Taoiseach Enda Kenny thinks will be the toughest of this government term – I suppose if the Coalition collapses in 2013, he might be right! – but already kites are being flown and shot down at an impressive rate.

“Fine Gael backbenchers –backed by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney — are threatening open revolt if Education Minister Ruairi Quinn includes assets like farmland and business premises in means tests for college grants, under an overhaul of the current system. Money held in savings accounts and second homes may also be used in the means test, and farmers and the self-employed may be forced to show their earnings for the previous three years if their children are to qualify for grants.” The Irish Independent reporting on what may strike many observers as strange, protests that illiquid assets against which loans can be obtained shall not be used in means-testing college grants.

The Irish Department of Finance published the latest update to the Memorandum of Understanding with the bailout Troika. Unlike the May 2012 edition where Minister Noonan sneaked in a commitment to repay NAMA debt, this edition doesn’t appear to contain changes. But that hasn’t stopped the traditional media ringing alarm bells on the content of the forthcoming budget in December 2013. This is in fact what the MoU says, and remember there is one more Troika review between now and December and as the MoU says: “the Government may substitute one or more measures with others of equally good value”. It’s not over until the fat man sings at the start of December and even then, he will require a majority to support the subsequent enactment of the budget.

Political Party of the Week

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). On a serious note, the largest party in Northern Ireland can be justifiably proud of two achievements this week. On Wednesday, Maurice Morrow (otherwise known as Lord Morrow, pictured above) introduced a Bill aimed at tackling Human Being Trafficking (HBT) and prostitution, in Northern Ireland. The Bill seems to place the needs of the victim – the trafficked individual and the prostitute – at the heart of the proposed new legislation. It would also, as in Sweden, make paying for sex a crime which shifts criminality away from the prostitute. Accompanying the Bill, is a consultation document. The Bill itself entitled “Human Trafficking & Exploitation (Further Provisions & Support for Victims) Bill” is online here, and is a fine piece of work by the DUP which deservedly has cross-party support, and is even finding support on this side of the Border.

On Wednesday also, Sammy Wilson of the DUP (pictured above), the Northern Ireland Minister for Finance and Personnel, launched a new house price series based on all stamp duty returns. The new series which will be published on a quarterly basis has catapulted Northern Ireland well ahead of the Republic for transparency in property prices, as the new series captures all transactions – mortgage and cash. Meanwhile the CSO may/or may not publish an overall total for the cash component of the residential property market when it publishes its mortgage-only index next week.

Quotation of the Week

“I refuse to answer that question” developer Jerry Beades in response to a question from Ireland’s very own Judge Roy Bean, otherwise known as Mr Justice Peter Kelly in a case where Bank of Scotland was pursuing a summary judgment for €9.7m of loans. The question was whether or not Jerry had received the loans from BoS, and it seems Jerry picked the wrong forum to plead “the Fifth” because (1) this is Ireland and we don’t have a “Fifth” and (2) in a case where a bank is pursuing repayment of a loan, the very least that a borrower can expect to be asked is whether or not he received the loan. Judge Kelly was having none of it and awarded the bank the summary judgment it was seeking.

“It would not be a case of getting rid of the isles, but of transforming unused terrain into capital that can generate revenue, for a fair price” Greek prime minister Antonio Samaras speaking to France’s “Le Monde” newspaper, putting the best possible spin on proposals to sell off Greek islands

Order of Lenin

“Today, we honour his civilian legacy. The brilliant Minister for Finance. The outstanding organiser who brought Lenin himself to Ireland to see how the National Loan worked” Comrade Enda Kenny marking the 90th anniversary of the death of War of Independence/Liberation hero Michael Collins at the site of his killing at Beal na mBlath in county Cork.

“Enda Kenny was this year’s orator at the annual commemoration ceremony at Béal na Blá last Sunday and he engaged in the usual acclaim of the “fallen hero” – to be fair to Enda that was a cliche he avoided. Michael Collins, he said, was “a reformer, a thinker, a moderniser (who would have been) pro-Europe”, “brilliant minister for finance”, “thoughtful”, “disciplined”. And an extraordinary claim: “The outstanding organiser who brought Lenin to Ireland to see how the National Loan worked.” Lenin was never in Ireland.” Comrade Vincent Browne whose ripe old years and left-leaning tendencies might mean he had first-hand knowledge of Vladimir Lenin (1870 – 1924) and his travel itineraries.

“It mistakenly stated that Lenin came to Ireland but should have stated that it brought Lenin’s attention to Ireland to see how the National Loan worked” Unidentified comrade  spokesperson for Enda Kenny

“The outstanding organiser who brought Lenin’s attention to Ireland to see how the National Loan worked.” The original speech on the Government website MerrionStreet.ie has been airbrushed from history and the corrected version replaces it. Hmm “airbrushing” and the Soviet-era, reminds us of the fate of poor old Comrade Yeshov who had fallen foul of Comrade Stalin

“Strange days indeed, most peculiar mama” Comrade John Lennon – maybe that’s who An Taoiseach was referring to.

Our Sh*t doesn’t Smell of the Week

The sad fact about Irish traditional media is that it is universally suffering from the double whammy of, on one hand, an increasingly crowded marketplace which includes the presence of trans-national media and on the other, an economy which nosedived nearly 10% and which is at best bouncing along the bottom. So revenues from circulation (print), advertising (print and broadcast) and sponsorship have plummeted whilst costs have remained stubbornly high despite retrenchment. On here, a particular target has been the woes at IN&M, but that’s mostly because that group more than others takes pot shots at its rivals, when in fact, all media companies are struggling.

On Friday, the Irish Times reported its results for 2011 with the headline “Irish Times posts €2.5m operating profit” though if you delve deeper into the article you will find that the loss after tax ballooned by 63% from €1.1m to €1.8m. Though I suppose who can blame the IT when IN&M routinely tells you about its €80m operating profit in 2011 but neglects to mention the after tax loss of  €41m. Even RTE has gotten in on the game headlining its €17m deficit in 2011, but burying the true loss of €69m coming on the back of its pension costs. TV3 is unapologetically hyping its own financial performance of profit after tax of €68m in 2011 but neglects to tell you about the €80m loan from Anglo which has been “parked”, and without the parking of which there would have been a loss.

On Thursday circulation figures were published for newspapers distributed in Ireland which showed an average decline of 8%n weekday sales over the past 12 months and a decline of 9% in Sunday sales over the same period.

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