Thursday 30th April 2015
Irish Banks refuse to pass on mortgage rate cut despite pressure
- Ministers seek reduction from banks for people of Ireland who helped to bail them out
Enda Kenny and Joan Burton who said it might have ‘slipped’ bankers’ minds that people’s substantial pay cuts funded the banks’ recovery.
More State banks have defended the standard variable rates (SVR) they impose on some mortgage customers. They said that while rates are kept under review there are no imminent plans to lower them.
Permanent TSB claimed that its SVR of 4.5 per cent was “competitive in the current market” adding that it “broadly reflects the various cost inputs including the cost of funds which the bank raises from a variety of sources including the retail deposit market in Ireland and the international money markets”.
When asked if there were any plans to reduce the rates in light of changing market conditions and pressure from Government, a spokesman would say no more than they “always monitor our rates and will continue to do so”.
KBC offers the same SVR as PTSB although mortgage customers can get a 0.2 per cent discount on both new and existing variable and fixed mortgage rates if they hold a KBC current account with the Bank.”
The bank would not be drawn on its plans other than to say its rates were kept on “under review”.
The average on a tracker mortgage is just over 1 per cent. The average variable rate across the euro zone, meanwhile, is 2.47 per cent. This means that someone with a €300,000 mortgage and an SVR mortgage with a leading Irish bank pays around €650 a month more than someone with a tracker.
The banks’ apparent resistance to an immediate rate cut comes just 24 hours after both Ulster Bank and Bank of Irelandruled out rate cuts for customers with SVR mortgages setting themselves on a collision course with the Government.
Earlier this week the Minister for FinanceMichael Noonan said he planned to ask banks to cut the cost of variable mortgages and expects them to follow his recommendation.
This was followed by a call from Taoiseach Enda Kenny to cut their SVRs. “From any moral point of view, from any ethical point of view, when banks are now restructured and on their way to making profit again, it is just not acceptable that when they themselves can borrow at much cheaper rates that they continue to have higher rates applied to mortgage holders,” Mr Kenny said
Tánaiste Joan Burton echoed Mr Kenny’s sentiments and suggested it might have “slipped their minds” that people’s wages cuts funded the recovery of banks.
“Gratitude will only get you so far with the banks. I’ve never known bankers to be a particularly grateful sort of people,” she said.
Former AIB chiefs ‘very sorry’ for role in banking collapse
Two former heads of Allied Irish Banks have expressed regret over the impact the catastrophic banking collapse had on Ireland.
Before a parliamentary inquiry into the collapse, retired chief executive Eugene Sheehy said he feels personal disappointment every day for the failures.
“I’m very sorry for what happened and for my role in those events. I know a lot of people feel very let down, and deservedly so,” Mr Sheehy said.
The former chief executive joined the bank in 1971 and worked his way up to be appointed the top banker by 2005.
He retired in 2009 at the height of Ireland’s financial and economic meltdown.
Mr Sheehy said AIB had asked the Government to adopt a four-bank guarantee scheme in September 2008 during all-night negotiations.
He said he did not ask for the blanket €440bn guarantee ultimately brought in by the then coalition.
“When we saw the guarantee document the next morning we could not see why Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide were included,” Mr Sheehy said.
Michael Buckley, who was formally appointed group chief executive in 2001 and retired in 2005, said he had no information that the bank was lending too much when he was in charge.
“I deeply regret what happened and the damage it inflicted on the lives of so many,” he said.
Mr Buckley said he had no premonition when he was retiring 10 years ago of the looming financial crisis which hit world markets and the shattering impact of the crisis on the Irish economy.
Men and women want sex at completely different times of the day
- A study finds
- A new survey about bedroom habits reveals that when it comes to sex, men are larks and women are owls
It’s one of mankind’s age-old quandaries – but now a new study has shed light on just why heterosexual couples never seem to feel amorous at the same time of day.
According to a survey of 2,300 adults, the two sexes simply operate in different time zones when it comes to sex.
While men are at their most amorous between the hours of 6am and 9am, women follow suit much later in the day, between 11pm and 2am.
Erotic toy brand Lovehoney analysed the data to determine that the exact time the average man reaches ‘Peak Horniness’ is 7:54am, compared to 11:21pm for his average female partner.
Only 16pc of men said they regularly want sex before falling asleep, while a meagre 11pc of women responded that they felt most passionate early in the morning.
The survey also suggested that people tend to settle down with partners who have similar sex drives.
Over half of all people polled (63pc of women and 54pc of men) said that they desired sex roughly the same amount as their current partner.
However, 44pc of women and 33pc of men reported having experienced issues in previous relationships due to mismatched sex drives.
Lovehoney co-owner Richard Longhurst said: “This shows that there are big differences in Sex O’Clock between the sexes.
“Men are ready for sex just before breakfast whereas women most want passion last thing at night.
“What is encouraging is that most people tend to find sexual happiness in the end with a partner with similar needs.
“But Lovehoney has found that most of us do have a few difficult relationships with lovers whose sex drives are different from our own along the way.”
Oil falls more than 1%, as U.S. crude stockpiles are set for another high
Oil fell more than 1 percent on Tuesday ahead of weekly U.S. crude inventory data that is expected to hit another high and as Saudi Arabia pledged to supply more oil to China if needed.
U.S. commercial crude stockpiles were expected to have risen last week for the 16th straight week, up from a record 489 million barrels, even though drilling activity fell, a preliminary survey by Reuters showed on Monday.
Comments from top Saudi oil officials on Monday reiterated the country’s position of keeping production high to meet demand as it maintains its market share.
Brent June crude futures had dropped 84 cents to $63.99 a barrel by 0702 GMT. U.S. June crude fell 84 cents to $56.14 a barrel.
The fall in prices “reflects the major gains that have been made in the last few weeks and a little bit of concern over what the inventory numbers in the U.S. might show”, said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.
Brent crude hit a 4-1/2 month high last week, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) has risen for six consecutive weeks, underpinned by net long positions on both contracts as speculators bet on a decline in U.S. shale output.
While a roughly 50 percent drop in global oil prices since June last year has helped economies in Asia, it has posed “difficult challenges” for many oil producers, Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Tuesday.
“Sudden rises or falls in the cost of oil are not welcome … It’s in all our interests to ensure stable prices,” he said in Beijing.
Geopolitical tension, mainly in Yemen and Syria, and unplanned production outages, including in the North Sea and Brazil, have prompted Barclays to raise its oil price forecast.
The bank raised its Brent forecast by $9 to $60 a barrel for 2015 and by $8 to $68 in 2016. It also raised its WTI price outlook by $8 to $54 a barrel this year and by $7 to $64 for 2016.
Still, it warned in a research note that “the oil market is not out of the woods yet and weak fundamentals will weigh on prevailing bullish market sentiment in the second quarter”.
The two oil benchmarks are sitting just above key technical levels, with Brent above $64-$64.50 and WTI above $56, McCarthy said.
Bets on rising Brent crude prices rose for a fifth straight week to a new record, InterContinental Exchange (ICE) data showed on Monday.
One in six species on earth face extinction from climate change
Global temperature rise of four degrees Celsius could spell disaster for a huge number of species around the world
One out of six species faces extinction as a result of climate change and urgent action must be taken to save large numbers of animals from being wiped out, an analysis said Thursday.
The study, published in the US journal Science, found that a global temperature rise of four degrees Celsius could spell disaster for a huge number of species around the world.
“We urgently need to adopt strategies that limit further climate change if we are to avoid an acceleration of global extinction,” said study author Mark Urban, an ecology and evolutionary biology researcher at the University of Connecticut.
The analysis evaluated 131 previous studies about the impact of climate change on flora and fauna around the world.
It concluded that with each rising degree in global temperatures, more species were at risk.
A two degree increase, the study noted, could threaten 5.2 percent of species, while a three degree boost would put 8.5 percent of all species at risk.
“If we follow our current, business-as-usual trajectory (leading to a 4.3 degree Celsius rise)… climate change threatens one in six species (16 percent),” the study said.
Different regions of the world had varied extinction threats.
“Extinction risks were highest in South America, Australia and New Zealand, and risks did not vary by taxonomic group,” Urban said.
In South America, the most vulnerable region, 23 percent of species may face extinction.
Fourteen percent could be threatened in New Zealand and Australia.
Five percent of species in Europe could face extinction, compared to six percent in North America, the study found.
Urban said governments must urgently act to prevent widespread extinction.
“Climate change is poised to accelerate extinctions around the world unless we adopt new strategies to limit it and implement specific conservation strategies to protect the most threatened species,” he said.
Meanwhile, a related study in Science Thursday found that marine fossils can help identify which animals and ocean ecosystems face the greatest risk of extinction.
A team of paleontologists and ecologists looked at marine animals that died out over the past 23 million years.
They found that some groups were more vulnerable than others and the threat varied regionally.
“Whales, dolphins and seals show higher risk of extinction than sharks or invertebrates such as corals. Clams and mussels – so-called bivalves – had about one-tenth the extinction risk of mammals,” the study found.
Regions of the tropics such as the Indo-Pacific and the Caribbean were most at risk. Climate change and other human-related activities such as fishing contributed to that vulnerability.
“Climate change and human activities are impacting groups of animals that have a long history, and studying that history can help us condition our expectations for how they might respond today,” said lead author Seth Finnegan, an assistant professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley.
But he said more research is needed to protect vulnerable species.
“There is a lot more work that needs to be done to understand the causes underlying these patterns and their policy implications,” he added.