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PUNT: We're stuck with usual suspects

Jerry Dwyer, a former US Federal Reserve economist who now teaches from time to time at Trinity, was in fine form on the first day of the Cantillon Festival in Tralee yesterday.

Dr Dwyer had a simple enough solution to the banking crisis: attract new people to set up banks.

They can look after the majority of the population who are not bogged down with financial woes. Make it easy to get a banking licence and see what happens, Dr Dwyer told an audience following an entertaining talk on zombie banks.

It happens all the time in the land of the free where setting up a credit union quickly is no big deal but it is still something of a rarity this side of the Atlantic.

Indeed, several large banks owe their existence to determined Irishmen who couldn't get loans and decided to do something about it when they crossed the Atlantic.

Fiona Muldoon (pictured below), the Central Bank's number three and the widely tipped successor to Matthew Elderfield, smiled at the suggestion but suggested gently that this was unlikely as few investors were likely to want to invest in Ireland right now.

Pressed on whether she had ever received a request from an organisation to set up a bank, she finally revealed that just one application had been made since she arrived in Dame Street.

That application was not even a retail bank so it looks like we will be all be banking with the usual suspects for some time to come.

Irish Independent