Saturday, June 6, 2009

Ireland’s contrasting economic spectrum

bank of ireland The Bank of Ireland has published its annual report for the year ended 31 March 2009.  This shows that while the Bank lost €7 million and has impaired loans of over €1.51 billion, that directors’ emoluments exceeded €8.68 million, split between 7 executive directors and 10 non-executive directors. 

The report advises that these emoluments are calculated using a ‘suite of tools’.  Directors’ emoluments in 2008, when the Bank made a profit of €1.84 billion and had an impaired loan charge of a mere €232 million, were €10.73 million. The share price and market capitalisation of Bank of Ireland on 31 March 2008, was €9.42 and €942 million and it had a 12.6% ISEQ weighting.   Brian Goggin was CEO since 2005

The share price and market capitalisation of Bank of Ireland on 31 March 2009 was €0.50 and €502 million and it had a1.8% ISEQ weighting.  Richie Boucher was recently appointed CEO then and his tenure continues. His very own Retail Division is responsible for €708 million of the group impairment charge.  The total value of impaired loans has increased from €1,062 million to €5,322 million, of which €3,538 million is attributable to property and construction.

This outcome is the culmination of an orgy of lending by the Bank to the property development sector.  The head of the Retail Division, African-born Boucher, sought to emulate the sure-footed, inspired ‘golden touch’ and prowess of Anglo Irish Bank and its then Chairman, Sean FitzPatrick in the jungle of the property sector, a jungle that was based on young, working people buying modest homes in distant locations for up to 15 times their household income.

The people of Ireland, through the Government, invested €3.5 billion last February to shore up the Tier 1 capital at Bank of Ireland, a decision that was overwhelmingly approved by the dividend-deprived  stockholders last March.

YE 31 March



Staff costs



Staff numbers



Average pay




The current Governor, Richard Burrow, a man of impeccable sense, is to vacate this role and acknowledges that “accountability for these losses must be taken at the top”.  But since Bank of Ireland is not a one-man show, who else comprises “the top”? 

Burrows advises that Bank of Ireland is working to restore the trust of customers, stockholders and the public in general.  The votes are being counted today in the nation’s local, European and by-elections after which a new panel of politicians will have received a mandate from voters.  There is no comparable scope for society to confer a mandate on institutions and individuals’ in charge of them whose decisions have an enormous bearing the lives and wellbeing of thousands of citizens.  Perhaps there is scope for a doctoral thesis to analyse and explain this.

Taxpayers’ need look back no further than the consequences of the half-year results announcement at Anglo Irish Bank -  and an immediate requirement for €4.5 billion for an illustration of this.  It will be interesting to observe the progress of the ‘trust restoration process’ in the country’s ‘systemically important banks’ and what ‘suite of tools’ and ‘suite of clichés’ will be deployed by these people with the strange sounding accents and ‘scared rabbit staring vacantly at the headlights’ demeanour.

The consequences of the lousy management of the appalling management and this bank and all of the other covered institutions (that is, Irish banks eligible for a State bail out because the Government deems them to be of systemic importance) has resulted in record numbers entering the Live Register.


  Live Register Seasonally Adjusted < 25 years old
May 2008 201,756 207,000 42,730 (21%)
May 2009 396,871 402,100 84,488 (21%)
YOY Increase +195,115 (96%) +195,100 41,758


The loss of 58 jobs in the Bank cannot blamed for the record increase in the numbers on the Live Register.  This is not a measure of unemployment because it includes individuals working a 3-day week and casual and part-timer workers who are eligible for welfare benefits.

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