Saturday, December 26, 2015

26/12/15: Depositors Insurance or Depositors Rip-off?


What's wrong with this picture?

In simple terms, nothing. The Central Bank has embarked on building up reserves to fund any future pay-outs on deposits guarantee.

In real terms, a lot.

Central Bank deposits guarantee will be funded from bank levies. However, in current market environment of low competition between the banks in the Irish market, these payments will be passed onto depositors and customers. Hence, depositors and customers will be funding the insurance fund.

Which sounds just fine, except when one considers a pesky little problem: under the laws, and contrary to all the claims as per reforms of the EU banking systems, depositors remain treated pari passu (on equal footing) with bondholders (see note here on EU's problems with doing away with pari passu clause even in a very limited setting: http://trueeconomics.blogspot.ie/2015/11/271115-more-tiers-lower-risks-but.html). Now, let's consider the following case: bank A goes into liquidation. Depositors are paid 100 cents on the euro using the new scheme and bondholders are paid 100 cents on the euro using the old pari passu clause.

Consider two balancesheets: one for depositor holding EUR100 in a deposit account in an average Irish bank over 5 years, and one for the bondholder lending the same average bank EUR100 for 5 years.

Note: updated version

Yes, the numbers are approximate, but you get the point: under insurance scheme the Central Bank is embarking on, the depositor and the bondholder assume same risks (via pari passu clause), but:

  • Depositor is liable for tax, fees and insurance contributions, whilst facing low interest rates on their deposits; while
  • Bondholder is liable for none of the above costs, whilst collecting higher returns on their bonds.

So, same risk, different (vastly different) returns. Still think that insurance fund we are about to pay for a fair deal?..

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