Looks like Nama’s starting to get going. Good stuff. Now we find out how much we’re going to be paying. Then I suppose we can start planning. If it’s €10bn over ten years, that’s €1bn per year, is it? And if it’s more likely to be €30bn over ten years, then that’s €3bn. But, sure, isn’t the €30bn estimate more on the optimistic side of the realistic/pessimistic view? Could it be that we’re in for €40bn?

Let’s say the inward investment doesn’t arrive and unemployment doesn’t fall. Let’s say the brain drain continues. And that many of the skilled migrants who came here for work – and who gave Ireland a decent subsidy while here (because, make no mistake, skilled migrants are a subsidy to any receiving country) – head off. Let’s also say that interest rates rise and our public debt balloons; that mortgage arrears become defaults; and that the state keeps cutting back and still doesn’t do anything about material inequality, which means the haves keeping having and the have-nots keep having not (make no mistake here, either, by the way: the trend is for unequal societies to become even more so. Think USA). Finally, let’s say the (crazy?) property values never again scale such heady heights and we really end up paying the penalty.

And so it’s €40bn over ten years. Now we’re talking. OK, with rising interest rates it works out at well over €4bn a year, but who’s counting at this stage? And, anyway, who can remember what €4bn a year would have got us? How many hospitals or schools or public transport projects? How many miles of motorway?! Ah, Nama. Shucks, at least we’ll own some crackin’ ole (demolished?) sites around the place.

Alistair Fraser

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