26 March 2012

The answer my friend, is blowing in the Wynn's

While the focus of all our wrath and ire these last few days may have been centred on one Master Bertram "No Bank Accounts Please, We're Irish" Ahern Esquire, let us not forget the ongoing clusterfeck that is The National Assets Management Agency, or NAMA to its friends, mostly developers, some of whom are being paid salaries of up to €200,000 to mange their former portfolios on behalf of the agency.

Actually let's pause for a moment and reflect on that, and the curious train of events that have brought us to this state-owned yet wonderfully opaque station:

1) Property Developers drive up the market by rampant speculation, leading to a drastic increase in residential property prices that leaves thousands of households in serious debt when the bubble bursts.

2) Anglo Irish Bank lends these developers billions of Euro to fuel this bubble, when the bubble bursts Anglo collapses and Fianna Fail and the ECB transfer Anglo's debt to the public purse through the ill-conceived bank guarantee scheme to protect German and French holders of Anglo bonds.

3) Fianna Fail establish NAMA to transfer the bad debts from Anglo and other financial institutions to a single asset management agency, the banks get to effectively write off these bad debts which are now part of the public purse.

4) In order to pay for Anglo, NAMA and the rescue of other financial institutions, Fianna Fail borrows billions and hands over economic sovereignty to the Troika of the IMF, EU and ECB (the same ECB that insisted that no Irish bank be allowed to fail) and ushers in decades of austerity measures (don't forget, €3.1 Billion in Anglo Promissory Notes is still due to be paid on March 31st, it hasn't gone away just because Bertie has been hogging all the headlines).

5) NAMA hires 120 of the developers who broke the banks, caused the property crash and burdened generations of future Irish men and women with a crippling debt, to manage their former property portfolios until such time in the mythical future when property prices have risen sufficiently to allow for a return on the State's investment, all for salaries of between €70,000 and €200,000 per year, paid for by the public purse.

Angry yet?

You should be.

#UnlockNAMA, the group behind January's one day repurposing of a NAMA-managed building on Great Strand Street, are holding a public meeting this Thursday night (29th March) in Wynn's Hotel on Abbey Street in Dublin's City Centre at 7pm. Economist Michael Taft from the union UNITE will be speaking, as will historian and author Conor McCabe (who, incidentally, will also be a panelist on tonight's #VinB show talking about the Mahon Tribunal report). During the January event McCabe gave an excellent overview of the property crash and NAMA's involvement in continuing to fuel rampant speculation in this post-crash period, and is always an entertaining speaker. Michael Taft is one of the foremost voices of progressive economic dissent (along with Tom McDonnell of TASC), and is always a great source of hard numbers analysis for refuting the governmental mantra of "there is no alternative", and as the evening's main speaker will be talking on 'The Politics of Debt'.

Folks from #UnlockNAMA will also be on hand to talk about their own ongoing campaign aimed at opening up NAMA through increased transparency, and allowing the citizenry greater access to the assets that they have paid for by making NAMA properties available for social and community use. If you want to know more about the reality behind NAMA, and what you can do to oppose it, do come along.

If you can't be there most likely I will be sending tweets from the event (follow me @unkiedave), while hoping to avoid another live perp walk on RTE.

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