The taxpayer saved the banks, so now they turn the screw on mortgage rates
WhEN the European Central Bank this week kept its key interest rate at one per cent, worried mortgage holders who are struggling to meet their repayments breathed a collective sigh of relief across euro land. Except in Ireland, that is. In Fair Eire, allegedly the land of a thousand welcomes, mortgage interest rates are actually going up.
Economists say the main message from the ECB monthly press conference last Thursday was that the first hike in official rates is a relatively comfortable amount of time away -- probably no earlier than late 2011. That gives most people space to put bread on the table, squirrel away some extra cash and pay off their credit cards.
Not so here, however, where public sector workers have seen their wages slashed and, as unemployment rises in the private sector, the public has watched helplessly as billions of euro of taxpayers' money has been used to prop up the banks.