Why Reasonable Expenses Will Be Reasonable for Personal Insolvency


The past few weeks have seen the issue of what is “reasonable expenses” and who is going to decide what they are, regularly debated over the airways when it comes to the new personal insolvency act which is coming into operation in June.

The current ‘spin’ is all around making people feel that they are going to be turned upside down and every penny that drops out will be taken and given to the banks. This is of course yet another story the banks love the public to hear so they get scared of thinking about using the insolvency act. However, though the guidelines for reasonable expenses have yet to be published by the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI), I do not expect that any such shakedown is going to happen to people who find themselves in such difficulty that they have to declare themselves insolvent.

There are a few things that need to be made clear about the new personal insolvency act that will hopefully put people at ease in relation to its use and what it is really intended for.

The first clue is in the name “personal insolvency act”. The act is intended for people who find themselves in debt, to be given a mechanism to get themselves out of debt in a reasonable time with some payments to creditors where possible. It is not intended for the banks to be able to shake down people for everything they have and a bit more (though the banks would like us to think that). Yes there is a kind of veto held by the bank who is owed more than 65% of the total debt. However, that will usually mean that the biggest creditor will have the most to lose if a deal is not done. How often have we heard the more you owe the banks the more they want to do a deal with you? Well this is finally going to reach the ordinary man in the street. So making reasonable expenses unrealistic for people to live will not do anything for the capacity of people to engage with the banks to come to an agreement.

The second thing is to look at the personal insolvency act from the banks point of view (not from the bank spin). It is an opportunity for them to clean up their act and balance sheet, come clean on the extra ordinary amount of bad loans which will have to be written off, get good PR by saying they are supporting the use of the act and most importantly it is an opportunity for them to generate a lot of very much needed cash (and looking at the most recent Bank of Ireland financials it is very very much needed cash!). They are going to generate cash from two sources where they would not otherwise. In the first instance where there are buy to let properties in a portfolio of a person using a personal insolvency agreement these properties will be sold therefore generating the banks immediate cash which otherwise would not be generated. This is the case even if the sale proceeds are lass then the loan amount. Generating 60% of a loan outstanding  and in significant arrears is better than generating 0% which is what is happening right now. They will also benefit from the cash being paid by the Debtor over the lifetime of the personal insolvency agreement.

So it is in the bank’s interest to keep the debtor on side and not too squeeze the life out of them. The banks will not admit it but they need customers and ALL of the people who enter into personal insolvency arrangements will be their customers too.

The final point to consider is when a debtor looks at their position and is seeking to use the personal insolvency act it is likely that in reality they would be better off if they did just declare bankruptcy and not have any commitment to pay any amount over a 6 year period. Yes they would lose their family home and all other significant assets. However, they will lose their other assets anyway in a personal insolvency arrangement and considering the current property market if they do a deal with the banks on a write down on their family home they will possibly still be carrying a small portion of negative equity. So this is not a fantastic ‘get off the hook’ scenario for the debtor as being peddled in some quarters. The banks are very aware of the fact for most people bankruptcy could be a better option but a disaster for the banks and so in the end they will corporate with debtors going through the personal insolvency process because as much as it is seen as a mechanism for the survival of the debtor it is equally as important for the future of the banks.

The ISI is aware of the fine balance needed to engage all parties in the act and in reality it is the Debtor who is going to have to be kept on side for the recovery of the economy and banks. So reasonable will be reasonable!

Debtors need to keep in mind power is numbers and there are going to be very significant numbers going through the insolvency process so there is no need to give in to the shakedown!

 

Paul C Carroll FCCA

Personal Insolvency Expert

www.neofinancialsolutions.com

Mortgage arrears on the increase and simple solution being ignored


All of the comment yesterday and this morning on the current mortgage arrears situation miss one very important point and that is the significant number of people who are not yet in arrears but who will be in the coming months. The number of people who come to see me who are not yet in arrears is still rising and is of great concern since they are not in any of the arrears figures published yesterday.

Despite what the banks and government want us to believe this problem is getting bigger and nobody is taking it seriously enough to stem the tide. In the Irish times today David Hall of Irish mortgage holds association makes this same point better then I could and has been for some time.

In my recent interview on RTE I spoke of the current environment being different and nothing like what we have seen before. Well it seems to be getting worse through lack of action not because of lack of solutions. In fact since that interview solutions have dried up, banks have been given instructions by the central bank and government NOT to do any deals for debt forgiveness with borrowers. This is the continuation of the government policy of looking after the fat cats and make the people in trouble or most vulnerable pay more.

The upcoming Personal Insolvency Legalisation has been tainted by the fat cat banks and been allowed by the government. So if the banks do not play ball then the legalisation will be another failure for a government which has turned its back on the ordinary people.

It is obvious to everyone that there is a massive household debt problem here which is holding back the people economically and emotionally. This needs to be addressed and quickly. Our leaders should hop on the government jet and head not to Brussels for fancy meetings and dinners but head west to Iceland where they have solved the household debt problem simply and quickly. The Icelandic government nationalised their banks (as we effectively have done) then instructed them to write down all home mortgages to 110% of the property value. This had the effect of releasing the ordinary people from the excesses of massive household debt and in turn helped their economy to become the fastest growing economy in the western world.

Not only that but after having had to let their banks go bust and default on major loans they have successfully returned to the bond markets. The bond traders know how to get their money back when a default happens and that is to lend again! This is something which seems to have passed our government and their advisors by.

The mortgage arrears problems are not going to go away with tinkering around the edges. If the tinkering continues the economic disaster we are experiencing will only get worse! And it looks like that is what is in store for us for a long while!

 

Paul C Carroll

www.neofinancialsolutions.com

Political Appointments, Judges, Top Public and ESB/ Bord Gais for sale! The SCAM continues


Justice Peter Kelly had the guts to say what we all have known since this government has taken power “the more things change the more things stay the same”. The extent of broken promises by Enda and his band of merry men on their election campaign has not only been limited to not standing up to the Trika on bond holders. Now it seems that it has continued the cronyism they so criticised the last government for. Not only do over 30% of the judicial appointments have direct political connections to government parties but the political connections are more important than the ability of the appointee!

Added to this insult to the people who elected the government on a false mandate we now see that Judges are paid in excess of €150,000 pa. They are joined by ALL politicians who get in excess of €150,000pa and over 3,000 top public servants who earn in excess of €150,000pa. Who says that you have to pay peanuts to get monkeys? These people are grossly overpaid for the job they have been doing. These are the people we are relying on to give us proper justice, implement fair plans and legislation to ensure that the people of this country will be able to get back to having a decent living. Yet if they do the things that need to be done they will be the first to be found out. Is there any wonder 5 years on we in Ireland Inc. are going further into depression. And today the Central Bank says it may continue until 2010!

These same people have stood over the grossly unfair rises on utility bills just so that another band of overpaid people can continue with their lavish lives at a direct cost to the Irish people. We are told that this is part of the process of getting the utility companies of ESB and Bord Gais ready for privatisation.

This is another scam! So we are going to take more out of the Irish people’s pockets by way of increased utility bills. Then we are going to sell the utility companies in a depressed market getting poor prices for them. But here is the real kicker …… who is going to buy the ESB and Bord Gais at knock down prices …….. the very same BOND HOLDERS we bailed out at TOP prices! How come? Because they have the money (the money we gave them)! And believe me they think Ireland is a great place to do business. And why not since they made a really bad investment in the Irish banks…. all now bust … but they managed to get 100% of their money back PLUS interest.

And who is overseeing this SCAM? The same band of €150,000+ public servant earners. No Wonder capital markets are back open to the Irish if in return the bond holders can partake in such a lucrative scam!

Paul C Carroll FCCA