Wednesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - June 26, 2013
By Finfacts Team
Jun 26, 2013 - 8:52 AM

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Irish Independent

NEW Anglo Tapes reveal bank chief executive David Drumm joking with a senior executive about the haemorrhage of funds from the institution hours before the Government bank guarantee.

As his bank teetered on the brink of collapse, Mr Drumm is heard laughing: "Another day, another billion".

He was referring to the flight of deposits out of the doomed bank before the bank guarantee in September 2008 – running at over €1bn a day at the time.

Separately, in the wake of the furore over the revelations, it has emerged cabinet ministers are weighing up a second referendum to give the Oireachtas extra powers.

The Cabinet discussed at length yesterday how best to uncover the truth and ensure there is accountability after the banking crisis that cost the taxpayer €64bn.

CLAMOUR away, but you are unlikely to see a banking inquiry anytime soon. The Government has tried to subdue your anger at the revelations contained in the Irish Independent's Anglo tapes by announcing details of laws to set up an inquiry by the end of the summer.

It has done so safe in the knowledge that it could be as late as 2016 before any such inquiry kicks off, if at all.

This is because the Director of Public Prosecutions has already intervened in the Quinn family's civil action against Anglo to advise against the running of any parallel inquiry or court action that could impact on pending prosecutions.

Even if the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013 is passed, politicians will not be able to make findings of fact against any individual (other than office-holders) owing to the constitutional parameters of the Supreme Court's Abbeylara ruling.

Deposits at the Irish covered banks fell by €2.8bn in May to €150.7bn, according to new figures released this morning by the Department of Finance.

It said that the decline in the headline deposit figure compared to April was due to a decrease in balances held in retail accounts in Ireland. Those declines were spurred by a combination of factors, “notably the lower interest rate environment and the improving funding position of the covered banks, which has eased competition for deposits,” according to the Central Bank.

IRISH banks lost €500m every month last year, the International Monetary Fund's representative in Dublin has said.

Peter Breuer told a conference that the losses needed to be reined in to avoid having to pump more emergency money into AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB.

The IMF's representative to Ireland also warned that the banks weren't building enough capital to support new lending.

The warning comes as the State prepares for a fresh round of stress tests on the banks early next year.

The assessments are aimed at gauging the banks' financial health and the level of losses and future losses linked to defaulted home loans and property lending. Latest figures show that one in four homeowners is struggling to make their home repayments.

Irish Times

The electorate may be asked to vote again to give more power to politicians to conduct formal inquiries if the planned Oireachtas inquiry into the banking collapse fails to get full cooperation from leading figures involved.

During a Cabinet discussion yesterday on the inquiry, Ministers debated the option of asking the people to revisit the issue if the formula adopted for the inquiry doesn’t work.

The development follows the release of tape recordings made inside Anglo Irish Bank before and after the 2008 banking guarantee, which have intensified pressure for an inquiry. Among other disclosures, the tapes suggest Anglo’s then chief David Drumm was happy to abuse the guarantee.

It took almost five years, but the tapes of ex-Anglo Irish Bank executives have finally put Ireland on the front page of the best-selling Bild tabloid.

“Irish broke bankers mock German customers — Deutschland Über Alles” is the headline on today’s page one story.

“They mocked their customers even as they were doomed,” begins the story into the Anglo tapes.

Though the bank’s ex-managers knew a state bank guarantee “would not be enough”, they “made fun of the naïveté of German savers”, described them as “Scheissdeutsche” and “sang the first verse of Deutschland, Deutschland Über Alles”.

For years the influential Bild has adopted a moderate line on Ireland while attacking “broke” Greeks, “crooked” Cypriots and other bailout candidates. Yesterday marked the end of this kid-glove treatment.

The Taoiseach unveiled a major stimulus package for the toothless yesterday.

The rapacious bankers will be delighted.

Baring his gums in a fearsome manner, Enda Kenny responded to the public outrage over the Anglo tapes by missing the point spectacularly.

He was so wide of the mark in the Dáil as to make us believe his misreading of the situation had to be deliberate. Outside Leinster House, people are furious with the arrogant suits who blithely joked about sticking them and their children with a debt running to tens of billions.

Their laddish sniggering at the prospect of getting one over on the regulators while their game-playing ultimately consigned this country to penury, shocked the public.

The recovery in global banks’ balance sheets is under threat from a surge in bond yields, according to senior bank executives and analysts.

Banks have built huge portfolios of liquid securities, partly at the behest of regulators and also because they have not found better opportunities to lend a flood of deposits.

Under new rules, unrealised losses in these “available for sale” portfolios hit banks’ equity capital.

Irish Examiner

The demand for bank credit by SMEs remains low, although there was an improvement in perception that banks are lending, according to the latest SME Credit Demand Survey prepared for the Department of Finance.

The survey covers the period from last October to March.

Of the SMEs who had applied for credit at the date of the survey, there was a 60% approval rate. Excluding applications that were still pending, there was an approval rate of 76%. However, the survey found that the conditions attached to loans were becoming more punitive, including more personal guarantees.

Only 40% of SMEs requested at least one type of bank finance over that six-month period, a 1% increase on the last survey in September and a 2% increase on year ago levels.

The Government must not ease up in any fiscal consolidation this year, despite growing political pressure for a softer budget, a conference heard yesterday.

At a special budget conference in Dublin yesterday organised by the ESRI, its chief economist, John FitzGerald, said the Government had to proceed with €3.1bn in budget cuts this year.

His fellow panellists, Peter Breuen, from the IMF, former government adviser Alan Ahearne and Trinity College Dublin economics professor Philip Lane, also called for the Government to stick to the existing strategy of reaching the 3% fiscal deficit by 2015.

The restructuring of the promissory notes in February created roughly €1bn in savings over the next two years. The Government plans to take €3.1bn out of the budget this year followed by €2bn next year. On current projections this level of adjustment would bring the deficit down to 2.2% by 2015.


Presseurop: According to the financial committee of the French National Assembly, the state public spending deficit, which was limited to €61.5bn in the 2013 budget, is expected to reach €80bn (4 per cent of GDP instead of the 3.7 per cent planned) by end of the year.

In a report, the committee explains the failure to meet the spending target is due to a reduction in tax revenue prompted by declining growth and incessant fiscal changes, which have stalled France’s economy.

“There is no shortage of suggestions on how to make savings,” points out Le Figaro.

Croatia's entry into the European Union, scheduled for July 1, 2013, has rekindled the fear of an invasion of Croatian workers, especially in Germany and Austria. The cliché of east Europeans stealing jobs from west Europeans still has a bright future.

Elio Velan writes in Novi List, the Croatian newspaper, that in the small town of Hohenthurn, in the Austrian province of Carinthia, near the Italian border, a giant brothel is about to open. Its investors have announced that 140 sex workers will be employed there. The town currently has only 800 inhabitants, and the brothel will trigger a demographic boom in the region. The problem lies not only with the "whores" but also with those (most of them immigrants) who will fill the 40 administrative and logistic jobs, aimed at better serving the sex workers as they go about their daily and nightly labour with their clients.

The investors in question, unnamed entrepreneurs from Switzerland and Germany, have invested over €7m in the project. Their aim is to profit, as much as possible, from the proximity of Italy where prostitution is illegal, unlike in Austria where brothels are legal, sex workers are taxed, protected by the police and benefit from public health services.

Euro Topics: The Finns are rapidly losing their reputation as a nature-loving nation. According to a new survey, almost 50 percent of Finns are afraid of wolves and bears. For the liberal Finnish daily Lapin Kansa the media is to blame for all this panic: "The number of predators doesn't explain this fear. There are a few more bears around nowadays, but the number of wolves has dropped. Nor is urbanisation to blame, since not much has changed in this respect. What's more, three out of four respondents are in favour of hunting predators and one in two would kill one if it came near their home. The reasons for this hysteria lie in the exaggerated debates. We live in a time when any bear or wolf that happens to wander into a village generates headlines and calls for help, even though the animals are no more dangerous for humans than in the past."

After the end of the Berlusconi era Italy lacks political alternatives, the liberal  Italian daily La Stampa notes: "The downfall of the Second Republic in court leaves a gaping void. ... Berlusconi's fall destroys with one fell blow all the illusions of a section of the population that followed him like an idol and entrusted him with its dreams and fears. ... The centre-left party is currently unable to offer an alternative - not even with the help of the 5 Star protest movement. The broad coalition government which was supposed to foster reconciliation after a pointless and interminable 'civil war' will survive a little longer. But it is in a kind of suspended state, lacking any political operability and the necessary force to deal with difficult situations. But nonetheless many will cling to it like they would cling to a raft in a storm."

Even after his most recent conviction, an end to Berlusconi's political career is not in sight, columnist Bert Wagendorp writes in the left-liberal Dutch daily De Volkskrant: "Berlusconi is fighting tooth and nail against time. Every young women that he lures into his bed with money must convince him that he will be young and vital forever. Every vote the electorate gives him contributes to his feeling of immortality and limitless power. Every look in the mirror shows him as a shameless all-powerful ruler, the manipulator of his own reality and others'. In fact he plays this game of immortality and inviolability so energetically - and convincingly - that I can't imagine we're rid of Silvio Berlusconi for good. Soon he'll bring down the Letta government, and if he wins the elections he'll be prime minister once again. Then he'll pass a law permitting sex with 17-year-olds. Nope, we'll only see the last of Silvio after his gentle death in the arms of a Lolita."

In the by-elections to replace former minister Jérôme Cahuzac, the former minister who was exposed as a tax cheat, in the French National Assembly, the candidate of the conservative UMP won out against his opponent from the far-right Front National with 53.76 percent against 46.24 percent of the vote. The fact that the Socialist candidate was out of the race after the first round of voting illustrates the disappointment of voters on the left, the communist French daily L'Humanité writes: "When a by-election is caused by a tax fraud affair surrounding a budget minister, the parliamentary majority faces a serious handicap. But when such inexcusable mistakes are coupled with popular feelings that the policies that have been pursued for the past year don't break with those they rejected when they removed Nicolas Sarkozy from the Elysée Palace, a large number of voters on the left feel they've been doubly wronged. ... Who can still doubt that the government will run into a wall if it persists in listening only to those who want the downfall of the left?"

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