Business Irish

Monday 11 December 2017

PUNT: Cheers and plenty of tears

IT seems you just can't please everyone all the time. Punt's friend, the pension fund trustee, was having a hard time this week joining in the euphoria about the deal to turn the IBRC promissory notes into bonds.

The curmudgeonly trustee found himself with some unusual bedfellows.

Those fantasists expecting a write-off of our national debt were also unhappy with events in the debt markets.

That's an unusual bunch to find on the same side, as the last thing a pension fund trustee wants is a debt default, which is essentially what a write-down of state debt would entail.

No way was the European Central Bank ever going to allow the bank debt to be written off.

That will now stop legitimate calls for the bank debt burden to be lifted, with thousands expected on the streets of Dublin today making that call.

What is making the trustees testy is the impact that the move to turn the promissory notes into long-life bonds will have on new sovereign annuities.

These are the great hope for the eight out of 10 defined contribution pension funds that are in deficit.

Sovereign annuities are linked to long-dated bonds issued by the National Treasury Management Agency and offer higher yields than are available from the German and French bonds, which traditionally underpin annuity products.

This week's events are set to reduce the yield on sovereign annuities and mean they are priced less competitively.

The new annuities will be less useful at plugging the deficits in pension funds.

Cue tears from our trustee friend.

Anglo bigwig back from the dead

JUST when you thought that Anglo Irish Bank was dead, Tiarnan O'Mahoney returns to haunt us.

With an unusual sense of timing, the former Anglo bigwig said yesterday he is back in the game and has a new company along with former Anglo colleague Bryan McSharry.

The two former Anglo men have founded Moneycorp Ireland, a foreign exchange services company which is a branch of the UK-based foreign exchange group.

The company is just the latest in a long line of jobs for Mr O'Mahoney since he left Anglo after being beaten to the top job by one David Drumm in 2005.

Moneycorp is not Mr O'Mahoney's first foray into foreign exchange; he is also a director of Baggot Street-based Sovereign Foreign Exchange Payments Ltd.

Most remember Mr O'Mahoney's ill-fated Irish Securities Trading Corporation (ISTC) which went bust with debts of €850m to its wealthy and famous investors.

He also served as chairman of the Pensions Board. Mr O'Mahoney, who celebrates his 55th birthday tomorrow, has already managed to fit several careers into his busy life. 'The Punt' hopes that his latest venture will bring him more luck in the next decade than the previous 10 years.

JP Morgan gets boom hangover

CONSIDERING the developments involving the former Anglo Irish Bank, it is ironic that a case involving JP Morgan in the US has allegedly uncovered evidence of shoddy lending and then a cover-up by the bank to protect itself after these loans inevitably went bad.

That is not to suggest staff at Anglo Irish Bank or IBRC were involved in illegal activity. Instead, the court documents remind us that nearly every bank in the Western world was handing out bags of cash with little or no supervision during the boom, and are now paying the price.

In a case between JP Morgan and the French bank Dexia, it has been alleged that when JP Morgan had an external party analyse part of its home loans book, it found numerous issues, such as fraudulent home appraisals and loans being made to borrowers who were already overextended.

Instead of accepting that these loans should never have been made, however, Dexia claims JP Morgan adjusted the analysis to make them appear to be better quality than they were.

These loans were then bundled into derivatives and sold on.

Dexia claims it was duped into buying $1.6bn worth of these mortgages, which ultimately resulted in huge losses for the bank,

Irish Independent

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