Saturday, February 21, 2009

Toxic tourist attraction on the quays

Gotta love the suggestion from German bank West LB that Dublin be the world's toxic bank capital.

The state government of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW), part-owner of West LB, said there were several reasons for choosing Dublin.

“For a business like this you need specialists and, worldwide, Dublin has the best qualified people for the task,” said Stephanie Hagel├╝cken, spokeswoman for the NRW finance ministry.

Made me laugh because only a week earlier I read a suggestion from Frank McNally in the Irish Times that the 'bad bank' that's been suggested by many be available to the public for visiting. He got the idea from a visit to Butte, MT where he got to see the Berkeley Pit.
The pit is where the open mining happened. When the mining stopped, it became a tailings pond. Now it’s a giant, red-brown lake full not only of copper but also of such interesting chemicals as arsenic.

… Stuck with this apocalyptic nightmare in the middle of town, and with a clean-up that will last indefinitely, the locals made the best of a very bad job. They have established Butte as a kind of centre of excellence in environmental disaster management. They built a viewing platform from which tourists could visit the lake safely (unlike the swans). They put up educational signs. And yes, they opened a gift shop.
So McNally figures that the public might like to visit the toxic bank, but just imagine how much bigger a tourist attraction we'll have if we corner the global market in toxic banks. The IFSC can be a financial Berkeley Pit.

And you know what? Better that than the ghost town it's now destined to become.