19 January 2009

The most depressing Day in the Year

This morning someone on the radio made the remark that January 19th is - apparently - "the most depressing day in the year". How they come to that conclusion I do not know, and it was not really explained on the programme either. These days many radio presenters have the habit of throwing in comments, remarks and statements that they have neither researched nor cross-checked.
On the other hand, there are countless statistics nowadays, about anything and everything. So it is quite possible that there is such a statistic and that it puts a black mark on this day - January 19th.

Whatever is the case, the stock brokers in Dublin must have been listening to the programme this morning. And they took it very seriously and decided to contribute to the day appropriately. Subsequently the value of Irish bank shares has dropped to another all-time low.
As I write this, shares in Allied Irish Bank (AIB) dropped by almost 52% to 70 cents, after slumping as much as 60% earlier. Bank of Ireland is down now 20% to 60 cents per share, which is already a recovered value from earlier falls of 47%. And Irish Life & Permanent, who own the permanent tsb bank, tumbled 32% to € 1.49.

Today's falls come in the wake of market suggestions that Bank of Ireland and AIB look unlikely to be able to raise extra cash from private investors to top up a proposed state investment in the banks.

It appears that a statement I made on the BBC's "Any Questions?" programme more than seven years ago was quite correct, and every day this becomes more obvious to everyone.
What I said - back in September 2001, shortly after the airborne terror attacks on New York and Washington - was this:
"It becomes quite clear that conventional capitalism as we know it does no longer work. There are people on this planet who - for whatever reason - no longer want to live and work, inspired by the chance to gain wealth and personal comfort, but prefer instead killing themselves, if they can do serious damage to the capitalist system in the process. This means that no business and no organisation that follows the traditional capitalist system alone will be save and successful in future."
There might well be people who heard my statement then and made changes to their lives and to their business, as I did myself. But the vast majority did not. In fact, here in Ireland the small class of really wealthy people took no notice of it at all, as they have never listened to anyone 'on the outside' ever. They just think that their wealth gives them complete immunity from the rest of the world.
For the past ten years they created an artificial bubble of social and financial illusions that puts the well-known story of The Emperor's New Clothes well into the shadows. In the process they have not only done great damage to themselves and their companies, but to the Irish nation as a whole. Now chicken are coming home to roost on an almost daily basis, and there is for now no end in sight.

As this is supposed to be "the most depressing day in the year", I will oblige and make another statement on this matter.
Not only does conventional capitalism as we know it no longer work in the face of fundamentalist terrorism that has no concern for human lives, it does also no longer work in a globalised world that allows banks to create and gamble with artificial money that does not exist, never will exist, and has no relation to any real values.

For thousands of years people used raw materials, produced something other people wanted, and sold it to them for a price higher than the costs of production. That way they made a profit, and this is the core of old-fashioned capitalism.
Nowadays more and more manufacturing - even the production of the most basic goods - is "outsourced" to low-wage economies, mostly in the Far East. Meanwhile here in the West our apparently so bright and clever people find it more suitable to concentrate on 'financial services', which means in plain English gambling with other people's money and getting paid huge bonuses for it, just like in any casino in Las Vegas. What they really are is not bright and clever at all, but greedy and stupid

If we keep this up and do not learn our economic lessons very quickly, capitalism in any form will cease to exist. Private enterprises and public services alike will collapse, and Ireland - together with many other countries, especially in the English-speaking world - will encounter a period of absolute anarchy, violence and destruction. What ever will emerge from that after some time is anyone's guess and unpredictable, even for someone with a good track record of correct predictions.

There is still time to get things right, but not a lot of it is left. Money and time are literally running out for Ireland. The only way to turn things around is a radical change of direction, under a strong leadership.

Well, perhaps that researcher quoted on the radio this morning was right after all and this is the most depressive day of the year...

The Emerald Islander

1 comment:

The Wild Goose said...

Maybe it is a depressing day, but I am really glad you are back. I have been missing your entries.

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