Aug 22, 2009

NAMA, good banks and Biffo reappears

Yesterday Fine Gael came out with a new financial alternative to NAMA and while I am no financial wizard, on the surface it seems better.

It seems to me that NAMA is a get out of jail free card for the banks and developers that financed and developed such risky projects. I do not see why the taxpayer should be penalised for others pursuit of profit. They rolled the dice and now they must pay the piper for their tune is over. There was no intention of contributing to the state coffers if their gamble had had an alternative ending. That would have been their profit.

The next thing is the pricing of the assets. They are not worth anything like their stated prices. The market needs to readjust and the government cannot prevent this by artificially inflating prices to pay off developer buddies.

This government thought the boom would last forever, which just goes to show that a qualification in history and applied basic common sense should be a required course to govern in a modern society.

Even within the past 20 years, in the personal experience of several cabinet members, there have been boom and bust cycles coupled with risky bank ventures and highly indebted financial institutions. While it is true that the public suffered in the 80s the property moguls were killing city centres and tearing down historical building. All of this has happened before and will happen again unless those in power change the system. Reform or you will be reformed.

The Greens, also in government lest we forget, are having a special party conference on the issue of NAMA. No exactly a united government but it is easier to get a consensus without taking the electorate into account. The Greens don't have that option unlike their governing partners.

On the other side of the house, Fine Gael propose a good bank instead of the state paying off the bad debts of developers. Richard Bruton outlined the plan on the Last Word yesterday and while their are kinks to be worked out, it seems a fairer plan.

Naturally this is controversial because there is no solidarity. The government knows they are out in the next election so they are on some kind of Bushian destructo mission to leave the opposition to clean up their mess. As a PR strategy, it is completely unethical and totally in line with Fianna Fáil's history.

Commenting on Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny’s declaration earlier yesterday that his party would vote against Nama, which he described as a “double or quits” gamble by Fianna Fáil, the Taoiseach said: “Glib one-liners aren’t the way to deal with what are very difficult and complex questions.

This is the first time since the summer recess that the Taoiseach has spoken out in public. He's been missing, presumably resting have a difficult year of denials, dithering and procrastinating.

Way to go Biffo.

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