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Dan White: Anglo: the bank that swallowed a country

Heard the one about the bank that swallowed a country?

It's beginning to feel that way about Anglo and Ireland.

Every time we think that things can't get any worse with the bank that Seanie FitzPatrick built, they do.

When Anglo first hit the rocks almost two years ago, the cost of bailing it out was put at about €4.4bn. A huge sum but mere chump change compared to what was to follow.

So how bad can things get at Anglo?

Today's disastrous figures confirm that things are going from bad to worse at the disgraced lender and that the final figure will be even higher than previously thought.

When Anglo transferred the first tranche of its bad loans to NAMA earlier this year it suffered a 55pc "haircut" on loans with a book value of €10bn, ie it was paid just €4.5bn for them and had to suffer a €5.5bn loss.

With a mere €10bn of Anglo's original €72bn loan book now likely to be repaid in full that translates into total losses of €34.1bn.

However, when Anglo transferred the second tranche of its bad loans to NAMA a few days ago it received just €2.57bn for loans with a book value of €6.75bn, a 62pc haircut.

Quality

Applying this discount to its entire loan book would result in losses of €38.4bn. And there is almost certainly even worse news to come. Believe it or not the first two tranches of bad loans transferred to NAMA represent some of Anglo's "better quality" loans.

The haircut on tranches three, four and five, which will be transferred later this year and earlier next year, will almost certainly be much, much higher.

And then there is the €20bn of bad loans that aren't headed for NAMA but are destined for Anglo's in-house "bad bank" instead.

By the time all of the numbers are added up it's difficult to see how the total cost of bailing out Anglo will be less than €40bn.

Enough. This is the economics of the madhouse.

The €40bn-plus of our money that the Government is proposing to pour down the Anglo drain is almost a third more than the €31bn it will take in from taxes this year.

If this was for a bank that was of what economists describe as systemic importance we might have no choice but to grin and bear it. But it isn't.

Anglo doesn't have a retail branch network, hasn't a single current account on its books, has never written a homeloan in its miserable 46-year existence and will never lend a red cent again.

No, Anglo was merely a spivs' bank that fuelled the manic property speculation of the Celtic Tiger era. And now we're expected to pick up the tab.

Almost two years on, the Government's decision to bail out Anglo and Irish Nationwide rather than letting them go bust is still utterly inexplicable.

By rescuing what were essentially private banks for property speculators, the Government has cost the Irish taxpayer the guts of €50bn and the meter is still running.

When ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut Ireland's credit rating last week one of the main reasons it cited to justify its decision was the rising cost of the bank rescue, ie Anglo.

Catastrophic

A couple of days later the Financial Times, the moneymen's bible, urged that the Government should walk away from Anglo and leave it to the bondholders and depositors.

But Fianna Fail still doesn't seem to get it. After making a catastrophic mistake two years ago the main Government party now seems to believe that if only it keeps repeating that everything will be alright, somehow it will be.

Stop this nonsense. Anglo is a financial and ethical cancer that needs to be cut out as quickly as possible.

Close this rotten bank and close it now.