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

'Thrift' and why it will be the next fashionable trend

If the Celtic Tiger brought the fashion of consumption and SUV’s then certainly the polar opposite will come true in a downturn, and that will be the emergence of ‘Thrift’ as a way of doing things. Today we will look at some popular thrift websites, as well as how recycling will come into play in the way we do things for the coming years.

The older generation must be secretly laughing at us, they were frugal and appreciated the value of money, I have heard this said on radio, the television, and even on the streets. I suppose it never hit me too much personally because I’m not a flash type of guy, I own a car but I cycle to work (partly due to my feelings on environmental responsibility and party because its faster than sitting in traffic), I could afford nicer clothes but I don’t feel the need to be impressive in that department so my banged up civvies will suffice (as far as I’m concerned). …

Read More

‘Thrift’ and why it will be the next fashionable trend

If the Celtic Tiger brought the fashion of consumption and SUV’s then certainly the polar opposite will come true in a downturn, and that will be the emergence of ‘Thrift’ as a way of doing things. Today we will look at some popular thrift websites, as well as how recycling will come into play in the way we do things for the coming years.

The older generation must be secretly laughing at us, they were frugal and appreciated the value of money, I have heard this said on radio, the television, and even on the streets. I suppose it never hit me too much personally because I’m not a flash type of guy, I own a car but I cycle to work (partly due to my feelings on environmental responsibility and party because its faster than sitting in traffic), I could afford nicer clothes but I don’t feel the need to be impressive in that department so my banged up civvies will suffice (as far as I’m concerned). …

Read More

Every little helps…. Mortgages by Tesco?

I read an interesting article today (here) about Tesco. Apparently Tesco Personal Finance will offer mortgages in the UK in the near future, however, they have not decided if they will include broker facing product ranges in the recently announced offering.

The supermarket chain has taken on Benny Higgins, former head of retail business at HBOS, and in press over the weekend he says there are plans to expand the Tesco Personal Finance offering to include mortgage and current accounts products.

He said “Today there is an opportunity to be a responsible lender in mortgages. At present there are still funding problems but that will change. In the second quarter of next year financing will be freer and there could be a very active re-mortgaging market.”

Tesco have (in Ireland) faced bitter competition from discounters such as Aldi and Lidl, however, neither of those firms have entered into the personal finance arena. Tesco is already doing car insurance, …

Read More

A tale of two commissions.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

Some of you may recognise this line from ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens, however, I am not a classical scholar, instead it sums up my monetary sentiments for 2008. On one hand we are seeing property prices [the very foundation of the majority of Irish wealth] wither away, as global conditions worse, especially in the USA where house prices are now falling quicker than they did during the Great Depression.

There has been more than a few articles in this blog about the current issues in the broker market, the description I would use to describe it at the moment tends to modulate between ‘ugly’ and …

Read More