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YO, HO, BLOODY HO…

If any Machiavellian spin doctor had bad tidings to announce, this would have been the week to get them out there. The media preoccupation with the possible ramifications of the government’s four-year austerity measures and the likely impending bailout left little room for other business stories in the Sunday broadsheets.

Considering that not a single journalist or commentator knew the actual terms of the bailout deal before going to press didn’t stop the acres of coverage on its likely impact for the country. To burn, or not to burn, the bondholders … that is the question pondered by the media great and good over the weekend.

And the Government’s four-year national recovery plan announced earlier in the week also gave the commentators plenty to chew on, again despite the relative lack of detail ahead of next week’s Mother of All Budgets.

The Sunday Business Post killed both birds with a single stone by devoting a two-page report on the ‘recovery plan’ from a personal finance perspective.  Ironically, the newspaper termed the guide ‘family-friendly’ but there is little to suggest what’s in store for all of us is anything but hostile.

“No one will escape unscathed,” writes personal finance correspondent, Emma Kennedy. “The report said ‘no person, group or sector’ could be absolved from taking their share of the pain, yet the report’s details on the fate of our renegade banks were scant.

“While the plan gives the broad brush strokes of where the pain will hit, much of the detail will not be revealed until the budget on December 7.”

High-earners, the elderly, families, single employees and students will all be hit – some harder than others and the newspaper details a series of hypothetical and real examples of what is likely to be in store for anyone who falls into these categories ie most of us. It makes for grim reading.

The Sunday Independent captures the populist mood better than any other broadsheet – the newspaper’s front-page leads with the headline; Default! Say the people.

This exhortation is based on the results of an opinion poll carried out by the newspaper that found people would rather default than pay in full the bondholders who invested in Irish banks.

And the consequences of the four-year austerity plan are laid bare in the business section.

“Living standards will be on life support when the four-year plan kicks in. The €15bn IMF/EU-directed austerity plan will have a massive impact on our tax bills, but also on our standard of living,” the newspaper writes.

And no better man than the economist Jim Power to lay it out in very stark terms:

“There will be at least a 20% reversal in living standards” as the effects of the four-year plan take hold … And this thing isn’t over yet.

“I wouldn’t take what’s in the plan as being written in stone; there may be worse to come. Further bank debt and other fiscally damaging factors mean the picture is by no means complete,” he told the paper.

Over in The Sunday Times, it appears the national plan as outlined by the two Brians and John Gormley during the week may already be in tatters as the likely biggest party in the next coalition government would bite deeper into public sector jobs rather than raise taxes.

Leo Varadkar, Fine Gael’s communications spokesman, said the proposals in the government plan would harm the economy, particularly the decision to increase taxation and to axe only 12,000 public sector jobs.

“The government hasn’t been ambitious in its approach to cuts in the public service,” he said. “Fine Gael believes there are many more savings to be made in the public sector. We would be looking for 30,000 over the next four years. It would be a much more ambitious programme of savings, and it would also allow us not to have to implement some of the tax measures being proposed by the government.”

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