There is general agreement that Ireland and interested persons should know what the cost of the Bank Bailout is going to be.
The Government reputedly delegated that task to the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator. The Taoiseach told the Dail on 29th September 2010, (in relation to the portion attributable to Anglo Irish Bank):
“That figure is not yet available to us from the Financial Regulator. It is being conducted at the moment and work is being finalised on it. As soon as the figure is communicated to us it will be provided.”
Remarkably, the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator were in their turn, dependant on NAMA for information. The Regulator has reportedly said;
“Its estimate was based on advice from the National Asset Management Agency on how much it will pay Anglo Irish Bank for the loans it is taking on.”
Now, given the exercise, this missed the point. NAMA is about the price of loans, not the cost of the Bailout. We can only know the cost of the Bailout if we know the value of the NAMA loans, (not the price of the loans).
NAMA’s purpose is to defer the fixing of the valuation of the loans as long as possible. It claims that it is paying prices reflecting “long term economic value”. This is an admission, of course, that the loans are not currently worth NAMA’s estimate.
Long after the Government has left office we will learn the real value of NAMA’s “assets”. So, too, will the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator. Only then will the cost of the Bank Bailout be known.
The Government devised NAMA. It has designated NAMA as exempt from Freedom of Information legislation. When this writer asked for information on the agreement between the Government and the Commission of the EU on the NAMA loan pricing mechanisms, the information was refused.
Everything of relevance in the possession of NAMA is a secret.
Some things are not secret. Calculatedly, NAMA is paying prices for bank loans which are in excess of current value.
According to the Minister for Finance, speaking on RTE on the night of 30th September 2010, NAMA has gone into the banks and revealed the truth of their finances to the Government. That, if we believe him, implies that NAMA and the Government know the value of the NAMA loans. (Not just the price NAMA has paid or will pay). That is the implication because the context is the focus on the cost of the Bailout, not the nominal current price.
So, the real repository of information on the cost of the bank Bailout is the Government, through its proxy, NAMA.
Why bother with the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator to deliver the number?