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David McWilliams' 'told you so' is difficult to hear

ColumnistsBy Caoimhe Young
David McWilliams
David McWilliams

Celebrity Economist David McWilliams talks a good talk and he predicted the recession and the property crash.

This week he brought a touch of glamour to the banking inquiry when he turned up looking super trendy, complete with Aviator glasses, and even winked at someone in the gallery before he was asked to give evidence about where it all went wrong. 

It was with a heavy heart that I watched his performance because, first of all, what did it matter now what he told finance minister Brian Lenihan? 

It feels like going over a failed marriage with your mam, who predicted it all before. The fallout was so huge that ‘I told you so’ is just rubbing salt into an open wound.

McWilliams – who invented the Breakfast Roll Man and other such dainty phrases – described how he had met Mr Lenihan for the first time on September 6, 2008, and then at his home 11 days later. Over a period of two weeks they also had 12 to 13 phone calls.

He had suggested to Mr Lenihan that he introduce a bank guarantee, but, he says, a more temporary little arrangement of perhaps two years to stem the run on deposits and give the government time to arrange audits.

He told the inquiry − and this is where you clasp your fist as you listen to him − that the banking crisis was both predictable and absolutely preventable. 

He said “ordinary people were forced to play a game” where the dice was loaded against them. 

And that was it. 

Don’t shoot the messenger and all that, but it was like a form of torture listening to him remind us that yes, he was right. 

“Were you ever wrong?” he was asked with by one member of the committee as a final question. He was briefly flustered before answering: “No.” 

I wonder was it the same swagger that put Brian Lenihan off taking his advice on that fateful night?