Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Iceland: Court rules Foreign currency indexed loans illegal

by Bill McBride on 6/16/2010 04:44:00 PM

Here is a little different story ...

From The Iceland Weather Report: Foreign currency loans deemed illegal (ht Steinn)

The Icelandic supreme court ruled this afternoon that Icelandic loans indexed to a foreign currency are illegal.

This is hugely significant for thousands of people in this country.
From The Reykjavík Grapevine: Supreme Court Rules Loans Pinned to Foreign Currency Illegal (ht Warlock)
Two cases were connected to the ruling involving car loans taken from the companies Lýsingu hf. and SP-fjármögnun that were pinned to foreign currency. With the collapse of the Icelandic crown in 2008, many people who took out such loans - at a time when the crown was strong - saw their debts double almost overnight.
It was apparently pretty common in Iceland for car and some home loans to be indexed to a basket of foreign currencies. However when the Iceland Krona collapsed, the borrower was stuck with a much higher payment (and debt) than expected. Apparently many borrowers in eastern European countries also borrowed using these "basket of foreign currency" indexes.

Reader Warlock mentions that these loans appeared cheaper than other loans, and were frequently used to buy expensive foreign autos - and the financing was also from abroad. Just another risk for some banks, especially if this ruling spreads to other countries.