It's all about the money as Google catches mood of nation
From debt relief to troika visits, internet users were preoccupied with financial concerns this year
Every year Google releases a self-described zeitgeist which takes a look at the most popular search terms among Irish users of the internet. And every year its zeitgeist throws up some surprises.
This year was no exception. Why did so many people want to find out about Craig Doyle? Why were so many people going to Benidorm? And what on earth was AIB’s online bank doing in the top 10 most searched for items, alongside Kate Middleton’s breasts and Katie Taylor’s fists?
Not only that but in three separate months this year, AIB appeared in Google’s top three searches. Ulster Bank, meanwhile, made no such appearance despite being in a whole lot of trouble as a result of what it called a “technical glitch” and the rest of us called a catastrophic cock-up.
It appears that AIB’s popularity on Google is more down to consumer laziness and good search engine optimisation than anything else. If you are trying to access AIB’s online banking from a phone or tablet it is infinitely easier to type the letters AIB into a Google search than type the actual URL. While AIB may have done well in the general searches, it did pretty poorly in the main financial searches on Google this year. The top 10 was all about the money. Or lack of it.
1 Debt of the nation
The most searched-for financial term in Ireland this year has been “debt relief”. This will not come as a surprise to anyone. It is the single biggest problem facing the country as any one of the tens of thousands of people who cannot service their mortgage, or the hundreds of thousands who have nothing left at the end of each month when all bills are paid, will testify.
At the start of the year, the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan unveiled the Government’s plan to deal with the personal debt crisis.
“Debt is the Irish crisis – sovereign debt, banking debt and personal debt. We are dealing with the sovereign debt and the banking debt effectively. Now we are putting in place a legal basis to deal with the personal debt,” Noonan told the journalists who gathered for the launch of what Shatter claimed was the “most radical reform of insolvency law since the foundation of the State”.
In the same week, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was talking debt again – in Davos. Addressing mostly international delegates, he said easy access to credit had spawned “greed to a point where it just went out of control completely with a spectacular crash”. There was an outcry at home – much of it contrived – but he was probably right, at least to a degree.
2 Promises, promises
When we weren’t searching for help with individual debt we were looking for more information about collective debt or, more specifically, we wanted to find out what the hell promissory notes were and why they were going to cost us so much.
Google searchers would have found that these notes are basically government IOUs. This IOU could see us repay money borrowed to bail out the banks in 10 annual instalments. That bailout cost €31 billion and a repayment of more than €3 billion fell due in March.
We were told we would be able to cut some class of a deal on the notes, but that has yet to happen. Enda Kenny expressed confidence last week that the repayment terms we pumped into Anglo would be agreed by March. Fingers crossed!