Open debate on paying the promissory notes - the long countdown

Tom McDonnell13/12/2012

Tom McDonnell: Various official sources (including Ministers) have been making the claim in recent days that the 2012 promissory note to the IBRC went unpaid. Sadly this is untrue.
The ECB insisted all along that it receive its ELA repayment from the IBRC on time on 31 March and this is exactly what happened. The repaid money was then destroyed/deleted/burned/expunged on time and as scheduled.

It is true that the money promised to the IBRC was initially paid to the zombie bank by the state-owned NAMA (in exchange for a 13 year government bond given to IBRC by the Irish State) rather than by the exchequer. Nevertheless it was paid using 'our' money - we own NAMA after all. Following a series of subsequent exchanges the bond is currently held by Bank of Ireland.

A slightly irritated ECB watching the shenanigans merely acknowledged that it got paid on time as expected and that it had observed certain transactions betwen various Irish state institutions.

That the promissory note was paid (by issuing a sovereign bond) is stated clearly in the Department of Finance's Medium Term Fiscal Statement. Much of the confusion may stem from the media's general failure to accurately report and explain what happened on 31 March - understandable given the byzantine nature of what occurred. Fortunately not everyone in civil society has been taken in by the official line. For example the Debt Justice Action group has a letter in today's Irish Times which draws attention to this issue.

The government's next payment to the IBRC will not be made for 108 days. There needs to be an open and honest public debate about the subsequent promissory note payments to the IBRC. All options have to be on the table.

Posted in: EconomicsBanking and financeFiscal policyBanking and finance

Tagged with: promissory notesECBIBRCdebt restructuring

Dr Tom McDonnell

McDonnell, Tom

Tom McDonnell is senior economist at the NERI and is responsible for among other things, NERI's analysis of the Republic of Ireland economy including risks, trends and forecasts. He specialises in economic growth theory, the economics of innovation, the Irish and European economies, and fiscal policy. He previously worked as an economist at TASC and before that was a lecturer in economics at NUI Galway and at DCU. He has also taught at Maynooth University.

Tom obtained his PhD in economics from NUI Galway.


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