Friday 21 July 2017

Confidence vote sparks new hopes for recovery

Global finance giants back our economy in wake of stress tests

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

HUGE international backing for our economy's ability to recover flooded in last night, in the wake of the €24bn bank rescue plan.

Prestigious global banks predicted Ireland would recover once it puts the costly banking crisis behind it.

One influential bank, the Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley, actually told its clients to go and buy Irish bonds.

And Dutch bank ING said that following the stress tests it was now time for the EU to lower the 5.8pc interest rate on our bailout loans.

It is a huge vote of confidence as the Government tries to convince investors abroad and a sceptical public at home that its strategy for banks will help to kick-start growth.

The endorsements came on the eve of an IMF team's arrival in Dublin to begin a full-scale review of our IMF/EU programme.

And they coincided with the latest figures from the Government yesterday that showed tax returns remained weak but the overall IMF/EU programme was on track.

Meanwhile, Dublin stockbroker Dolmen said Ireland may only need to borrow an extra €1.5bn to pay for the latest bank bailout.

And other commentators weighed in with support for the bank plan, with German lender Deutsche Bank saying Ireland's banks could end up with too much money after last week's announcements.

However, the most upbeat message came from Morgan Stanley in a report entitled 'Ireland -- Time to Buy'. The bank said Ireland could respond to the current challenges more quickly than other struggling European countries.

"Of course Ireland is still facing major challenges. But if there is one economy in the euro area that could meet these challenges, it is probably the Irish economy," its chief European economist Elga Bartsch said.

Morgan Stanley expects the economy to return to growth of 0.8pc this year and for the rate of growth to double in 2012.

Ms Bartsch said Ireland was fundamentally different from the other peripheral countries in that it was a fully deregulated, fully liberalised market economy.

Meanwhile, Oscar Bernal, an economist with Dutch banking giant ING, said that last week's banking announcement piled pressure on Europe to reduce the 5.8pc interest being charged for Ireland's bailout.

Response

"Ireland came out with a strong political response, cutting its banking sector to just two banks and abandoning the plan to impose losses on senior bondholders," he told the Irish Independent last night.

He said that now made it difficult for others in Europe not to reduce the interest rate being charged to Ireland, because the Irish fix helped protect all of Europe from a second financial crisis.

He said there were already signs of a more positive attitude to Ireland after the question of reducing the Irish corporation tax rate quietly disappeared off the agenda since last week's stress tests.

"The economic concerns about the 12.5pc tax rate were nonsense, it was a political issue, and I think they will bury that now after the decision not to restructure the bank debt," he said.

The debt markets responded positively as Ireland's cost of borrowing over 10 years fell to 9.6pc.

This is still extremely high, but down nearly half a percent since the stress-test results were announced.

The cost of insuring government bonds against a default fell to 6pc per year from 6.45pc.

In its report, Morgan Stanley said Ireland's debt-to-GDP ratio would peak at 120pc in 2013, before declining gradually.

It said government bonds would remain volatile, especially on the back of ratings downgrades, but told clients that it still recommended buying the debt.

Confidence

And to round out a positive day, Deutsche Bank gave its thumbs-up to the stress tests.

Its analyst said yesterday that €10bn of the €24bn of fresh capital being raised for the Irish banks was to provide additional confidence, rather than to soak up losses.

Irish Independent

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