At around 40 percent of GDP, the cumulative cost of supporting the financial sector accounts for half of the sharp increase in net public debt in recent years.
That’s probably as close to saying “Basically they’d be OK if they weren’t a pit prop for Europe’s collapsing banking industry” as the IMF can allow itself to get.
On the bright side, people have finally been jailed over the billions that were ripped off the nation. Some of the bankers, right? Well no, some of the borrowers in fact. But it’s a start.
(Actually when I saw the headline “Sean Quinn’s son and nephew jailed for three months“, I assumed it was one person. Ours is not to question what goes on within a family.)
Sadly though the jail term is not for social larceny, but merely contempt of court. Which reminds me… Now cases are ongoing I probably need to scatter the word “allegedly” liberally through the following. But it seems that the Quinn family, having invested well but not wisely in the failed Anglo-Irish Bank, attempted to hide their assets from their creditors. Which, since the state has taken ownership of this mess, is us the taxpayers.
There was a stupid debate on the radio today, where a loyal follower of the Quinn camp came on to argue that the family was being persecuted. It’s too late to act like innocent dupes of the big bad bank though, when you’ve been caught trying to hide your money down the back of Russia.
It was a big bad bank however (allegedly, allegedly…), and the other recent good news from the fiduciary front is that Anglo’s erstwhile financial director has been charged with sixteen fraud offences. Sixteen. Imagine, a banker could actually go to jail.
But for how long? A friend of mine did an interesting calculation. A few months ago, someone received a six-year sentence for not paying VAT on the garlic he imported. Don’t say that’s harsh until you see some of the garlic we get in the shops; you’ll agree that hanging is too good for them. The penalty was so severe because the tax he evaded came to €1.6 million. Which establishes that sentences are proportional to how much you rip off the State. Interesting…
Six years for 1.6 million – that’s 3.75 years for each million off-ripped. Anglo’s greedy machinations cost the exchequer €47 billion (€30.6 billion + interest). So if his punishment is to be kept in line, he’ll have to go away for… 175,250 years.
Not to despair though. What with prison overcrowding he’ll probably be out in just a few thousand.