Zombie Banks acting like Zombies

I wrote a piece in today’s Irish Sun about our banks and that the state owned operations are showing a decided lack of inventiveness when it comes to helping existing borrowers.

This may be down to disincentives, issues with management or the Department of Finance, but suffice to say, it doesn’t make sense that non-state owned banks and foreign banks are innovating in potentially beneficial ways for their customers and the banks we paid to save are not.

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Talking to John Schroy

As many of you know, when I like a person’s ideas or research I’ll generally try to call them and talk about whatever the topic is that they are expert on. John Schroy is no different, he is a man whom I first came across via his excellent site ‘Capital Flow Analysis‘ which has tutorials on how to examine the Federal Reserves Capital Flow statistics.

He is also a really experienced practitioner – I have a soft spot for people who have been in the trade with lots of experience – who was in the trade across several continents and with a divergent mix of developed and developing markets at the same time.

I spoke to him in his Florida home last week….

KD: Hi John, so, what exactly is the ‘flow of funds analysis’

JS: Flow of funds analysis is a technique of interpreting capital market trends, using flow of funds accounts. The most useful set of these accounts internationally is published in the US by the Fed, but …

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Apply for a mortgage online

There has been so much progress in the mortgage market, and nowadays so many companies have your information on file that many people reckon you can easily apply for a mortgage online, surely it wouldn’t be that big a deal right? In many cases you should also be able to get your conveyancing done in a similar manner with minimal upset, but in every respect there is almost no progress in terms of online trading for mortgages.

There are several software solutions that send information to a lender but none of them offer an actual ‘suite’ solution, by that we mean sending information, property auto-tagged pdf scans of documents, and the ability to synchronise updates so that a person can effectively deal with a lender over the web.

Every site you go to that says ‘apply online‘ is really saying ‘fill in our form and we’ll call you’ because there isn’t a way to fully apply for a mortgage online at present, and the job of …

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‘What If’ … Economists were a few hundred years ahead of the game?

The Trinity Science Gallery is just across the street from our offices, proximity, linked with my interest in science (confession: I dropped out of Science in NUIM many years ago before studying business – but as a kid I actually wanted to be a scientist) means that I go there a lot, and they have these great exhibitions on regularly, the latest is called ‘What If’ and it poses questions that are part morality part science, part pie in the sky, but the fundamental aim of getting you thinking is totally successful.

Which brings me to something interesting that I noticed when I was there last week, one of the exhibitions was ‘What if we tried to make a toaster from scratch‘ (video here).

The actual description of this is as follows: ‘Thwaites (man behind the project) went on a quest to build an electric toaster from scratch, …

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The Stimulus Scam

In this clip Peter Schiff argues against the stimulus packages, calling for less government and a need for savings. Normally economic theory supports that increasing savings during a downturn (Keynes – paradox of thrift) hurts the economy. Peter says ‘au contraire’ and this clip is an interesting take on the man they named ‘Dr. Doom’, he is however, the same man who saw with absolute foresight the coming financial crash and he wrote a book about it called ‘Crash Proof’, he is a fascinating commentator.

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A 'Knowledge' based economy

Today the Irish Times had an article about an American University opening a college here, in Dungarvan Co. Waterford. It occured to me that the Island of Saints and Scholars could do with trying to encourage this type of investment if we are to truly become a ‘knowledge economy’. In creating centres of excellence it is vital to ensure that the best research and advancement is happening in a certain place, in I.T. that may be Silicon Valley, in Finance the City of London prevails.

Harvard University Professors are not paid millions, rather they teach there for prestige. With Universities such as Trinity and our strong heritage of learning (if you want an interesting take on our written word tradition a book called ‘How the Irish saved civilization‘ is fascinating) there is no reason we should not see more universities wanting to locate here and have …

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A ‘Knowledge’ based economy

Today the Irish Times had an article about an American University opening a college here, in Dungarvan Co. Waterford. It occured to me that the Island of Saints and Scholars could do with trying to encourage this type of investment if we are to truly become a ‘knowledge economy’. In creating centres of excellence it is vital to ensure that the best research and advancement is happening in a certain place, in I.T. that may be Silicon Valley, in Finance the City of London prevails.

Harvard University Professors are not paid millions, rather they teach there for prestige. With Universities such as Trinity and our strong heritage of learning (if you want an interesting take on our written word tradition a book called ‘How the Irish saved civilization‘ is fascinating) there is no reason we should not see more universities wanting to locate here and have …

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The end of ownership

I had an interesting conversation with an Estate Agent recently who has been in the industry for over thirty years and he said that he felt he was seeing the ‘end of ownership’ in the young people today. That really got me thinking.

‘What do you mean by that?’ I naturally enquired, and basically he said that he was seeing a trend in young people not feeling any incentive to buy a house, not only in the short term but ever, ‘why would they buy, kit a place out and go to all the expense when they can just rent a place ready to go and any problem is the landlords?’ was his response. And one must admit that there is a large dose of common sense in that. Renting is no more dead money than mortgage interest is dead money, however, what it could mean for the future is that we become a nation of landed and un-landed citizens, which is ironic given that land ownership has played such a strong part in …

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