We've still got a long way to go to profit from the €20.8bn AIB bailout
NEWS that taxpayers could eventually make good on the cost of rescuing AIB came to us in serendipitous fashion.
On Wednesday, the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan publicly accepted for the first time that a deal from Europe to help shoulder some of the cost of the Irish bank rescues is unlikley to be struck.
"Things have changed dramatically," he admitted.
Changed, that is, from the heady July 2012 declaration that Europe's leaders would stand together to break the toxic link between governments and banks – a context in which Ireland was a 'special case'
If the European cavalry isn't going to ride to the rescue a recovery for taxpayers will have to be found within what's left of the banks. So from the minister's point of view yesterday's announcement from AIB chairman David Hodgkinson was particularly timely.
Mr Hodgkinson insisted the €20.8bn taxpayers have sunk into the lender will, eventually, come out again. Let's hope he's right. The €34bn that we sank into rescuing Anglo and Irish Nationwide certainly isn't coming back out.
Taxpayers are already €1bn in profit on the Bank of Ireland rescue, however, which few would have predicted three years ago. But AIB is the really big one in terms of value still to play for. It is currently valued at €11.5bn by the Government. That will have to double before the exchequer is money good. If it happens it will be fantastic news for taxpayers – regardless of who might have said what when. If.