Monday, May 31, 2010

Economics 31/05/2010: Anglo's latest cash call

This just in - the Government has decided to give Anglo, yes, that very Anglo which is Ireland's real zombie bank with no prospect - even theoretical one - a fresh capital injection of €2 billion (here). This brings taxpayers' capital injected into the bank to €14.3 billion to-date.

The official information by DofF claims that because the injection comes in a form of a promisory note, payable over 10-15 years, there will be lesser impact on the taxpayers today. However, although the official announcement does not say so, this term structure of payments means that our future deficits will be front loaded (pre-committed to the amount announced today), implying that for Ireland to reach required 3% deficit/GDP limit by 2015, we will have to face an increased funding requirement for Anglo over time.

This requirement must be provisioned today, since the notes work in the following way:
  • At any point in time between today and 10-15 years from now, Anglo can waltz into DofF's offices and ask for any share - between 0.00001% and 100% of the amount issued on the promisory note.
  • At that moment, the Government will have to come up with cash pronto, which means - no time to issue separate bonds.
  • Which implies that the very second Mr Dukes asks for cash, our deficit goes up by that exact amount.
Now, prudentially, we should have set an escrow account and provided for this funding. In practice, as is clear from the DofF release, no provisions will be made. The entire, and I repeat, the entire risk of the drawdown therefore is leveled on the shoulders of taxpayers. The DofF in effect is praying to the forces of fortune that Anglo won't come in with a request for funds tomorrow, and/or that any request will not be for the entire sum of the promisiory note.

Now, let us revert back to the 'bank' called Anglo. The State has now committed €10.3 billion in promisory notes. These carry interest rate of... well, I am not sure... but suppose it is 5% to cover the cost of borrowing for these funds in the market, once the funds are disbursed. Assume that 10% of that (actually below a normal charge for a letter of credit for an insolvent company) is outstanding annually until a drawdown. Make a further assumption: assume that Anglo will draw the entire amount in equal annual installments over 5 years - an assumption that is also extremely conservative.

At 5% per annum, Anglo's liabilities to the taxpayers are:
Let me quickly and briefly explain the last 2 columns above. The penultimate column shows the sum of interest charges (at 5% on drawn funds), plus underwriting charge (at 0.5% for undrawn promisory note funds remaining) that Anglo should be paying over the next 10 years, assuming draw down is evenly spread over 5 years on both tranches. The last column then states the amount of loans that are performing that Anglo needs to have on its books in each year to cover the loans interest, not the principal, but interest, assuming that Anglo uses 0.5% of the loans to cover its interest rate, which would roughly amount to 25-30% of its entire interest income on the loans (note - that is really a severe case of the credit squeeze on a bank, but hey, suppose they manage without breaking the back).

How do I come up with this 25-30% estimate? In a normal year, one can expect a fully efficient bank to make ca 2% of their loans volume in revenue. If it pays 0.5% of that amount to cover costs of promisory note, it will be swallowing 25% of the revenue base.

Now, Anglo is transferring to Nama some €35 bn worth of loans, leaving it with ca €30 billion in remaining loans on its books. Of these, roughly 60% is expected to go into the 'bad' bank - in other words, roughly €18 billion worth of loans won't b performing. This leaves it with roughly 40% of loans or €12 billion on the side available for revenue generation. It needs ca €28 billion to cover the cost of the prmisory notes alone...

Get the picture? Even if you dispute my assumptions and half all the costs of the promisory note carry, you still can't get Anglo balance sheet to cover the cost (not the principal) of what it is borrowing from the taxpayers. This puts into perspective the DofF claim that: "As the Minister stated last March the overriding objective of the Government is to minimise the cost to the taxpayer of the restructuring of Anglo Irish Bank".

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