Maeve Dineen: A few pointers to help get this ailing nation back on track
Out with the old and in with the new. We've slammed the door on 2010 -- a year few of us will be sad to see the back of; full of bankruptcies, bailouts, bank nationalisations, and rocketing borrowings.
As austerity tightens its thorny grip, it promises to be another tough 12 months when spending cuts and tax hikes take hold. So here are a few suggestions to some of the movers and shakers in the business world, for new year resolutions to make 2011 a little happier and more prosperous for all of us.
Enough is enough. We've bailed you all out at this stage. Halt your threats and turn on the charm. Hiking mortgage interest rates (EBS) and introducing current account fees (BoI) days before Christmas is lousy practice. We've heard enough of your nonsense and lies.
The face of Irish banking is going to change dramatically this year. The six main banks will probably become three. It's time you all change as well. If you want an end to "banker bashing", switch tactics. Explain how you're helping business to grow. And for goodness' sake -- start lending and listening to your customers.
Show us the lessons that you've learnt from the credit crunch. Tell us why we should love bankers.
And do all this. . . nicely.
A new year -- another corner to turn?
Thanks to the rushed credit institution bill, you are now one of the most powerful finance ministers in the world. So start acting like it. The need for restructuring of the banks was foreseen two years ago, but instead you were busy giving them all a blanket guarantee.
Knock institutions together, sell some off and change the system; eyeball the bondholders. Just do it. And please give us a report into the banking crisis that names and shames people. Don't fudge it with some silly rhetoric claiming that it was the systems and not the people that were responsible for our banking crisis. We all know who were responsible -- but we want you to name them.
In 2007, when Ryanair launched its first bid for Aer Lingus, the Government's stake was worth more than €350m. Now it's worth closer to €150m.
With the Government feverishly looking to sell off state assets, its stake in Aer Lingus is on the block. This is your moment, Mr O'Leary. If you succeed, be sure to do it with your trademark modesty.
Admit it, Ms Merkel, Portugal will be the next to tap up the IMF/EU bailout fund (and it will get a better deal than us).
Speculators will then zone in on Spain, Italy and Belgium, with bond yields rising sharply. But when France comes into the frame, things will really pick up speed.
Concentrate on making the euro work. A collapse of the single currency could tip chunks of Europe into a depression.
Resist the temptation to make caustic remarks about bailing out your neighbours. Germany is expected to take the lead on policy in the euro-zone, and when dealing with the debt crisis, that leadership has sometimes been lacking.
Show some humility. Ground the helicopter, keep the Maybach in the garage and face up to your responsibilities. Accept that you are a central part of the Irish banking crisis.
Sending in unrealistic business plans to NAMA where you seek up to €1m of a salary will get you nowhere. Every country needs developers and some of you may rise again, but until then keep the head down.
Keep after the developers and go after the so-called NAMA spouses. Show your teeth. Start off-loading some of its €80bn in property loans this year.
Yes, you are probably better off selling assets in the US and UK but get the show on the road -- you have a lot of property to flog off. If you don't, Michael Somers will keep telling everyone that it's not working.
And the rest
Some more that can be summed up in a few words. Patrick Honohan: keep up the good work. Bertie: stop smirking. Economists: think before you predict. Consumers: have faith. Bank bondholders: don't hold your breath. Michael Fingleton: give back the bonus. David Drumm: grow a pair; come back from the US and face the music.