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Thursday 1 June 2023 Dublin: 15°C
Niall Carson/PA Wire
Ireland ‘seriously misjudged’ the ‘madness’: How the world sees the Nyberg report
Peter Nyberg’s report into the Irish banking crisis “reads like a psychologist’s report”, in the eyes of the world’s media.

YESTERDAY’S PUBLICATION of the Nyberg report – the last of three reports from the Commission of Inquiry into the Banking Sector – is understandably a bit of a talking point for the world’s media this morning.

The international press have a moderate fixation with analysis on what went wrong in Ireland, with many treating the Irish slump like car crash television: it’s gruesome and horrible, and yet it’s difficult not to look.

As a result, many see Nyberg’s findings (that no single party can be blamed in isolation for the crash) as an official vindication of the ‘perfect storm’ theory that perhaps made Ireland’s downfall more dramatic than any other.

The Guardian focuses on Nyberg’s comments that banks were so desperate to keep up with each other’s growth that they took risks on an “almost unbelievable” scale, and a complicit public desperate to “let the good times roll”.

It also describes Nyberg’s analysis of the 2008 bank guarantee as “extraordinarily bleak” and one that had been “borne out of a lack of proper interest in the financial markets in the preceding years.”

Reuters’ analysis doesn’t pull any punches: its headline, “New report reveals madness at root of Irish crisis”, sets the tone for a damning critique, which prioritises “groupthink, herding and a ‘national speculative mania’”.

Padraic Halpin’s report focuses on the headings attached to each of Nyberg’s sections: dubbing banks as ‘the herd’, external auditors as ‘silent observers’, and the authorities as ‘the enablers’.

Bloomberg briefly touches upon one of the aspects largely overlooked in other coverage: the role of bank bondholders in helping to inflate the bubble, and offers some analysis from Nyberg himself at a press conference.

“Ireland as a whole used up money from elsewhere and lived above its means,” it quotes Nyberg as offering. “Paying money back means it will have to live below its means.”

Bondholders – who are now under increasing pressure to share some of the cost of keeping the banks alive – were “among the gullible” during the boom, Nyberg opined – adding that it was “quite remarkable” that successive government did not react to the over-reliance on the property market.

The Wall Street Journal’s phlegmatic take on the report is that there are too many people – including the public – to blame.

The ordinary public were “spurring on the property mania” in 2004 and 2005, its reporter Eamon Quinn observes, but the report refused to name names simply because the blame for the collapse is so widely spread.

Poll: Who do you hold accountable for the banking crisis? >

The Nyberg Report: In graphs >