Category Archives: Irish banking

13/12/19: World Bank and WEF reports highlight relatively poor competitiveness rankings for Ireland


The latest World Bank "Doing Business" report rankings and the WEF's "Global Competitiveness Report" rankings show Ireland in a mid-tier 1 position (24th ranked in both tables) in terms of competitiveness - hardly an enviable position.



Ireland's position marks a deterioration from 23rd rank in WEF table, driven by relatively poor performance in ICT adoption (hmmm... Silicon Docks economy is ranked 49th in the World), macroeconomic stability (ranked 34th), product markets competitiveness (35th), and financial system (42nd).

Full WEF report here: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_TheGlobalCompetitivenessReport2019.pdf and full WB report here: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/32436/9781464814402.pdf WB country profile for Ireland: https://www.doingbusiness.org/content/dam/doingBusiness/country/i/ireland/IRL.pdf.

A summary chart for Ireland from WB report:

Which, again shows poor performance in the area of credit supply, as well as trading across the border (correlated to the effective market size),  but also in access to electricity, registering property, dealing with construction permits, and enforcing contracts.




10/12/19: Irish Banks: Part 2


Continuing with the coverage of the Irish banks, in the second article for The Currency, available here: https://www.thecurrency.news/articles/4810/a-catalyst-for-underperformance-how-systemic-risk-and-strategic-failures-are-eroding-the-performance-of-the-irish-banks, I cover the assets side of the banks' balancesheets.

The article argues that "The banks are failing to provide sufficient support for the demand for investment funding, and are effectively removed from financing corporate investment. In this case, what does not make sense to investors does not make sense to society at large." In other words, strategic errors that have been forced onto the banks by deleveraging post-crisis have resulted in the Irish banks becoming a de facto peripheral play within the Euro area financial system, making them unattractive - from growth potential - to international markets.


The key conclusions are: "From investors’ perspective, neither of these parts of the Irish lenders’ story makes much sense as a long term investment proposition. From the Irish economy’s point of view, the banks are failing to provide sufficient support for the demand for investment funding, and are effectively removed from financing corporate investment. In this case, what doesn’t make sense to investors doesn’t make sense to the society at large."

10/12/19: Irish Banks: Part 1


Returning back to the blog after a break, some updates on recent published work.

In the first article on Irish banking for The Currency, titled "Culture wars and poor financial performance: examining Ireland’s dysfunctional, beleaguered banking system", I argued that "The financial performance of the Irish banks has been abysmal. Not for the lack of profit margins, but due to strategic decisions to withdraw from lending in the potential growth segments of the domestic and European economies." The article shows the funding side of the Irish banks and the explicit subsidy they receive from the ECB through monetary easing policies - a subsidy not passed to the end credit users.

In simple terms, high profit margins are underpinned - in Irish banks case - by low cost of funding.

Conclusions: "The implications of the lower cost of banks equity, interbank loans, as well as deposits for the Irish banking sector are clear cut: since the start of the economic recovery, Irish banks have enjoyed an effectively free ride through the funding markets courtesy of the ECB and the blind eye of the Irish consumer protection regulators. Yet, despite sky-high profit margins extracted by the banks from the households and businesses, the Irish banking sector remains the weakest link in the entire Eurozone’s financial services sector, save for Greece and Cyprus. If the funding side of the equation is not the culprit for this woeful record of recovery, the other two sides of the banking business, namely assets and regulatory costs, must be."

Read the full article here: https://www.thecurrency.news/articles/3833/culture-wars-and-poor-financial-performance-just-what-is-going-on-within-irelands-beleaguered-banks

3/12/15: Heard of Number26, yet?..


An interesting 'break-in' into Irish banking market via Number26 which uses:

  • Fintech platform; and
  • German license
to break the Central Bank of Ireland-led freeze on new entrants into the banking market here.

Details are here: http://techcrunch.com/2015/12/02/number26-launches-its-bank-of-the-future-in-6-new-countries/. Surprisingly low margin operation based on fees from transactions, rather than on direct customer charges. Presumably, accounts are insured by German system and are free from the Irish Government indirect tax extraction schemes, such as card duties etc... One, of course, will have to be compliant on Irish DIRT.

Of course, Fintech offers plenty of disruption potential in the sector that is inhabited by technology dinosaurs. Still, for all its promise, Fintech is yet to:
  1. Achieve a significant breakthrough into traditional banking and insurance services (beyond aggregators and price optimising platforms) and
  2. Deliver a viable (financially) margins model.
These two points mean that to achieve scale, Fintech offers today need deep pockets and customer bases of more traditional services providers, as I describe during this discussion: http://trueeconomics.blogspot.ie/2015/10/161015-financegoogle-2015.html.