Mortgages

Familiar cure for bank hangover

BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander says central banks around the world are pursuing a “hair of the dog that bit you” solution to the global financial crisis, by flooding the market with cash.

Friday, October 12th 2012

“The trouble is people generally don’t want to borrow and banks in many countries don’t want to lend.”

He said the IMF was forecasting that outstanding loans by European banks will drop by 7% by the end of the year.

“In New Zealand, banks are finding funding not to be a big issue offshore and because people domestically are saving more, the domestic funding situation is better as well. As a result and because profitability in the banking sector is strong, there is a growing willingness to loosen the lending string and get more sales."

He said this was manifesting in an easing of lending terms and temporarily low interest rates. “The very low interest rates being offered as specials for short fixed terms are aimed at winning business while not initiating a 2004-like permanent cutting of fixed lending margins.”

Before the last property boom, the Reserve Bank had objected to those tactics as they undercut the effectiveness of increasing the official cash rate.

He said whether those specials became permanent this time was yet to be seen.

Alexander said the pace of house price growth nationally was still sober.

“All up I see nothing in the data to dissuade me from my long-standing view that house prices in New Zealand will be pushed higher by a simple shortage of supply, which is getting worse.”

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