10 November 1962 |
Eddie Hobbs (born 10 November 1952) is an Irish financial advisor, television presenter and author. He is known for his presenting on RTÉ shows such as Give or Take, Rip-Off Republic, Show Me the Money and 30 Things to do with your SSIA. He has served as President of Renua Ireland since March 13th 2015 .
Hobbs worked for Zurich Life 1979 to 1991 and left his position as Marketing Manager to set up a fee-based financial planning company TIPS. In March 1993 Hobbs published a landmark report "Endowment Mortgages The Hometruth" which collapsed sales of endowment homeloans in Ireland by June 1993 after the banking and life insurance industry failed to deal with his critique. In 1995 Hobbs was made a non-executive director in the financial services firm Taylor Asset Management but resigned from it and TIPS in Jan 1996. In May 1996 after a two-month investigation, Hobbs lodged a complaint with the Irish regulator about the handling of two client files by Tony Taylor CEO of the Taylor Group. Tony Taylor fled Ireland and was located living under an alias in Eastbourne UK in 1999 by an investigator reporting to Hobbs. Taylor was extradited and pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud, forgery and destruction of documents for which he was sentenced to five years in prison. Hobbs himself was never implicated in any issues relating to company affairs and in 2007 he was exonerated by the Irish High Court and praised by the presiding judge for showing "efficiency and determination and for not standing idly" when he pursued Taylor's activities from 1995 to 1996.
In 1996 he submitted a complaint to The Competition Authority alleging that the Government supported Irish Insurance Federation Remuneration Agreement was offensive to competition law since 1991, had engendered a culture of consensus decision making, restricted competition and prevented costs and commission disclosure to consumers. The complaint was upheld in 1998 forcing the Government to introduce statutory commission and charges disclosure. The Life industry was forced to reissue its product range to comply with the Insurance Act 2000. Hobbs acted in a voluntary capacity as a director and Finance spokesperson for The Consumers association of Ireland from 1993 to 2006. He has qualifications in accounting, finance and financial planning. Hobbs complaint to the EU Taxation Commission that the Irish tax code was being adjusted to create competitive advantage to domestic Irish funds in breach of The Treaty of Rome, resulted in the Commission writing to Finance Minister McCreevey who adjusted the new gross roll up tax regime to all OECD funds. When Minister McCreevy announced the SSIA savings scheme Hobbs launched the Consumers Association of Ireland 'Savermark' standard that required banks to link deposit interest to the ECB base rate movements to prevent margins widening. Hobbs accused the Life Insurance industry of colluding to avoid the 'Savermark' pricing and called for a Competition Authority investigation.
He presented the RTÉ show Rip-Off Republic in 2005, a show preoccupied with artificially high development land prices, the perceived high personal taxes, corporate margins and cartels/monopolies in Ireland. In it Hobbs prophetically claimed, in a reference to land prices and inflated costs that "Ireland was eating its young". Prior to this, Hobbs presented the television show Show Me the Money, where he helped various people, from farmers to hairdressers, to improve their finances and which won two IFTA TV awards. He has also presented a three-part programme, 30 Things to do with your SSIA, in which he gives a humorous list of ideas for spending the money held in a Special Savings Incentive Account (SSIA). Notably he advised people against investing their SSIAs, along with borrowed bank money, in Irish Investment Property (RIPS) and explained investment in property PLCs as a better choice. He outlined Minsky's bubble theory and suggested the Irish market was at the latter steps of it. In Show Me the Money he repeatedly advised since 2004 that property prices in Ireland are only going one way — down — and strongly advised against residential investment property purchase in Ireland. In 2007 Irish property prices started to reverse. An outspoken populist critic of the vested interests in Ireland, especially the producer groups who "control the country", Hobbs has often repeated that "There's one game in town: development." He spoke out against Jumbo mortgages.
During the run up to the 2007 Irish general election, Hobbs and his colleague Matt Cooper presented a political programme called Polls Apart on Irish TV station TV3, in which they interview the main Irish political party leaders about what they intend to do after the election, if they were to be deemed elected into government.
He co-presented RTÉ's The Consumer Show from 2010 to 2012. He quit the show in 2012 after concerns of being 'stifled'. He regularly appears in media debates on the nature of the Irish economic austerity policy heavily critical of the cross subsidising of the public sector and inaction in dealing with Irish consumer insolvency. He presented My Civil War, a social history TV programme on the Irish Civil War with RTÉ's documentary unit. In November 2013 he presented an hour long pilot of 'The Give or Take Club' an experiment in social cooperation based in a rural town in a joint venture between Endemol, RTÉ, Independent Pictures and the Presenter
In 2004 he released Short Hands Long Pockets his first book as a fund raiser for The Jack & Jill Children's Foundation for whom he acts as patron since 2005. His second book LOOT! was published in 2006. Each book was a best seller. In March 2009, Hobbs released his third book, Debt Busters by Currach Press.
From 2007 to 2010 he acted an editorial director of monthly magazine You & Your Money owned and published by Ashville Publications.He wrote weekly columns for The Daily Star, Sunday Independent and Sunday Business Post. In October 2009 he launched Energise — How to Survive and Prosper in the Coming Age of Scarcity, High Inflation and Peak Oil as an eBook from his website, all profits from which go to the Irish children's charity, The Jack & Jill Foundation. He is a frequent commentator and writer on social, economic and financial affairs on Irish TV, radio and newspapers. Hobbs campaigned against Government appropriation of private pension savings, encouraging savers to instruct pension Trustees that they'd no authority as custodians to meet Revenue demands, resulting in the Finance Act containing a €380 daily fine for Trustees for every day the levy payment was delayed. Hobbs redirected the campaign to write to President McAleese to refer the Act to the Supreme Court on the basis that it was not taxing legislation but interference with property rights. The Irish President signed the Finance Act into law. The total taken in the pension levy to 2015 is estimated at €2bn.
In a controversial Wall Street Journal article in October 2012 Hobbs described the Irish Government as a captive "So while Time magazine and others eulogize the plucky leader of the Irish people, the truth is that Enda Kenny leads a Vichy government—captive externally to creditors that still insist on loading bank debt onto the sovereign, and internally to a tribe of insiders led by union godfathers in a deal that protects the government's own excessive pay and pensions while bankers lean over its shoulders to rewrite insolvency laws. This isn't just crony capitalism. It's crony democracy".
Hobbs miscalculated the slump in demand in developed economies especially in Europe. Fearing that money printing operations would lead to an inflation break out, he advised mortgage holders with high debt to income to buy certainty and fix rates. It was wrong. After initially raising rates the ECB was forced to cut them to historic lows. In 2007 as a non-executive director he helped launch Brendan Investments Plc a ten year collective investment in European property for smaller investors after obtaining Central Bank approval as the first retail investment product to comply with the EU Prospectus Directive. The intake at under €13m fell short of expectations and although entering the stable German commercial property market, the vehicle was set back by early loses when its anchor tenant, Germany's largest retail group Arcandor went into liquidation during the banking crisis. He retired as a non-Executive Director 2015.
Awards and posts held
In 2005 Hobbs was awarded Honorary Patronage of the Trinity College, Dublin University Philosophical Society. He was appointed by the Irish Government as a Director of the National Consumer Agency in 2007 having served on its interim board since 2005. He resigned in 2009. In 2011 Hobbs was made an honorary life member of the University College Dublin Law Society for his contributions as a consumer advocate.
In 2013 Hobbs helped set up Own Our Oil a citizens advocacy group focused on overhauling Ireland's oil and gas licensing regime, and made a pre-Budget submission in July 2013 calling for the sale of licences to be treated like development land rezoning and subject to Capital Gains Tax of 66% to recover economic rents to the Irish people. In March 2014 Hobbs launched Own Our Oil - the Fight for Ireland's Economic Freedom a compilation of essays from a multi-disciplined team of writers covering, planning, environment, taxation, strategy, industry, geology, history, commencing a national public briefing campaign. During the Irish Water controversy Hobbs has called for the redrafting of Article 10 of the Irish Constitution to return the ownership of all natural resources to The Irish People from ownership by The State which it took in the 1937 Constitution, reducing the State role to a trustee required to act in the common good but justicable through the Courts when in breach of its duties, in a move designed to alienate the ability of the State to sell off natural resources, including water to preserve itself during future crises.
- B'duff or Kells for new Hobbs, RTÉ programme 21 August 2013, The Anglo-Celt.
- Liam Collins; Frank Khan (2005-09-11). "Consumer hero Hobbs 'nailed to cross' by critics". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
- "Eddie Hobbs show attracts record viewers". BreakingNews.ie. 2005-08-17. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
- "Thirty Things To Do With Your SSAI With Eddie Hobbs". Presspack. RTÉ. 16 October 2006. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
- "Time's up for our Bertie, says Hobbs". Irish Independent. 2007-05-06. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
- Breda Heffernan (2012-11-20). "Eddie Hobbs quits RTÉ 'Consumer Show' show after concerns of being 'stifled'". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
- "Local Toymaster stores support Jack and Jill". Bray People. 2013-08-14. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
- "Eddie Hobbs launches oil and gas tax reform campaign". BreakingNews.ie. 2013-07-23. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
- Mark Paul (2013-07-26). "A slick move by Hobbs". Irish Times. Retrieved 2013-08-26.