Irish eyes aren't smilin': IRA lost its war chest in Wall Street disaster


Over the past few weeks, as the stock market has had bigger mood swings than Judy Garland popping pills on Christmas day while riding a roller coaster during an earthquake, the news has almost entirely focused either on the travails of average Americans or on the morally repugnant machinations of Wall Street geniuses. This narrow perspective, however, ignores the larger impact of the real estate bubble and the subprime meltdown. As trillions of dollars have seemingly evaporated from the world, it's worth considering who actually owned the money that has disappeared.

One group that lost big was the Irish Republican Army. After the IRA signed a ceasefire in 1997, it followed the advice of its financial advisors, investing its war chest into the U.S. property market. It subsequently moved its funds into high-dividend deposit accounts in the U.S. According to some reports, the recent Wall Street meltdown may have cost the former terrorist group as much as $274 million.

Like many American investors, the IRA is currently "in a state of panic" over the loss of its investments. On the other hand, unlike most Americans, the IRA also has a history of armed revolt and a demonstrated willingness to handle its grudges at gunpoint. Right now, I'm really glad that I don't work for AIG!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. Right now, he's wondering if Peru's "Shining Path" or Germany's "Baader Meinhof" was heavily invested in the market.

Originally published