KBC move to 90% LTV

This is a very healthy sign for the mortgage market, and in our opinion it could mean that 2010 might mark the low point for credit that we have been watching out for.

In 2009 KBC under-lent, they had €1bn and didn’t lend out anywhere near that, they are also here to stay, and prior to the crisis they had about 1/8th of the market share. The fact that they are rolling out a higher loan to value is a very confident sign that

Banks have a few internal policy tools to control lending 1.    Curtailing the amount of lending – we see that already, mortgage lending is about 85% down from the peak of 40bn p.a. , peak wasn’t exactly a gauge of normal, but half of that would be normal, and even on that basis it’s down 75% – that story still has to play out 2.    Rate increases: this has the same effect as central bank rate increases, it reduces lending and everybody has increased their margins by at least 1% in the last year, you and …

Read More

Can a bank take back my tracker mortgage?

There has been some talk of this lately, and it is an issue that we have raised concerns on in the past – to get the good news out early – there is only a very small chance that banks might ever actually do this, but just in case we already pointed this out in 2009 and early 2010.

We’ll assume though that it is going to happen (for the sake of this post), so how will they do it?

The recent points have been regarding the small print in some of the tracker contracts, one example below is taken from a KBC tracker contract, but suffice to say similar or other ‘same end result’ conditions exist in other contracts (click on the image to see a larger version).

In this example KBC have had every right to remove trackers from their clients since …

Read More

Everybody pays, even the innocent

There were many innocent parties to the credit fuelled property bubble, they are generally those who didn’t borrow, or who carried no debt, choosing instead to live frugally, and if they used debt they used it wisely. Many of these people are at the polar ends of the age spectrum, very young (who don’t even have access to credit) or much older (who have paid off their mortgages), something we will all need to get used to though is the fact that everybody is going to pay for the mess left behind, this goes farther than NAMA.

The process I am describing is already under way, the very payments system (our financial infrastructure), is going to be used to generate economic rent from the people of Ireland in order to bring in more profit to banks so that they can repair their balance sheets. This price will be paid by the taxpayer outside of the bailout money already being supplied on our behalf. This will be even paid by people who manage to …

Read More

USA: Failed mortgage modification programme

Kudlow talks to Christian Weller, Center for American Progress and Dan Mitchell, Cato Institute on the topic of debt relief and mortgages in the USA, the argument for straight out write-downs on mortgages is compelling, and yet so too is the argument for allowing the market to work. Sometimes believing in the free market is seen as a ‘dirty thing’, but the side effect of trying to manage an economy from every aspect is also a bad thing (look no further than the former Eastern Bloc). Somewhere in the middle is a fair and sustainable path, but ideology bias is usually in the way before the conversation passes go, for that reason you will favour one speaker over the other quite often from the outset. However, ideology doesn’t actually get results, it is merely the platform from which a concept is launched and the better path would be to have an operational model to prove the point – although that isn’t always practical.

Read More

Banks are not competitive?

Roger Bootle notes that markets do quite well at the end of a recession and at the start of a recovery by drawing the benefits of the future down into the present. Roger has a lot to say on the topic of banks, in particular that of banker bonuses – he states (and we agree) that when banks become ‘too big to fail’ they essentially are oligopolies and hence they are able to pay so well. From an Irish perspective the domination of AIB and BOI put some stock in this theory.

Read More

Toxic traders, capitalising on volumes

Joe Saluzzi of Themis Trading (I mistakenly read the link initially as ‘the mistrading’!) have recently published a paper which accuses traders of intentionally trading huge volumes where they buy and sell for the same price and in the process make a half a cent per share. The volume of trading is fictitious ‘high frequency traders’, what they do is buy and sell and collect liquidity rebates from the exchange (note: 50 milliseconds is a huge amount of time) in this game. Do it 8 billion times and it really starts to add up.

This is just depressing, actual investors don’t get to join in because the firms engaged in this are doing it within the actual exchanges using the fastest computer technology available. They also have an unfair advantage in how they trade because they use rules intended to match buyers and sellers to their advantage, they find hidden liquidity and in essence remove it from the market as profit.

The most powerful deterrent would be to make a rule …

Read More

Rent or Buy the 5 year outlook

Today we are going to look at a comparison of renting vs buying with a five year outlook given the current interest rates, the yield outlook and lastly the cost of renting.

The following figures factor in real life examples taken from existing lending rates/rental prices and the forward estimation on rates is taken from presumptions in the current yield curve (chart is below). The terms applied in each example are 30 years, and the purchase is assumed to be a couple buying together, we can examine the impact for a single person in a separate post.

If you were to take a price of €313,000 for a two bed property (current average taken as a mean of prices in todays daft report – this figure is the Dublin average price across all geographic areas, the figures can be determined for any county the same way) and do the following.

1. Compare the total cost of ownership (we are not factoring in house insurance, bin …

Read More

Geithner plan, re-explained by Khan Academy

Another video from the Khan Academy, talking about the working reality of the Geithner Plan. Really it seems that the plans sole purpose is to allow investors to use taxpayer money to buy assets with all upside and little or no downside by using a credit default swap to insure the deal. Even a zero return isn’t to be balked at when investing during a period of deflation, the way it’s described here puts it out in plain english.

Read More

Forensic Underwriting, when is it 'too much'?

Lenders will underwrite loans. That is part of the process, it is a natural and normal occurrence in finance, to underwrite, to ensure that you are researching the proposed deal to the extent that you can be sure that you are not taking a pointless risk, but when is it ‘too much’?

Traditionally an employee would be asked to give several forms of documentation as evidence of their position so that they could be considered for a loan. Normally this would have been a straight forward process, and one that generally works.

However, as of late we are seeing ‘forensic underwriting’ becoming more prevalent. The degree to which a lender wants to delve into a persons situation is rising beyond the traditional norms and in some cases we believe it is going well beyond the call of duty.

Let’s be frank, we need banks, who else will lend money to a stranger to buy an asset? Without banks it would only occur between people who have a lot of money personally …

Read More