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Recalling the Celtic Tiger

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Edited By Eamon Maher, Eugene O'Brien and Brian Lucey

This book looks at various effects, symptoms and consequences of the period in Irish culture known as the Celtic Tiger. It will trace the critical pathway from boom to bust – and up to the current beginnings of a similar, smaller boom – through events, personalities and products. The short entries offer a sense of the lived experience of this seismic period in contemporary Irish society.

While clearly not all aspects of the period could realistically be covered, the book does contain essential information about the central actors, events, themes, and economic trends, which are discussed in a readable and accessible manner. Each entry is linked to the overall Celtic Tiger phenomenon and its immediate aftermath.

The book also provides a comprehensive account of what happened in this period and will be a factual resource for anyone anxious to discover information on the areas most commonly connected to it. All entries are written by experts in the area. The contributors include broadcasters, economists, cultural theorists, sociologists, literary critics, journalists, politicians and writers, each of whom brings particular insights to some aspect of the Celtic Tiger.

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Bondholders (Brian Lucey)

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Brian Lucey

Bondholders

A phrase that resonates with many from the banking crisis is ‘burn the bondholders’. It conveys images of top-hatted capitalists being tied to stakes in town squares while mobs pile up gilded certificates around them prior to ignition. But what are these bondholders, and how would we have burned them?

Banks are corporate bodies like any other. They have assets, mainly in the form of loans. To match that they also have liabilities, which traditionally are in the form of deposits. So far so simple. Where things got complex was when banks began to expand their loan books, backed not just with deposits, but also with other liabilities. To reiterate, banks are like any other company and can take on debt to expand. These are the infamous bonds. Bonds are debt obligations owed to creditors. Some of these bonds were what are called ‘senior’ bonds – these are structured in such a way as to be essentially deposits. So a Dutch pension fund could loan money to an Irish bank (or an Irish fund to a Dutch bank) in two ways. It could put the money on deposit or it could loan it to the bank via a senior bond. Other bonds were what are called ‘junior’ or ‘subordinated’ bonds. The terminology here reflects a legal hierarchy: the theory was that in the event of a company getting into distress, these bonds would only be paid off after the senior bonds. They...

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