Ireland's future: everything's riding on bank bail-out plan

Today is the day that the Irish government unveils the details of the bank rescue. This afternoon after the markets close the Minister for Finance will tell the Dáil (Parliament) and the nation exactly how much it is going to cost to save Ireland's banks.

This day has been coming since the end of September 2008 when the government was forced to guarantee all Irish bank obligations. Since then the government has nationalized the scandalously (possibly criminally) badly run Anglo Irish Bank and provided the two big banks with billions. Those were stop-gap measures designed to get us to today.

Today Brian Lenihan {photo} will give us the details on Nama - the government's 'bad bank' where all the banks' property loans are heading - and the additional billions that Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland need to keep going. The rumor is by the end of today the state will be the majority shareholder in AIB and a 40% owner of BoI.

All of this can be pretty dull, but it's crucial. If everything goes according to the government's plan, this will mark the turning point where the economy starts picking up, unemployment stops rising and actually begins to decline and businesses begin to grow and foreign investment begins to come back to Ireland.

If it doesn't go all that well, the Irish taxpayer will be saddled with a massive debt that will take 20 years to pay off. Unemployment will remain high, government services, welfare, other benefits and public sector pay will remain under severe pressure and emigration will really take off. If it's a complete disaster, we'll have all of that, only more so and the state will, for all intents and purposes, no longer be independent, but rather a German vassal.

I'll be tuning in (here, if you're interested) around 11:30am EDT and then switching to CNBC to see how the plan affects the NASDAQ share prices of AIB and BoI. If those share prices head north after the Minister's speech I'll assume us taxpayers have been suckered into overpaying for the banks' garbage loans and their junk shares.

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