Website of the Week
Right now, practically none of you has heard of propertypriceregister.ie but by the end of tomorrow it is set to become one of the most visited websites in Ireland. Tom Lynch, the CEO of the Property Services Regulatory Authority says that the new register of residential property sales prices, which will include sales as far back as January 2010, is set to go live tomorrow, 30th September 2012. The above is what the website looks like on Saturday morning. It might be worth pausing for a moment to consider how it was back in 1973/74 that Judge Kenny in his Kenny Report, recommended the introduction of a public property price register, something which was warmly embraced in public by all political parties – Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, Democratic Left, Greens, Progressive Democrats – and yet, somehow, when they got into power it never happened. You can thank the IMF that it is happening tomorrow, and I have no doubt were it not for the IMF, this Government would have created some excuse to delay the introduction of a tool which will immeasurably improve transparency in this country. Along with a fiscal council, bankruptcy reform, a central credit register, reform of the medical and legal sectors, it’s another innovation brought to us by the IMF.
Bad but it could be worse of the week
With the spate of six killings in the past eight days, you could be forgiven for thinking that we are truly on our way to Hell in a handcart with a breakdown in law and order, but annual recorded crime statistics from the CSO this week revealed that in most categories of crime, including killings or homicide, the numbers for the year ended June 2012 are down on the previous year. Homicides were down by 19 to 62 in the year. Burglary was one of the few categories to show an increase of 10% to 28,623 incidences in the most recent statistics. Still though, the perception of deteriorating law and order is there, but those perceptions of society being better in the old days, though common, aren’t always borne out by the facts.
Table of the Week
The Comptroller and Auditor General published its annual report this week where it set out the work undertaken on the nation’s finances. Jaw-dropping errors were uncovered and the 300-page report is worth a read, but its overview of the national debt is particularly enlightening and the above very simple table shows just how much our finances have deteriorated since the onset of the financial crisis in 2007/8.
This was the week we learned that 87,100 were estimated to have emigrated in the 12 months to April 2012, a daily average of 240 putting our emigration rate at an absolute record since 1987 and just behind 1989 in terms of rate of emigration per 1,000.
Foreign News story of the Week
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, see above, that a country in financial distress is set to have its state owned bank – 99.8% state-owned AIB, which has thus far received at least €20.7bn of a bailout – pay €1bn to bondholders on Monday next 1st October. The world-renowned WSJ seems to be in wonderment at such generous behaviour, considering how the country in question is verging on being an economic basket case (14.8% unemployment, debt:GDP set to rise to 120% in 2013 or 150% of GNP, €13bn or 8.4% deficit with difficult budget adjustments ahead, close to zero economic growth, 87,000 emigrants per year, subject to an IMF bailout)
Domestic News story of the Week
Oddly enough, there doesn’t seem to be any mention of the above country and its €1bn bond payment in the domestic media. Mind you, when AIB paid out €1.5bn to senior unsecured unguaranteed bondholders in April 2012, there was nary a mention of the matter in our national broadcaster, save to report an incident when an AIB branch in Dublin was briefly occupied by protesters. Some people claim that RTE is a government mouthpiece trying to stultify us into thinking it will all be good and we have turned the corner. That seems to be unfair on the organisation and the individuals working there, and a more realistic reason might be that they’re just not very good at reporting, or basic arithmetic judging by their percentage calculations below
Parade of the Week
There are 48 parades taking place in Northern Ireland today, many commemorating the signing of the Ulster Covenant 100 years ago when over 400,000 men and women signed petitions seeking to promote the union with Britain. About two hours ago, the main parade in Belfast got underway with 209 bands and over 20,000 parade participants plus an unknown number of spectators. As with a small number of parades each year in Northern Ireland, there will be a protest in the Carrick Hill area of Belfast, a protest limited to 150 participants – this particular area has been the scene of serious public order disturbances this year with a band filmed playing sectarian music outside a church, Orange Order parades breaking the terms under which licence to march had been granted and rioting which left scores of policemen and women wounded. The parade today and the protest have been the subjects of determinations by the Parades Commission with which all parades – be they a Maxda MX5 rally or a charitable demonstration – must be approved. An extract from the determination for today’s main march in Belfast is shown above and is here. The terms governing the protest are here. People on this side of the Border may be bewildered at this state of affairs – tomorrow at 11.30am, the Ballyhea bondholder protesters will meet at the Garden of Remembrance at the top of O’Connell Street in Dublin at 11.30am from whence they will march at noon to Croke Park. There will be a march at 11.30am in Charleville also. They’re protesting the payment of bonds in state-owned banks – which are in receipt of €64bn of our cash/promissory notes so far plus €6bn of state-aid from NAMA – repaying 100% of sums owed to bondholders. There is less than €190m of the most contentious bonds left at IBRC but there are still billions in AIB, PTSB and Bank of Ireland – AIB is 99.8% state-owned, PTSB is 99% state-owned, BofI is 15% state-owned though given the state-ownership of preference shares, arguably BofI is de facto state-owned also. Details of the march and of the €1bn bond being paid on Monday 1st October are here.
Stoke the Rage of the Week
Yesterday the Department of Finance published its own accounts for 2011 and gave us detailed information on pension payments made to former (and current) politicians. You probably won’t be pleased at the sums paid to former politicians given some of their records in office…