Back to the bank guarantee: Loan losses total €140bn, Honohan assigns blame and Sean Mulryan’s fresh warning

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The loan losses racked up by the State’s 11 boomtime banks since the crash amount to almost €140 billion.  Photograph: Aidan Crawley

The loan losses racked up by the State’s 11 boomtime banks since the crash amount to almost €140 billion. Photograph: Aidan Crawley


The State’s main 11 banks and building societies racked up a total of almost ¤140 billion in loan losses in the decade after the banking crisis hit, Joe Brennan reports today. The figure, which equates to about three-quarters of the size of the economy in 2008, includes all the bad-loan charges lenders took in the decade after 2008, as well as losses attached to loan portfolios sold to vulture funds. AIB alone lost ¤34.3 billion on soured loans.

In a special package reflecting the 10th anniversary of the State bank guarantee, Joe also speaks to former Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan, who states that blame for the lack of options available to the Government when it came to the fateful guarantee decision “must attach really mostly to the official sector, not the politicians”.

Simon Carswell, finance correspondent of The Irish Times at the time of the guarantee, charts the night it was agreed, forensically detailing who was there, who wasn’t and who was just outside the room, watching on TV as “the world was collapsing not just in Ireland”.

Joe Brennan speaks to some key players who saw the rise of the boom and its explosion from the inside, including developer Sean Mulryan, who recalls “the banks were throwing out money like it was confetti” and a former stockbroker who remembers the exact moment where he realised: “This is going to blow”.

Back in the present day, Ballymore Group founder Mulryan, one of the highest-profile developers to come through the crash, warns that construction costs now pose “the biggest risk” as the Republic grapples with a housing crisis.

Our columnist Chris Johns meanwhile asks if it could all happen again: “The answer is a resounding yes”. And in his weekly economics column, John FitzGerald argues that geographically diversified banks operating across a number of EU countries would provide a buffer against the worst of such a repeat.

In other news, the latest research from, the property website owned by The Irish Times, finds growth in asking prices for residential properties is beginning to slow, with Dublin sellers in particular reining in expectations .

First Derivatives, the Newry-headquartered technology firm, says it plans to create 1,000 new jobs to add to its existing 2,400 staff. Charlie Taylor has the story.

Charlie also relates a warning from a leading technology commentator, John Naughton, that the State is in for “a day of reckoning” for bending over backwards to accommodate technology multinationals.

Brexit fears are never far away, with the North’s electricity market the latest to feel a chill. Barry O’Halloran reports that energy prices in the North could rise by more than 30 per cent after the UK leaves the EU.

Peter Hamilton has news of a deal that will see Aviva buy a 49-bedroom aparthotel in Dublin for €17.5 million, while Mark Paul has details of a British-Irish consortium that has bought a development site in Dublin’s Liberties district from Dublin developer Martin Creedon.

And in Mark’s Caveat column, he argues that just as journalism matters, so does its independence from the State and any State subsidies that might be on offer.

In our Work section, Olive Keogh looks at why so many women choose to stay out of the workforce or feel excluded from it. As well as childcare costs and an overly heavy burden at home, she says parental guilt needs to be factored in.

Finally, this week’s Wild Goose is John Dixon, who went to Edinburgh from London via Kilkenny to help his brother Padraic in business in 1981 and never went home.

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