Ronan Lyons | Personal Website
Ronan Lyons | Personal Website

100 ways to spend the Anglo €25,000,000,000

This article originally appeared in Sunday’s Business Post and is a joint effort with Professor Brian Lucey of the Business School in Trinity College.

The EU has approved a further injection of taxpayers’ money into additional capital for Anglo Irish Bank. This brings the total now to almost €25 billion. This is money going into a bank that will essentially be in wind down over the coming decade, money that the Irish citizens and taxpayers will not see again, as it is shoring up the balance sheet of a bank that had too much imaginary wealth. Many fear that is not the end of the money.

So just how much is €25 billion that we are having to borrow for Anglo? In one way, it’s small change, compared to what will possibly be €200 billion in borrowings by the state to fund the non-banking deficit between the onset of the crisis and 2020. But to any rational mind, €25 billion is still a mind-bogglingly large amount.

The state has borrowing capacity limited to what the taxpayer can repay. In putting €25 billion into Anglo, the government, on our behalf, has spent money that cannot be used for other projects. Here are 100 other ways to spend €25 billion.

Ireland could make a major contribution to fight global poverty:

€25bn against global poverty
€25bn against global poverty

100 Buy enough malaria nets to protect the entire malaria-affected population of the world (half a billion people) for 80 years
99 Fund the World Food Programme for five years
98 Repair – twice over – the damage done to Haiti in last January’s earthquake
97 Fund enough clean water and infrastructure projects to meet the Millennium Development Goals in those areas
96 Buy up and extinguish the national debt of Bangladesh
95 Fund the Unesco ‘Information for All’ project for 1,200 years
94 Provide food aid to Niger for 1,000 years
93 Asphalt every trunk and regional road (110,000km) of substandard countries in sub-Saharan Africa

Ireland could become a world science and technology hub:

€25bn on science and technology
€25bn on science and technology

92 Start our own space programme, with 20 €1.2 billion space shuttles
91 Foot the bill for a century of global research into nuclear fusion (the current 30-year global ITER project is expected to cost between €5 billion and €10 billion)
90 Research and develop 5,000 new drugs . . . one of them’s bound to be useful
89 Construct six Large Hadron Colliders, one for each Green Party TD
88 Build five James Webb Space Telescopes (the successor to Hubble) and revolutionise astronomy
87 Build two magnetoplasma space vehicles which, in theory, could get to Mars in 40 days
86 Build a space elevator (also known as  Sky Hook!)
85 Build two ITER nuclear fusion reactors and provide the world with cheap, abundant energy

We could decide to give ourselves a break:

84 Pay the interest on everyone’s mortgage for four years (€147 billion of mortgages at 4 per cent is €5.88 billion a year)
83 Abolish income tax for two years (based on 2009 government income tax receipts of €11.8 billion)
82 Offer everyone on the Live Tegister €100,000 to emigrate (we could afford a 50 per cent take-up by the 466,000 on the dole)
81 Abolish VAT for two and a half years (based on 2009 receipts of €10.8 billion)
80 Remove excise duty from fuel, tobacco and alcohol until 2015 (based on exise receipts of €4.7 billion a year)
79 Pay the grocery bills of everybody in the country for 2.5 years
78 Scrap fares on all forms of public transport, intercity and commuter trains and buses for 33 years

We could treat ourselves:

€25bn on black!
€25bn on black!

77 Run the world’s best ever lottery – every Irish citizens is entered into a draw where 25,000 people become millionaires
76 Give every OAP a pension of €55,000 for a year
75 Fly the adult population of Ireland to Las Vegas, and give everyone €10,000 to gamble with
74 Give every person in the country €5,555.56
73 Buy half a million eco-friendly Nissan Leaf cars and have enough for a 5GW nuclear power station with the cash left over
72 Provide a new laptop every year to every second-level student for 147 years
71 Buy a 32GB iPhone, a 64GB iPad, a 13’’ 2.13GHz MacBook Air and a 27inch iMac for every person living in Ireland

We could treat the world – it might make the rest of the world like us more:

€25bn can buy friends
€25bn can buy friends

70 Buy 6.7 billion copies (one for everybody in the world) of Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
69 Buy a pint of Guinness for everyone in the world to celebrate Arthur’s Day (and it would count as exports)
68 Buy every child in the world a 99 ice-cream cone every day for a week
67 Send every adult in the world on an MSc in Social Media in NCI
66 Send 225,000 people to do the Harvard MBA

We could truly become the world’s biggest sports fans:

€25bn to make us a sporting hub
€25bn to make us a sporting hub

65 Buy the world’s 20 most valuable football clubs, worth €9.6 billion, wipe out their debt (€2.3 billion) and move them to Ireland, building each a 75,000 seater stadium (€600million each, based on cost of Aviva Stadium)
64 Host two Olympics Games, based on the London 2012 cost of €11.2 billion
63 Buy Tonga and Fiji, which would have obvious rugby advantages
62 Construct 25 Bertie Bowls (one for each county except Dublin)
61 Buy 83,300 McLaren supercars
60 Buy the entire stock of tickets and merchandise for all premier league clubs for the next 12 years

We could decide to become a major player on world markets. Banking and finance got us into this mess. Surely they can get us out . . .

59 Buy €600 billion in credit default swaps on Ireland (could pay off nicely in the next few years)
58 Buy two of Asia’s largest banks – Bank Central Asia and Malayan Banking
57 Recapitalise all the banks in Europe that failed the stress tests
56 Purchase Monsanto, as a present for the Green Party, or buy Nokia as a present for Ivor Callely
55 Give each of the 10,000 most senior bankers a round of golf at Old Head, Kinsale, the most expensive course in Europe, every day for 20 years, and hope that they come up with some ideas
54 Subsidise the US postal service for ten years
53 Allow the Italian government to scrap its three-year austerity plan
52 Pay the salaries of TCD and UCD academics for 100 years

We could just do it because we can . . . ten ways to really spend €25 billion:

€25bn like you've never seen it spent before
€25bn like you've never seen it spent before

51 Buy Steve Jobs (€25 billion is the actuarial value on his life) and get him to work for Ireland Inc
50 Buy gold plating 1.75mm thick for O’Connell Street
49 25,000 carats of red diamond, enough to encrust a Mercedes
48 Build a shed 10km long by 4kmwide and put it around Tullamore
47 Buy every one of the 5.8 million cattle in the country and, to keep their little feet cosy, two pairs of Jimmy Choos each
46 Detach the People’s Republic of Cork from the Republic of Ireland, by constructing a ten-metre wide moat – the per-kilometre cost of the new Gothard Tunnel in Switzerland suggests this may cost €30 billion, but we could haggle them down in a recession
45 Cover the entire county of Dublin a foot deep in corn
44 Hire Bertie Ahern to speak for 95 years
43 Purchase carbon credits to allow us to burn 3,000 square miles of hardwood forest
42 Build 20 copies of the Burj Khalifa Dubai, the world’s tallest building

We could just splash the cash

41 Buy 1,000 luxury yachts to kick-start the Upper Shannon Rural Renewal Scheme (78-footers, 2ndtierRussian oligarch standard)
40 Buy over one third of Denmark, 10 per cent of France or three Luxembourgs, based on 2008 land costs
39 Send 833 people into space (or perhaps just 1,666 one way trips . . . )
38 Stay in the most expensive hotel room in the world for 3,400 years (it’s the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, in case you were wondering)
37 Build 50 cruise liners akin to Carnival Splendour or Queen Mary 2
36 Make 100 films like Avatar which, remember, made back its money four times over at the box office

€25bn being lavish
€25bn being lavish

35 Buy every TD a Boeing Dreamliner, ideal for those trips to Glenties
34 Purchase 35 of the world’s most expensive mobile phone (goldstriker iPhone 3GS supreme) for every member of the Oireachtas
33 Build four Libraries of Alexandria in each county
32 Endow one university to the level of Harvard
31 Tile Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown in nice porcelain
30 Buy five Nimitz Class nuclear supercarriers to scare the bejaysus out of the Spanish trawlers
29 Or buy 17 Virginia Class nuclear attack submarines, if we wanted to sneak up on the Spanish trawlers instead
28 Supply the water needs of Galway city, for a year . . . with Perrier water
27 Purchase four Birkin Hermes bags for every adult female in the country, one for each season’s wardrobe
26 Buy and install 100 square yards of parquet flooring in every single dwelling in the country
25 Fill the Jack Lynch Tunnel with Midleton Single Cask whiskey
24 Purchase 225,000 kg of the most expensive truffles in the world
23 Buy every house and apartment listed on and still have €12 billion left to refurbish them

We could transport ourselves out of this mess With €25 billion in our back pockets, all those pie-in-the-sky superprojects would no longer be pie in the sky. Here are ten ways Ireland could put itself on the global superproject map:

€25bn on superprojects
€25bn on superprojects

22 Construct our own channel tunnel from Rosslare to Pembroke (based on the cost of the Jack Lynch Tunnel)
21 If we didn’t want a tunnel we could build five Oresund-style 20km long bridges (Denmark to Sweden: €5 billion)
20 Build 1,000kmof highspeed rail, serving all major coastal cities on the island (based on recent costs in Spain)
19 Build 11,150miles of dual carriageway
18 Construct a 400-station metro (if we could build it for the cost of Porto’s metro)
17 Start a Maglev train service from Belfast to Cork via Dublin
16 Build our own Three Gorges dam, complete with turbines
15 Build 12 new Luas lines
14 Build just short of two Hong Kong International Airports (€15 billion each)
13 Build 12 New York-style ‘Freedom Towers’ at €2 billion each

We could pay for improved public services – here are some slightly more practical ways to spend €25 billion:

12 Build 75 new 50-teacher schools and run them for 75 years
11 Build 35 children’s hospitals (based on the €700 million cost of a new children’s hospital in Dublin)
10 Pay for an extra 5,000 hospital consultants for 62.5 years, based on the Finnish wage (or for 29 years based on Irish wages)
9 Pay for cervical cancer vaccines for every girl going into first year for the next 8,333 years
8 Reduce the pupil-teacher ratio in primary schools to 1:10 for the next 20 years
7 Give an ultra-high-speed fiberoptic broadband connection to every single house (including those in ghost estates)
6 Buy 8,500 years of private speech and language counselling and really help autistic and speech-problematic children
5 Introduce free pre-schooling for 32 years, based on an average cost of €700 a month for two years of 10 months, for all 110,000 children in the country
4 Make education properly free – the current cost from primary school to degree graduation is €70,000 per child. €25 billion would put nearly 400,000 students through their entire education
3 Give medical cards to everyone for 25 years, based on €500million cost in 2009 to cover 1.5million people
2 Renew and replace the drainage and water systems of all main cities

Or spend it on this... (Image: Ciaran Cuffe)
Or spend it on this... (Image: Ciaran Cuffe)

1 Or we could buy one broken bank. Oh, hang on. . .

* Ronan Lyons and Brian Lucey would like to thank all the dwellers in Twitterland for these and other more unprintable suggestions. Particular thanks to Lorcan Roche-Kelly and CS for good ideas well costed. We are open to more suggestions… feel free to use the comments section below!

  • John Sharpe ,

    Enjoyed that. Thanks for sharing.

    • paula ,

      Oh if only we could but, goes to show how the government waste our money and would rather put us through hardships worry and stress if only the people of Ireland had a government that worked for us instead of themselves and the banks

      • yacoob ,

        Allright then, I’d gladly listen to the flip side of the story. We don’t spend this cash on Anglo-Irish. What happens then to it?

        (Note: I’m not saying that we should save a dying bank with everything we’ve got and more, but I’m interested in scenarios)

        • Ronan Lyons ,

          The alternative is simple: we wind the bank down. So far, all we’ve got is assertions from Government and Anglo itself that it would be more expensive to do this than the current plan. Put simply, the onus on anyone spending €25bn of our money to explain that this is the best use of our money. They haven’t done this. It is possible – although unlikely given every independent commentator’s analysis of the same situation – that this is the cheapest option. Then of course they have nothing to worry about in showing us.

          • Robert ,

            Great article Rónán

            • Caligula ,

              You could by 2.5 Trillion penny sweets to be divided equally among the Irish population which will in turn trigger a worldwide hub for research into dental tooth decay which should be headquartered beside Ivor Callely’s house in the wilds of west Cork

              • Marcus Aurelius ,

                • cian ,

                  God we’re such eejits..

                  • patricia o sullivan ,

                    what have we let them do. where.s me gun

                    • Bill Power ,

                      The lunatic asylum of Planet Ireland!!! The basket case of Europe. Bring on the REVOLUTION… It took 700 years to win independence and a decade to sell out the country to the bankers, developers, politicians, auctioneers and solicitors!

                      • liam ,

                        Ha ha, I just found this, very good!

                        Cover the entire county of Offaly to a depth of 1 meter in kids play-pen balls (assumes optimal packing density). Plus, a nice side effect would be the rejuvenation of the Grand Canal as the most obvious route for delivering them to the midlands.

                        • MartinJ ,

                          Like the idea, but the latest upgrade states Anglo-Irish might cost 50-75 billions. any nwe ideas how to spend this money instead?

                          • John Mack ,

                            The money could be spent on paying for every Irish person to get complete dental service, including cosmetic dentistry. Perhaps throw in the Irish in the UK too. Oh, and open a all-scholarship dentistry school in Ireland.

                            • Anglo’s Billions | The Financial Angle ,

                              […] schools and hospitals. We could even host the olympics three times over. More comparisons available here This entry was posted in Interviews. Bookmark the permalink. ← London 2012: How to beat […]

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