From Callam Pickering:
The one glaring problem with the Financial System Inquiry is that it didn’t push hard for the introduction of macroprudential policies. That takes the heat off both the RBA and APRA.
The truth is that higher capital requirements — combined with higher risk weighting on mortgages and tax reform — would have a similar (potentially larger) effect as macroprudential policies. In the long term financial system and tax reform is clearly the better approach to creating an efficient and sustainable housing and financial sector, but these reforms will take longer to implement.
That’s right. Murray’s principle recommendations are macroprudential. APRA is now free (and is being urged) to implement higher capital requirements. They do not require anything from government to go ahead. This is basically the model of MP invisaged by Prof Ross Garnaut.
A more interesting question is whether or not APRA will still act on specific areas of risk such as interest-only loans. These are a menace, as the US bust showed, and are surging. Murray did not mention them, being too granular, but said the following on MP more particularly:
The global financial crisis (GFC) prompted policy makers and regulators around the world to reconsider their approach to maintaining financial stability. Some countries at the epicentre of the crisis have since expanded their prudential perimeters and adopted more formal and centralised institutional arrangements. This includes establishing single entities with responsibility for macro-prudential regulation. Australia has long adopted what could be called a ‘macro-prudential’ approach to supervision under the rubric of financial stability. Yet, Australia’s institutional structure is relatively informal and decentralised. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and APRA each have responsibility for financial stability. However, most macro-prudential tools can only be deployed by APRA. This places a strong premium on cooperation between the two agencies.
Against the background of developments overseas, the Inquiry has considered whether Australia should change its institutional arrangements for making and implementing financial stability policy.
However, the Inquiry does not see a strong case for change in this area. Although approach has advantages and disadvantages, alternative institutional approaches are yet to be tested — as indeed is the effectiveness of many macro-prudential tools. For this reason, the Inquiry recommends no fundamental change to the current institutional arrangements for financial stability policy and no change to the prudential perimeter at this time.
That is neither here nor there and APRA will still be free to raise capital requirements for specific loans if it sees fit.