Ship Of Fools

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Overview

The most spectacular bust of the global financial crisis was not the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers or the near-collapse of AIG but the demise of the entire economy of Ireland. Ship of Fools, a gripping financial morality tale, is both a coruscating analysis of the habits of the last decade and a warning for all time. The death of the Celtic tiger is not an extinction event to trouble naturalists. There was, in fact, nothing natural about this tiger. The ''Irish Economic miracle'' was built on good old-fashioned ...
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Overview

The most spectacular bust of the global financial crisis was not the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers or the near-collapse of AIG but the demise of the entire economy of Ireland. Ship of Fools, a gripping financial morality tale, is both a coruscating analysis of the habits of the last decade and a warning for all time. The death of the Celtic tiger is not an extinction event to trouble naturalists. There was, in fact, nothing natural about this tiger. The ''Irish Economic miracle'' was built on good old-fashioned subsidies (from the European Union) and the simple fact that until the 1980s Ireland was by the standards of the developed world so economically backward that the only way was up. And as it began to catch up to European and American averages, the boom lured in investors, the Irish government deregulated and all but abandoned financial oversight, and a great Irish financial ceilidh began. It would last for a decade. When the global financial crash of 2008 arrived it struck Ireland harder than anywhere. Among the avalanche of statistics - as toxic as the property-based assets that lay beneath many of them - none was more revealing than that Ireland's bad bank, the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA) held more (worthless) assets than any publicly quoted property company in the world, dwarfing giants such as GE Capital Real Estate and Morgan Stanley Real Estate. Under all the debris lay the corpse of the Celtic Tiger. How Ireland managed to achieve such a spectacular implosion is a stunning story of corruption, carelessness, and venality, told with passion and fury by one of Ireland's most respected journalists and commentators.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A fascinating and deeply shocking account of the recent financial collapse of Ireland’s economy. Writing in stridently polemical tones, prominent Irish journalist O’Toole (White Savage) blends strong reportage with perceptive cultural analysis to produce a disturbing account of how politicians, property developers, and business elite, through a mixture of corruption, feckless deregulation, and plain incompetence, reaped enormous financial gain at a cost of billions to the Irish taxpayer. Tracing Ireland’s indulgent attitude toward political corruption and sleaze from the 1970s to the present, the author outlines various financial scandals, including institutionalized tax evasion and the role of unscrupulous and unethical businessmen in the creation of an unsustainable property bubble, the bursting of which has inflicted serious damage on the economy. Occasionally, the author’s rhetorical excesses irritate, and the book’s focus on analysis rather than any chronological development of events may leave some readers confused. The book’s conclusions are highly provocative, however, such as the remarkable suggestion that Catholic Ireland’s obsession with the body as the locus of sin hindered the development of any genuine sense of social morality. An absorbing indictment of unregulated, free-market capitalism. (Mar.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781458758590
  • Publisher: ReadHowYouWant, LLC
  • Publication date: 8/16/2010
  • Pages: 340
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.71 (d)

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  • Posted April 14, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Scathing account of the Irish bust

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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