There were some entertaining media reports last week about the appearence of AIB and Bank of Ireland executives before the Oireachtas Committee on Finance and the Public Sector. I decided at the time not to comment on these reports because the full transcripts of these meetings eventually get put online and these are a better way to judge what was said.
The transcript is now online here. The most insightful aspects of the committee meeting were the exchanges relating to what the banks were going to do with the NAMA bonds given to them by the Irish government.
Anyone following the NAMA debate over the past few months will have regularly seen and heard members of the government explain how NAMA was going to get credit flowing: NAMA would take ownership of the banks’ property loan portfolios in return for government bonds, which the banks would then use as collateral to get repo loans from the ECB and then these funds would be loaned out to Irish firms and households.
The statements made at the committee meeting by CEOs Richie Boucher of BOI and Eugene Sheehy of AIB did not at all conform with this story. Indeed, the general tone of their statements was that there would be very little swapping of NAMA bonds for ECB loans. Instead, as illustrated by Sheehy’s already infamous “trickle-down” comment, the only benefit to getting credit going in Ireland would be a lower cost of market funding for Irish banks which might get passed on to customers.