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The Punt: Karl's on Santa naughty list





Santa Claus is reportedly furious. His trademark ho, ho, ho, has been replaced with No, No, No as he reacted unfavourably to comments expressed by UCD economics professor Karl Whelan yesterday morning.

Speaking exclusively to The Punt, Mr Claus said he thought it was "outrageous" that his very existence was questioned on Ireland's national radio.

You see, during a contribution concerning Greece on RTE's Morning Ireland, Whelan said there was no Santa Claus.

In fairness, he later took to Twitter to apologise for his comments.

But some took a pop at him on the social media site, including fellow academic Stephen Kinsella.

"Maybe your greatest contribution to public debate," tweeted Kinsella.

"Real impact there as my eight, six and four-year-olds ate breakfast."

Mr Claus acknowledged Mr Whelan's contrition.

"I accept his apology. But I would advise him not to be so superior in future, or I might pass by his house on December 25th next!"

Santa was tight lipped, however, on speculation in Brussels that he may be planning an out-of-season give-away for Greece.

Bankers under pressure

Under-pressure bankers are more likely to behave unethically, according to research from PwC.

Finance executives are more likely to break rules when they are under pressure to reach challenging performance targets - the strong implication being that when rules are being broken it is in many cases to hit company goals, rather than because rogue individuals are driving personal agendas.

The results are based on surveys of 2,431 managers in banking, insurance and wealth management, PwC said. The work was undertaken by the accounting firm and the London Business School.

A spate of multi-billion euro fines levied on banks is causing a great deal of internal soul searching in the world's counting houses, in ways the global financial meltdown never really achieved.

And it turns out abuses were happening because, in some cases at least, bankers feared under-performance more than they feared the consequences of getting caught cooking the books.

Mind you, having done no research, the Punt would still suggest that when it comes to the crunch it's the dishonest bankers who are more likely to behave unethically.

Fancy a 2pc mortgage?

The Punt is lucky enough to not have bought a house or apartment back in the Celtic Tiger days.

It is also unlucky enough to not have bought at the bottom of the market around 2012 and 2013.

Now, with tighter mortgage rules, and soaring interest rates, the chances of it getting on the property ladder seems as remote as ever.

Which is why our eyes were opened on Friday during a trip to Berlin. People often point at the German market being the one to follow but until you are there it is difficult to comprehend just how different it is.

Take mortgages for example. The standard variable rate in Ireland is about 4.27pc at present. In Germany, you can get a 20-year fixed rate mortgage at about 2pc. One person we spoke to was cursing that he was paying a "huge" 2.45pc interest on his mortgage.

This is, we suppose, a product of a banking system that unlike in Ireland, is actually functioning.

And yet home ownership in Berlin is preposterously low. If those rates were in Ireland nobody would be renting.

Instead in Berlin owner occupiers account for about 15pc of the market. Somehow The Punt can't see us ever following the German model.

Irish Independent