Australian banks

MacroBusiness covers Australian banks from the perspective of their macro-economic role, as political economy actors, as investment propositions and in terms of financial stability and capital adequacy. Australian banks have played a crucial role in inflating the Australian property bubble, exist within an utterly privileged position as “too big to fail” institutions and operate within a deeply distorted financial architecture that has Australian tax payers well and truly on the hook in the event of trouble. MacroBusiness seeks to define this role for investors as well as change it in the name of the Australian national interest.


Commonwealth Bank bubble continues to burst

The Commonwealth Bank bubble is continuing to burst today, hitting new intraday lows today: The chart is quickly forming a bearish descending triangle as well, so if we see a decisive break of the high $97 support area then deeper downside opens up. And with good reason. The valuation remains extreme, completely out of whack


CBA still a bubble

I recently picked the near top of the CBA bubble to start throwing pins. Since I began I first raised the notion that CBA is a preposterous bubble, it has deflated by 10%, more than its banking peers: Yet CBA remains stupidly overvalued. It is virtually no different to the other big three. Its yield


Mortgage interest payments crater to 21 year low

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) yesterday released household finances data for the March quarter of 2021. This data showed that the ratio of household and mortgage debt to disposable income rose slightly to 180.9% and 138.8% respectively over the March quarter: Household debt is being driven by owner-occupier mortgages, where debt levels hit a


ASIC so bad that a regulator of the regulator introduced

Investigative journalist Anthony Klan has done a terrific job exposing regulatory capture at ASIC, which has reportedly turned a blind eye to Westpac ripping off 915,000 superannuation account holders of $1.65 billion. Worst of all, the head of ASIC’s superannuation enforcement is none other than a former Westpac lawyer: The corporate regulator has taken zero


Property investor rebound not enough for macroprudential

APRA monthly banking statistics are out and show that investor mortgages are still some distance from triggering macroprudential tightening. May numbers showed monthly growth slowing as Westpac pulled back though this looks more likely to be  a portfolio adjustment to me: Even so, at just 1% year-on-year growth, investors mortgages from the big eight is


Moody’s: Macroprudential clamps coming to Aussie mortgages

Moody’s with the note: As economic recoveries proceed at different speeds and stages around the globe, there is rising interest about when normalisation of monetary policy will begin. Many central banks have had interest rates sitting at the lower bound since providing unprecedented monetary support at the height of the global pandemic. Normalisation of the


Bye-bye Commonwealth Bank bubble?

For the past month, I have been warning of the inflating Commonwealth Bank share price bubble. Last week it reached a preposterous 22x forward earnings, far above any rational valuation and 50% above the value of its identical peer banks: This utter stupidity, doubtless driven by a mad dash for yield, even though CBA’s dividend


Phil Lowe: Macroprudential to come before rate hikes

In the Q&A to yesterday’s Keynote Address at the Australian Farm Institute Conference, RBA Governor Phil Lowe stated that the Council of Financial Regulators (i.e. RBA, Treasury, APRA and ASIC) are actively looking at macroprudential tools to curb the mortgage/property market (listen from around the 34 minute mark): “The Council of Financial Regulators meeting last


CBA bubblometer explodes

It’s getting amusing. Australia’s largest utility, the Commonwealth Bank, is being historically rerated as a wildly prospective growth stock. It has now reached 22x forward, very much in line with the kind of valuations we see for FAAMGS and similar quality stocks with spectacular growth, earnings reliability and global domination: I guess all of these


Why mortgage stress has risen

Digital Finance Analytics (DFA) has released its mortgage stress figures for May, which shows that around 41% of households remained ‘mortgage stressed’, up significantly from the pre-pandemic level of 32.9%: Martin North explains the rise in mortgage stress as follows: Our approach to measuring stress is unique in that we examine household cash flow –


CoreLogic: Risky mortgage lending on the rise

CoreLogic has released new data showing the increasing risk profile of Australian mortgage lending as investors have flooded back into the market. While the percentage of high loan-to-value ratio (LVR) lending fell over the March quarter to 10.4% from 11.3% – likely reflecting the reduction in first home buyers active in the market: The percentage


ANZ delivers double rate hike for fixed mortgages

Goodbye TFF, goodbye rock bottom mortgages. ANZ just double-hiked its fixed-rate mortgages on the four year to 2.49% and five year to 2.69% The discounted variable is at 1.94%. This process will continue for months yet as banks are forced to refinance into more expensive wholesale debt as the RBA ends its Term Funding Facility


And now for a Commonwealth Bank bubble

Is the Commonwealth Bank now a tech growth stock? Because it sure ain’t trading like a bank. You know, the boring, slow, reliable dividend growth of a utility. None of that, thanks. Apparently, it’s a 21x forward earnings, massively margined, FAANG or similar. The highest ever over-valuation by a country mile: The other banks are


Negative gearing is yesterday’s problem

The AFR reported that the proportion of landlords negatively gearing rental properties fell to 58.6% in 2018-19, according to the latest Australian Taxation Office (ATO) statistics. This was the lowest level on record and well down on the peak of 69.6% in 2007-08. There were also 19,113 fewer negatively-geared landlords than in 2017-18, representing the


Mortgage stress numbers seem implausible

Another month has gone by and mortgage stress continues to grow, according to Digital Finance Analytics as reported in The AFR: “Many households in stress have less hours worked than they want, and no income growth. Bigger mortgages by first time buyers and equity drawdowns are lifting repayments as lending standards ease and more interest-only


Mortgage market signals unprecedented property boom

On Friday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released data on new finance commitments, which showed booming growth in both owner-occupied and investor mortgages. As shown in the next chart, owner-occupied mortgage commitments soared 70% in the year to April 2021, whereas investor mortgage commitments surged 63%: As regular readers know, the growth in new


Banks overwhelmed by rabid mortgage demand

RBA Governor Phil Lowe last year endorsed Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s proposal to axe responsible lending rules, telling the Standing Committee on Economics that Australian mortgage restrictions had become too strict and were constraining the economy: “We can’t have a world in which, if a borrower can’t repay the loan, it’s always the bank’s fault. On a


Saul Eslake: Morrison mortgage reforms “crazy”

More than 33,000 Australians and 125 community groups recently signed an open letter against the Morrison Government’s legislation to abolish responsible lending laws, which are currently sitting in limbo in the Senate. As we know, the Hayne Banking Royal Commission’s very first recommendation was to maintain these responsible lending laws, which came after observing multiple


One Nation blocks Frydenberg’s irresponsible lending reforms

As we know, the Hayne Banking Royal Commission’s first recommendation was to maintain responsible lending laws: The Hayne Royal Commission came to this recommendation after observing multiple cases of predatory lending over its 12 month deliberation. Despite this recommendation, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is currently seeking to abolish responsible lending laws following pressure from the banking