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Archive for March 1st, 2011

This is a purely housekeeping entry to establish guidelines for the posting of comments. There have been some 2,171 comments posted on this blog since its introduction last January 2010. Some of these will have been generated on this side but most are made by visitors to the blog. With comment volume increasing, and solely for that reason, there’s a need to set out some guidelines.

Commenting versus contacting the blog
(1) Comments will be seen by everyone
(2) You can contact the blog in confidence using the contact form under the About tab or email jagdipsingh2008 [at] hotmail [dot] co [dot] uk

Comment moderation
(1) All comments are pre-moderated the first time a new commenter posts a comment. This may take several hours, but if your comment doesn’t appear after 24 hours, check your email inbox because there will probably have been a problem with the comment which prevents publication. After the first comment is approved their comments are still moderated but they appear on the blog as soon as posted.
(2) If you are a repeat commenter but posting from a different computer (technically a different IP address) then your comment will again be pre-moderated
(3) If there is a problem found with your comment, it may be removed temporarily. An email will be sent to the email address given with the comment, explaining the problem and attaching the full text of the comment which will allow editing and re-posting. There is no editing whatsoever of your comments at this end. If there is no response to such messages within 24 hours, then the comment is moved from moderation and deleted.
(4) If your comment contains three or more hyperlinks then it will be held in moderation, even if you have previously had comments approved without moderation. This is because comments with lots of hyperlinks tend to be spam.
(5) If you have broken commenting guidelines previously, then your comments may be held in moderation.
(6) On occasion your comment may be held for moderation because it contains a word or expression which is problematic.
(7) On occasion, WordPress which hosts the NAMA wine lake blog might incorrectly designate a comment as spam. The blog receives over 300 spam comments per day and it is no longer possible to check individually for “false positives” and the spam is cleared en masse.
(8) If you are commenting for the first time and using a “real name” – first name and family name – then you can expect delays in the publication of your comment, as extra steps have to be taken with validating your email address and computer location, so as to deter attempts to maliciously take a person’s good name. If the email address provided doesn’t respond to a request for verification within 24 hours, then the comment will be deleted.
(9) If your comment hasn’t appeared within 24 hours, please contact the blog directly with details of the comment.

Comment content
(1) Please make your comments relevant, though off-topic is still welcome particularly if there is breaking news which will probably prompt a new thread
(2) If making claims of fact, it is helpful to attach a link to a source. Unverified claims may lead to your comment being suppressed (see below).
(3) The commenter is fully responsible for their comment, and remains fully responsible even if a comment has been moderated.
(4) Defamatory and abusive comments will be suppressed to the greatest extent possible. Some comments will be,and have been, borderline and it will be the blog that decides what is acceptable.
(5) Comments which publicise a commercial product or service will be closely moderated. Commercial advertising is not allowed.  This blog does not generate any revenue whatsoever, and indeed might find it difficult to keep the term NAMA in its title if it did.
(6) Pingbacks/links from other blogs or websites aren’t comments but they appear as links under “comments”. Such pingbacks are approved if they are considered relevant to the blog content.  Approval of such pingbacks does not mean the source blog’s content is approved and this blog takes no responsibility for the content of websites that may be linked to the NAMA wine lake blog via pingbacks. Frequent pingbacks from the same source are very selectively approved.

Replying to other comments
(1) Up to now the general house style was to greet with “Hi” – that reflected the small population of commenters and the folksy nature of the exchanges on here. It has become a little tedious for some, and so with a little regret it must be said, the house style of address will henceforth be with “@”
(2) Do not use abusive terms when replying to other commenters, it is possible to get your point across without name-calling. This blog is not here to enable persecution of any individual or group; it is a subjective judgment about when comment and opinion become persecution.

Editing comments
(1) This blog runs on standard WordPress blogging software and WordPress has said that it does not offer an edit facility to commenters which it claims would stymie interaction with commenters.
(2) Although the blog has the ability to edit all comments, it never edits your comments, so if one word or sentence is problematic the whole comment is suppressed.
(3) If you wish to delete a comment then you will need contact the blog (see above) and request that comments be deleted

Privacy
(1) When you post a comment, a record is generated of the IP address of the device used to generate the comment together with the email address provided by you. Neither is ever published or disclosed.
(2) There have been requests received for email addresses so that commenters can privately correspond. This is never done unless a commenter explicitly gives permission which has never happened.
(3) There is no personal messaging (PM) facility with the WordPress software used to generate the blog
(4) WordPress assigns commenters a unique symbol with a square design and colour. WordPress call this a “gravatar” and it appears next to your commenter name. Note that WordPress assigns a unique gravatar based on your IP address and email address only, so if you have two different commenter names but each is attached to the same email address and IP address then WordPress will assign the SAME gravatar to both commenter names.

Suppressed comments
There have been 10 comments in the past year which were suppressed. An attempt was made to contact all commenters with an explanation for the action taken. The suppressed emails break down as follows:

(1) 2 made allegations that named or identifiable individuals had lied. The commenter declined to offer evidence.
(2) 1 comment inferred that a named individual had committed an offence against the law. The commenter was invited to provide proof or modify the comment and they chose to modify the comment.
(3) 2 used what was considered on here to be personally insulting language to a previous commenter. The commenters were invited to modify their comments and remove the “name-calling”.
(4) 3 comments made reference to a post which was modified soon after it was made at the request of a party that had provided information which they had, apparently, intended to be confidential.
(5) 1 comment made reference to the personal assets of a developer which was border-line intrusive. The email address provided by the commenter turned out to be invalid when an attempt was made to make contact to modify the comment.
(6) 1 comment (correctly) made a claim about an important financial disclosure that had not yet come into the public domain, which would have been damaging had it been untrue.

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Limerick deputy Willie O’Dea will return to the new Dail next week though with a much reduced share of the vote in his Limerick City constituency. Given the carnage wrecked on the Fianna Fail party in this election, Willie might now be breathing a sigh of relief but only a few months ago Willie the barrister was nearly having conniptions worrying about a building site in Limerick owned by a Liam Carroll company, a site that was falling into disrepair and becoming a health hazard as well as a magnet for criminality. The site was likely to have gone to NAMA but what was troubling Willie was concern that if he made any approach to NAMA, that he would fall foul of the NAMA rules on lobbying. Former tourism minister Mary Hanafin also seemed unsure about NAMA’s anti-lobbying rules and the representations she could make to NAMA in respect of the troubled hotel sector. Neither politician was alone in their confusion so their colleagues in the Committee of Public Accounts addressed the issue last November 2010 when they were questioning the NAMA CEO and chairman. The following is an extract from the session:

Deputy Michael D’Arcy: I will touch upon the question of developers and banks being negligent. When I say negligent, I am referring to certain premises and sites being left in neglected states. NAMA’s role differs from ours, yet we are receiving reports from the general public concerning dangerous sites. Mr. Daly mentioned how it is an offence to lobby. To whom should a public representative go if he or she is receiving complaints about neglected estates that are in the possession of banks, developers or NAMA?
Mr. Frank Daly: When I referred to lobbying, I did not mean the normal type of information that a public representative might want to pass on to NAMA. There would be no difficulty in that respect.
Deputy Michael D’Arcy: If the information is of that nature.
Mr. Frank Daly: Yes.
Mr. Brendan McDonagh: We would welcome it. If people can give us information, we can take matters up with the borrower directly to determine the situation. We have noticed that everyone assumes every estate in a neglected condition is NAMA’s, but many of them are not or they are funded by other banks.
Deputy Michael D’Arcy: Many of them are NAMA’s.
Mr. Brendan McDonagh: I accept that.
Deputy Michael D’Arcy: Clarification is good. People seem to be terrified to ask NAMA a question for fear of prosecution.
Mr. Frank Daly: No. That is not lobbying. Lobbying is when someone tries to influence a decision of NAMA for personal benefit. Passing on information is not remotely like that.

One site that has received widespread attention has been 16 Moore Street in Dublin, scene of the signature of the surrender order which put an end to the 1916 Rising. There is a campaign to preserve the building which is earmarked for demolition as part of NAMA Top 10 developer, Joe O’Reilly’s redevelopment of the area. The campaign has gained some traction with the involvement of descendants of the participants in the Rising including James Connolly Heron, the great grandson of effective commander in chief of the Rising, James Connolly. There is a Facebook campaign which has attracted over 4,000 members, in the Oireachtas politicians have questioned the redevelopment and in January 2011 housing minister Michael Finneran made a statement in support of the group and there has been a letter-writing campaign. The building itself looks practically derelict today and there are concerns for its safety.

Another group is concerned at the deterioration of the former Hume Street hospital just off of St Stephen’s Green in central Dublin which was to be developed by Michael Kelly whose loans might now be in NAMA. And up and down the country there are many new developments which stand unfinished and there are other redevelopments which have stalled with the implosion of the property bubble. So what can you do if you have concerns, particularly if you believe the property is subject to a loan taken over by NAMA?

(1) You can contact your local council
(2) You can contact NAMA but you’re likely to get a response similar to this one received from NAMA by supporters of the Save Hume Street from Destruction  campaign:
“Please be advised that the National Asset Management Agency acquires loans and not the assets underlying the loans. Accordingly a property underlying a loan acquired continues to be the responsibility of the debtor. Your email makes reference to section 141 of the Agency’s Act [grants rights to NAMA to enter property secured by a NAMA loan, for the purposes of securing the property]. Please be advised that NAMA is aware of the various rights available to it pursuant to the terms of the NAMA Act and will exercise such rights, where appropriate and at its discretion. Please be advised that the National Asset Management Agency is statutorily obliged to keep confidential all information in relation to the debtors whose loans it has acquired and can’t confirm or deny whether any specific asset has been acquired.”
(3) It seems that you might be able to meet with NAMA. The 16 Moore Street campaign group is reported to be meeting with both the NAMA CEO and chairman on Thursday this week and no doubt they will let us know the outcome through their Facebook page.
(4) You can contact the developer or the bank if you have the details
(5) You can contact An Taisce if the building is listed (your local council should be able to help with establishing the building’s status)
(6) You can contact the Gardai with complaints of criminal behaviour
(7) You might consider writing to the press, for example to Frank McDonald the Environment Editor of the Irish Times
(8) You can consult the Derelict Sites Act 1990 and the Planning and Development Act 2000 to see if there is any action you can take

Remember that NAMA has a commercial remit – we all want it to make a profit. So it might be asking too much of NAMA to expend time and money on a property that may be demolished eventually anyway. That said, as the Moore Street campaign shows, you can get NAMA’s attention if you have the support backing you up.

This entry will be updated with further news from the Moore Street campaign and others and with news of hazardous NAMA sites.

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The Nationwide Building Society has this morning published its UK House Price data for January 2011. The Nationwide tends to be the first of the two UK building societies (the other being the Halifax) to produce house price data each month, it is one of the information sources referenced by NAMA’s Long Term Economic Value Regulation and is the source for the UK Residential key market data at the top of this page.

The Nationwide says that the average price of a UK home is now GBP £161,183 (compared with GBP £161,602 in January 2011 and GBP £162,764 at the end of November 2009 – 30th November, 2009 is the Valuation date chosen by NAMA by reference to which it values the Current Market Values of assets underpinning NAMA loans). Prices in the UK are now 13.4% off the peak of GBP £186,044 in October 2007. Interestingly the average house price at the end of January 2011 being GBP £161,183 (or €190,739  at GBP 1 = EUR 1.1803) is only 0.5% below the €191,776 which the Permanent TSB/ESRI said was the average nationally here at the end of December 2010.

With the latest release from Nationwide, UK house prices have fallen by 0.97% since 30th November, 2009, the date chosen by NAMA pursuant to the section 73 of the NAMA Act by reference to which Current Market Values of assets are valued. The NWL Index remains at 893 (because only an estimated of NAMA property in the UK is residential and only 29% of NAMA’s property overall is in the UK) meaning that average prices of NAMA property must increase by a weighted average of 12.0% for NAMA to breakeven on a gross basis.

The short-term outlook for UK residential remains flat to modestly negative – “treading water” in the words of the Nationwide chief economist, Robert Gardner.  Last week the UK’s contraction in UK GDP for Q4, 2010 was revised to 0.6% from 0.5%.  And in November, the newly created Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR) issued a forecast which predicted the UK economy to grow (by reference to GDP) by 2.1% in 2011 and 2.6% in 2012. Unemployment is forecast to peak at 8% in 2011 and property will drop by 2.7% over the next 12 months. Mortgage approvals are dropping off with confidence in the low- and middle-market in the doldrums with reasonable supply (boosted by the abolition of Home Information Packs (similar to our BERs) in June 2010) and anaemic demand dampened by the prospect of public sector job cuts, VAT rises and an €81bn fiscal adjustment. Inflation is running at just over 3% in the UK and there may well be a rise in interest rates in 2011 (the Bank of England base rate is 0.5% and has been at this level for two years since 5th February, 2009).

UPDATE: 4th March, 2011. The Halifax building society, now part of the LLoyds banking group has published its February house price series today which shows a fall of 0.9% in the month and a 2.8% fall over the past 12 months which makes the Halifax more downbeat than the Nationwide’s in the past year. The Halifax claim the average property now costs GBP £162,657 which is slightly above the Nationwide’s €161,602.

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