The sums behind ‘taxing’ the banks into a rate cut

Yesterday we were on the Sean O’Rourke show discussing variable rates on RTE Radio. We mentioned how doubling the ‘tax’ on banks won’t actually change anything. The mechanisms were briefly covered and we got a few emails asking for clarification so here it is.

The ‘levy’ was part of the Finance Act 2014 which imposed a new annual levy on financial institutions aiming to raise €150 million per annum for 3 years.

This sum is payable on October the 20th in each year (2014-2016) and it applies to a financial institution that is the holder of an Irish (or equivalent EU) banking licence or is an Irish (or equiv EU) building society that was obliged to pay DIRT – unless the amount required to pay in 2011 was not more than 100k.

The main outcry is centred on variable rates for primary home dwellers in particular. So how much of that debt is out there?

We know there are about 300,000 ‘loans’ but the quantum of debt is €39.638m which is about €3bn …

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Primetime: excessive interest rates

Last night’s Primetime had a well thought out piece on variable interest rates.

The general thesis was that variable rates are ‘too high’ and that banks should not be allowed to charge them, the figure of 1% of a ‘cost of funds’ was mentioned several times and various suggestions were made as to making the banks stop the practice of setting their own prices.

To begin with, the ‘cost of funds’ at 1% may be what a bank buys their raw materials at, but then you have to make more on top of it to allow for operational costs, to provide for losses, regulatory burdens, margin and the like. It is worth noting that in AIB’s interim statement which was only made yesterday that they noted that “Net Interest Margin (NIM), excluding ELG, expanded to c.1.64% year to date (YTD) September 2014”.

This means the idea of 4.5% minus the 1% ‘cost’ equating to a 3.5% ‘profit’ doesn’t stack up. If it did the net interest margin …

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Newstalk Breakfast: Ivan Yates & Karl Deeter on PTsb rate increase

Today Ivan Yates spoke to Karl Deeter about the PTsb rate increase. There were several points to consider surrounding this and Ivan touched on perhaps the most important which is about credit provision in general.

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The trend in lending and deposits

We have been banging on for quite some time about the trend in mortgage and deposit rates, namely that mortgage rates will continue to rise and that deposit rates will start to drop (already happening) and this will continue downwards – in particular you’ll have to watch for zero rated fund movements.

Zero rated funds are the money that banks keep for you (a liability for them) in the likes of demand and current accounts. You used to get zero interest but in return you got free banking. Now more lenders are demanding that you keep a certain balance in the account or you get charged a fee, such as Bank of Ireland’s recent decision to require a €3,000 balance to qualify for free banking.

This creates a near ‘negative interest rate’ for people who don’t keep that sum in their current account because fees mean the bank will cover all operational cost associated with your account for regular banking activity while making money elsewhere with those funds or …

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PTsb increase rates for the third time in a year

15:48 At 16:00 the press release about PTsb increasing rates will be released.

Had the company waited another week the headline ‘third time in a year’ would not have applied. It was this day last year that PTsb first increased rates on their variable clients by 0.5% or 50 basis points, it was a ground-breaking decision at the time, they were the first institution to do this and it opened the floodgates for every other bank to follow suit. PTsb were not in NAMA and they made their case, but it was rapidly criticised (in particular by Gerry Ryan who very decently gave the affected consumers a platform on his show).

The average mortgage balance in Ireland is €230,000 this time last year when the applicable rate was 2.69% the repayments would have been €1,053 per month on a 25 year mortgage. In the three rate hikes (totalling 1.5%, bringing the standard variable to 4.19%) the repayments will rise to €1,238 which will mean a total of €185 per month or €2,220 per year of …

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EBS rate hikes, the benefit of mutuality?

EBS have announced a rate hike of 0.6% which is a follow on from their last 0.6% hike that was levied against variable rate mortgage holders on the 1st of May, this brings their margin increases to a total of 1.2% for the year to date.

Today’s Indo lead with this story (by Charlie Weston) and rightly pointed out that by the time this is over, a person with a €300,000 mortgage over 30 years could expect to pay just over €3,000 a year (after tax) in increased mortgage payments. For a person on the average industrial wage this is like a full months wages before tax being sucked away by the financial system. Tax hikes and wage cuts aside, this will ultimately reduce the money that is being spent in the economy and it will disappear into the financial system where banks will use it to de-lever further.

The contention for many people is that they are being punished, not for what they have done …

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Mortgage Question: I have no savings, can I borrow a deposit?

The majority of lenders now insist that your deposit comes from a non borrowed source, and will decline your application if you plan to borrow it. The lenders who will consider your application will assess your application with the new deposit loan as a financial commitment which decreases the amount you can borrow on the mortgage, and because it is a short term loan it will eat into borrowing capacity much more than you may expect.

[eg: €100,000 loan over 30yrs costs c. €420 before tax relief, but one tenth of that, €10,000 at personal loan rates over 3yrs will cost c.€313 per month which would reduce the amount you can borrow by approximately €80,000!]

Short answer: You should aim to have your own equity in the deal via savings, if you borrow a deposit then you are running an additional risk and our firm are of the belief that this is generally not in the best interest of the borrower.

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