The credit crisis visualised

This is an interesting animated film on the origins of the crisis, it holds with the view that banks were only ever a part of the problem and not necessarily the sole cause. Central banks have a lot to answer for, as does all of society because when you stop saving and instead spend somebody else’s savings it means that eventually, when it comes time to repay your loans that not only is the money not there, but the productivity has likely suffered as well – income based on lending gives the artificial appearance of wealth but it is a mirage.

part 2

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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.

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Rent to buy: The pitfalls in practice

Rent to buy is not a ‘new idea’, one of my mentors is a man who built over 10,000 homes in Dublin (he retired in the 70’s having started his business in the late 40’s), but in talking to him he spoke of almost exclusively selling houses in staged payments and renting them out to prospective buyers as a way of paying for the property.

The resurfacing of rent to buy is not evidence of the wheel being reinvented but purely of the prevailing economic environment, however, unlike the way it operated over thirty years ago, today renting to buy is having obligations stitched into the contract that may not be possible to meet in the future and therefore it leaves the renter/purchaser in some slight uncertainty.

One of the primary issues is that of ‘loan offers secured’. When you rent to buy you are essentially (in most cases) saying you will buy the property at a point in the future for the market value at the time of completion of …

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Drop in Fixed Mortgage Rates likely

In watching the movements of the Euribor Yield Curve we saw that margins were likely to increase on fixed rates, however, over the month of April we are seeing the yield curve drop below levels seen at the start of the month and that will likely result in a repricing of debt.

What we are seeing is the increasingly bearing outlook feeding through to interbank rates with the expectation of the May cut showing a strong likelyhood of going too 1%, that is why the 1 month money has actually dropped below that mark when earlier in the month it was slightly above it.

The yield curve is generally feeding the market information about inflation and it would appear that after the May rate decrease that the medium term outlook is depressed. The lines hold a tight margin until the two year mark at which point the earlier curve trends higher and today’s keeps that c.20bip difference. Fixed rates don’t always change with rate drops because they are priced off of …

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Irish variable rates March 2009

Here are the variable rates on offer at present from Irish lenders

AIB variable 2.79% ICS variable <50% LTV 2.90% BOI variable <50% LTV 2.90% AIB LTV 50-80% 3.00% EBS variable 3.13% Halifax LTV<50% 3.15% KBC (12mth disc.std.var) 3.98% Haven variable 3.7% PTsb LTV<80% 4.1% PTsb LTV>80% 4.2% NIB variable 4.23% Bank of Scotland 4.23% First Active 4.5% Ulsterbank 5.4%

These variable mortgage rates are as of March 2009 ranked according to prices.

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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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