Saturday, 27 November 2010

Dublin's traffic - unaffected by the bust?

As a kid, I had an awful familiarity with the back of the living room couch. Let me explain.

The formative family front door was ever the focus of interested parties seeking money for something or other:  ESB men (it was considered imprudent to have them read the meter), insurance men (it was always men), HP men (ditto, obviously), and all the rest. Every time someone knocked on the door, it was time to make a beeline for the back of the couch.

As a result, I have an awful fear of credit. There was a mortgage, and that was it. Everything else was cash. And when you think about it, a car loan – for example – is just cash in arrears. Paying for it up front just means you have to wait three years longer for your wheels. It is cheaper too.

All that meant I didn’t know what a car salesman was on about a few years back when he spoke of “balloons”. A balloon, it seems, is when someone takes a loan out for an item with the payback loaded towards the end. Think of it as the opposite of the so-called National Recovery Plan (if it goes as planned – which it probably won’t). A lot of the swankier cars going to auction were repossession jobs due to balloon payments not being made.

I'm sure the same credit arrangements must have prevailed during my nine-year stint in London, back in the 80s and 90s, as Thatcher’s deregulation boom turned to bust. Not only were there fewer Porsches, Ferraris (they have such things in England), Astons and all the rest – there was far less traffic in general. My drive to work from Stratford to Limehouse in east London became a lot less stressful and arduous - not to mention quicker, for those of us lucky enough to keep our jobs.

But what the hell is going on here in Ireland? There’s a recession underway, unemployment is up, the IMF reps are here with their 6.7% loan, and the whole country is going down the tubes. But I swear to natural forces, there is more traffic now than there was during the boom. OK, it’s coming up to Christmas and all that, but even so.

When the madness of Ireland’s credit-fuelled boom was in full swing, there were those who thought we could teach the rest of the World how to create a buoyant, thriving economy. The Irish boom – based on buying and selling houses – would go on indefinitely. The Irish boom would not be subject to the busts that had occurred elsewhere. It was different.

It looks like the bust is different too, judging by the amount of activity still going on out there.

But I have an awful feeling we have seen nothing yet.

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Anonymous said...

In London would lose their car and still be able to realistically commute to work with the reliable extensive public transport.

In Dublin the car loan would be one of the last credit arrears to be defaulted upon as if you lose your car, you subject yourself to the vagaries of Dublin's uncoordinated public transport system. Even today, when the first cold snap of the winter season hit, the DART & Luas were suspended for a while and I guess the busses were as well.

anna said...

No surprises re traffic - Fintan O’Toole’s new book, ‘Enough is Enough‘, says Plenty of luxury new cars were sold here this year-+ fees at 10 private schools were up- with no less pupils - business as usual for the rich crooks who run this country.
ROI Always had far more people in super rich and super poor classes than NI-:NI had less in each class- and far more people in the middle. I suspect the skewed class structure of this country is even worse than in mainline UK. And yet Irish people were always told they were better off here than in class ridden Britain. NOT SO.
Anyway I am diligently reading up now on how a class of rich bastards keep in clover while 90% of a nation suffer:
Remember chick lit? Ireland was a world leader in it?
And dick- lit ( the male answer - intelligent witty books on male lives, often by English male writers)
I now see Easons is Full of a new genre, Ireland will swiftly become world leader in ; ‘Tricky Dick Lit’ - or How To Ruin A Whole Country.
Due to bargain offers I actually bought a few books today:
Feckers- 50 people who fecked up Ireland
Wasters- the people who squander your taxes
Bust- how the courts have exposed the rotten heart of the Irish economy.
I will be returning for ‘Snouts in the trough*’- Irish politicians and their expenses (* Yes- this is a real book by Ken Fox)
Two other interesting new books are on the thuggish origins of Fianna Fail, and a scholarly study on how the Irish middle classes have done very well since the creation of the state.
Meantime , sorry I could not go on march today due to illness:
however 50,000 turned up at GPO: This is the Real Rising:
I would only feel more proud of the brave citizens who went out in rotten weather if they had actually set up effigies of our leaders and pounded them with snow balls.
Well, what will it take to get through to such a brass necked tribe? When the IMF arrived the top brass of Fianna Fail hardly had time to talk to them as they were in that international financial and political hub, DONEGAL , busy trying to save their own skins.
It’s actually proving more difficult to remove Cowan than Rasputin.

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Anon. True. Londoners give out about their transport system, but they don't know how lucky they are.

@ Anna. Have to get the Fintan book.

Oh, and we know what happened Rasputin in the end...

Dakota said...

IMO there's two reasons for it (1) there is no effective public transport in Ireland (2) Old habits die hard. Back in the day credit was known as debt. Alas, perception is a funny thing but whatever way you look at borrowing, cold hard cash is exactly that, cold and hard. Psychological outlooks may change but the fundamentals of cash don't.
Also no effective public transport? I wonder why?Could it be Dublin Bus is a quango?
Oh I love this country. It should be renamed quangoland. Personal income goes down, car ownership goes up.

The Gombeen Man said...

Yes, D. It's a bit of a puzzler alright.

Thanks for that link.