NAMA, EU Guidelines and Pricing of Assets

My previous post discussed the price that our new National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) could pay for impaired loans from the perspective of how much of a loss relative to book value the banks could take under the assumption that the government didn’t invest more than its €7 billion planned re-capitalisation. The answer was that the discount from book value would have to pretty small relative to the figures being widely quoted for likely losses.

Admittedly, this was a bit of an around-the-houses way of warming up to the NAMA discussion and Patrick was completely correct in his comment that the key sentence in the speech was

If the crystallisation of losses at any institution requires additional capital the State will insist on participation by way of ordinary shares in the relevant institution.

ECB on Asset Support Schemes

The ECB released what looks to me like an important document on Friday.  In response to a February 26 Communication from the European Commission,  it sets out the ECB’s recommended guidelines on “asset support schemes”, i.e. over-priced purchases of impaired assets by the state or under-priced state insurance of these assets.  I have described my objections to these proposals a number of times and won’t go into them again here.  A quick look at the ECB document didn’t reveal anything that made me more convinced of the merits of these proposals (though I may report back after I’ve had a bit more time to read the document in detail).

In the Irish context, my concern is that the EU and ECB documents seem likely to convince the government that these schemes should be pursued.  However, there are other ways to go about dealing with our banking problems and a broader debate needs to be had than simply focusing on the details of how asset support schemes should be implemented.