The UK government has today nationalised the country’s 8th largest bank, responsible for 18.9% of UK mortgage lending.
You may remember that Northern Rock was an immediate victim of the US subprime crisis. Its funding model, based on securitisation, failed to work once lenders became more concerned about return of capital than return on capital. Since September, the Bank of England has been forced to provide GBP 55 bn of emergency funding, following the UK’s first bank run in over 100 years.
The government even employed Goldman Sachs to scout the world and seek new investors. Sovereign Wealth Funds and others were approached, but none would agree to participate in a rescue. And so a bank which had an asset value of over GBP 100 billion in August, is now dependent on government for its survival.
The absence of Northern Rock will put further pressure on the UK housing market. Northern Rock had grown via aggressive lending, providing loans at multiples of 10 times salary, more than treble historical norms. In turn, this will reduce chemical industry sales to this important sector.