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Showing posts from October, 2008

Lufthansa charges Irish residents more!

I had an unusual experience this week trying to book a flight from Munich to Madrid with Lufthansa. I thought it was a bit silly that a one way ticket cost about ten times the price of a return, but the return was so cheap that I didn't mind so much.

I went to the Lufthansa website and selected English as my language choice and didn't pay too much attention to the country selection. I chose my flights and went to pay. On entering my credit card details I was told I had to start again because I was in Ireland but I had said at the front page that I was in Germany. I found it very inconvenient to have to start all over again.

I was startled to see that as a resident of Ireland I had to pay more for the same flights. And in addition to this, the days on which the best fares were available varied also.

I contacted Lufthansa and after some initial very shabby customer service I found out that Lufthansa charges residents of different countries different prices. Some of this may well…

Idealism is not naivety

I went to, what I thought would be my last, meeting of the Progressive Democrats tonight. However, it now seems likely that the party will continue after its leader and its Oireachtas members have abandoned ship. I don't blame them for doing a runner. The Irish electorate has never rewarded straight talking. It has never rewarded people who put the country before their party and before their own political futures. The PD brand is hugely unpopular and most who run for office as a PD will not have a snowball's chance in hell of being elected.

The party leader wants to give the party a decent burial before he goes to Fine Gael. I guess he hopes the party's epitaph will list all the things the party did for Ireland and will honour its legacy. It may in time. It the short term all it will say is The going got tough. So the PDs took their ball and went home.

I believe that Ireland needs a party that is prepared to stand up to vested interests (in the private AND public sector), …

My Pre-Budget Submission

Dear Brians

Youze are muppets. Your policy of propping up your buddies in the building industry with tax breaks and incentives so that prices would keep going up has failed. Property in Ireland is over-priced. Some people paid too much for their homes (probably I did). The economy is slowing down, and house prices, if left to their own devices, will fall further. The bubble has burst. So just deal with it.

Please do not come up with some hair-brained scheme to distort the market even further just so you can prop up house prices a little bit longer. Any proposal that makes a distinction between new and second-hand properties will be a transparent attempt to keep the developers happier a bit longer.

The people of Ireland need to be cured of their obsession with property. 25-year-olds do not need to own their own homes. Renting is perfectly respectable. Borrowing 10-times one's annual salary is just thick.

Any further attempts to keep on the good side of the property developers will …

Why foreign banks should not avail of Republic of Ireland guarantees

A number of non-Irish banks operating in the Irish market have expressed concern that they are at a competitive disadvantage because the state guarantee on bank deposits and debts does not apply to them. They are right to be concerned. No sane Irish depositor would leave their money in a non-Irish bank where they would risk losing it, when they could easily move it to an Irish bank where it would be safe.

However the Financial Regulator of Ireland has the power to regulate only Irish banks. RaboBank, for example, is regulated by the Dutch Financial Regulator. If RaboBank was behaving recklessly or improperly the Irish regulator would be powerless to act. So I think it is very reasonable that the guarantee apply only top those banks over which the state has some control.

Once again the Irish have pissed off Sarkozy, this time by ruining his planned EU-wide guarantee. However I think this was always a bad idea, again because of very national nature of the regulators. I would not like EU…

Irish Solution to a Global Problem

The Irish government's guarantee of deposits and debts issued by Irish banks puts the US bailout in the ha'penny place when considered on a a per capita basis. My personal share seems to be about €100 000. Of course the risk being taken with Irish taxpayers' money isn't as great as the risk in the U.S. I don't expect the U.S. tax payers to ever see much of their money again.

What amazes is the interconnectedness of the money markets. The Irish guarantee has seen an unanticipated rush of capital into Irish banks, especially in the U.K. where one can simply walk in to a branch. This is causing a knock-on crisis there and across Europe.

There's a very interesting article on the Irish Times website.