Four Corners - Dicing With Debt
Leading up to the global financial crisis, the entrepreneurs of Ireland were having a field day. Money was being borrowed, investment projects approved and the economy was booming. Now Marian Wilkinson tells the story of the crash, the Government bailout of the Irish banks and the brutal austerity regime the Government agreed to that's taken a harsh toll on the Irish people. With Europe heading towards recession, some in Ireland say it should demand a renegotiation of its bailout terms, a move with the potential to create another financial panic.
The program hears from the failed entrepreneurs about the gamble they took that shattered Ireland's economy. We see evidence of the investments that failed, visiting massive "ghost estates" where row upon row of houses stand empty, awaiting their fate beneath the blade of a bulldozer.
Crucially, Four Corners details the nature of the deal that was agreed by the Irish Government to take on private sector bank debt, and the furious negotiations that resulted in the Government being liable for the 30 billion euros the failed banks owed their private bondholders. It is that deal that is now coming under scrutiny. Was it fair that Ireland agreed to pay all failed bank bondholders, while holders of Greek Government debt are being asked to take losses to protect the rest of Europe? Many experts now agree Ireland will struggle to repay its debts, and the terms must be renegotiated.
If that happens it's possible the reaction will set markets staggering again, in a shockwave that will be felt beyond Europe.
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