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Banking Crisis

Three (and a bit) Years on from the Banking Guarantee

Today is the third birthday of Ireland’s blanket guarantee of 6 banks’ assets and liabilities, and 64 billion euros later, let’s take the opportunity to reflect on all that has gone on in Irish public and economic life, to assess how much real change there has been within the institutions that helped bring about the crisis, and perhaps to look a little towards the future. So fire away in the comments.

One small(ish) point though, from something I’m working on with my UL colleague Vincent O’Sullivan. It is true that the late Mr Lenihan did guarantee the banks three years ago. It is not true that that is when State support for these banks began, and we shouldn’t mix the two up. Banks like Anglo were in trouble before that, and to a significant extent. These are not (well not yet anyway) historical curiosa, because we still need to understand and deal with the issues our Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) raises.

To take Anglo, for example: The first mention of ELA which was the supported provided in March 2008 was in the interim accounts for 2009 of Anglo Irish Bank.  From note 20, page 46:

“These deposits include €13.5 billion (30 September 2008: €7.6 billion; 31 March 2008: €3.6 billion) borrowed under open market operations from central banks and €10.0 billion (30 September 2008: €0; 31 March 2008: €0) borrowed under a Master Loan Repurchase Agreement (‘MLRA’) with the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland. The interest rate on this facility is set by the Central Bank and advised at each rollover, and is currently linked to the European Central Bank marginal lending facility rate.”

In the 2009 annual report the amount lent by the CBI has increased to €11.5 billion. Collateral pledged has fallen to €12.49 billion, implying a much lower haircut of €990 million on €12,490 million, or 7.9%. See (d) on page 91 and Note 37 on page 104.

The 2010 interim report shows the collateral posted by Anglo Irish bank becomes mostly promissory notes issued to that bank by the Irish government and that the ‘MLRA’ agreement has, for the most part been superseded by a ‘special masterloan repurchase agreement (SMRA)’.

For more background information on what happened, Simon Carswell’s book Anglo Republic is excellent and highly recommended, though it doesn’t go into the ELA detail.