Bad incentives created the housing crisis

This is a fascinating video that clearly points out some of the myths surrounding the housing bubble in the USA, describing the role that Federal Reserve policy played in creating the bubble, they created a set of incentives which were badly aligned with long term aims. We have long felt that the role of monetary policy and regulation have been central to the problems in both the US and Europe, the full video of the conference is below.

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Missed mortgage payment? bad debt? How a bad debt caused a crisis

That’s whats behind the worldwide sub-prime crisis, millions of people missing payments, albeit on loans that may have been mis-advised or even extortionate but it doesn’t gloss over the fact that one guy in Ohio who decides he’s not going to pay his mortgage any more is not an isolated event when its correlated with all the other homes in the state who also decided to do the same. When you put all of these loans together (this is a simplified view just to make the point) then the Bank of ‘Wherever’ will suffer because of it.

Eventually the securitization process will start to feel the pressure, securitisation is where banks take all of their loans and then they put them into a ‘book’ of loans. So (I’m going to do this blog in layman-speak) basically all of the pages that are mortgages are put together into a folder, this is called a ‘mortgage book’ and then a thing called ‘gap maturity’ is worked out by risk analysts and this will tell you how much cash flow you can expect …

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Ulster Bank, cutting out brokers, and perhaps Consumers too?

I guess the best thing to do is quickly outline the way things have worked since the inception of the broker industry in Ireland.

Brokers start their own companies and place business with larger companies, there are several types of brokers, some are tied (this means they only place business with one company) and independent – which is what Irish Mortgage Brokers are – and we have a panel of 15 banks and 5 insurance companies.

We have traditionally been paid 1% of the loans we send a bank as a ‘commission’ or income, so the client normally doesn’t have to pay a broker fee because the costs are covered by the commission. Brokers are paid because broker business (which counts for almost 60% of all mortgages done in this country) is a clean and profitable source of business for banks, they don’t have to pay for the brokers staff, their light, heat, holiday time etc. They do however have to pay for all of these things when a loan is done at branch level (e.g.: the loan is done …

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Credit Freeze and the effects on the ECB

The credit markets in the U.S.A., Asia, and Europe are in the midst of a freeze at the moment. Banks are not willing to lend to each other hence the big hike in the Euribor (European inter bank ordinary rate: this is the rate that banks lend to each other at) rates and in the U.K. the Libor (London inter bank ordinary rate) rates, they are trading much higher than the central bank rates and this indicates that there is (to a degree) a general mistrust between banks, mainly because they don’t know the exposure to sub-prime exposure the other may have.

The response thus far has been a Fed rate cut, this came a little late, and the indication is that Ben Bernanke will cut the rates again within the next week. Earlier in the year (March 28th) Bernanke claimed that ‘the impact on the broader economy & financial markets of the problems in the sub-prime market are likely to be contained’. Later in June he again re-iterated that there was not a strong chance of a spill-over into …

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