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Ireland at risk of new banking crisis

Ireland is at risk of another economic disaster because the country has failed to learn from the mistakes of the last financial crash less than a decade ago, according to one of the Central Bank of Ireland’s most senior officials.

In a series of pointed remarks, which appeared in the Irish Examiner over the weekend, Central Bank director of credit institutions supervision Ed Sibley expressed his concern that bankers in Ireland have already forgotten the lessons learned since the 2008 economic collapse.

He was also critical of Irish banks for failing to meet targets set by the Central Bank, as well as for showing signs of returning to a ‘toxic culture of bad lending’ and for dithering over finding solutions for thousands of mortgage holders in arrears, with around 43,000 owner-occupier mortgages currently in arrears of 90 days or more.


Sibley said: “We must not forget the lessons from the bubble and the more recent past, such that we never again have such a catastrophic and systemic failure of lending standards and practices. Some memories do appear to be surprisingly short, both within the banks and outside them.

“We have already seen some evidence of a return of more aggressive lending practices and cultures, and issues with risk appetites, the pricing of loans relative to risks and the effectiveness of board oversight over new lending. We forget the lessons from this crisis at our peril. All of our actions need to both address the legacy of the crisis and mitigate and reduce the risk of recurrence.”

Fresh figures released last week revealed that the last collapse in Irish property prices was more severe than initially thought.

According to the new revamped Residential Property Price Index, launched by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the peak to trough fall in residential property prices from 2007 to 2013 was 54.4%, not 50.9% as recorded previously.

The data, based on stamp duty returns rather than mortgage drawdown data and includes for the first time cash transactions, which are said to account for 50% of property sales, also shows that the recovery in the market since 2013 has been stronger, with prices up on average 43.2% rather than 37.4% as estimated previously.

The CSO’s new figures also reveal that first-time buyers have essentially been pushed out of the market since 2010. They suggest the first-time buyers’ share of the market fell from 53.1% in 2010 to 24.4% in 2015.


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