Friday 28 October 2016

Meeting Troika was utterly valueless - Begg

Clodagh Sheehy

Published 23/07/2015 | 02:30

David Begg: former ICTU chief
David Begg: former ICTU chief

Former ICTU general secretary David Begg described meetings with the Troika as a "dispiriting experience and utterly valueless".

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Mr Begg, who is also a former non-executive director of the Central Bank, added: "My impression of the Troika was of an uncaring technocracy of neo-liberal zealots devoid of empathy".

However, Mr Begg did point out that during the quarterly meetings he attended with the Troika, the IMF representatives "were more reasonable, which was a surprise to me".

Mr Begg had earlier criticised the splitting of the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator into a "dual pillar structure" and said this, combined with light-touch regulation of the banks, were "two crucial policy errors". These errors, he said, increased the impact of the global financial crisis for Ireland.

The Financial Stability reports, said Mr Begg, identified the risks correctly but "assumed too much about the soundness of the banks as the Central Bank no longer had a direct line of sight on what was happening in the banking sector".

He said while a soft landing might have been possible up to the Lehman Brothers collapse, it was not possible afterwards.

Mr Begg added: "We were seriously exposed in the banking sector and we didn't know it."


Meanwhile, another witness told the Banking Inquiry that the banks got "way ahead of themselves and became extremely arrogant".

Fergus Murphy, the former head of the Educational Building Society, said he believed, however, that with the right culture, they could bring financial services "back to a more respectable space".

Mr Murphy believed that the banking system reliance on wholesale funding combined with property exposure proved to be a critical weakness.

He said the backdrop for the financial crisis was set internationally but Ireland was responsible for its own economies.

The scale of the crisis, however, would not have been so large had it not been for the international aspect.

Irish Independent

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