FT Alphaville continue to be unimpressed with the Irish government’s over-turning of the capital structure of the Irish banks: haircutting subdebt holders while protecting preference shares.
The Central Bank of Ireland has released an addendum to its Financial Measures Programme report covering loan losses at Anglo and INBS. It concludes the loan losses estimates that were produced last September are still satisfactory.
What does this mean for the remaining Anglo bondholders (€200 million paid out on last Friday)? The government’s policy on this issue is a little unclear to me at this point. The Irish Times reported in April
the head of financial regulation Matthew Elderfield said losses may be imposed on senior bondholders at Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society if the cost of the two failed institutions rises above the current €34 billion bill.
This wording also suggests the converse—that without evidence of higher losses than €34 billion, senior bondholders would be repaid in full. However, I doubt if policy on this issue is being set by Mr. Elderfield. In the week after the stress test announcements, government politicians continued to maintain that they wanted to see burden sharing with Anglo and INBS bondholders. For instance, listen to junior minister Brian Hayes discussing the issue here on the April 2nd edition of Saturday View (56 minutes in).
There isn’t really any need to base such a decision on whether the Central Bank announces combined losses of more than €34 billion. An amended version of the Credit Institutions bill could be introduced that allows the Minister to apply haircuts to all bonds issued by banks that required enormous support from the state, and perhaps this is what government politicians have in mind when they say they are still pushing for burden sharing.
Anyway, there has been no official response to this release from the Department of Finance, who have instead preferred to issue press releases on the subdebt buybacks proposed by BoI, EBS and ILP. My guess is that the government is hoping this issue will just fade away but, if asked, they will still claim that Anglo senior debt shouldn’t be paid out on but that they’re still “discussing the issue with their European partners”.
As a purely political matter, I’d guess that if and when Ireland gets a lower rate on its EU loans, that may prove to be the moment that they admit they had to give up on haircuts for Anglo bonds. Investors who bought these bonds at steep discounts over the past year (because so many people assumed the government would not pay out on them) will have obtained a fantastic rate of return.
Given that Irish politicians and media have decided that Leo Varadkar’s comments about Ireland probably having to get a second EU-IMF deal is some kind of faux pas, it is perhaps worth pointing out that this opinion is widely shared by pretty much everyone I have to talked to in recent months.
Anyway, given that this issue is being discussed, now might be a good time to put up a link to this talk that I gave at the IIEA a few weeks ago. I discuss the risks relating to the current EU-IMF plan the likelihood of the need for a new deal. The slides for the talk are also on the page.
The Central Bank has released the Money and Banking data for the end of April (summary here.)
Looking at the key table 4.2 for the balance sheet of the guaranteed domestic banks, we see some relatively good news. Domestic private sector deposits rose a little in April while the decline in non-resident deposits slowed considerably. This confirms various statements from Michael Noonan and others that the situation with deposits improved after the March 31 stress test announcements. Of course, the situation with falling supplies of credit looks as grim as ever.
The ESCB’s views are in this document.