Thursday, September 17, 2009

The ECB is not an independent voice in the Nama debate

Henry McDonald writing in today's Guardian says
Irish taxpayers will hand over tens of billions of euros to the republic’s banks in order to write off high risk loans owed to them by the country’s builders and speculators.
That is not actually correct. The banks are not "writing off" the high risk loans. They're off-loading them. Those who owe will still owe, only they will no longer owe the banks but us. The builders and speculators are not (necessarily) being bailed out with Nama.

So who's winning here? The banks, obviously, but not the developers and speculators unless you don't believe the Minister for Finance and others in the government. {And, by no means am I questioning your disbelief. I share it.}

But what's really gnawing at me is the banks. What is this €54bn for? Is it simply because they lent money to people and they want it back? No, clearly not. They want the €54bn back because they owe it to others, but who are they?

I'd like to see the figures, but my gut says that most of those "others" are European – mostly German – banks I'd wager. If that is true then the European Central Bank's endorsement is not that of an interested, but independent party as the Minister for Finance would have us believe. No because let's face it the ECB is really run by the Germans and they want their banks repaid.

I wonder how much pressure our "European partners" have put on us to find a means to see those loans repaid.