Bank rates, onwards and upwards…

Something that is interesting is how people are amazed that banks are jacking up interest rates at a time like this… In fact, it is precisely because of the time we are in that they are doing it, and due to the market environment they face.

Banks have a choice at any time as to where they will put the money they hold, their job is to turn liabilities (deposits, debt, equity finance) into assets and at present there is a golden window of opportunity where any decent (almost any) assets can be lodged with the ECB and the ensuing liquidity recycled.

For the most part this has helped to support the bond market, part of the LTRO was based on this premise, but in Ireland while bond yields are attractive (still above 5%) mortgage rates are not as attractive. Currently the standard variable is less than 5% meaning a person can borrow for cheaper than the nation they live in is able to!

That won’t last, the likelihood is that sovereign rates …

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Estate agents who may be unqualified?

Edel Morgan has an interesting article in the Irish Times today about estate agents having problems getting their licenses set up – the financial services industry went through the same set of issues nearly ten years ago. New forms, paperwork and bureaucracy always suffer teething problems but on the point below there is an obvious answer:

However one south Dublin estate agent, who declined to be named, said he is worried that he may not meet the requirements for licensing despite nearly 20 year’s experience. He was trading under his own name for less than three years prior to his application and the legislation says that sole traders or independent contractors need to show “evidence that the applicant was the holder of a licence or permit issued under the Auctioneers and House Agents Acts 1947 to 1973 for three of the five years immediately preceding the making of the application.”

In financial services there was a similar problem of people having a long established work record but lacking the specific qualifications that were developed for the …

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The Morning Show on TV3

This month the property-watch focused on Central Bank reports that property prices had overshot from 12-26% depending on the model used. This counter to conventional wisdom, so we chatted about this and other topics with Claire Brock, Martin King and Angela Keegan.

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Nyberg report: pre-published in 2009

The Nyberg report is all over the papers/radio/TV, it is (meant to be) blowing the lid open on the causes and participants in our great property crash, but I don’t know if there is much in the way of ‘new material’ in it, why?

Because in 2009 CentralBanking.com (a publishing house) published a book called ‘Towards a new framework for financial stability’, the authors were all central bankers, economists, regulators and a few practitioners; all said almost 60 authors took part.

In the very first chapter they outline the broad consensus on the causes of the crash, which they say are as follows:

1. A worldwide liquidity glut (too much money floating around) which drove a search for yield and encouraged leverage 2. Errors of monetary policy (rates being too low in early 2000’s) 3. Structural shifts in the financial system & certain innovations (ABS’s/MBS’s/CDO’s) 4. Non bank intermediation (sub-prime lenders) 5. Lower margins (eg: trackers!) 6. Reliance on interbank funding (Ireland Inc.) 7. Deficiencies in Regulation 8. Separation of jurisdiction between Central Banks and Regulators …

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10 points in favour of Site Value Tax or Land Value Tax

Of the main changes we could consider in the near future from a national taxation perspective, none holds the potential for positive outcomes to the same extent as Land Value Tax (LVT) or Site Value Tax (SVT). Below are several points looking at why this is the case:

1. It is widely agreed that we need to spread the tax base to reduce taxes on employment to be replaced by taxes on assets, and to create a less volatile tax base. This can be achieved with Site Value Tax. In terms of ‘fairness’, it is important to remember that only 50% of properties in the country have a mortgage on them, and for that reason there is also taxable capacity in the market for this, in conjunction with a reduction in income taxes.

2. The Site Value Tax currently included in the Four Year Financial Recovery Programme, is such a tax. It applies only to land zoned for development, or already developed.

3. Land is a fixed asset. A high proportion of its value is dependent on its area, its …

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How Negative Equity can cause arrears.

A recent report by Moody’s pointed out that increased negative equity will cause a rise in arrears. The commentary surrounding this (in Ireland) takes the view that correlation is not necessarily causation. That people in negative equity won’t automatically go into arrears unless they cannot pay, that negative equity of itself is only an issue if you lose your job or have to sell. This is a valid opinion but it ignores the operational aspect of a household in respect of the way that they react when financial difficulty occurs.

There are several hundred thousand households in negative equity, and about 35,000 in serious arrears, how many of those people would not be in arrears if they were not in negative equity? The answer is: how ever many would have sold their house as a solution.

The first thing many people do if they know they are going to be headed for a situation where they stand no chance of paying their mortgage is to put their home up for sale, in …

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