Monday 22 January 2018

The Punt: Vital Central Bank role for new economist

Lars Frisell left the Central Bank for a glamorous-sounding job with the International Monetary Fund in Mauritius earlier this year
Lars Frisell left the Central Bank for a glamorous-sounding job with the International Monetary Fund in Mauritius earlier this year

And so, seven months after announcing his departure, the Central Bank has appointed a replacement for chief economist Lars Frisell.

Gabriel Fagan is an outsider insider.

The 53-year-old has worked in the Central Bank before. Between 1985 and 1992 he served as an economist there.

He subsequently took up a post with the European Central Bank (ECB), and has now found himself back in Ireland.

Mr Fagan has lectured in economics at both the Goethe University in Germany and at Trinity College Dublin, in addition to working in Dame Street and at the ECB.

Among papers he has authored or co-authored for the Central Bank and others was the ominously titled, 'Testing for a Speculative Bubble in Irish Land Prices' back in 1992.

Mr Frisell, who left the Central Bank for a glamorous-sounding job with the International Monetary Fund in Mauritius earlier this year, became well known because he had the post at a time when the Irish economy remained in crisis mode. His pronouncements at the publication of the Bank's economic commentaries often made headlines.

Mr Fagan's tenure, one hopes will be somewhat quieter, but is no-less important as Ireland moves from stabilisation to, hopefully, recovery.

Glass maker Ardagh loses its Salem magic

Glass maker Ardagh, which is controlled by Dubliner Paul Coulson, last week stunned workers at its plant in Salem, New Jersey, when it announced plans to close the operation with the loss of 290 jobs.

The factory is the oldest manufacturer of glass containers still operating in the United States. It was an Anchor Glass plant until Ardagh acquired Anchor a couple of years ago.

The unenviable task of informing workers went to John Riordan, who has only recently been appointed to head up the group's business in North America.

Ardagh has just completed its acquisition of Saint Gobain's Verallia North America after a protracted delay due to competition concerns. Ardagh is also eyeing a 2015 stock market flotation.

The company said the plant in Salem will close on October 15. It said that there had been a "significant loss of business at the facility".

Only last October, Ardagh celebrated the Salem factory's 150th anniversary. The plant manager told guests the factory was producing about 1,500 bottles a minute, or 782 million bottles a year.

Maid to do it 
for Gowex

Bosses at scandal hit Spanish technology firm Gowex apparently paid a maid €300 to help them to create fake clients for the €1.9bn Wi-Fi hotspot provider.

Now, of course, nobody should help anyone to fake clients, but talk about mean.

The maid, Guillermina Almeida, told Judge Santiago Pedraz of Spain's national court that Gowex chief financial officer, Francisco Martinez, escorted the her to a notary and to a number of banks to sign papers creating at least one company that purported to buy Gowex services.

Florencia Mate, wife of Gowex founder Jenaro Garcia, had introduced Almeida to Martinez, according to the statement. Mr Garcia founded Gowex, and his wife served as investor relations manager and also had a seat on the company's board.

Gowex, where Dublin City Council was a client, had a €1.9bn market value three months ago, before unravelling spectacularly.

Mr Garcia resigned as chief executive officer on July 5 and told the judge he had falsified records since at least 2005 and made up clients to attract investors to the 15-year-old company.

Two other witnesses said they also signed paperwork for made-up Gowex client companies. Javier Vaquero said Martinez, a university friend, introduced him to Garcia.

Vaquero told the judge he worked for Gowex for three months and signed ownership papers for 10 companies, before he left because they didn't pay him.

Irish Independent

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