The most important step for preventing future mortgage meltdowns

I have been asked several times ‘what would you change’ in the mortgage market in order to prevent serious financial melt-down in the future, the truth is there is no single thing that will ever do it, our issues are a perplexing intertwining of regulation failure, greed, banking errors, mismanaged risk, fundamental misunderstanding of money markets and national failure. There are key players within this, first and foremost is our government, after that is our central bank/ regulator, and finally financial institutions.

Anyway, the one thing I would change if I could would be the security on asset lending, in a nutshell I would just change one rule, therefore removing the need to revamp the entire system, the rule would mean that asset lending is non-recourse beyond the asset upon which the loan was secured.

In plain English, if you got a mortgage then the only recourse a bank would have wouldn’t be to you (currently you are on the hook for 12yrs and more) it would be to …

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‘What If’ … Economists were a few hundred years ahead of the game?

The Trinity Science Gallery is just across the street from our offices, proximity, linked with my interest in science (confession: I dropped out of Science in NUIM many years ago before studying business – but as a kid I actually wanted to be a scientist) means that I go there a lot, and they have these great exhibitions on regularly, the latest is called ‘What If’ and it poses questions that are part morality part science, part pie in the sky, but the fundamental aim of getting you thinking is totally successful.

Which brings me to something interesting that I noticed when I was there last week, one of the exhibitions was ‘What if we tried to make a toaster from scratch‘ (video here).

The actual description of this is as follows: ‘Thwaites (man behind the project) went on a quest to build an electric toaster from scratch, …

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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 …

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Failed regulation in the Irish market

There are three broad benefits to regulation of a financial system.

Firstly, avoidance of negative externalities, often the societal costs of these outweighs the private cost and prevention is possible when a regulator is function well and doing their job correctly. They do this by preventing excesses, by promoting conservative risk management in the financial sector and helping to maintain confidence by ensuring (for instance) that a liquidity shortfall in one institution doesn’t spill over into others (i.e. avoiding multiple bank runs which take down well functioning solvent banks in their wake) resulting in a widespread credit crunch.

Secondly, to set solvency and reserve requirements for banks, at times there are significant asymmetries in information within the consumer/institution relationship, or worse still, information gaps (where both institution and consumer don’t have full information – as happened in the sub-prime loan market in the USA), when nobody can determine the quality and reliability of a financial product a strong regulatory environment will ensure that banks are in a position in which they can …

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Can Theory and Jargon destroy your net worth?

This is an interesting vlog on some simple monetary economics ideas, the classical definition of inflation is discussed in terms of ‘money supply’ but then it turns towards some of the other issues such ‘what is money supply?’ there is no set agreement on which count should generally be used (in USD it used to be M3 which is no longer published). That has an interesting implication in the fact that banks are ‘hoarding’ money, the fact is that they are holding huge amounts of capital which isn’t monetized, but it can be and that means a return to ‘credit flowing’ could actually cause some serious inflation as the money flows into the real economy minus any increase in real purchasing power.

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What is the mortgage market like lately?

People ask me ‘how is business’ a lot, is it macabre fascination or do they want to hear something reassuring? I don’t know, but my general answer is ‘can we talk about something happy?!’. There are so many intermediaries that have shut down that on many levels (I feel I speak for the entire firm on this) we feel privileged to still be operating through the downturn. While we all know that there is a crisis, and we are reminded of it every day, I think it is worth considering the changes that have occurred in the mortgage market in the last year,with an emphasis on 2009.

Mortgage debt is decreasing: Our total ‘indebtedness’ on the mortgage market is coming down, we are deleveraging as a society. This is happening as people start to shun debt and fear the forward commitments of borrowing, in the same way that companies and funds have been deleveraging, everyday people are doing the same. In the past, recessions generally had a large debt element to …

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Boom Bust, house prices, banking, and the depression of 2010 by Fred Harrison (book review)

I have been quite public about my belief in property tax (caveat being we should have far less income tax/levies etc. perhaps a ‘flat tax’ would be best), and if there is one book that has really helped to shape that opinion quite succinctly it is Fred Harrison’s masterpiece on the topic, and the subject of this review ‘Boom Bust‘.

Fred Harrison saw the property crash in the UK of 1989/90 in 1980, and furthermore, he named a date, he also named a date of specifically 2010 (as a bottom, not as the ‘start’ of a crash) in the mid 90’s. How? It is due to his analysis which goes back to the 1500’s of property cycles, and while I am still sceptical about his ’18 year’ cycle, the one thing that fully convinced me was the basis and need for a more rational and working approach to property and taxation of same, or the ‘democratisation …

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Alan Blinder talks to Charlie Rose

I know on the last post with Charlie Rose I said ‘this is a must see’ but cancel that, this one is the must see of the day!

This is a conversation about the growing fiscal deficit with Alan Blinder, Professor of Economics at Princeton University and Director of Princeton’s Center for Economic Policy Studies, David Leonhardt of “The New York Times” and Alan J. Auerbach, Professor of Economics and Law, Director of the Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance, University of California, Berkeley

Alan Blinder of Princeton is a brilliant economist with both academic and practitioner experience, I always find his views really interesting.

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First time buyers didn’t, don’t, and won’t ever have it easy.

Recently the credit crunch has taken a whole new turn, and the way it is affecting the Irish mortgage market is of interest to anybody who has a mortgage. Today’s post will be about the changing position of first time buyers, the end of 100% mortgages.

First time buyers never had it easy, that’s my theory and here’s why: before stamp duty reform they had to pay for any property that was over €127,000 (an old £100,000 before the €uro came in) and that could not be borrowed, it had to be saved, during the time that prices were in that region the wages were much lower and stamp duty was a definite drawback to prospective home owners, on top of that they had to come up with a deposit of 10% which was also difficult because of the taxation system here. Then we all got a bit more prosperous, the Celtic tiger started to roar, cheap money became available and prices shot up. The old first time buyers were now owner occupiers basking in equity and that was fine, …

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First time buyers didn't, don't, and won't ever have it easy.

Recently the credit crunch has taken a whole new turn, and the way it is affecting the Irish mortgage market is of interest to anybody who has a mortgage. Today’s post will be about the changing position of first time buyers, the end of 100% mortgages.

First time buyers never had it easy, that’s my theory and here’s why: before stamp duty reform they had to pay for any property that was over €127,000 (an old £100,000 before the €uro came in) and that could not be borrowed, it had to be saved, during the time that prices were in that region the wages were much lower and stamp duty was a definite drawback to prospective home owners, on top of that they had to come up with a deposit of 10% which was also difficult because of the taxation system here. Then we all got a bit more prosperous, the Celtic tiger started to roar, cheap money became available and prices shot up. The old first time buyers were now owner occupiers basking in equity and that was fine, …

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