Time to heed banking alarm
When the Governor of the Central Bank, Patrick Honohan, and the Financial Regulator, Matthew Elderfield, both express their alarm at the extent of the mortgage crisis, it is time for the banks to explain why they have been so tardy in seeking a remedy -- and to persuade the Government and the public that they intend to take early action.
Over the last year, the crisis has escalated rapidly. It is calculated that more than 10pc of all mortgage holders are now in arrears of more than three months. A further 10pc may be experiencing what has been called "some level of distress". Many thousands stand to lose their homes.
In addition, the Government may have to engage in another round of recapitalising the banks. Frightening figures like €40bn have been bandied about. Where to find the money? There has been speculation about a second bailout from the EU and IMF. Even assuming that we could get it, could we afford it?