The Punt: Business-like Brophy sets just the right tone
THE Punt likes to flip between RTE and Newstalk most mornings to see what's making the business news and to avoid Des Cahill's witterings on 'Morning Ireland'. Yesterday, as we bathed in the post-bond auction bliss, it was particularly interesting to catch up with reaction from both broadcasters.
There is little doubt that Ivan Yates (pictured -- and also of this parish) and Chris Donoghue are on top of their brief when it comes to all matters economic. Yates' enthusiasm for the bond sale was refreshingly genuine and a reminder of his experience as a government minister when Fine Gael was last forced to battle with economic problems.
Still, when it comes to business news itself, the Punt is still inclined to listen to RTE's business news. There is something reassuring about Conor Brophy's voice and, more importantly, tone that ensures that the State-owned broadcaster still beats Newstalk.
Still relatively young, Brophy is one of those broadcasters who clearly likes business and has made his morning slots must listen-to-radio as he grills chief executives politely but expertly.
Central Bank needs to look at 'little person's bank'
SOMETIMES it pays to listen to the little people. That lesson is being learned by Energy and Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte in the row over the creation of pylon corridors. Accusations of institutional arrogance have been levelled at the Government and Eirgrid.
And the lesson about listening to the little people is one that will need to be learned at the Central Bank, particularly by the successor of soon-to-leave Fiona Muldoon and the person in charge of credit unions at the Bank, Sharon Donnery.
Ms Muldoon is director, credit institutions and insurance supervision with the Central Bank, but is leaving this year. Credit unions fall under her ambit.
In the past few months the Central Bank has tightened the regulations for credit unions, it continues to keep in place lending restrictions on the majority of the community lenders, and it is an enthusiastic supporter of the mass merger of credit unions.
A cynic would be forgiven for suggesting that the move to again toughen up the regulations for the community-owned lenders is one way of forcing large-scale mergers.
Of course, fewer credit unions makes it easier to regulate the sector.
All of this comes at a time when people are desperate for an alternative to high-charging banks, especially as Danske and ACCBank are pulling out of retail operations here.
The need for a strong "little person's bank" is more important than ever, with consumers starved of credit, fed up with expensive banks, and moneylenders on the march.
But over-enthusiastic regulation will hinder rather than than help the transformation of credit unions into real community banks.
If Portugal wants support, it won't find it here
MEPs visiting Portugal to assess the handling of the eurozone debt crisis were met with scathing criticism of the troika's reform programme. One politician claimed the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund had failed to show flexibility in applying the three- year bailout, with another claiming they hadn't adjusted the programme to deal with local realities.
politicians will no doubt be breathing a sigh of relief when they pack their bags and ship out.
But the concerns expressed by the Portuguese are remarkably similar to those they'll hear in other bailed-out countries -- even resounding success story Ireland.
The main opposition party in Portugal accused the troika of adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to bailed-out nations, a move which had destroyed domestic demand and aggravated malaise.
But in Ireland, however, while concerns will be raised by the unions and the opposition parties, the Government will dismiss the criticisms elsewhere and declare the austerity programme a success.
Yes, the programme was hard, Enda and Michael will tell them. Yes, it led to services being cut and taxes being imposed on struggling families. But we just got on with it. We didn't really protest. We were mature enough to take the medicine and not to take to the streets in violent protest.
If our fellow bailed-out nations are looking for support in the campaign against the troika, they shouldn't expect to find it here.