(Bloomberg) -- A decade on from the financial crisis, Irish bankers and politicians are pushing regulators to allow home buyers to borrow more. Their pleas are set to fall on deaf ears.
On Wednesday in Dublin, the central bank will release the results of its annual review of lending limits. Mortgage lending has been capped for the last five years, restricting borrowing to 3.5 times income and requiring large deposits.
For Central Bank of Ireland Governor Gabriel Makhlouf, it’s his first big decision. Pressure to ease the limit has come from Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and financial figures including AIB Group Plc CEO Colin Hunt, who say it stops younger people getting on the property ladder. Mindful of the real-estate crash that devastated the economy in 2008, the central bank has given little sign it’s considering a major overhaul.
“We don’t expect wholesale changes,” Eamonn Hughes, an analyst at Goodbody Stockbrokers, said in a note Monday. Alterations could be limited to “tweaks” for some first-time buyers in the pricey Dublin market, Hughes suggested.
In his first major speech since taking over at the bank in September, Makhlouf called the rules “a permanent feature of the mortgage market,” while deputy governor Sharon Donnery last month said the rules prevent households taking on “excessive” debt.
“I have seen no evidence that more debt for young couples and families is the answer to the current challenges in the housing market,” Donnery said.
The review is also a chance for Makhlouf to assert his independence from Varadkar’s administration. The government stood by his appointment even after Makhlouf, previously New Zealand’s top Treasury official, was rebuked by authorities there for failing to take responsibility for a security breach around budget information.
Makhlouf will be handed an additional power on Wednesday to protect the financial system: the so-called systemic risk buffer.
The buffer is a tool introduced by the European Union that Ireland decided to adopt earlier this year, requiring banks to have more capital to guard against systemic shocks. The central bank has not said where it will set its rate. While there is no upper limit on the buffer, the highest rate adopted by a state is currently 3% of exposures.
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