Homeloan carry trade, profit from your mortgage?

‘Carry trade’ is where you borrow and pay interest in order to buy something else that pays higher interest, the difference (when it is working as planned) is called ‘positive carry’. Usually this is done in bonds or currency, for instance, if you were to borrow money on short term rates to finance longer term bonds. The interest being paid on the long term bonds minus the interest on the short term borrowing would be the ‘carry return’. In currency the Yen was a very popular carry trade currency as their interest rate was 0%. So you could borrow in Yen, buy something else (unfortunately this money often ended up in CDO’s) such as US Tnotes and keep the difference, the main risk being that one that the Yen would strengthen significantly meaning you couldn’t pay back the original loan.

How does this affect mortgages though?

NOTE: THIS IS NOT A SUGGESTION THAT YOU DO WHAT IS DESCRIBED HERE! THIS IS MERELY MAKING A POINT!

Read More

Deflation, the low paid, and expansion of the tax base

Here are some statistics (taken from the SBP) showing that contrary to assertions that the ‘rich don’t pay enough tax’ that in fact they pay more than anybody else. Half of all tax income is paid by the top 6.5% of workers. So about 1/15th contribute 50%. One third of all tax collected comes from the top 2.5% of workers, thus 1/40th are paying 33%. It means that things such as the new 2% levy are merely punishing those who already contribute the most! I wrote about this before when talking about the Laffer Curve and how Ireland may be driving high earners out of its jurisdiction.

Sources have said that the Irish tax base is too dependent on a small number of people, so what would happen if we were to drive them out? The implications are severe.

Read More

Trade Unions and recessions, why they should not be considered.

Trade Unions, by definition are not academic organisations dedicated towards finding working solutions for the economy, rather they are protectionist in nature, specifically towards their members, which is why I am constantly surprised by the media leverage they achieve in various ‘solutions’ they arrive at for the current crisis.

To put it simply, Trade Unions are to economic progress as Kryptonite is to Superman. The wage deflation required to restore a working status-quo in our nation will not be achieved with increments, or guarantees of high wages, rather the inverse is true, now more than ever there is an argument for removing the minimum wage and allowing employment to find its own level, alternatively we can tax ourselves into oblivion and support artificially long dole queues and public spending.

‘Artificially’? How? Simply put, there are many people now who would likely show up to work for eight Euro an hour, and there are perhaps employers who would be happy to pay this to them, but the minimum wage …

Read More

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 …

Read More

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 …

Read More

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 …

Read More

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.

Read More

Generic overview of the market 2009: by sector

I was asked by a colleague in the UK to provide an overview of the Irish mortgage market, he has often advised the Bank of England in the past on the UK buy to let market, however this time it is in relation to a talk he was due to give to an international financial services group on the Irish economy. Below are the contents of my correspondence which is a no holds barred view of the mortgage market in 2009.

Remortgage: This area is finally starting to see some life again, the rate drops are filtering through and many of the people on fixed rates taken out in 2005/2006/2007  are shopping around, as always new business attracts better rates than existing customers so there is once again an argument for switching.

However, the many people who took out trackers are basically out of the market in the long term as every single lender has removed tracker mortgages from the market, in fact, if you know of a lender willing …

Read More

Bill Gross of Pimco talks about the deficit in the USA

Bill Gross, known as ‘Mr. Bond’ runs the largest bond fund in the world, in this video he talks about many of the issues facing the economy under the new Obama presidency. Bill Gross is a fascinating character who started his careers as a professional gambler I always enjoy listening to his views on the market which he does with an intersting mix of macro/micro/common sense views.

Read More

New trends in underwriting and credit

It is 2009 and one of the things we need to look at (at least from the mortgage market perspective) is the availability of credit. Many associations such as ISME and politicians such as Joan Burton have voiced strong opinion on the need for credit to be extended to small businesses. The same credit contraction is happening in lending for property.

While our firm, and almost everybody involved in the mortgage market accept that we are not at market clearing levels, the unavailability of credit for those who do wish to buy and are capable repaying their loans is going to cause an unnecessary distortion which will drive prices down further than is rational. Without getting too deeply into the reason for the credit contraction/deleveraging process which we have covered many times here before, the point of interest is the new brand of underwriting we are likely to see.

In the past people within the financial industry were looked upon favourably, not only due to the fact that they normally represented a …

Read More