All island rail proposal for Ireland

On April 7, 2021, Ireland’s Transport Minister Eamon Ryan came forward with Northern Ireland’s Minister of Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon, to announce an upcoming review of a proposed “all-island rail network.” This review will entail looking into various ways can improve connectivity between major cities and support regional development; additionally, the feasibility of the use of high-speed rail will be considered. The aim of these improvements is to boost sustainability and bolster economic growth across the entire island. Rail freight is also hoped to see better results.

Successful implementation of this proposal could have other benefits as well, such as reducing emissions from automobiles and mitigating regional economic imbalances on the island. Further, the project could lead to the creation of new jobs, both during and after its duration.

The next step for ministers is to find experts to conduct the review.

Though this proposal came jointly from Ministers of both the Republic and Northern Ireland, of particular focus is the northwestern region of the island. It is thought that this area has generally fallen behind in railway connections compared to …

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Ireland’s exit from lockdown

The National Public Health Emergency Team is expected to come forward later this week with their recommendations to the government of Ireland on developing a reopening strategy. Though a speedy return to normalcy seems unlikely, this might be an important first step in getting the country back on track.

The pandemic and lockdowns combined have had devastating effects on the Irish economy, resulting in substantial job losses and a spike in unemployment. Pauses to required monthly repayments on loans and mortgages were instated by banks to help borrowers. The country was sent into a recession, which was officially announced in September. Recovery would be long and arduous no matter what, but the inefficiencies of the government’s policies aimed at preventing the spread are likely exacerbating the issue.

For one, Ireland’s lockdowns have been described as some of the strictest in the world, perhaps even a bit excessive. Until 12 April, a Level-5 lockdown had been in effect for more than a hundred days. This entailed restricting citizens’ movements to just five kilometers from their homes, in-person schooling, and more. For …

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The long term impact of the pandemic

The pandemic and the associated lockdowns have obviously had immediate repercussions on Ireland’s economy and daily life for its citizens. Staggering job loss, business closures, and lagging debt payments are just a few of hardships being faced. However, there is another, perhaps less immediately apparent economic consequence of the pandemic: that is, what the disruptions to students’ educations will mean for Ireland and the world in the near future.

Schools in Ireland have been closed multiple times and the country has been repeatedly forced into lockdowns to fight the spread of the virus. On March 12th of last year, schools were forced to shut down until the 29th, which was later extended to the start of the next academic year in September. During that stretch of time, students were not allowed to attend in-person classes. Even when schools did eventually reopen, periodic outbreaks in certain schools and the additional restrictions put on students ensured that the school year would not go smoothly. The total losses in education are difficult to gauge; some countries have reported that time spent on school-related …

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Are capital requirements for Irish banks too high?

In the aftermath of the financial crash of 2008, the European debt crisis, and the Irish banking crisis, in 2014 regulations were passed aimed at promoting higher banking standards to prevent similar crises in the future.

The first of these rules states that all Irish banks have initial starting capital of at least €5 million; they must always be in excess of this amount. Further, lenders have claimed that they must hold up to three times the capital for mortgages relative to average requirements throughout the rest of the EU.

These regulations largely seem to have accomplished the job they were instated, with the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) stating that there has been an increase in high quality loans and a corresponding decrease in problem loans.

However, there has been criticism as of late for the continued implementation of these rules, and for the harsh conditions they impose on lenders. It is possible that borrowers are also adversely affected by extension. For instance, it is claimed by major Irish banks that the high capital requirements are …

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Covid-19’s impact on mortgages

The covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on all areas of the financial world, including banks, loans, and mortgages. Mortgage arrears, or payments failed to be made by their original specified due date, had been consistently falling every year since 2013. However, Fitch predicts that arrears of at least 90 days will constitute about 14-16% of Irish home loans this year, their highest rate since the financial crisis.

Additionally, the pandemic has led to widespread payment breaks for mortgages in Ireland. Payment breaks involve the deferring of repayment of a loan to a later date; they do not change, however, reduce the total amount to be paid. In March of last year, the major banks in Ireland agreed to industry-wide payment breaks for those facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. This was done out of consideration for borrowers’ situations and lenders’ own desire to avoid high default rates. Ultimately, by May 2020, one in nine owner-occupier mortgage payments was on such a break.

Though this measure was taken of the industry’s own volition, soon after, the …

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How Brexit might impact Ireland going forward

As of 31 December, 2020, the transition period of the UK’s exit from the EU has ended, and Europe is now left to deal with its economic fallout. General consensus seems to be that the move will ultimately prove harmful to the UK and the EU, including Ireland. In fact, Ireland will likely be more affected, as it is more exposed to its effects than others due to the intensity of trade between the two. Costs associated with that trade will undoubtedly increase, as the UK is Ireland’s second-largest training partner, accounting for 14% of Irish exports and 26% of imports, second only to the U.S. Brexit will necessitate additional steps in conducting said trade. Trade between the two is already said to have fallen substantially. To get around this, some businesses have been going through Northern Ireland.

Trade with the rest of Europe will also be made more complicated post-Brexit. Shipments from Ireland to the mainland have often gone through the UK historically. Now, Irish businesses have had to find and arrange for new routes. At present, these new …

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The legacy of the “Double Irish” loophole

The “Double Irish” was one of the most notorious tax loopholes, used by large firms for decades since the 1990s. It was base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) method used by many notable entities, including but not limited to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and more. Though closed in 2014, the loophole remained open to firms already using it until 2020. Even since its closure, there are concerns that firms that had used it previously will just shift to using different methods. Overall, this and similar methods used have had a substantial impact on Ireland’s financial system and records, something that is still being addressed today.

The Double Irish was conducted via the following steps. First, a U.S. corporate entity would develop a product or software for a price, and then sell it to a wholly owned subsidiary in Bermuda. Next, the company in Bermuda would revalue it as an intangible asset of a far greater price, as Bermuda is tax free. The Bermuda subsidiary would then license it to another subsidiary in Ireland for the same price. Important to note is …

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KBC latest in Irish bank exodus

Belgian-based KBC has become the latest lender to announce its intent to leave the Irish market. The announcement came on the morning of Friday, April 16, and is part of a broader exodus of retail banks from the country. Just weeks prior, NatWest, the UK-based owner of Ulster Bank, stated that it would scale back its operations in Ireland considerably over the course of the next year. KBC is also in talks with Bank of Ireland to sell its existing loans and deposits.

Why have banks been so keen on exiting the Irish loan market? In the case of Ulster Bank, it had been struggling to make returns on investment deemed acceptable by NatWest. KBC’s chief executive, Johan Thijs, stated that talks with Bank of Ireland were being conducted in light of “…the challenging operational context for European banks…” One potential explanation for this trend is the relatively low interest rate environment of Ireland making it difficult for banks to see adequate returns. Further, the market saw a general trend downward from 2015 to 2020, with an average industry …

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State of the European Stock Market

European stocks have seen better days than the dip they are currently experiencing. This dip has largely been due to the rising bond yields seen in the market. These have spurred hopes of seeing a solid economic recovery in the European markets. As of this past Thursday, the Dublin market closed virtually unchanged compared to recent numbers. Banks, on the other hand, had been affected more wildly with the Bank of Ireland up nearly 2.5% and the AIB up nearly 3.6%.

Housebuilders have also seen some changes in the market with Bairn Homes closing at nearly 1.9% higher. For other industries such as food stocks, Glanbia closed at nearly a 1.6% increase. For London’s Ftse 100 reversed, they were able to close with a relatively strong week. The total of the Gtse 100 index closed at 0.4% higher, which is the second consecutive week that investors have seen a rise despite the coronavirus still being prevalent. Even though there has been looser COVID-19 restrictions and the vaccination program picking up speed.

Other Bank stocks such as HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, …

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It is an Emergency! Do you have an emergency fund?

Oh no, you just got into an accident on Tuesday during the rush hour during the rain. Do you have the money you can come up with right now to pay for the accident, could you do it? Although it might not be a greatly rewarding goal or cool, the emergency fund is the foundation of what your entire financial health is built upon. Without it, it could be a matter of time before it comes tumbling down.

Many common unexpected costs come weekly or monthly for an individual. Your car could break down in the middle of the highway, maybe your toilet broke, or many other things that could have happened. Most commonly, people throw these unexpected costs on to their credit card rather than paying out of their emergency funds. That’s to say the same as running but with a backpack full of books. Financing is on a credit card can easily climb not the thousands when people could have easily paid it off in one year.

The lack of an emergency fund costs you more than just …

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