There are glimmers of hope for Ireland’s trim but grim banking sector. Although asset quality kept worsening in the first half – bad loans hit 44 per cent, the highest level in any major banking crisis in history, Deutsche Bank reckons – the pace of deterioration is slowing. Moreover, the housing market in Dublin is stabilizing, even if it is in freefall elsewhere. House prices have risen 1.5 per cent in the past quarter, in spite of a housing glut. If anything, the government, reeling from €64-billion ($82.5-billion) of bank bailouts, is hindering rather than helping banks.