Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bread and Games - Soon to be Minus the Bread

Last night, Ireland shuffled down another step on the slow descent into financial Hades, as Standard & Poor's cut our credit rating from AA to AA -. Despite the fact that the rating agencies seem to base their grading system on the Sports Day awards ceremony of a Junior Infants class (Ah, the memories! "Don't cry Aitor, you get the "Good Hustle" Trophy for trying your best!), the - (minus) in Ireland's rating is more telling than the somewhat empty AA.

I can't really pretend to know how this whole bond market thingy-majig works, but what I can tell you is that this latest downgrade means the cost of Ireland's bank bailout will probably rise from €30-35 bn to €45-50 bn.

As you can imagine, this is the story on everyone's lips.

Right behind the Rose of Tralee winner.

And the stupid cat-in-a-bin story in England.

And the obviously pressing national importance of Senator Ivor Callely's resignation from Fianna Fail following chronic address amnesia.

But after those stories, everyone is talking about it.

If only: it barely featured on Tonight with Vincent Browne last night, and was given a passing mention on the RTE news this morning. It was left in the dust as "the most texted about news story" on Newstalk (admittedly, it is on the front page of the Independent).

No one here seems ready to admit that Ireland is on a serious hiding to nowhere. We have not turned a corner, reached the bottom, or started the recovery.The people of this island go about their daily lives, grumbling about the extra taxes they have to pay, or the decrease in services, without ever asking: " Who is responsible? And what can I do to change things?" They go on expecting that things are going to get better, when they are just about to turn infinitesimally worse.

Occasionally, the more volatile citizens will phone Liveline, where there anger can be carefully managed before being dismissed by the state broadcaster.

But that's it - a few angry words over a greedy Senator, some hysterical caterwauling over a cat. The slow dissolution of Ireland's financial reputation, and our stamping with the label of "Top-European Debt Monkey" - that's a little hard to follow. There's too many distractions, too many pop news stories that catch the eye; the bread and games are too enticing.

Only problem is that, soon, our Irish Caesars won't be able to give us any bread. And, to strangle the metaphor further, we will have fiddled while they let Rome burn.

No comments:

Post a Comment