Tuesday, 28 October 2014

SHORT HISTORY OF THE PROMISSORY NOTES




2009/2010: Two non-systemic Irish banks are insolvent, need €31bn to bail out their creditors, most of whom are from overseas. The ECB, fearing contagion across the eurozone if they're allowed collapse, by-passes its own regulations on funding insolvent banks by accepting as collateral Promissory Notes signed by then Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. The money is created.

Legally questionable (at best, which is what the Joan Collins TD Supreme Court case is about), morally reprehensible, it served its purpose, prevented the possible collapse of those massive banks in Europe, possibly saved the euro itself.

2011: The EU/EC/ECB, insisting the books must be balanced, calls in the Promissory Notes. The money was created, those banks didn't have the assets, Ireland must now take that €31bn back out of circulation. We don't have that kind of money (obviously!) so we borrow it and that March, in almost its first official act, the new Fine Gael/Labour government destroyed the first tranche, €3.1bn.

Despite propaganda to the contrary ('Oh, the bank-debt is a dead issue!'), that process is still ongoing. The way it works is this:

Our National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) issues sovereign bonds from which it raises money for the national purse. Over the last few years, with interest rates so low, it's been building up a war-chest amounting to several billion. We're paying interest on those bonds and on their due date (when they reach 'maturity') we pay back the entire principal.

In 2014, the NTMA used €1bn of that money to 'cancel' two €500m Promissory Note bonds held by the Central Bank - in plain language, that billion was destroyed, to go with the €3bn in 2011.

In 2015, the NTMA used €2bn of that borrowed money to 'cancel' a further four €500m Promissory Note bonds - again, that money was destroyed.

The Central Bank is still holding approximately €25bn in Promissory Note bonds, awaiting the same fate. This is what Joan Collins is trying to stop, continuing an action started by David Hall. This is what the Ballyhea Says No campaign has been about. It's a must-win war.

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