Thursday 22 February 2018

The Punt: Another Central Bank run

Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan
Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan

The Punt made light yesterday of Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan's ability to run marathons.

But word reaches Talbot Towers that the governor too was indeed a marathon runner in his day, completing the Dublin marathon some moons ago in the respectable time of four hours and 15 minutes.

While not quite as good a time as that recorded last weekend by Honohan's counterpart at the Bank of England, it certainly shows that the central banks of Europe's English-speaking countries are not run by slouches.

It is also, satisfyingly, much better than our friends across the Pond where fads such as marathons originated.

Honohan's counterpart over in the US Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, has only ever run a half marathon.

Yellen did her 13.1 miles in three hours and two minutes.

That was back in 2004 when the the 57-year-old Yellen took part in the wonderfully named Avenue of the Giants Marathon.

Those Americans! They may be slower but they have the best names.

Striking gold in hunt for oil

The UK arm of global environmental consultancy firm Environ has won a contract from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to undertake a strategic environmental assessment ahead of a fifth round of oil and gas licensing.

It's the first time that Environ will have undertaken such an assessment for the Department.

In fact, the Punt reckons that over the past number of years consultants must be some of the only people making any real money from Ireland's oil and gas resources.

There have been so many hopes dashed at this stage for Ireland's oil and gas future that it's easy to wonder when - and indeed if - the country will ever be the beneficiary of another major oil or gas find.

Hundreds of millions of euros have been spent by now by various companies on seismic surveys and drilling with little to show for it except some nice maps and optimistic press releases.

Environ, meanwhile, will assess the impacts to the marine environment of exploration and production operations in a number of basins offshore and west of Ireland, as well as the Goban Spur Basin further south.

Undoubtedly it will be paid well for its work.

Blackstone goes all maternal

Those nasty vulture funds are at it again. OK the Punt has never really been clear what the charges against the private equity industry are - seeking returns, investing when others won't, driving hard bargains?

It's not much of a rap sheet when you get down to it. Maybe it's something else.

Anyway the arch nasties over at Blackstone Group are now trying to get the fairer sex involved in their terrible ways.

On top of their other villainy, the Steve "blood in the streets" Schwarzman outfit, pictured below, is now trying to encourage women to join and stay with the firm, including by recently extending paid maternity leave for its US staff to 16 week from 12 weeks.

That's 16 weeks more than the legal minimum in the US.

"Our hardworking employees balance incredibly active lives, and Blackstone is proud to support important priorities both in the workplace and at home," the company said.

Of course given Blackstone's involvement there must be an ulterior motive - though to be perfectly honest we're damned if we can figure it out.

Irish Independent

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