Non-credit fuelled booms

There has been an ongoing narrative that the last housing boom (and many others) was only possible due to excessive credit. We have argued for a long time that this is a mistaken interpretation. While credit can make a bad situation worse, just like adding fuel to a flame, it is not the genesis of the problem.

We were pleased to see this view articulated by the Central Bank Governor Philip Lane recently. He stated that “cash buyers of property are limiting the ability of the Central Bank to control house prices through mortgage lending rules” he “singled out cash buyers as one of the key drivers of inflation in the Irish property market. Cash buyers used to account for about 25 per cent of house purchases in Ireland, but since the crash and ensuing credit crunch this figure has risen to 60 per cent“.

This is a point we have been making for years, firstly was that first time buyers are not, and have not been the problem. That was part of why we were specifically …

Read More

ECB Putting Pressure on Irish Banks?

European Central Bank is putting pressure on Ireland’s main banks to deal with the non-performing mortgages on their books. The banks are coming up with ways to remove these non-performing loans off their balance sheets. Considering the possibility of special purpose vehicles (SPV) that package all of the non-performing loans. They will need to sell the majority of the stake of the SPV to investors for them to remove it from their books. By creating SPVs, banks will still be able to service and have a stake in the mortgages. They are starting to create leads on investors currently.

With the ECB already overseeing a lot of the main banks in Ireland in the end of 2014, they have cut their average of 27% of non-performing loans off their balance sheet in 2013 to 14% at the end of 2016.

In the recent years, US private equity firms have refinanced millions of non-performing loans from Irish lenders. Showing a demand for such bonds because of the great success of residential mortgage backed securitisation. The banks will need to structure any …

Read More

Don’t pay the investment mortgage, just pay us

Something that is often overlooked when people hear mortgage statistics is the various shenanigans that are going on underneath the headline figures. For instance, people are often asked to stop paying investment mortgages and to divert the rent to the family home. This is one creditor playing hard-ball with the borrower at the expense of another creditor.

While it does make sense to prioritise your family home, there is also the issue of wondering why the rent shouldn’t go to the investment loan provider given that it is generated from the asset they backed? Clearly this is a judgement call, but when the family home lender is effectively asking for that income then it strays into the area of being an ethical one as well.

The letter to the left is one such example, while it doesn’t state ‘shaft the investment loan provider’ as clear as you might expect, it was the basics of what the borrower was told to do.

They use a bankers vernacular which says ‘we won’t …

Read More

Sunday Business Post – Deposits

This story appeared in the print and online edition of the Sunday Business Post on the 9th of June 2013.

Another banking win is how some heralded the  move by the NTMA to drop their savings rates, in some instances these rates reducing by over 40%. The savings products are distributed on an agency basis by An Post, but was it a decision made due to bank pressure and is there anything a saver can do about it?

To start we need to remember that typical deposit rates in normal nations with healthy banks are generally about one percent or less. Our nation is not typical, our banks are still far from healthy, so we have seen elevated rates for the last five years.

At one point in late 2008 early 2009 you could get over 5% on a one year deposit. And although the banks whine about An Post having state backing and great rates they didn’t do this when their members had the best rates during the financial crisis and only existed due to state support, sauce for …

Read More

2008: When banks independently all decided to make a similar decision

This week five years ago is when independent mortgage advisors were in the middle of getting some harsh news, some lenders were pulling out of the market completely, others were informing us of 50% cuts to procurement fees.

Fair or unfair? In light of things like Croke Park it would be seen as totally unfair, you’d never get any other industry that takes a 50% hit like this as fast (and then there is the separate issue of lending dropping 95% on top of the 50% reduction).

Brokerage has already been down the path the public sector are on. I recall sitting across the table from PTsb chief David Guinane who in late 2007 called in the broker bodies and informed them that they were getting a reduction that they might not be happy about, but that this was not something we could negotiate.

There was talk in brokerage of boycotting both them and Irish Life in return, and while we were still debating about what to do all of the other …

Read More

Paying for an Irish haircut with a Cypriot haircut

We don’t know the individual profile of every depositor in Cyprus but we do have some gross numbers, there are about 19,000 depositors at Bank of Cyprus with with uninsured deposits of €8bn, they will face a 40% haircut, at Laiki there are uninsured deposits of c. €3.2bn and they’ll get about an 80% haircut, some are saying that virtually all of that may be lost in the end workings.

Depositors getting creased was one of the things that justified central banks creation, which makes this ongoing story unusual in its own right.

As for the haircuts in BoC, 19,000 accounts and €8bn equate to about €421,000 per uninsured account – not precise because obviously they don’t all have the same balances, but to average that out with a 40% reduction comes to a haircut of approximately €168,400 that’s quite a haircut!

To put it in actual ‘haircut’ terms, it’s like this, I get a haircut about once every 5 weeks, which give or take turns into about 11 a year, they cost €13 every time, round it to €15 …

Read More

Banks acting like teenagers?

I smiled when I heard that Central Bank director Fiona Muldoon had described dealing with the banks as ‘like dealing with troublesome teenagers‘. This was referring to their resistance to resolving their loan book issues for the last five years.

The thing that wasn’t mentioned was ‘why’, and as always, it’s the ‘why’ that plagues many of us the most. The ‘delay and pray’ response is a standard tactic deployed by lenders when they have a crisis, this has occurred in Japan in the past, is currently an issue in Vietnam and also in the USA. Banking is one of the industries where honesty is not the point, survival is. At any time a bank could unwind if everybody made their claims against them and the same broadly holds true for dealing with bad debts.

If a bank started to deal with one bad debt (at a time when there is a pent up mass of them in the …

Read More

The trend in lending and deposits

We have been banging on for quite some time about the trend in mortgage and deposit rates, namely that mortgage rates will continue to rise and that deposit rates will start to drop (already happening) and this will continue downwards – in particular you’ll have to watch for zero rated fund movements.

Zero rated funds are the money that banks keep for you (a liability for them) in the likes of demand and current accounts. You used to get zero interest but in return you got free banking. Now more lenders are demanding that you keep a certain balance in the account or you get charged a fee, such as Bank of Ireland’s recent decision to require a €3,000 balance to qualify for free banking.

This creates a near ‘negative interest rate’ for people who don’t keep that sum in their current account because fees mean the bank will cover all operational cost associated with your account for regular banking activity while making money elsewhere with those funds or …

Read More

Ed Harrison – talking about banks & conflicts of interest

An excellent analysis of the issue with banks being bailed out, banks get into trouble and they are rescued (bailed out) or they default and creditors take a hit. However, often times the sovereign gets into trouble as well. Does the Sovereign then privatize assets or default themselves? Assets such as the banks fall into the hands of foreigners at that point – as we have already seen with Bank of Ireland.

Read More