Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Government bails out Irish Banks in financial crisis

It is interesting to note that while the US Congress debated and turned down – for now – a proposed 700 Billion Dollar bailout for its banking system, the Irish Government has pushed through a measure which will hold taxpayers responsible for banks’ liabilities, should one or more of them go under. And the first thing we knew about it was when we woke up this morning to reports of the Government’s largesse with our tax money.

The Irish business and landlord class has got to be one of the most pampered in the world, at this rate. Landlords and property developers have benefited from State subsidies and tax breaks for years, leading to asset price inflation funded by reckless borrowing and careless lending. And all the time, the impression given was that our economy’s boom was the result of some new-found, go-getting entrepreneurial spirit that had hitherto lain dormant in the collective Irish psyche.

Actually, despite what the advocates of simplistic right-wing economic “theory” maintained, it was caused by the exact opposite: State socialism for the wealthy, in the form of distorting the tax system and corporatism via the IDA’s inward investment campaign. And let's not mention all the subsidies from the “socialist” EU.

Now the pick-and-mix approach to laissez-faire is well and truly exposed, as the State effectively immunizes the banks from the worst effects of their imprudence. It should be remembered that Irish banks are among Europe’s most profitable. AIB, alone, reported pre-tax profits of EUR1.28 billion for the first half of this year, while bank bosses have enjoyed extravagant financial rewards for leading their businesses into the worst financial mess in living memory.

Privatising profit and nationalising loss – Irish style.

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Friday, 26 September 2008

Buyer beware of specialist car dealers.

Well, the official figures now confirm what the less credulous of us have believed for some time. We are in recession. So time for Gombeen Man to do an Eddie Hobbs and don the mantle of consumer champion.

Those of us who don't work in construction - and hence have some chance of keeping our jobs for now - had better be careful if looking to make a purchase that might involve putting down a deposit (such as a house or a car), given the increased chances of businesses going to the wall in economic climes such as these. Margins are tight, and credit is expensive, and banks are slowly facing the reality of having to call in their debts.

Coy as the banks might be, there is a plethora of builders on the edge out there - maxed out and ready to fold. So, if you are someone who has been priced out of buying a home due to Government tax incentives/shelters for investors over the past goodness knows how many years, just be careful not to get suckered at the last.

Cars too. Particularly if you looking to buy new from an independent dealer. A couple of months back, Orwell Motors - a long established Dublin dealershop - hit the wall. Echoing independent dealership Parkwest Autopoint, which went into receivership leaving customers with lost deposits of up to EUR 5,000, as the boom hit its zenith in 2006. Interestingly, the man behind Parkwest - Kevin Flynn - is now in business again under the guise of Kevin Flynn Specialist Cars (KFSC), operating out of Grand Canal Street, importing simlar models as he did in his Parkwest incarnation.

And while it is perfectly legal to go bust with punters' deposits, and start again in an identical business with a different name under Irish business law, it somehow doesn't seem quite right. Not for the consumer anyway, who gets scant enough protection in this country anway.

Top tip: if you're buying a new car, do so from an official dealer - that way you are protected by the manufacturer should the dealership go bust.

If you are buying a new house - just wait. They're going to get cheaper anyway, and most of the cowboys will be flushed out in the next year or so.


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Thursday, 25 September 2008

Keane to walk out... again?

Whingeing psycho extraordinaire, Roy Keane, looks set to throw another wobbler, with rumours that he may leave Sunderland.

Regular visitors to this site will know that Gombeen Man is not the most patriotic of people, but even he can't forgive Keane for manufacturing his own departure from our last World Cup finals in Saipan. More puzzling is how this self-serving nutter is still considered something of a hero by many in Ireland, despite having let us down on the biggest stage imaginable, and despite having made a total of only 66 international appearances in his long career (Kevin Kilbane has made 90 so far).

Now it seems that Keane, who was (and is) never found hiding behind the door when it comes to dishing out abuse, is upset that some Sunderland fans are becoming impatient with his progress, or lack thereof, at their club.

Keane, who famously described Ireland boss of the time, Mick McCarthy, as a "shit manager", has spent a lot of money at Sunderland, some of it on rather questionable purchases. Things came to a head when Premier League Sunderland struggled to dispatch League One side Northampton, due to some dodgy team selections on Keane's behalf. Reacting to fans’ criticism, the Corkman stated, somewhat confusingly: "...The abuse, I know it is part of football, don't get me wrong, but that is something I won't tolerate...".

What? Does that statement make any kind of sense whatsoever? If it’s part of football, surely he has to tolerate it? It seems Keane can dish it out alright, but he's not so good at taking it.

Sunderland fans, I wouldn’t be too disappointed when he goes.

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Monday, 22 September 2008

Back in Gombeen Nation

Just a quick post to signal Gombeen Man's return to his native little land. Can't believe it's not raining.

Thanks to those who posted comments in my absence - I've only got round to publishing them now, as I have the spam filter thing on.

Trying to catch up with what's being going on here over the past two weeks, so hopefully more substantial posts will follow soon!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Wish I wasn't here

That's it. Enough.

Between Lisbon "no" voters, "European Army" conscription theorists, Little Irelander racists, Gaelscoil educational system imperialists, skangers, builders pulling Puppet Cowen's strings, the continuing scandal of VRT, Bono, and everything else, it's all become too much. Then throw in the most miserable Summer ever - one that that makes the backdrop of Angela's Ashes seem Mediterranean by comparison. So...

Gombeen Man is off on two weeks hols - and no, not to the Gaeltacht. And he's not going anywhere near an Internet cafe, either.

Who knows what's going to happen in our little gombeen land when he's away, but for two weeks he won't care. Anyway, there's sure to be plenty to write about when he comes back.

In the meantime, those of a questioning, critical persuasion could do worse than check out the links on the bottom left.

Cheers for now!!!!

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M50 taking its toll on Irish drivers

What's the official line on Ireland's attractiveness for the multinationals? It's because we are a young, intelligent, educated workforce, isn't it? Nothing, of course, to do with us prostituting ourselves by means of corporate tax breaks. A ploy, by the way, that the new EU accession states will soon copy - leaving the Irish begging, somewhat belatedly, for a common EU-wide tax policy.

But whatever about all that, perhaps it is best that US Inc. does not hear about some Irish drivers' cunning ruse to avoid paying tolls on M50, which has just switched from toll booths to electronic barrier-free tolling, by means of tags and number plate recognition.

While avoiding paying tolls on the M50 is commendable - after all, we motorists have paid for the West Link bridge a thousandfold by now, after dodgy Government dealings with private sector cronies - even Gombeen Man was embarrassed at the lack of guile displayed by motorists in this instance.

It seems that the would-be rebels covered their registration plates to avoid the cameras catching them. So far, so good, I hear you say.

So how did our intrepid authorities find them out? By advanced digital photographic enhancement? Clever police work? Fellow roadusers phoning Traffic Watch on their mobiles, as they drive?

No. It seems that they only covered their cars' front plates, leaving the the rear ones untouched for the cameras to capture all. There's no hope, there really isn't.

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Thursday, 4 September 2008

Developer offers interest free loans

Property developer Bernard McNamara is offering interest-free loans of "up to 30 per cent" of the selling price in an attempt to attract suckers, I mean buyers, to his new development at Elm Park, Dublin 4.

Under the scheme, the asking price for two-bed apartments has been reduced from EUR580,000 (!!!) to the bargain basement level of EUR470,000. Think about that. EUR470,000 for a two-bedroom apartment. Does that still not seem a touch expensive?

It seems that developers will do anything to stimulate interest in their wares other than reduce prices to truly realistic levels. Gombeen Man believes properly prices will have to fall by 50% in order for them to return to a point where ordinary people can afford to buy into the market.

No amount of tinkering or window dressing, by property developers or Government, is going to change that.

See also Cowen to "help" first-time-buyers

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Cowen to "help" first time buyers

Political U-turn specialist Brian Cowen - who has previously given in to lobbying by Fianna Fail's benefactors, the construction sector - has announced he is bringing the budget forward by two months. Furthermore, his budget will contain a "plan" to help first-time-buyers get on the still-too-expensive property ladder.

In previous budgets, Fianna Fail have reduced stamp duty to "stimulate the market" under pressure from builders. Never mind the fact that stamp duty rates had, up until then, presented no obstacle to rampant house price inflation, which reached its peak in 2006.

And what caused the inflation? The Government's continuous interference in the housing market through tax breaks and incentives for selected interest groups - Section 23 tax shelters, for example, which allowed investors with multiple properties to avoid paying tax on rental income and resulted in the market being flooded by speculators.

The problem with tax intervention is that fact that it distorts the market, by making property more affordable - through subsidy - for some sectors of the population (investors, for instance) and hence more expensive for others, as it feeds into real prices.

So what is Cowen going to do to help his construction industry friends? I mean help first time buyers?

Fianna Fail has already scrapped stamp duty for this sector, meaning that a first-time-buyer can buy a terraced starter home on Wellington Road for EUR 4,000,000 and not pay any stamp duty on it. So what further help do they need? It seems that he is looking at further grants and subsidies, which must be funded by someone. In this case, those who want to trade up.

The answer is that Cowen should stop interfering in the market and simply let the overpriced property market drop back down to a level where ordinary people people can afford to buy homes again. Simple.

I think they call it market forces.

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Monday, 1 September 2008

Gary Glitter to move to Ireland

All that glitters is not gold, and certainly not in the case of convicted paedophile Gary Glitter, who is considering a move to Ireland. Not, as you might think, because of Ireland's very tolerant attitude to child abuse, as evidenced by Church/State cover-ups over the years, but because Gary feels that he has a better chance of being "left alone" by the media here.

No doubt, another attraction will be Ireland's favourable fiscal regime for "artists", which will allow him to earn EUR 250,000 a year royalties, without having to pay a cent tax on any of it. And maybe tax-dodging hypocrite extraordinaire Bono might advise him how to reduce any liability should Glitter exceed that amount?

Gombeen Man has long opposed the Artists' Exemption Tax, and sees it as another argument - along with Vehicle Registration Tax - for a common, Europe-wide approach on taxation.

It's bad enough attracting run-of-the-mill tax-dodging "artists" to the country, but Gary Glitter really is a platform-shod step too far.

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