What’s happened in this crisis is not that the state has imploded. It has, rather, split in two. We have parallel states, each with its own language and values.

The first state is Namaland, a crazy kingdom whose subjects have infinite resources. The numbers that apply in Namaland are so vast that they seem literally beyond comprehension. Let’s instead consider just one concrete example of how this place works.

Let’s start in Dumbarton, a small town on the Clyde river in the west of Scotland. It’s a place that most of us know, if at all, from the soporific hum of dreary names at the end of the football results: Stenhousemuir, Brechin, Forfar, Dumbarton.

It has a blocky, concrete 1960s shopping centre, whose anchor tenants, you’ll be interested to know, include Peacock’s, New Look and Bonmarché. Why am I telling you this? Because the shopping centre in Dumbarton has recently cost us – you, me, our kids – almost €15 million.

Here’s how it worked. A British development company, Vico, refurbished and extended the shopping centre and sold it on to a private investor for €4.5 million. The private investor then sold it on to a firm from Northern Ireland, Jermon, for a staggering €20 million. Jermon went bust and last month, a London-based investment management group, La Salle, bought the Dumbarton centre for €5.5 million.

Note that at no point in all of this was the complex ever owned by anyone in the Republic of Ireland. Ownership switched from Scotland to Northern Ireland to England. But Jermon borrowed the money to buy the Dumbarton centre from Anglo Irish Bank, Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland. Almost certainly, however, the ultimate source of this cash was a German, French or British bank. The Irish banks, in their manic phase, were the medium through which Continental pushers fed the habit of a UK developer.

Nama, however, took these loans off the books of the banks and then flogged the centre off for €5.5 million – a loss of €14.5 million. One way or the other – either through what Nama paid directly for the loans or through the capital we put into the banks to fill the holes in their balance sheets – ordinary taxpayers have effectively stumped up nearly €15 million just to get rid of 120,000sq ft of shops in a small Scottish town.

So we have one state that is effectively paying a London investment firm millions of euro to take a Scottish shopping centre off our hands. The money literally means nothing – it is simply gone. And then we have the other state, still called Ireland, in which €15 million is actually a hell of a lot of money. Read full article in the Irish Times...