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.


APRA moves to boost bank capital

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) has told Australia’s “too-big-to-fail” banks to limit their dividend payouts to investors to allow them to comply with new rules requiring them to maintain higher capital thresholds. According to the AFR, APRA sent a letter to banks last week warning them to “maintain adequate capital


More claims of CBA “spying”

From the SMH, this could get ugly: A customer who claims he was spied on by the Commonwealth Bank is threatening legal action that could expose records of further covert surveillance operations by the bank. Geoff Shannon, the founder of the Unhappy Banking advocacy group, said he had legal advice that the alleged spying could


Boys club closes on Son of Wallis

Jeez, the Son of Wallis inquiry is going to be barrel of laughs if this morning is any guide. From Banking Day: When Ian Harper sat on the Financial System (Wallis) Inquiry committee in 1996 the deregulatory push of the 1980s was still driving change. Things have changed since then.Harper, who is a partner in


When banking tribes go to war!

It’s always amusing to watch elites blow their top. From The Australian: ANZ Bank chief executive Mike Smith has hit back at JPMorgan and its analysis of the bank’s super-regional strategy, urging the US giant to look in its own backyard where it is negotiating a $US13 billion ($13.4bn) settlement with US regulators. …The former


Fitch: Mortgage delinquencies ease

Fresh from Fitch: Mortgage delinquencies have remained low and stable in Australia’s current environment of low interest rates, robust house prices and low unemployment. Fitch’s Dinkum Index decreased in Q213, with improved 30+ days arrears of 1.39%, down from 1.48% in Q113. Fitch believes the performance of prime mortgages is unlikely to see further improvements,


RMBS market surges back

The Australian has a good story today on what’s driving Australia’s little credit rebound: HOME-LOAN lenders are on track to this year raise the most money from securities backed by mortgages since the global financial crisis, boosting competition as the property market picks up steam. …Last week, non-bank lender Pepper Australia upsized a non-conforming RMBS


RBA blows smoke for banks

This morning Luci Ellis, Head of Financial Stability Department at the RBA, gave a speech titled Stability, Efficiency, Diversity: Implications for the Financial Sector and Policy. It’s an elegant ramble through the philosophies of risk but there are really only two lines of argument that matter in the entire presentation. I’ve bolded them below: More Stability Is


Banks to pay more for offshore debt

The US fiscal debacle is one of the few recent crises to not have caused Australian bank bond rates to spike. Throughout the past two weeks, bank CDS prices hovered around 107bps, neither up nor down on the previous period. However, there is area where the banks’ offshore borrowing are about to become more expensive


Chris Joye: Dump boys club for bank inquiry

Chris Joye continues his renaissance today with a deconstruction of the dangers, limits and appropriate parameters for the forthcoming Son of Wallis inquiry. He outlines how the RBA’s governance arrangements will likely be included though not the recent bribery allegations. The rest of Joye’s argument is as vital as it is rare in Australia: It is


BoQ pleads for equalisation of bank capital rules

By Leith van Onselen Bank of Queensland (BoQ) chief, Stuart ­Grimshaw, has urged the Federal Government to boost competition in the home loan market, claiming that the bank capital rules are unfair, since they enable the Big Four banks to hold far less capital than smaller deposit-taking institutions. From the AFR: …the government’s planned inquiry


Australian non-banks looks to thwart RBNZ

From Banking Day: Australian non-bank mortgage lenders, such as Resimac and Pepper, are looking to ramp up their New Zealand businesses to take advantage of the new Reserve Bank of New Zealand limit on low deposit loans by banks. But analysts say restrictions on funding, a lack of mortgage insurance and the sheer scale of


RMBS safe from LMI downgrades

From Moody’s: Sydney, October 08, 2013 — Moody’s Investors Service says most Australian residential mortgage-backed security (RMBS) transactions with lenders’ mortgage insurance (LMI) insuring the mortgage loan payments are insensitive to changes in the credit quality of mortgage insurers. “We analyzed 215 Australian RMBS notes with LMI and found that the ratings of only 11


Son of Wallis takes shape

From Banking Day: Suncorp Metway was “very close” to a bank run at the height of the financial crisis, in 2008, the bank’s former managing director, John Mulcahy, told the Sunday Mail. …The Sunday Mail reported on an October 2008 briefing from the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, obtained under Freedom


UK muscles up on bankster punishment

From the AFR: Senior bankers in Britain could face a jail term of up to seven years if their bank fails and they are subsequently found guilty of “reckless misconduct”, draft laws suggest. The sentence was included in a wide-ranging set of proposed amendments to the Banking Reform Bill which the coalition government is seeking


Term deposits going nowhere

Another data point from today’s RBA credit aggregates is term deposits, which I’m a bit surprised have stopped growing and not recently: Basically as soon as the rate cuts started, term deposit growth stopped. The “other” deposit category accelerated at the same time. Mortgage offset accounts perhaps? A longer term view of term deposits shows


August deposit growth slows sharply

APRA has released its monthly banking statistics this morning and deposit growth slowed sharply in August. The deceleration was driven largely by ongoing falls in the segment in the financial corporations segment. One might speculate that this equates to less idle cash in the banking system: As you can see, the recent rebound in household


Time to bring the regulators to account

Three years ago I coined the term “invisopower” to describe Australian financial regulators’ weirdly opaque post-GFC tightening of bank regulation. The changes wrought by regulators were (and remain) far larger than the public sales pitch of “exceptionalism” trumpeted worldwide. The largest of these changes was APRA’s insistence that banks lend dollar-in dollar-out, deposits for loans, which


Australian banks lobby against macroprudential

By Leith van Onselen In the wake of APRA’s warning to banks not to lower lending standards, and the increased speculation that Australia’s financial regulators might follow New Zealand in adopting macro-prudential controls on higher risk mortgage lending, the head of the Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) – lobby group for the banking sector – has


APRA slaps wrists as RBNZ pulls a revolver

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) has released a paper warning banks about not letting their lending standards slip. From The Australian: THE banking regulator has moved to head off the build-up of systemic risk as record low interest rates and hot competition fuel property prices, and has warned banks not to


No banker should run the Wallis Inquiry

For some reason the SMH is floating the idea that former CEO of CBA David Murray will head any post-election Wallis Inquiry: The former chief executive of Australia’s biggest bank says he would consider chairing a review of the country’s financial system if he were asked. David Murray, who steered the Commonwealth Bank through privatisation


The bloated business of banking

By Leith van Onselen Following-up on yesterday’s short post questioning the long-term safety and stability of Australia’s banking system, The Australian’s Adam Creighton published an detailed article arguing that Australia’s banks have become far too-big-to-fail, placing taxpayers and the economy at risk of a future financial crisis: LABOR leader Ben Chifley’s quixotic 1947 plan to


ANZ hits its targets

A snippet from Mac Bank on the ANZ result below: Subject: ANZ Bank (ANZ AU) (Outperform) – Using the levers to stay on track Stock:  ANZ AU Name:  ANZ Bank Price:  A$30.36 (at 6:10, 15 Aug 13 GMT) Market Cap (m):  A$83,295 Current valuation (DDM/PE):  A$33.52 12mth price target:  A$35.50 Recommendation:  Outperform Volatility index:  Low Event


CBA not so hot after all

Mac Bank offers an alternative view of the CBA result: CBA ‘s FY13 result came in a little better than expectations at $7.8bn vs MRE$A7.7bn (consensus – $A7.6bn). Majority of the beat was on impairment (17bp vs. our expectation of 23bp) which was driven by a better outcome in BankWest where there were some provision releases, despite 90 days past due


CBA blows ’em away

Commonwealth Bank is out with its annual profit result and has everyone buzzing. Here is BBY: CBA had so much expected of it in this result and it largely delivered: 1.       Income growth was 7% from FY12 to FY13 but a more modest 2.5% from 1H13 to 2H13; 2.       This was achieved through an increase in NIM


Cash for coconuts facility gets a lid

APRA yesterday released its new criteria guidelines for access to the RBA’s Committed Liquidity Facility (CLF), which is designed as the fall back for banks should the global financial system ever seize again. Other nations are forcing banks to hold a prescribed portion of liquid assest in the form of  government bonds. The shortage of


Where are bank regulators taking us?

Deputy Governor of the RBA, Guy Debelle, gave a good speech last night that sensibly provided support for Australia to adopt the structures of global financial re-regulation: The BIS Committee on Global Financial Stability, on which I sit, has published some work on that recently, but there is more to be done. This is just


Bank deposits levy too small?

By Leith van Onselen Despite all of the bleating over the Rudd Government’s proposal to implement a modest levy on deposits to cover the cost of any future bank bailout, an analysis by NAB’s head of fixed income and credit, Michael Bush, has shown that the funds raised would not even cover the costs of


Which banks take a levy earnings hit?

J.P. Morgan has a useful note this morning on the impact of the proposed bank levy: Who Wins and Loses? The introduction of the FCS was intended to ‘level the playing field’ to allow all ADIs to have insured deposits to remove ‘depositor bias’ toward larger financial institutions. However, ironically, the insurance fee relative to