Zombie banks are dragging Ireland into the ground : Guardian
24 Jan 2012
Coverage of a solidarity action by Debt Jubliee Campaign today
"Activists more accustomed to campaigning against the debts of countries like Zimbabwe, Egypt, Ecuador and Indonesia were instead outside the Irish embassy this morning. Dressed as zombies, we hoped to shed some light on the so-called "zombie banks" whose debts continue to drain resources from an Irish public sector that is being slashed to the bone.
Ireland's financial crisis has much in common with scores of countries across the developing world. The country has been brought to its knees by an enormous debt, which originated not with excessive public spending, but a footloose financial sector that gambled with the future of the country. Without so much as a vote, Ireland's people found themselves on the hook for tens of billions of euros of reckless investments.
The ultimate symbol of this form of crony capitalism in Ireland is Anglo Irish, the bank that started Ireland's slide into the abyss. Anglo Irish lent vast sums of money to fuel Ireland's property bubble, in the process making fortunes for rich speculators. Anglo is believed to have 15 customers who owe the bank more than €500m each.
When the bubble burst, the Irish government stepped in to underwrite the bank - ultimately being forced to nationalise it. This disastrous decision was not based on any assessment of the use of Anglo to the economy. Economics professor Morgan Kelly said at the time that Anglo - as well as Irish Nationwide, which was also brought into public ownership - "were purely conduits for property speculation. They fulfil no role in the Irish economy." He said it would be "better to incinerate €1.5bn than squander it on Anglo Irish Bank".