Why aren’t mortgages MORE expensive?

In looking at any product or service you will often hear people mention ‘supply and demand’, it is one of the foundations of Microeconomics.

Generally if supply increases prices drop, if it decreases prices rise. By how much is a question of how elastic the demand is versus supply.

We know from our day to day experience that there is still a high level of demand for mortgage finance, charting our figures back to 2005 has shown us that if we take out ‘noise’ of m/o/m figures that demand is still at relatively high levels.

However, we also know, from our daily interactions with banks that criteria is getting harder, conditions more restrictive, underwriting is more forensic, the supply of mortgages is decreasing rapidly.

Using a simple chart you would get something along the lines the one below, the blue supply and demand lines show  the situation at a certain point in time, we’ll say that is a year ago, the green line of supply shows the current situation – it has moved to the left because of the decrease.

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Why aren't mortgages MORE expensive?

In looking at any product or service you will often hear people mention ‘supply and demand’, it is one of the foundations of Microeconomics.

Generally if supply increases prices drop, if it decreases prices rise. By how much is a question of how elastic the demand is versus supply.

We know from our day to day experience that there is still a high level of demand for mortgage finance, charting our figures back to 2005 has shown us that if we take out ‘noise’ of m/o/m figures that demand is still at relatively high levels.

However, we also know, from our daily interactions with banks that criteria is getting harder, conditions more restrictive, underwriting is more forensic, the supply of mortgages is decreasing rapidly.

Using a simple chart you would get something along the lines the one below, the blue supply and demand lines show  the situation at a certain point in time, we’ll say that is a year ago, the green line of supply shows the current situation – it has moved to the left because of the decrease.

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Blogs and sites that cover the topic of finance and economics

I was at a meeting last week and the topic of ‘what I read’ came up, I spend on average, about six hours a day reading, granted that is not always books, it can be blogs, websites etc.

The sites that I like are listed, in no particular order below, some are article driven, others are debate/forum driven.

The Economist Financial Times Calculated Risk Across the Curve Credit Writedowns Irish Economy The Property Pin Politics.ie NewDeal2.0 BreakingNews London School of Economics John Mauldin’s Investor Insight (ezine/weekly letter) VoxEU Raging Bear

If you do a google search for any of these sites you’ll find them with ease and they are all sources of very interesting information

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Derek Braun vs David Cantwell on the Late Late show

Pat Kenny had two well known commentators on the Late Late show on Friday, David Cantwell a director with the largest new homes estate agent Hooke & MacDonald and Derek Braun author of ‘Irelands House Party’. The section on the show had some interesting debate and both sides had some valid points, some things however were not mentioned – for instance – Braun pointed out that huge profits were made on a certain south side development (and nobody doubts that) but there was no mention of the taxation that is paid via contributions to local councils, VAT, other taxation, paying bubble wages etc.

Cantwell spoke about property prices being at their bottom (granted this is only in his opinion) when considering the supply and other economic factors they clearly cannot be, as well as failing to mention some of the common sense home truths which Braun used to shoot down his arguments.

The only issue I have is that of all the developers I know only one isn’t going into liquidation, in a

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The errors of compensation

One of the most pointed arguments that we hear about is that of bankers pay, some people have even started to refer to them as ‘banksters’ instead of ‘gangsters’. The reality is that both the industry and the shareholders and everybody else got it terribly wrong, even the corporations with their internal and agent remuneration models got it wrong. We were rewarding short termism in a long term game, something akin to having a footballer who has to play the full 90 mins but we base all their pay on the first five minutes.

On one hand the general mass of decision makers didn’t see the financial crisis coming, granted, there were some who were shouting it from rooftops, in some cases those same people have predicted 15 of the last 2 market meltdowns (our most well known one began calling it from late 1999), with others they were just plain ignored. The best analogy I have heard so far came compliments of a very respected colleague with over 40 years of banking experience …

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The banking ‘Whitewash’

Meredith Whitney talks about the ‘banking whitewash’, saying that the recent gains in many banks (they have been beating expectations by and large in Q1) are not all down to ‘recovery’ but instead due to other factors.

She says that the factors that lead to these gains are not replicable and that the underlying assets are still deteriorating. This makes for some interesting observation because the great deleveraging of both companies and individuals is still in full swing so there is little reason to doubt the observations Meredith Whitney makes, rather it will be how these factors play into the real economy that concern me.

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The banking 'Whitewash'

Meredith Whitney talks about the ‘banking whitewash’, saying that the recent gains in many banks (they have been beating expectations by and large in Q1) are not all down to ‘recovery’ but instead due to other factors.

She says that the factors that lead to these gains are not replicable and that the underlying assets are still deteriorating. This makes for some interesting observation because the great deleveraging of both companies and individuals is still in full swing so there is little reason to doubt the observations Meredith Whitney makes, rather it will be how these factors play into the real economy that concern me.

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Euribor yield curve changes April 2009

Below are two charts of the Euribor yield curve (many thanks to Bank of Scotland Treasury for their excellent daily reports!).

Here we can see that there is not much of an inflationary expectation at year two or three, it is virtually a dip at the 3year mark, then there is some uncertainty, in year four it goes up by about 75 basis points, then we are back into a general steady upward trend.

Only a few days later and the three year price has shot up by 50 basis points, we would read this as being an indication that the markets are forward pricing in some expectation of inflation at the two or three year mark, if the rise filters through to the left hand side then it will be showing a stronger and stronger likelihood of this happening. Appropriately banks have just raised their fixed rates meaning that the window in which people on variables can cash in low are …

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The pincer of fixed rates while in negative equity

A recent article in the Independent stated that ‘fixed rate borrowers are taking all the pain’. The base rate has fallen from 4.25% to 1.25% with a further rate reduction expectation taking the EU to a base of 1%. What this means is that people who felt the drop off in base rates (tracker mortgage holders & most variable rate holders) are now better off to the tune of about €425 per month.

However, for those on fixed rates the story is the reverse of this, they have not felt any reduction in the amounts they are spending monthly while at the same time many have had to live on less due to wage cuts, levies, and job loss. The fees for ‘breaking’ a fixed rate are usually from 3 to 6 months of payments.

So what can you do? If you have the savings to pay for the move you can go that route, but if you have been …

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