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Stand-up Economics

David McWilliams is about to take to the stage but he ain’t getting out of Dodge, The Sunday Times reports.

The foppy-haired economic commentator who coined such iconic Celtic Tiger characters as Breakfast Roll Man and Miss Pencil Skirt, is in talks with The Abbey Theatre about a stage play based on the boom and bust of the economy.

“It’s more of an event than a play,” one source told the newspaper. “It’s stand-up economics in the style of Garrison Keillor.”

The Death of an Inventor

The death of Fred Morrison makes the international pages of several newspapers. He is credited with inventing one of the most iconic of toys – the Frisbee.

Morrison, 90, stumbled on his money-spinner when he and his girlfriend were throwing the lid of a popcorn box to each other in the back garden sometime in the 1950s. After it became dented, the pair moved on to the lid of a cake dish, which proved sturdier.

Ban on Upward Only Rent Reviews

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern has banned upward only rent review clauses in business leases. The banning order on upward only rent reviews will amend clauses under section 132 of the Land and Conveyancing Law reform Act. The section will come into operation on 28 February 2010. The ban will only apply to leases taken out after this date.

The Shelbourne Hotel

Dublin’s swish Shelbourne Hotel is a financial black hole. Its owners, who include property developer Bernard McNamara and oil distributor John Sweeney, have ploughed €230m into it with little prospect of any return.

An independent accountants’ report seen by The Sunday Business Post show a consortium of high-flying investors have earned nothing from their investment so far and “there is no expectation at present that there will be any return of investment in this property, nor indeed a repayment of capital in the short term”.

The report compiled by Baker Tilly Ryan Glennon will play a key role in Sweeney’s petition for examinership, which is due to be heard in the High Court tomorrow (Monday, February 8).

The consortium of investors paid €120m for the hotel in 2004 and then pumped a further €120m into a total renovation of the Stephens’ Green landmark.

Goodbody

Goodbody stockbrokers switched large chunks of clients’ funds out of Bank of Ireland stocks into AIB during the stockmarket turmoil in November 2008, The Sunday Independent reports.

The potential significance of this is that Goodbody is wholly owned by AIB. The company denies the move was an attempt to bolster the value of shares in its beleaguered parent.

Most shareholders are happy to give their broker discretion to manage their portfolios without consulting them about every trade – after all, this is what people actually pay a stockbroker to do! Many discretionary funds are private pension schemes and billions of euro are tied up in these.

Goodbody is adamant the decision to shift the funds was “based on our views at the time as to the values and future performance”.

In a comment piece, Sunday Independent business editor Shane Ross counsels that “Goodbody’s words of wisdom about AIB should come with a health warning”.

“Brass neck goes a long way in the cut-throat world of the stock market,” Ross says. “And Goodbody has brass neck – in spades.”

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