Saturday 20 January 2018

Cowboy banks gone but not forgotten

The Government's announcement that both Anglo Irish and Irish Nationwide are to be subsumed into the renamed Irish Bank Resolution Corporation marks the final disappearance of the two cowboy banks whose excesses during the Celtic Tiger years eventually bankrupted the Irish State.

And good riddance. Even by the lax standards of boom-time Ireland, Sean FitzPatrick's Anglo Irish and Michael Fingleton's Irish Nationwide were utterly delinquent. Even in the unlikely event that there are no more surprises, both of them have written off more than half of their loan books, a shocking rate of bad debts. When banking analysts describe Anglo and Irish Nationwide as having been the worst banks in the world, it isn't hyperbole but the plain, unvarnished truth.

It wasn't just the losses incurred by Anglo and Irish Nationwide in their reckless lending to builders and property developers. As Anglo and Irish Nationwide grew from less than 3pc of the market in the late 1990s to almost 20pc by 2007, the other banks were forced to compete as they desperately tried to stop the interlopers from poaching customers -- with disastrous results.

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