Higher borrowing costs coming

Friday 7 June 2013

Interest-rate rises are looming, with some pundits picking floating rates to be at 7 per cent by the end of next year.

By The Landlord

BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander expects floating rates to peak at 8.5% this cycle.

ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said the risk of interest-rate rises was higher now than it had been a few months ago. "But it's not immediately around the corner."

He expected some moves in the OCR early next year.

The Reserve Bank had finalised its arsenal of macroprudential tools aimed at cooling the property market, including loan-to-value restrictions. Bagrie said if they had a noticeable impact on house-price inflation, it would push out the need for interest-rate hikes. "If we don't see a levelling out, it's game on."

Jane Turner, an ASB economist, said she was expecting an OCR move next March and floating rates would follow suit. But she said fixed rates could start to creep up between now and the end of the year. "Fixed rates typically move ahead of an increase in the OCR."

Inflation wasn't running hot enough to prompt the Reserve Bank to move on the OCR this year, Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens said. "The Reserve Bank doesn't have grounds to increase [the OCR] until next year."

But he said once rises started, they would be swift. He predicted floating rates could reach 7 per cent by the end of next year. But Stephens said borrowers should not take the fact that rates were not due to move this year as a reason to be complacent.

NZIER economist Shamubeel Eaqub said Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler had to strike a balance: "The Reserve Bank still wants to nurture the economy, but balance that against the risks of a hot, frothy property market in Auckland."

Eaqub expected homeowners to be paying 1 or 2 per cent more by the middle of next year.

Alexander said rates were hard to predict: "I don't think anyone has got their interest-rate forecast right for the last four years. ...Interest rate risk management in this new world means giving hardly any weight to rate forecasts and instead simply hedging to buy time to adjust to rate shocks."

Comments from our readers

On 11 June 2013 at 9:33 am Jeremy said:
I've been listening to threats about the rising interest rates now for about 4 years. Even fixed all my loans. In the meantime interest rates have plummeted. At what point do we just call this kind of talk 'bluff'? NZ does not have high inflation except local house prices in Auckland. It would be madness to raise the whole country's interest rates just because you disagree with local house pricing.

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