independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

TH€ PUNT: Bitcoin not on banking radar

IT'S been dismissed as a Ponzi scheme and lauded as one of the greatest financial inventions.

Unlike conventional money and other digital currencies, Bitcoin runs through a peer-to-peer network, independent of central control.

Banking analysts and experts have warned that it is merely a craze, and those who have invested in it will likely lose out.

The new currency is not linked to any state or central bank and has been in existence since 2009. But interest has surged since the banking crisis in Cyprus, where tens of thousands of people will lose much of their savings.

But it doesn't appear to have flashed up on the radar of the finest minds in the Central Bank.

Asked if he had any concerns about it yesterday, Central Bank's chief economist Lars Frisell appeared slightly stumped, despite handling an array of questions on the economy with an impressive command.

"Hmm, good question. I haven't got around to doing it myself yet," he quipped.

"I don't have a view. I know it's a growing phenomenon, I'm not concerned so far myself, personally."

To be fair, you'd like to think that Central Bank economists have a few other more important issues on their minds at present.

Kingspan boss a voice of reason

KINGSPAN'S Gene Murtagh continues to be a voice of caution, and is living up to his views.

In its annual report, the building supplies firm reveals that Mr Murtagh's total pay package fell in 2012.

Don't worry, the outspoken chief executive still earned a healthy €1.38m last year, down from €1.39m in 2011. Mr Murtagh's business has continued to grow through the downturn, thanks to well-regarded products and a focus on exports.

The 40-something executive caused no end of consternation back in 2007 when, almost alone among Irish business leaders, he warned that the end of the boom was nigh.

In its latest annual report Kingspan says it has decided there would be no increases in the base salaries of its chief executive and chief financial officer – not because they are not performing but because of the ongoing wider economic uncertainty.

Mr Murtagh has not had a salary increase since 2008.

NAMA lands itself a top 'asset'

Well, at least we now know for sure that one person from IBRC has gotten a job at NAMA.

Oliver Ellingham, who served as a non-executive director on the board of the former Anglo Irish Bank until it was liquidated in February, has been appointed to the board of the toxic loans agency.

At a time when the IBRC staff are fighting their corner over redundancy payments, and with their future uncertain, at least someone linked to the defunct bank has been looked after.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan heaped praise on the former IBRC board member yesterday, noting his significant international experience at senior management and board level and skills that will make him an asset to the board of NAMA.

No doubt those 800 other "assets" still attached to the remains of IBRC hope they'll be just as lucky.

Irish Independent

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