Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ireland forcing banks to make loans even after bank rejects loan application

In an attempt to shorten that portion of the credit cycle where banks only fund very low risk loans, Ireland has introduced a program to over-ride the bankers and force them to make loans.  Regulators are now substituting their judgement of credit risk for the judgement of the banks' lending areas.

This is a development that has been under-reported by the mainstream media and opens up a whole series of issues like who is responsible for losses on these loans?  Granted, Ireland has effectively nationalized its banking system, but this puts even more of a sense of urgency under the need for implementing current asset and liability-level disclosure so that market participants can analyze both the banks and the Irish sovereign credit.

As reported in an article in the Irish Independent,
The Credit Review Office (CRO) will be able to challenge loan applications turned down by the banks of up to €500,000 from next week in a bid to free up more credit for Irish businesses. At the moment the office can review and dispute bank decisions on loans of up to €250,000. 
Finance Minister Michael Noonan sanctioned the higher limit yesterday to help small businesses, farmers and other borrowers to get more credit from AIB and Bank of Ireland. 
The CRO, headed by John Trethowan, looks at complaints from bank customers whose loan applications have been reviewed and has the power to dispute them. Mr Noonan said so far the office has challenged bank loan refusals amounting to over €1.75m and this has resulted in the granting of finance, which has protected 210 full-time and 13 part-time jobs. 
"This shows the effectiveness of the review process and the increase in the thresholds should protect even more jobs," he said yesterday. 
Mr Noonan hopes that by raising the limit to €500,000, more disappointed bank customers will challenge these decisions and have their loans granted. 
"Up to now the numbers of applications for review going to the Credit Review Office has been surprisingly low considering the volume of complaints about difficulties that SMEs are facing in accessing credit. 
"This increase will bring more refusals within the scope of the Credit Review Office," he said.

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