Jan 20, 2009

Banking crisis - the Lenihan edition

How does a country go from the Celtic Tiger to almost bankrupt? How can the ruling political party disavow responsibility when they have been continuously in power since 1997? Fianna Fáil has been in power for twelve years. That political party has presided over public spending during the boom years.

Charlie McCreevy, Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan have been Ministers for Finance during the good years. Now Charlie is shipped off to Europe, Cowen is the Dear Leader and Lenihan is stuck in finance and, god knows, it's not his strong suit.

At least he's in a prime position to help out his buddies, even if he has to throw the country under a bus to do so. It is truly amazing that housing developments lie empty across the country yet the property developers don't seem that affected.

With water cascades, a Japanese garden, triplex penthouses and a chance to live in Ireland’s tallest residential building, a €2m Leeside penthouse in Cork city’s Elysian apartment complex was billed as the ultimate in Celtic tiger living. But four months after units in the 17-storey development officially came on the market, just one person has taken up residence in the €150m complex.

The Elysian was backed by a considerable marketing campaign. It featured in TV3’s The Apprentice, in which contestants competed to design a television commercial for Michael O’Flynn, the complex’s developer. However, even that publicity did not help to shift units.

This is the story all over the country. Vast property developments stand finished but empty. These must be costing the developers a pretty penny. And yet four of the five major property developers have not got bust. How is this possible? Could it be that the developers have friends in high places? Friends that are willing to nationalise banks to ensure the financial security of property developers?

The Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan has told the Dáil the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank is necessary to address a 'systemic threat' in the banking sector.

TDs and Senators are debating the legislation to nationalise Anglo Irish this afternoon. The Government wants the bill passed into law by this evening.

Introducing the Bill, Mr Lenihan said Anglo Irish presented a 'particular problem'. He said concerns about corporate governance and the concentration of its lending to the building sector exposed the bank.

The Minister said taking Anglo into state ownership would have no immediate impact on the general Government debt or current deficit. He said there was enough money - €7 billion - within Anglo Irish to take the strain of loan losses over the next three or four years.

Oh right, Anglo Irish is a 'particular problem'. What is that problem, again? Is is that we might bankrupt the poor developers who have finished picking the last of the meat from the carcass of the Celtic Tiger?

Anglo Irish wasn't picky with its loans either. It lent to developers outside Ireland and even outside the EU. Why were Israelis getting property loans from Anglo Irish to buy apartments in New York? Why is the Irish economy now dependent on the decision of a foreign, religious court? Was it corruption or incompetence?

Our Minister for Finance just put the cost of the developers excesses and the moronic financial decisions of the corrupt administrators of Anglo Irish on my back, on your back, on the bank of every taxpayer in the country.

However, not content with leaving the taxpaying population of Ireland to bail out the rich, Anglo Irish aka the government and their idiotic guarantees must now loan these same developers billions,

Anglo Irish Bank looks set to give up to €6.3bn in new loans to property developers and other customers for pending deals, despite the weakened funding position that forced the government to nationalise the bank last Thursday.

If drawn down in full, the loans will force Anglo – and now the government – either to raise more money in deposits or source new funding on the capital markets to cover the commitments.
Industry sources also said it wasn't certain how much of the €6.3bn could get called down, as many of Anglo's customers – especially property developers – have been putting deals on hold or pulling out entirely due to cash problems.

What are the odds that the public will never know the full extent of the wheeling and dealing? I'm writing to all my TDs to get information. And I'm thinking of asking the EU to provide some oversight.

Why couldn't the government just liquidise Anglo Irish? If developers fucked up then they should have to pay the piper. Morgan Kelly has the right idea,

YESTERDAY’S CATASTROPHIC collapse of Irish bank shares stems directly from the Government’s proposal to nationalise Anglo Irish Bank. With the Government’s finances already buckling under the collapse of our bubble economy, financial markets began to fear that with the added burden of Anglo’s debt, the Irish State cannot afford to finance itself, let alone support the remaining national banks.

Facing the imminent collapse of the national financial system, the Government needs to perform a ruthless triage. The worthwhile banks need to be maintained by any means necessary, including nationalisation, while Anglo Irish and Irish Nationwide must be allowed to collapse.

Today Lenihan declared that AIB and BOI would not be nationalised in the event of a crisis.

The Government will ensure AIB and Bank of Ireland are not nationalised and will proceed with a planned recapitalisation, the Minister for Finance told the Dáil this afternoon.

During a debate on legislation to provide for the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank, Brian Lenihan said the Government’s “firm intention is that both banks [AIB and Bank of Ireland] remain in private ownership”.

Shares in Irish banking stocks have suffered further heavy falls today with AIB losing a third of its value following a 60 per cent fall in the value of its share price yesterday.
Mr Lenihan said the decision to nationalise Anglo Irish was taken because of the very serious disruption its collapse would have caused the financial system, due to its “systematic importance”.

Well the developers don't bank in AIB or BOI so sure let them collapse.

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