Lenihan's advisor: Property market crashed the year before anyone noticed

Lenihan's advisor: Property market crashed the year before anyone noticed

A former advisor to Brian Lenihan has claimed the property market had crashed nearly a year before anyone realised.

Alan Ahearne says he was told the bubble had burst in late 2006 - almost a year before prices had hit their peak.

He made the claims at a hearing of the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry this afternoon.

Professor Ahearne says he spoke to other economists in the banking sector just after house prices had peaked.

He said he was told in April 2007 that somebody "on the ground" told him: "actually, the bubble burst last summer, this has been the best-kept secret in Ireland for the last nine months."

Ahearne also said he warned the Central Bank of a potential property crash as early as 2006.

He said the bank did not appear to act on it, and he was not asked to bring his reservations to government.

"There was some feedback at the presentation … about the study we had done. [But] I was not invited to present it to the Department of Finance," he said.

Professor Ahearne had been telling the Banking Inquiry that there are virtually no examples of a property boom ending in a "soft landing".

Meanwhile, the Banking Inquiry has confirmed it will call newspaper and media editors as witnesses later this month.

Figures from RTÉ and the three major newspapers will be called to discuss their attitudes to financial matters.

Academics Julian Mercille and Harry Browne will also be asked to give evidence about how media organisations were influenced by their own commercial interests.


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