The Criteria Crunch

We have just been informed that one the lenders we deal with are only getting through applications received by the 4th of March, that is a near 20 day delay on new applications they are considering. Why the backlog? Has the market suddenly recovered? Are they being flooded?

No, rather it is a case that in banks nearly everybody has been enlisted to work in ‘collections’ and the staff were taken from every other department, in particular the ‘new business’ section. The bank we are talking about today merged their direct channel with brokerage so even going via a branch makes no difference, the whole company has only four working underwriters.

So inasmuch as the credit explosion saw too many resources being thrown at lending and the expansion of same, the crunch is doing the exact opposite by overshooting the mark in the reduction of resources. For a publicly quoted bank to be 20 days behind means that the market is facing yet another hurdle in reaching its rational level. Lending hasn’t frozen, people are …

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Will Specialist or Sub-Prime lenders be better off?

With the news coming out daily about prime lenders facing higher and higher impairment charges it begs the question of who will do better during a downturn, specialist/sub prime lenders or prime high street banks?

Banks stated that they feel impairments of up to 90 basis points were likely, some have revised this figure higher several times with NIB predicting impairment of upwards of 300 basis points. Sub-prime lenders on the other hand start off with predictions of high impairment and they price and gauge the risk accordingly from the outset. Given that starting point, could it be a case that Irish specialist lenders may come out the other side of the liquidity crisis with an overall book that fares proportionately on margins than other prime lenders?

To answer this question we must first consider margins, with many banks typical margin is from 1% to 1.5% on average, however, with many prime lenders this margin is  lower because of low margin trackers that were a point of heavy competition between …

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What next lenders?

Here are some ideas about where we feel banks will go next in terms of the lending market, these are only opinions, whether or not we see any of this coming to fruition can only be told by time.

1. Early Redemption Bonus: Early redemption means ‘paying off your mortgage early’, in fact when you switch your loan this is what happens, or when you clear it entirely. Why would a bank offer you a cash bonus for actually moving your loan away from them though? Or for paying it off? Isn’t the idea that you pay lots of interest?

Actually that’s a mixed answer, normally it would be ‘yes’, banks want you to keep paying interest over time, but now we are seeing a few things that we have not seen before. Firstly are negative margin loans, if you have a tracker of anything less than ECB + 1.5% (ish) then the likelihood is that the bank is not making any money on your loan after their operational cost, therefore it may be worthwhile to give you a monetary …

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Euribor, the distant cousin of the ECB base rate

We have written in the past about tracker mortgages becoming an endangered species. It seems that now we are witnessing the demise of them, the interbank rates and the ECB have become so disparate to each other that one is no longer an accurate gauge of the other. What does that mean?

The ECB is the rate set by the European Central Bank, and it is the ‘base rate’ (currently 4.25%), but banks can’t generally borrow at that price and instead they buy on the ‘interbank‘ market, this is the largest market in the world in which over 1.9 Trillion is traded every single day! It is how banks access the ‘Euribor‘ market (European interbank offered rate). This is basically run as an auction and because liquidity is an issue we have seen the prices of the Euribor rise and rise, demand is outstripping supply.

Why is the Euribor rising? Simply put, fractional banking means that banks must have a constant inflow of money …

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US fed will inject $200 billion in cash in an effort to end the credit crunch

The United States Federal Reserve have announced that they will give a $200 billion dollar cash injection to ease the tensions in the credit market that are threatening to stall the wider US economy. They will buy mortgage backed security in return for cash and that will hopefully free up the credit markets and lending. Does that mean the Fed is taking on the risk the banks created? In a nutshell, yes, it does mean that, they are going to accept mortgage backed bonds from banks that were finding it hard to raise cash through the normal channels. So these institutions are not good enough for the market but they’ll do for the Fed.

The banks and financial institutions have taken a beating due to the credit crunch but it seems now that the fed is willing to stand up and be hit on behalf of the banks, so its like a guy who steps in to break up a fight and he turns out to be …

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