Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

UGANDA: OPPOSITION LEADER IN COURT ON TREASON CHARGES

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Istanbul's Suffering in the Shadows?

Read more

THE DEBATE

Turkey targeted: Islamic State Group blamed for Istanbul attack (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Turkey targeted: Terror attack coincides with foreign policy pivot (part 2)

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

" We have a lot that we can do together to make Middle East a better place"

Read more

FOCUS

Will Bolivia see a lithium boom?

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Child refugees: Inside Turkey's hidden sweatshops

Read more

ENCORE!

Film show: 'The Red Turtle', 'Camping 3' and 'The Balkan Trilogy'

Read more

FACE-OFF

After Brexit, is a Frexit possible?

Read more

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

FOCUS

FOCUS

Latest update : 2010-09-28

The bank that nearly brought down an economy

The collapse of Anglo Irish Bank is going to cost the Irish taxpayer up to 35 billion euros. What does this portend for the embattled Irish economy?

 

Can one bank bring down a country? In Ireland the situation is so serious that the whole of Europe has been asking just that.
 
A medium size lender, Anglo Irish Bank, collapsed when the property bubble burst two years ago and had to be nationalised. The bank has already cost the Irish taxpayer more than 25 billion euros.
 
Ireland has since been downgraded twice by credit rating agencies, and thanks to this bank it has the highest deficit in Europe at more than 20% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
 
Anglo Irish will be banned from new lending and split into a savings bank and an asset recovery vehicle in the medium term, in preparation for its closure. The heads of the bank and the Irish government had initially wanted to keep it half-open in order to try to save some of the assets, if and when the property market recovered.
 
But The European Commission said no: Anglo Irish Bank has to go as quickly as possible. Not only that, but the European commission is preparing this week to trigger the closure of another Irish bank in difficulty - Irish Nationwide Building Society. The government had to take a majority share in this smaller bank as well.
 
In fact, none of the Irish banks are immune from the crisis. The overall price of saving the banking system is likely to be around 90 billion euros, half of Ireland's GNP, Gross National Product. That's half of Ireland's wealth.
 
If Ireland was not a member of the EU and of the eurozone, it would have suffered a similar fate as Iceland - the country would be bankrupt.
 
Not risk free
 
Anglo Irish Bank has already cost the Irish taxpayer over 25 billion euros. Its final price tag is estimated to be around 30 to 35 billion euros and the precise figure will be known by next month, according to the Irish finance minister.
 
This uncertainty and the size of the bill are the causes of the markets' concern with Ireland.
 
The plan the government set in motion to wind down the bank should help reduce the fears of a financial meltdown, but the bill for Irish tax payers will nevertheless be enormous.
 
Within a year, they have already had to face pension levies, salary cuts, now probable tax rises, and their public services will be reduced to the bare minimum.
 
As for Europe, saving the Irish banking system is not risk-free. Interviewed by FRANCE 24, Alan Dukes, the chairman of Anglo Irish and former Finance Minister, admitted these were "unchartered waters" for banking and for Europe.
 
Mr Dukes stressed that Europe would have to "show solidarity" for many years with Ireland and Greece. Fortunately for the eurozone, unlike his Greek colleague, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen imposed immediate austerity measures and he also had a cash cushion available to oil the machinery of his country’s economy.

 

By Hervé AMORIC

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2016-06-29 Bolivia

Will Bolivia see a lithium boom?

One of the poorest South American countries is hoping to raise its fortunes. With the world's largest lithium reserves, Bolivia aims to become a top producer of the precious...

Read more

2016-06-28 France

France struggling to recruit prison imams

In today's edition we meet with a Muslim prison chaplain, an imam who visits French prisons in an effort to shield inmates from radical Islamism. Many observers accuse the...

Read more

2016-06-27 India

Drug dealers of hope: Activists fight for access to life-saving Hepatitis C cure

Hepatitis C, a liver disease, causes approximately 500,000 deaths every year. Luckily, there is a miracle cure patented by the American pharmaceutical giant Gilead. But for most...

Read more

2016-06-23 UK

Like it or not, immigration is Brexit's central topic

Immigration seems to be the most contentious topic in today's so-called "Brexit" referendum in the UK. A record number of people arrived in the UK in 2014, although bringing...

Read more

2016-06-22 UK

Brexit could lead to second Scottish independence referendum

With just one day to go before the UK's referendum on EU membership, we head to Scotland. Party leaders there support the "Remain" camp, and polls suggest most Scots will vote to...

Read more