David McWilliams: No matter how Coalition dresses it up, we cannot afford to pay Anglo's debt
FIRST, the good news. Swapping the debt from a promissory note to a long dated government bond will mean that, in the short-term, the State won't have to find so much money to pay for the sins of Anglo. My back of the envelope calculation suggests that the savings will be substantial. Had Ireland kept paying the promissory note over the next 10 years, we would have had to come up with €30bn in a decade. That's a huge figure, more than 20pc of GNP. Clearly, this was not on. This new arrangement means Ireland will have to come up with about €5.8bn.
Paying over a longer period is good news for all of us relative to paying the lot over 10 years. But it is not good news relative to paying nothing at all or to extending the promissory note out for a few hundred years. After all, we could have set the terms of our own promissory note schedule had we the inclination to do so.
More interestingly, we could have paid nothing at all, let the Central Bank continue to finance Anglo and positioned ourselves on a collision course with the ECB. The Government didn't have the stomach for this scrap and so the ECB's sweetener for taking the debts of Anglo on as sovereign debt is a long-term horizon to pay the stuff.