Saturday 20 January 2018

Done right, banks inquiry can be catalyst for change

We need to be crystal clear about what we want from the new probe into the banking crisis, writes Stephen Donnelly

Stephen Donnelly

A new inquiry into the banking crisis, if done properly, could really be quite helpful. Of course, there's also every chance it will simply descend into ugly political nonsense. If we're to make it work for the country, we need to be crystal clear on what we want out of it.

Last Wednesday afternoon, as the Dail whirred back into action, Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced that the first enquiry the Oireachtas would undertake, with its new powers of investigation, would be into the banking crisis. So what do we want out of it?

We don't need a broad analysis of the macroeconomic and institutional conditions that led to the crisis. A 2010 report by Klaus Regling (clever German economist, heads the European Stability Mechanism) and Max Watson (clever Cambridge economist) has already done that. We don't need a report on the regulatory failures of the Central Bank. Patrick Honohan's 2010 report did that. And we don't need to identify the policies and practices of the banks, public authorities and auditors that drove us towards the bank guarantee. Peter Nyberg (clever Finnish chap) did that in his 2011 report.

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