Central Bank 2010 Annual Report

The Central Bank’s annual report for 2010 was released today. Continuing his valiant service, Lorcan has read the report so we don’t have to. For those ELA-philes out there, Lorcan spotted the following lovely sentence:

In addition, the Bank received formal comfort from the Minister for Finance such that any shortfall on the liquidation of collateral is made good.

Anyone care to speculate on the legal value of “formal comfort”? For instance, relative to the guarantees passed in to law under ELG scheme, how does a formal comfort compare?

Central Bank Balance Sheet April 2011

The Central Bank balance sheet for the end of April 2011 has been released. It shows a decline of €12.6 billion in the famous “Other Assets” category which is where the Bank’s ELA operations show up. It also shows a decline of €8 billion in lending under the Eurosystem umbrella. These are large declines for a one month period and it’s not clear how they came about, i.e. whether there was a large increase in deposits at the guaranteed banks, whether any new market funding was sourced (unlikely) or whether there were significant deleveraging deals involving selling off foreign loan books and using them to pay off central banks.

As Namawinelake notes, these questions will be clarified at the end of this month when the balance sheet of the guaranteed banks for April will be released. Certainly, the decline in emergency borrowing from central banks is welcome and is a first concrete sign that the March 31st announcements have had a positive effect on the health of the banking system.

Update: Thanks to Eoin and Lorcan for coming up with the real story. NTMA have deposited €19 billion in cash resources into the banks. Reuters have a story here while Lorcan had already figured it out. NTMA apparently couldn’t be bothered putting out a press release.  So all of the above out positive effects etc. is hereby withdrawn.

Speculation on New ECB Lending Programme

There has been a lot of focus in the past few days on stories based on leaks of Thursday’s stress tests results. Perhaps more important, however, is the question of what the plans are for the €150 billion in central bank funding that the Irish banks are currently receiving.

Two interest stories here and here suggest there is lot to be negotiated on this issue. While less visible than the question of the interest rate on Ireland’s EU loans to the sovereign, the questions of how long the Irish banks will have to pay back these loans, and at what interest rate, are perhaps more important.

EU Needs to Share Ownership of the Irish Banks

Here‘s an article I wrote for today’s Irish Times. It argues that a conversion of central bank loans to equity is now the best way to end the banking crisis and avoid a sovereign default.