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Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger
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Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger [Format Kindle]

Fintan O'Toole
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

Between 1995 and 2007, the Republic of Ireland was the worldwide model of successful adaptation to economic globalisation. The success story was phenomenal: a doubling of the workforce; a massive growth in exports; a GDP that was substantially above the EU average. Ireland became the world's largest exporter of software and manufactured the world's supply of Viagra. The factors that made it possible for Ireland to become prosperous - progressive social change, solidarity, major State investment in education, and the critical role of the EU - were largely ignored as too sharply at odds with the dominant free market ideology. The Irish boom was shaped instead into a simplistic moral tale of the little country that discovered low taxes and small government and prospered as a result. There were two big problems. Ireland acquired a hyper-capitalist economy on the back of a corrupt, dysfunctional political system. And the business class saw the influx of wealth as an opportunity to make money out of property. Aided by corrupt planning and funded by poorly regulated banks, an unsustainable property-led boom gradually consumed the Celtic Tiger. This is, as Fintan O'Toole writes, 'a good old-fashioned jeremiad about the bastards who got us into this mess'. It is an entertaining, passionate story of one of the most ignominious economic reversals in recent history.

Biographie de l'auteur

Fintan O'Toole is a columnist and critic for the Irish Times. He was elected Irish Journalist of the Year in 1993 and was a drama critic for the New York Daily News from 1997-2001. The author of several previous books, he is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, Granta, and other publications. He currently lives in Dublin.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 453 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 243 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0571252680
  • Editeur : Faber & Faber Non Fiction (3 décembre 2009)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0571260756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571260751
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  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°168.438 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
5.0 étoiles sur 5 excellent 27 octobre 2010
The book is a damning indictment of the mismanagement of Ireland's "Celtic Tiger" economy. I have read several books about the global financial crash but most are very dry and/or full of economics/City jargon. O'Toole's journalistic skills have ensured that this important story is told in layman's language and is eminently readable. I found it "unputdownable" and finished the book in 2 days.
This should be a text book, both for economists and oversight authorities as it the case study of what happens when the market is allowed to dominate the thinking of weak-minded politicians.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.6 étoiles sur 5  18 commentaires
19 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Riveting and profoundly depressing 12 mars 2010
Par David M. Giltinan - Publié sur
"The role of sheer idiocy should not be understated. As finance minister, Charlie McCreevy's credo was a textbook statement of macroeconomic illiteracy: 'When I have the money, I spend it, when I don't have it, I don't spend it'. This childish mantra, ... obliterating at a stroke everything that governments worldwide had learned about the need to restrain a runaway economy by spending less and boost a flagging economy by spending more, was the economic equivalent of bulimia: binge and purge, binge and purge".

As the Celtic tiger lies puking feebly into the gutter, surrounded by the debris caused by the bursting of one of the worst real-estate bubbles on record, the Irish economic boom has come to a painful, screeching halt. By August 2009, the month when the Irish prime minister finally dropped his "Celtic tiger as a template for economic development" speech from his speaking portfolio, the level of debt among Irish households was the highest in the EU, GDP was predicted to shrink by 13.5 percent in 2009 and 2010, Government debt had almost doubled in the preceding year. With a fifth of its office spaces empty, Dublin had the highest vacancy rate of any European capital and was rated as having the worst development and investment potential of 27 European cities. The Irish stock exchange had fallen by 68% in 2008....

The litany of depressing statistics goes on. In this book, Fintan O'Toole, a political commentator and columnist for The Irish Times, sets out in chilling detail the particular combination of factors that led to such a catastrophic end to Ireland's economic boom. Chief among them are:

* the enduring failure of successive governments to enact anything even remotely resembling regulatory controls on the banking and financial sectors
* a culture of cronyism and turning a blind eye to financial malfeasance of the most blatant kind - even when the taking of kickbacks by those in office was established beyond doubt by several investigative tribunals, penalties were nugatory to non-existent
* the Ahern government's continued feeding of the construction bubble through the creation of ever-more ridiculous tax incentives
* failure to invest profits during the boom years in areas that might provide long-term stability, such as infrastructure and higher education (probably the most depressing part of O'Toole's litany of governmental ineptness is the section that documents the abysmal ranking of Irish graduates in the areas of computer science and information technology)

Even though I've lived outside of the country for the last 30 years, I'm still an Irish citizen, and I found this book thoroughly depressing. O'Toole's jeremiad is not particularly well-written - one senses it was written in haste, and the editing is remarkably sloppy. Writing style may have fallen victim to his passion at times; nonetheless, he paints a picture which is quite clear and thoroughly depressing. I'd like to think that those shown to be particularly venal will pay the price -- I don't need Fintan O'Toole to tell me that this is altogether unlikely.

This will be of interest to anyone with some connection to Ireland, probably not all that interesting to anyone else.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Scathing study of the Irish 'boom' and bust 14 avril 2011
Par William Podmore - Publié sur
Fintan O'Toole, historian, biographer, critic and journalist with the Irish Times, has written a brilliant account of the Irish boom and bust.

The boom only lasted from 1995 to 2001, then productivity and export growth both fell. Yet as late as February 2008, Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond promised, "we will create a Celtic Lion economy to rival the Celtic Tiger across the Irish Sea."

Ireland's household and company debt was the highest in the EU, 1.1 trillion euros, while (some) Irish owned 1.3 trillion euros worth of foreign portfolio asset securities. Between 2004 and 2007, the richest 450 people added 41 billion euros to their combined wealth, often from the huge windfall profits of selling land for building.

Ireland was more dependent on foreign investment for its manufacturing base than any other country. Most foreign investment went into the finance sector. By 2005, Dublin's International Financial Services Centre accounted for 75 per cent of all the foreign investment in Ireland.

The idiotic notion was that "Consumption would replace production. Building would replace manufacture as the engine of growth." Between 2000 and 2008 capital stock rose 157 per cent - but this was mostly housing bubble: private sector productive capital stock rose by only 26 per cent.

The Irish people kept on voting for and electing those who blew up the bubble - who also turned out to be tax-cheating liars, convicted fraudsters and receivers of bribes. The people re-elected Bertie Ahern prime minister even though he had admitted being on the take.

The Irish Central Bank and the Department of Finance knew about the widespread crimes of tax evasion and fraud committed by politicians and bankers and did nothing to stop it. They ignored the huge criminal conspiracy involving Ireland's top politician Charlie Haughey with his 45 million euro fortune.

After the crash, the government put 54 billion euros into Ireland's banks, without imposing on them any obligation to lend. The state took on 77 billion in loans, including 40 billion of Anglo Irish's loans, only 11 per cent of which was business banking; the other 89 per cent was bubble-based - in property and building. The government saved Ponzi banks and wrote off useful banks, like Postbank with its 170,000 customers.

Ireland needs investment in people - in industry, health, education, childcare and affordable housing. But the government is slashing wages, welfare spending and investment, worsening the crisis. And it is blaming public sector workers `to distract attention from the main source of our economic woes', as the government's chief economic adviser Alan Ahearne admitted.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 ship of fools 21 décembre 2010
Par tom patrick - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
perhaps the definitive explanation for the collapse of the Irish Economic Boom of the nineties and first decade of this century. O'Toole does more than expose the doomed banking policies that fed an elite circle of real estate developers and speculators, he puts it in the context of the Irish cultural psyche, a collective consciousness or unconciousness shaped by an history of oppression, famine and emigration. Insightful account that pulls no punches.
9 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 It's not just Ireland . . . . . 1 janvier 2010
Par Theodore A. Rushton - Publié sur

This is a magnificent description of past, present and future housing collapses. Change "Ireland" to "Phoenix" and change the names of the greedy, and it applies to Arizona. Likewise for every locale with a housing crisis. O'Toole is a masterful observor of the human folly that leads to ruinous speculation; it's a delight to read on that level alone.

Why do such collapses occur?

Any mother can explain it, in their answer to a child who wants to do something "because everyone else is doing it." Mom replies, "If all your friends were to jump off a bridge, would you do it too?" The answer is supposed to be, "Well . . . No." But, consider the logic: If everyone does it, then it must be fun, easy and safe. Left on their own, bankers revised this "monkey see, monkey do" reasoning to "banker see, banker do" logic.

As a banker once explained to me, "If the bank down the street is making this type of loan, then we must match them or do even better."

It's the nature of a competitive economy. You don't win if rivals out-compete you. Children are inveterate competitors; but, they play by rules and regulations. 'Lord of the Flies' speculates on what happens when children have no rules; perhaps we now need 'Flies of the Bankers.'

This book fits the bill nicely.

What happens when common sense is not applied? Consider Tiger Woods as someone who thought he was above the usual rules of marriage. Alan Greenspan, to his eventual sorrow, thought the financial community could restrain itself. Canada understands government exists to restrain irrational exuberance.

O'Toole details the results of builders and bankers allowed to compete with almost no rules, thanks to deregulation. It's not just Ireland or Arizona, it's human nature. When the housing market collapses, bankers picture themselves as victims rather than perpetrators; as victims, they have no sense of social responsibility. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, "Bankers are like babies. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other."

It's why babies are handled very carefully . . . at both ends. Bankers need the same handling. No such care was provided for bankers, builders or politicians. O'Toole has written a magnificent account of how people destroy themselves by not knowing when to say "enough."
8 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Padded 30 avril 2010
Par Brian G. Ruschel - Publié sur
This book has some interesting nuggets but is padded beyond belief. 3/4 easily could be eliminated from the 226 pages of text. And it appears to be just a bunch of recounting of generalized things like what one would have read in Irish newspapers. (The author points out, "Since this book is intended as a polemical, rather than a historical or academic work, it does not have an apparatus of references and footnotes" and admits that, "All of the facts and statistics . . . are . . . easily available on line [from various government and other sources]" and, "References to contemporary events are drawn from the archives of the Irish Times, the Sunday Tribune, the Sunday Business Post, the Irish Independent, the Sunday Independent and the Irish Mail on Sunday.") Also, it's irritating to read a recounting of something "bad" that happened in Ireland, but the author always needs to add some semi-clever, witty, "summary" sentence just to sum up what was just said. Here is a randam example from p. 130 of the pure padding (and painful reading) that is representative of the whole book:

"Any urge to beef up regulation after the DIRT and Ansbacher scandals was outweighed by the belief that the Irish tradition of looking the other way while banks passed funny money around was actually an economic asset. Ethitical banking went global. While the embodiment of Irish banking culture has been the bogus non-resident, now it became the bogus resident. The unreality of Irish people pretending to be elsewhere was replaced by the unreality of foreign people pretending to be in Ireland."
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