Pockets of Europe still enjoy good mortgage rates

Here are 5 things you need to know about the election: Why does it matter? Germany is Europe’s biggest economy, a manufacturing and export powerhouse. Its 2.7 trillion euro GDP accounts for nearly 30% of euro zone output. And the country has gained influence because of its role as the biggest financial contributor to Europe’s bailouts. Merkel may be a hated figure to some Europeans for her insistence on austerity in return for aid, but most Germans approve of her handling of the crisis. Who is likely to win? Until recently, Merkel and her coalition allies had a clear lead in opinion polls, but support for her party and the FDP has fallen. If the FDP drops below the 5% threshold needed to win seats in parliament, Merkel will lose her preferred coalition partner. Analysts say a repeat of the 2005-2009 coalition with the Social Democrats is now the most likely outcome of Sunday’s vote, particularly if the new anti-euro party AfD makes a breakthrough. Related: Could euroskeptics spoil Angela Merkel’s election party What’s at stake in Europe? With the recession over and markets calmer, the pace of EU policy making has eased. But big challenges remain for a region still facing slow growth, record unemployment , an aging population and rising debt . Greece needs more help and Portugal might need a second bailout. What’s more, progress on repairing the European banking system, which is critical to unfreezing credit markets and restoring long-term economic health, has slowed.

Europe plunged into energy crisis as Russia cuts off gas supply via Ukraine

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Though Britain is one of Gazprom’s largest importers – relying on the company for some 16 per cent of consumption in 2007, according to The Times, the gas is supplied through a complicated swap scheme that means supplies themselves may not be affected. Prices, on the other hand, rose during trading in London today. Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin on the slopes last week. Putin ordered Gazprom to cut supplies to and through Ukraine by around three-fifths The dispute, coupled with Israel’s military operation in Gaza, also pushed oil up to a three-week high of $49.91 in New York yesterday. Russia, whose main export is oil, stands to benefit from a recovery in prices. ‘Without prior warning and in clear contradiction with the reassurances given by the highest Russian and Ukrainian authorities to the European Union, gas supplies to some EU member states have been substantially cut,’ the EU said in a statement. ‘The Czech EU Presidency and the European Commission demand that gas supplies be restored immediately to the EU and that the two parties resume negotiations at once with a view to a definitive settlement of their bilateral commercial dispute,’ the presidency and the Commission said in a joint statement. They added that the EU would ‘intensify the dialogue with both parties so that they can reach an agreement swiftly’. Overnight the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered the state energy giant Gazprom to cut supplies to and through Ukraine by around three-fifths amid accusations its neighbour has been siphoning off and stealing Russian gas. Ukraine says the Russian move has been prompted by payment and price disputes, a row between the two that has become almost annual. The effects of the dispute on the rest of Europe however is stark, said Ukraine’s main gas supplier.

merkel campaign trail

I dont see any light, our generation has been destroyed. Maximum loan In Ireland, where the housing collapse all but took the country with it, lenders are taking a much tougher line. Where once a borrower could take up to five times gross salary, banks are now offering two to three times net income. The maximum loan is capped at 92 per cent of the price of the house, down from pre-crisis peaks of 120 per cent. Transactions that used to be completed in four weeks now take three times as long. In the boom time there was no paperwork… Youd tell the bank what your salary was and they wouldnt check up on it, said one Dublin-based broker. Now its all about the paperwork. You should see our files. It is like Lord of the Rings. Bailed-out Permanent TSB, once Irelands biggest mortgage lender, has been leading the paperwork charge by getting all borrowers to fill out a household expenditure form to see if they can really afford the repayments. Red flags for all the banks include pre-school kids monthly creche fees can top 800 a month in parts of Dublin and any hint of online gambling, said the broker. The buzzword now is forensic lending. Back during the boom it was, How much do you want?, he said. Tightening standards In Europes periphery, home ownership is more culturally ingrained, with around 80 per cent of people in Greece and Spain owning their home, compared with a 70 per cent EU average, according to the European Mortgage Federation. With lending standards tightening and unemployment stubbornly high in both countries, that looks certain to drop.