kottke.org posts about Ireland

The Celtic Paper TigerFeb 16 2011

Michael Lewis continues his tour of economic disasters -- he wrote about Greece and Iceland for Vanity Fair and wrote an entire book on the US subprime mess -- with a piece on Ireland and the country's spectacular rise in becoming Europe's mightiest economic engine and even steeper fall to third-world economic mess.

Even in an era when capitalists went out of their way to destroy capitalism, the Irish bankers set some kind of record for destruction. Theo Phanos, a London hedge-fund manager with interests in Ireland, says that "Anglo Irish was probably the world's worst bank. Even worse than the Icelandic banks."

Ireland's financial disaster shared some things with Iceland's. It was created by the sort of men who ignore their wives' suggestions that maybe they should stop and ask for directions, for instance. But while Icelandic males used foreign money to conquer foreign places -- trophy companies in Britain, chunks of Scandinavia -- the Irish male used foreign money to conquer Ireland. Left alone in a dark room with a pile of money, the Irish decided what they really wanted to do with it was to buy Ireland. From one another. An Irish economist named Morgan Kelly, whose estimates of Irish bank losses have been the most prescient, made a back-of-the-envelope calculation that puts the losses of all Irish banks at roughly 106 billion euros. (Think $10 trillion.) At the rate money currently flows into the Irish treasury, Irish bank losses alone would absorb every penny of Irish taxes for at least the next three years.

In recognition of the spectacular losses, the entire Irish economy has almost dutifully collapsed. When you fly into Dublin you are traveling, for the first time in 15 years, against the traffic. The Irish are once again leaving Ireland, along with hordes of migrant workers. In late 2006, the unemployment rate stood at a bit more than 4 percent; now it's 14 percent and climbing toward rates not experienced since the mid-1980s. Just a few years ago, Ireland was able to borrow money more cheaply than Germany; now, if it can borrow at all, it will be charged interest rates nearly 6 percent higher than Germany, another echo of a distant past. The Irish budget deficit -- which three years ago was a surplus -- is now 32 percent of its G.D.P., the highest by far in the history of the Eurozone. One credit-analysis firm has judged Ireland the third-most-likely country to default. Not quite as risky for the global investor as Venezuela, but riskier than Iraq. Distinctly Third World, in any case.

This article about tracing American slang wordsNov 09 2007

This article about tracing American slang words to their Gaelic roots seemed interesting at first but by the end I was wondering what the odds were that so many slang words came from Ireland. By chance shortly after I finished the article, Grant Barrett emailed me a piece he wrote in response to the article and its subject, Daniel Cassidy.

Cassidy's theories are insubstantial, his evidence inconclusive, his conclusions unlikely, his Gaelic atrocious and even factitious, and his scholarship little better than speculation. In short, his book is preposterous.

Dingle's name change from its English nameSep 06 2005

Dingle's name change from its English name to the now-official Gaelic one (An Daingean) is messing with the Dingle brand...opponents to the change say that the tourists, upon which Dingle depends, are gonna get confused.

"Ireland today is the richest country inJun 30 2005

"Ireland today is the richest country in the European Union after Luxembourg". Ireland "today has a per capita G.D.P. higher than that of Germany, France and Britain".

A guide for the un-initated to buyingJun 09 2005

A guide for the un-initated to buying Guinness in an Irish pub.

Tags related to Ireland:
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