Understanding Deposit & Lending Margin relationships

Part of the way you can get a view of a lenders margins is by looking at the deposit margins they offer because deposit margins usually reflect – at least to some degree – lending margins. This is because there are two sides to a balance sheet with any bank, on one hand you have deposits which you attract in order to fund lending so if you have low deposit margins that is probably indicative of having low lending margins (although not always!), however, if you have higher deposit margins it is almost certain that you have high lending margins.

NIB released their results today so we’ll take them as an example as well as Anglo Irish Bank to demonstrate the way that you can read into certain elements of how a bank is run from the outside and also on the type of business they engage in.

For a start you’ll need to know that average margin on a mortgage with many banks is less than 1% and that is from …

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Short selling, what is it? What does short selling do?

Most of us are familiar with the idea of being able to buy and then sell a share, normally this is referred to as going ‘long’ in other words you feel it is a good share and you want to hold on to it. The opposite of this is where you sell and then buy which is going ‘short’, in other words you don’t think the stock is good and you don’t want to hold on to it so you borrow it and sell it today, buy it tomorrow (and dispose again to the original owner) and your position is set by the difference.

In a short sale a drop in the price makes you money because (for instance) if you sold today at $3.00 and bought back at $2.80 then you made 20c per share. If however, the price goes up to say $3.20 then you have to make up the difference. This is before we get into other areas like options or any derivatives. An easy …

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Irish Government bonds, what is happening?

Governments often have to raise money to achieve their objectives over the short and medium term, in Ireland we do this by raising bonds which is basically where a buyer (private or institutional) acts as the ‘bank’ for the state. The creditworthiness of our nation is currently the lowest in the Eurozone, below that of countries like Greece and Portugal. This means that we have to pay more interest to attract a buyer.

Today Moody’s (a rating agency) has put Ireland on watch for a debt rating downgrade (it means our debt will be considered less secure), and that means that we will have to pay even more in order to attract new investors for bonds. How this trickles down to the person on the street is simple, we’ll have to foot the bill eventually because the ultimate guarantor of state borrowing are the people in that country. The tools to achieve this with are higher taxes and less public spending, both equally unpopular.

For now we …

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The secondary insurance market 'settlements'

Often you hear about a ‘secondary market‘ and often it is related to bonds, in particular the likes of TBills (Tbills are US Government bonds that run less than 12 months, TNotes on the other hand run longer than a year). What this means is that there is a market which operates outside of the primary market – where the transaction first takes place. In the treasury realm (the likes of Tbills) the primary market is from the Government to the buyer – either institutional or private – and the secondary market is between (for instance) one private individual and another. Why does it exist? Simply because the maturity date on the bond may not suit the holder, so private individual A will sell to B rather than wait until the time the bond matures.

A Secondary market exists in many other areas too, one example is that of Life Assurance. There are companies …

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The secondary insurance market ‘settlements’

Often you hear about a ‘secondary market‘ and often it is related to bonds, in particular the likes of TBills (Tbills are US Government bonds that run less than 12 months, TNotes on the other hand run longer than a year). What this means is that there is a market which operates outside of the primary market – where the transaction first takes place. In the treasury realm (the likes of Tbills) the primary market is from the Government to the buyer – either institutional or private – and the secondary market is between (for instance) one private individual and another. Why does it exist? Simply because the maturity date on the bond may not suit the holder, so private individual A will sell to B rather than wait until the time the bond matures.

A Secondary market exists in many other areas too, one example is that of Life Assurance. There are companies …

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Some past market performance figures

Naturally past economic cycles don’t tell us exactly what will happen in the future, but as Mark Twain once said ‘history doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme’. And for that reason it is worth looking at some key figures from the past, showing that often the gains in bull markets are all found at the cusp of a bear market.

The stock market generally reacts before consumers and the real economy do and equally it will generally see recovery before them as well. Taking a view of the 20th century markets we can see the following:

In the recession of 1926 to 1927 the market increased by 41%. The years of 1933 to 1937 saw some of the most impressive gains ever in the S&P 500. The eight month recession of 1945 saw markets rise 19.5%, the eleven month recession of 1948-49 saw the markets go up 15.2%. Again in 1953-1954 the ten month recession ended with a market that rose 24.2%.

Any reader will note that much of these ‘gains’ did …

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Housing dysfunction

There are some who are saying that there are amazing deals to be found in the current market and if you consider price only then you may be tempted to believe this. Yields could also present a strong argument for property investment if yields stay at historic levels, however yields are likely to fall in 2009 and will remain stagnant until at least 2011/12 for several reasons which we will outline, we will also look at some of the current dysfunction in the market by examining a few types of sellers and how their personal situations express themselves in their selling behaviour.

The first group bought in the last days of the boom, they likely used minimal deposits (or even 100% finance) in order to purchase and they are in deep negative equity, they are now no longer on fixed rates – which tended to be 1/2/3yr fixed- and may have moved into the variable market which revises their payments upwards. One can be forgiven for thinking they may be a ‘distressed seller’ – the distress …

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First Active set to close.

It was announced yesterday that First Active is going to close operations in Ireland. This will start with 750 job losses coming into effect via voluntary redundancies, 550 of which will be in the Republic. Unions in Ulsterbank/First Active have said that bank workers are ‘scapegoats’, we spoke about the coming job losses in April of 2008 here.

RBS have made record losses, this lead to their bailout by the UK government. On the ground here it means that at 45 locations First Active will merge with Ulsterbank branches. The removal of First Active from the market will mean there is less competition in Irish lending, this will set the basis for increased margins on lending – at a time when the ECB is dropping rates. Having said that, First Active and Ulsterbank prices are amongst the most expensive in the market with variable rates of over 6% when market leading rates are under 4%.

In …

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Beware the Contract/Valuation trap

Our firm has seen a rise in what we describe as the Contract/Valuation trap, so we will tell you what it is and how to avoid it as well as steps you can take should you find yourself in this position. The contract-valuation trap is one that occurs when the price of a property being purchased drops significantly between the time the contract is signed and the property is closed. All lending is generally based on LTV (loan to value – see our jargon page for a description of that), however, a valuation which sets the market price in the banks eyes is what the loan is based on, it is not based on what a person was willing to pay for it and this helps to give an independent opinion of the worth of a property.

Another issue is that in a falling market sellers become more ‘motivated’ and by that we mean that they will more readily accept a lower than asking price offer, …

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How to rescue the financial system

I found this clip today, it is talking about some of the issues I mentioned in the post ‘Survival of the Weakest’ and it talks about the need to save healthy banks in favour of saving weaker banks. The common sense approach would be that you don’t privatise profits and socialise all losses and that you focus on saving firms (albeit banks) that are entities worth saving to begin with.

“A sound banker, alas, is not one who foresees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional way along with his fellows, so that no one can really blame him” – John Maynard Keynes.

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