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.


Big specufestor banks rev up mortgages

APRA is out with monthly banking statistics for May. Here is the raw data for investment loans: ANZ CBA MQG NAB WBC BOQ BEN SUN May-19 77473 133400 12532 104681 153096 11320 12932 11694 Apr-19 78018 133093 12465 105036 152588 11332 12851 11697 Mar-19 78470 132904 12372 105379 152393 11333 12772 11724 Feb-19 78936 132916


ASIC to pursue responsible lending public hearings?

The RBA and APRA may never have escaped capture but is ASIC running free and wild? Via Martin North: In a keynote address by ASIC Chair, James Shipton at Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) event in Melbourne yesterday, it appears the regulator will hold public hearings about responsible lending practices. He said that ASIC was


Stuffed Aussie banks retreat from offshore debt

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) yesterday released its National Financial Accounts for the March quarter, which revealed a 2.9% quarterly decline in Australian banks’ gross external liabilities (offshore borrowings), and a 0.2% decrease over the year. One Name Paper (-$21 billion), Bonds (-$10 billion) and Deposits (-$9 billion) drove the


Angry APRA wet lettuce slaps Westpac

Yesterday we saw regulatory capture out in the open at the AFR: Westpac has unleashed a fresh wave of property lending by relaxing serviceability conditions on low risk home loans, immediately increasing the borrowing capacity of aspiring home owners by as much as 8 per cent. A spokesman for Westpac confirmed the policy change saying credit officers


Westpac slices off a head of APRA wet lettuce

Via the AFR: Westpac has unleashed a fresh wave of property lending by relaxing serviceability conditions on low risk home loans, immediately increasing the borrowing capacity of aspiring home owners by as much as 8 per cent. A spokesman for Westpac confirmed the policy change saying credit officers would now have the discretion to approve principal


Aussie banks run by psychos

Honestly, our regulators are the biggest pack of no-hopers, via the AFR: The psychologist inserted by the corporate regulator into boardroom discussions of more than 20 blue-chip companies including Qantas, Woolworths and AMP warns that Australia’s financial sector culture is broken. Elizabeth Arzadon, the regulator’s psychologist of choice, also warns that resistance by boards to


Former APRA/ASIC executive slams the “farce of fake regulation”

Dr Wilson N. Sy, – the former head of research for APRA, and executive at ASIC and the Australian Treasury – has published a paper attacking the “farce of fake regulation” after it was exposed by the banking royal commission. Below is the extract: The revelations from the Hayne Royal Commission (HRC, 2019), limited though


Bank of Mum and Dad shut down

Via the AFR: From Monday, NAB said it was introducing new guidelines for Bank of Mum and Dad that “complements the law and, in some areas, sets higher standards”. …Under NAB’s new controls, loan guarantors will face improved scrutiny of their suitability by providing more information about how it will impact their finances and awareness


UBS: Tight HEM “material” for Sydney, Melbourne housing rebound

Via the excellent Jonathon Mott at UBS: We estimate the RBA rate cuts and APRA’s removal of its interest rate serviceability floor may improve maximum borrowing capacity by around 14%. However, these changes need to be considered in the context of ongoing tightening, in particular a new HEM methodology, the rollout of Comprehensive Credit Reporting


Corrupt APRA waters down bank capital framework

From Martin North [my emphasis]: The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has released its response to the first round of consultation on proposed changes to the capital framework for authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADIs). The package of proposed changes, first released in February last year, flows from the finalised Basel III reforms, as well as the Financial


Little banks hold back rate cuts

Via Banking Day: Bendigo Bank is among many lenders rationing any flow on from last week’s 25 basis point slice in the RBA cash rate. Better or badder at the big end of banking, Bendigo has reasons. On Friday Bendigo said it would decrease its variable interest rates by 0.20 per cent p.a. for all


Former BoE chief economist backs RBNZ bank capital hike

By Leith van Onselen The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s (RBNZ) proposal to impose higher capital requirements on the local arms of Australian banks has been defended by John Vickers, the Bank of England’s former chief economist. He argues that the public benefit of safer banks outweighs any risks associated with such a move. Vickers


God defend the RBNZ

Via The Australian: Forget the radioactive fallout from the Hayne royal commission — the nation’s four major banks have a bigger problem to worry about right now. If New Zealand’s all-powerful regulator Adrian Orr has his way, the big four will be passing the hat around for the next five years to raise an extra


UBS runs the property scenarios

Via the excellent Jonathon Mott at UBS: Scenario 1 – ‘Bounce-back’: A recovery in housing lending flow (+20%) back to record levels would add 2.2% to housing credit growth (1.5% to EPSg). But this would likely give rise to a sharp bounce in house prices and household debt. Stimulatory policies would likely be reversed. Scenario


RBNZ Governor destroys banking lobby rentiers (plus APRA and RBA)

By Leith van Onselen At a press conference yesterday, RBNZ Governor, Adrian Orr, publicly lashed the New Zealand Bankers’ Association (NZBA) for claiming that taxpayers should bail the sector out in the event of a crisis, and has used these comments as justification for the RBNZ’s capital reforms. From Orr was answering a question about


RBNZ: “imperative” Australia’s banks lift capital levels

By Leith van Onselen The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) has released its latest Financial Stability Report (FSR), which explained why banks need to hold more capital: Domestically, debt levels are high in the household and dairy sectors, leaving borrowers and lenders exposed to unanticipated events. Similar challenges exist globally, given current high public


Westpac hit with class action over ‘irresponsible’ mortgages

By Leith van Onselen Queensland couple Ian and Michelle Tate are the lead litigants in a class action being brought against Westpac by law firm Maurice Blackburn. The class action alleges that Westpac was overly-reliant on benchmarks when assessing mortgage loan applicants. The Tates, who lost over $430,000 on two investment properties, are blaming Westpac,


Canada’s CMHC shames corrupt APRA on mortgage risks

While Australia’s captured prudential regulator, the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA), is busy cutting lending standards, in the form of the shredded interest rates buffer, just months after the Hayne Royal Commission lambasted Australia’s banks for shoddy lending, and just five months after APRA said is was permanent. The head of Canada’s state-run mortgage insurer,


APRA furiously waves lettuce leaves at banks

Via banking legend Ian Rogers today: Self-disclosures around the Australian banking industry’s post-CBA “self-assessment” challenge range in quality between dismal and dire. Or, in APRA’s own words: “Poor” and “moderate” are the best that can be said for the “quality” of these assessments” by nine Australian banks in a humiliating information paper from APRA yesterday


Frydenberg colludes with APRA to water down Hayne

The Hayne Royal Commission is quickly disappearing in the rear view mirror, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg meeting with senior APRA officials to craft the government’s response. From SBS News: Mr Frydenberg met with Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority deputy chairs Helen Rowell and John Lonsdale in Sydney, just days after the Morrison government was returned to


So now we know what kills Aussie banks: sunlight

Over the past year there has an ongoing debate about Australia’s little financial crisis. It was the dramatic widening of bank-to-bank funding costs. Coats starting falling as the Hayne Royal Commission wound up. Westpac explained the spread compression then by observing an abundance of cash: Is the lack of a March “turn” a sign of things


Why the banking royal commission will ultimately achieve little

Cross-posted from The Conversation: Will the banking services royal commission have a lasting effect of improving the banking and financial sector? The answer is “no”. A temporary change is apparent, but the problems lie deeper than those addressed by the royal commissioner. The worldwide pervasiveness of financial sector misconduct is an indication. This is not a