Saturday, February 05, 2011

Importance of the appointments process

A memorable passage from When Irish eyes are crying, the story of Ireland's economic disaster by Michael Lewis, in Vanity Fair:

...the dominant narrative inside the head of the average Irish citizen -- and his receptiveness to the story Kelly was telling -- changed at roughly 10 o'clock in the evening on October 2, 2008. On that night, Ireland's financial regulator, a lifelong Central Bank bureaucrat in his 60s named Patrick Neary, came live on national television to be interviewed. The interviewer sounded as if he had just finished reading the collected works of Morgan Kelly. Neary, for his part, looked as if he had been dragged from a hole into which he badly wanted to return. He wore an insecure little mustache, stammered rote answers to questions he had not been asked, and ignored the ones he had been asked.

A banking system is an act of faith: it survives only for as long as people believe it will. Two weeks earlier the collapse of Lehman Brothers had cast doubt on banks everywhere. Ireland?s banks had not been managed to withstand doubt; they had been managed to exploit blind faith. Now the Irish people finally caught a glimpse of the guy meant to be safeguarding them: the crazy uncle had been sprung from the family cellar. Here he was, on their televisions, insisting that the Irish banks were ``resilient'' and ``more than adequately capitalized'' ... when everyone in Ireland could see, in the vacant skyscrapers and empty housing developments around them, evidence of bank loans that were not merely bad but insane. ``What happened was that everyone in Ireland had the idea that somewhere in Ireland there was a little wise old man who was in charge of the money, and this was the first time they'd ever seen this little man,'' says McCarthy. ``And then they saw him and said, Who the fuck was that??? Is that the fucking guy who is in charge of the money??? That's when everyone panicked.''

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please note: Comments are moderated; I will delete comments that misbehave. The rules are as follows. Only civilised conversation is permitted on this blog. Criticising me is perfectly okay; uncivilised language is not. I delete any comment which is spam, has personal attacks against anyone, or uses foul language.