Bondholder Inferno

Saying that you’re going to burn the bondholders might sound big and clever, but there is a catch: it implies that there will be some sort of pain inflicted on those wealthy individuals who expect states to expropriate wealth from poor people in order to ensure that their own position of power and privilege is assured. It might be mildly unpleasant for such individuals to hear that they aren’t going to get exactly what they want, at a level of pain comparable to stubbing one’s little toe against the bedpost, but it’s certainly not going to plunge them into searing agony, which is what would happen if you set them on fire.

So talking about burning the bondholders presents the bondholders as being a group of people who are in a far more precarious, vulnerable position than the position of power and influence that they enjoy in reality. Thinking about someone who has her social welfare payments cut in order to ensure that the bondholders, the markets or whatever other synonym for the rich you may care to use are sated with what they feel is rightfully theirs, it would rarely occur to anyone to say that she is going to get ‘burnt’, even though the suffering inflicted is likely to be far greater than any bondholder awakened rudely.

When I hear people talking about burning the bondholders it reminds me of that stupid joke about the mouse who tries to have sex with an elephant and in the course of doing so a coconut drops on the elephant’s head and the elephant lets forth an “ouch” and the mouse shouts “suffer, bitch, suffer”. We should steer clear both of presenting ourselves as mice, and of presenting bondholders as mighty elephants.

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4 Responses to “Bondholder Inferno”


  1. 1 Marian Quinn February 21, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I think I read some analysis (or speculation?) at the weekend that more than half of the bondholders are in Ireland. Keep the home fires …

    • 2 Hugh Green February 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      Pretty well-founded speculation, I’d reckon:

      Lessons have been learnt — and then quickly forgotten – Business, Frontpage – Independent.ie

      Professor Lucey’s plea to sort out the banks in February 2010 hasn’t gone unnoticed, but an EU-wide solution is still a long way off, even 12 months later. The rhetoric of “burning the bondholders” was tempered somewhat last week by a report from Dr Seamus Coffey of UCC’s economics department. Dr Coffey did a shameful, shameful thing — he looked at the evidence on the Central Bank’s balance sheets of the national ownership of outstanding bank bonds. The result? Close to half those bonds are owned by Irish people.

  2. 3 John mcdermott February 22, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    maybe many of the bondholders are NAMA clients who have an Ansbacher style link with the banks??
    Why can nobody name these bondholders.’
    Why all the secrecy in such straitened times.?
    Lets see who the witches are before gathering the faggots.


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