Taxing Banks & Taxing Risk

In the first clip, James Galbraith (son of the famous JK), economics professor at University of Texas, discusses whether a new tax on big banks is justified. Ken Bentsen, of the Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association, and Mark Calabria, of the Cato Institute, share their insight as well.

In the second clip Mark Walsh, of ‘Left Jab,’ and Dan Mitchell, of the Cato Institute, discuss taxing banks based on their risk to the system.

Read More

Who has the best mortgage rates?

The ‘best rate’ is a misnomer because interpretation of what is the ‘best’ is a subjective question, for a very conservative person a 10 year fixed rate is ‘the best’ and from that point the ‘best’ will likely be whatever is the cheapest ten year fixed rate, having said that, after careful consideration the best 10 year fixed rate mortgage might be one that allows you to pay off a lump sum during the fixed period without any penalty thereby ensuring that you can eat into your capital quicker, is a feature like that worth extra money each month if it isn’t the cheapest? To some people it may be, to others it isn’t.

If you are considering a property purchase and are not a cash buyer then you will need financing, and this comes at a ‘price’, the interpretation of that price is generally the rate, so which rate is better (we’ll assume you want a 1 year fixed rate), 2.5% or 2.6%? Naturally you’d be inclined to say it is …

Read More

Dealing with arrears – a collectors tale

Today’s post is by a guest writer who we cannot name, but we can tell you that this person works in the collections department of a major Irish lender, this person (or somebody like this person) is the one who will call you if you are in arrears on your mortgage. In this post we will reveal some of the inner workings of a collections official and the various things that they do as well as letting you know some of the unpublished things that you should do to protect yourself. Our guest writer has many years of experience in collections, during both the boom times and the downturn.

So now, over to our guest writer…..

There are a lot of buzzwords in the press at the moment and a few of them are regarding what to ask your lender for if you are in arrears. At this stage we have all been told that if you fall into arrears you should ask for payment breaks and interest only periods etc. However, simply asking does not guarantee that you will …

Read More

The US obsession with home ownership

This is an interesting clip from the Cato Institute and it covers the various vectors of the financial crisis. In this video the speaker talks about the ‘7 steps to failure’ – the basis of the talk is well covered ground at this stage but the addition of the Cato presentation is meaningful and offers some angles that are not commonly considered.

Johan Norberg is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a writer who focuses on globalization, entrepreneurship, and individual liberty.

Read More

The Financial Regulator Report

In Ireland each staff member of the regulator costs 23% more than the international average, their cost to the taxpayer is 88% greater and yet they have responsibility – as a ratio toward population- which is only half that of other countries (to be exact its 96% less).

If that isn’t enough, our regulators deal with 15% fewer firms in terms of the number of actual regulated firms per employee, yet it is 26% more expensive to regulate a company in Ireland than elsewhere, and in terms of regulator staff to financial services staff they are dealing with 17% less than in other countries.

We are overpaying for under-service, in fact, in only one other country does the tax payer foot more of the cost of the bill than in Ireland, and for that we get the statistics above based on the figures below. Angry? You should be.

(the breakdown)

Cost per employee: In Ireland it is c. 23% more expensive for every staff member of our regulator than the international average

Cost …

Read More

The future of compensation in financial services (perhaps!)

I wrote before about the errors of compensation in financial services, in a nutshell people were earning money for short term performance in a long term game. However, what I had failed to do was provide potential solutions, this post is about alternative solutions, it will focus primarily on brokerage (because that is what I know best) but it can equally apply to banks or any financial company.

The basic tenets are

1. Long term reward for long term performance 2. Ensuring that bonus’s, while delivered in the short term, have some kind of long term implication. 3. Creating schemes that reward consistency and best advice, rather than one based on transactions.

I would state in advance, that enacting any of these plans will mean further economic pain for a group of workers who are already at the epicentre of the worldwide financial storm, it would also require considerable will to roll out, as well as the co-operation of the banks, the Financial Regulator, …

Read More

‘Are we there yet?’…. when will the bottom of the housing market be reached?

The most popular question I am asked as of late is whether or not we are at the bottom of the housing market, and the answer is ‘no…. but perhaps closer than we think’. Today we will consider a few of the things we will need to see in order for ‘recovery’ to occur.

First of all we need to see a reduction in the massive overhang of housing stock, even if the number reduces, they all need to be sold and a degree of scarcity will need to develop in order to make prices go up again, currently supply is swamping demand and that dynamic will leave uncertainty in its wake.

However (and here is part of the ‘perhaps closer’ bit), NAMA will likely take a lot of housing off the market, in particular it will take it off the market and drip feed it back in, if this happens then it will avoid devastating fire sales, it might also lead to stagnation …

Read More

The end of Wall Street

This is an insightful look into the financial crisis, looking at it from the view of how mass borrowing for residential real estate lead to a bubble, the political input into the causes as well as the packaging of these loans and how it ultimately lead to the closure of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers.

This is a great video set, surprisingly the Wall Street Journal are the makers of it, you don’t see that kind of departure from vested interests very often.

Read More

Are you getting your full tax relief?

There was an article in one of Ireland’s national newspapers last week describing the major issues surrounding the rescinding and subsequent re instatement of mortgage Interest relief. For those who are uninformed about this subject, mortgage interest relief (or TRS) was suspended pending the requirement for every person that previously claimed relief to re-apply for it. This was not a move intended to deprive anyone of their entitlements, more a housekeeping exercise to make sure that things are as they should be.

Thousands of Irish home owners had their tax relief temporarily suspended so that a general process of reassessment could take place whereby people would ascertain that whatever they were receiving in tax relief was correct. The Government spends millions every year on the TRS scheme, and with the exchequer being frightfully strained like Mary Hearney doing a triathlon, it was a necessary to ensure that the recipients of tax relief at source were indeed fully entitled to it.

Read More