THERE are the woods and then there are the trees. There are big stories and little stories. And when it comes to Anglo Irish Bank, it can be hard to distinguish between what is really important and what is not.
All journalists love a good expenses story – not least the Sunday Independent.
It is always worth picking through the details of big reports in order to identify and discourage the waste of our money.
Does a few expenses really mean, however, that the State is in the clear for pulling the plug on a bank with a €28bn balance sheet?
The first 43 pages of the 54-page Anglo statement of affairs (prior to the outstanding bills) contains a very important story.
In forensic detail, this explains the twists, the turns, the hoops, the loops and other bizarre manoeuvrings the State decided to take to move Anglo from being a solvent bank into a situation where it had to be liquidated.
This is the real story in the statement of affairs.
Reaching broad conclusions about what really happened "Inside Anglo" in its final days without drawing upon the first 43 pages of Anglo's statement of affairs is impossible.
Anglo was €3.57bn in the black, according to its former directors, before almost magically the State moved it into the red, wiping out creditors owed billions using a complex series of moves.
Its former directors state that "to the best of their knowledge and belief" it was "a solvent entity" up to 4.25pm on February 6, 2013, when they were stood down by the State as directors.
They also claim that they believe the decision to liquidate the bank had a "negative effect" on the value of Anglo's remaining assets – that is, it may end up costing the taxpayer more money.
In detail, the former directors show how the State moved the goalposts around to move the bank from a position where it was "solvent and in compliance with its mandatory capital requirements" to a position where it was overnight bust.
The directors outline how the State "repeatedly" reassured them of its ongoing support and as a result the directors did not feel the need to warn creditors, in its annual report or elsewhere, that the State might pull the plug at any time.
Creditors planning to sue the State over the decision to liquidate Anglo are poring over the directors' statement as they devise strategies to sue Ireland.
They are particularly aggrieved at the lack of any warning that the bank could go at any moment.
Focusing on the expenses down the back of the report misses the big picture: if the State took one step wrong in its liquidation of Anglo, we are facing yet another multibillion-euro bill.
On the day-to-day outstanding expense bill, the reality is that Anglo's cost base was slashed from the high-rolling days of the boom in a manner unrecognisable to any other Irish bank today.
The entertainment budget for Anglo under chief executive David Drumm was a whopping €3.4m a year.
This covered everything from weekend extravaganzas to see F1 races; trips on the Orient Express; the drinks bill on lads' weekends in Portugal visiting exotic nightclubs.
After the arrival of Anglo's new management team under chief executive Mike Aynsley, the entertainment budget was reduced to €100,000 in 2010 before falling to zero thereafter.
The same has not occurred in any other Irish bank, where bankers continue – to this day – to enjoy golf trips, rugby tickets, fancy dinners and so on.
Looking into the detail of what expenses there are, it is worth noting the following in relation to the "luxuries" identified.
First, the bills may not relate to the bank's new management. Unpaid bills being claimed by creditors can go back up to 10 years, long before they arrived on the scene.
There is a bill, for example, of €8,000 owed to Mount Juliet. This was a popular stop-off for Anglo's old management during the boom when entertaining clients – some of whom lived nearby.
When was this bill run up?
Then there is the flowers bill. Anglo's new management introduced a policy of no flowers soon after Mr Aynsley arrived in Anglo. An exception was made for staff funerals. Could this explain a bill for €258 owed to a florist?
Anglo also left a bill of €5,000 owed on Lavazza coffee. This is a premium brand and the bank could have used something cheaper.
But if Anglo had given multi-billion fund managers instant coffee in a broken mug, would they have been taken seriously in negotiations?
It is worth recalling that Anglo's new management reduced its balance sheet by €100bn in five years.
That was a lot of deals.
Anglo is arguably the most important story in Irish banking. Every detail needs to be examined without ever losing sight of the bigger picture.
Concluding that a few expenses has somehow "vindicated" Minister for Finance Michael Noonan's decision to liquidate Anglo is questionable as bondholders and other creditors queue up to sue us.