Bank of Mum and Dad Now A “Top 10” Lender

The latest Digital Finance Analytics analysis shows that the number and value of loans made to First Time Buyers by the “Bank of Mum and Dad” has increased, to a total estimated at more than $20 billion, which places it among the top 10 mortgage lenders in Australia.

We use data from our household surveys to examine how First Time Buyers are becoming ever more reliant on getting cash from parents to make up the deposit for a mortgage to facilitate a property purchase.

Savings for a deposit is very difficult, at a time when many lenders are requiring a larger deposit as loan to value rules are tightened. The rise of the important of the Bank of Mum and Dad is a response to rising home prices, against flat incomes, and the equity growth which those already in the market have enjoyed.  This enables an inter-generational cash switch, which those fortunate First Time Buyers with wealthy parents can enjoy. In turn, this enables them also to gain from the more generous First Home Owner Grants which are also available. Those who do not have wealthy parents are at a significant disadvantage.

Whilst help comes in a number of ways, from a loan to a gift, or ongoing help with mortgage repayments or other expenses, where a cash injection is involved, the average is around $88,000. It does vary across the states.

We see a spike in owner occupied First Time Buyers accessing the Bank of Mum and Dad, while the number of investor First Time Buyers has fallen away.

But overall, around 55% of First Time Buyers are getting assistance from parents, with around 23,000 in the last quarter.

There are risks attached to this strategy, for both parents and buyers, but for many it is the only way to get access to the expensive and over-valued property market at the moment. Of course if prices fall from current levels, both parents and their children will be adversely impacted in an inter-generational financial embrace.

Credit conditions ‘the tightest they’ve been in 15 years’

From The Adviser.

Members of the industry have challenged the assertions of a professor of economics regarding the state of the current lending market and broker remuneration, with one broker stating that it’s harder than ever to get a loan.

In an opinion piece for The Australian Financial Review, a professor of economics at UNSW Business School, Richard Holden, warned that Australia is “blithely repeating” the US housing market “mistakes” that led the housing “implosion” and global financial crisis.

According to Mr Holden, there are several “markers” that point to this, including lenders that “let you borrow a lot compared to your income”, “risky” mortgage structures and, most notably, mortgage broker commissions and incentives.

The professor wrote: “A remarkable 55 per cent of all new mortgages come through a broker. And those brokers get paid based on how many dollars of home loans they write.

“Their incentives are thoroughly misaligned with both borrowers and lenders — just as was the case in the US a decade ago. There are also high-powered incentives for those originating loans with banks, creating more moral hazard.”

The claims have been dismissed by the executive director of the Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA), Peter White, who told The Adviser that he believed Mr Holden’s analysis “shows absolute ignorance, to the nth degree, of what actually happened in the US. It had nothing to do with brokers. Brokers are a distribution channel. What caused the US GFC was that the wholesale corporate bond market was getting greedy on low-doc lending and then had bonds that they wouldn’t sell. It had nothing to do with brokers whatsoever.”

Mr White added that broker remuneration and incentives had been the subject of several reviews in recent years, and that the professor’s comments, therefore, “don’t make any sense whatsoever in the context of the current market”.

Touching on Mr Holden’s comments about there being a “moral hazard”, the FBAA head said: “Australia is globally known as being one of the most regulated countries in the world and it ensures that any potential risk is mitigated and looked at to ensure that there is no moral question.

“Bonus incentives have been looked at to try and remove any risks, and that is what we’ve done. These are things that were done in the past, it’s not current. So, he is not up to speed with what is happening in the current reality of the current market.

“Drawing these analogies to the US market and pointing some line to brokers and their payment and incentives is just garbage.”

Several brokers also contacted The Adviser to voice their opposition.

Credit conditions ‘the tightest they’ve been in 15 years’

Speaking to The Adviser, Smartline mortgage broker Ian Simpson said that he “deeply disagreed” with a number of Mr Holden’s assertions.

Mr Simpson said that the comparison to the US subprime market was “wrong” because low-doc lending pre-subprime in the US constituted more than half of lending and did not require verification of income, whereas Australia has less than 5 per cent low-doc loans, and it largely used alternative income verification.

He continued: “I completely refute both of the broker allegations. There has been an exhaustive review and analysis of the whole broker remuneration model etc and what they have discovered is that brokers actually have very little influence on the amount a borrower can borrow. In 99 per cent of cases, we look at a customer’s scenario, a borrower’s situation and assess income, how much deposit they have, fixed liabilities etc and work out, based on their current situation, how much they could borrow. But the amount that the client borrows is not dictated by us; it’s dictated by their situation.

“Within the broker community, I’d say that 90 per cent of brokers have a long-term concern of their clients (in every industry around 10 per cent do), because if you don’t have a concern for the long-term health and welfare of the client, you don’t actually have a business. And given all the levels of compliance and continued education and scrutiny, you’re not thinking about getting a few extra dollars in commission now at the detriment of your client. Your client needs always come first, and their best interests come first, because our business are only built on happy clients and long-term relationships.”

The Smartline broker added that the lending market, rather than being loose, was actually tighter now than he had seen it for more than a decade.

“Australian lending standards are probably the tightest lending standards that I have seen in my 15 years of being a broker,” Mr Simpson said.

“I’ve never seen such a gargantuan gap between interest rates and servicing rates, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Borrowing money is hard. Banks are asking more questions than they ever used to ask — it’s a daily challenge getting loans approved.

“Credit conditions are tight, the tightest I have seen them ever. And now with the Royal commission, banks are going to be asking more and more questions, not less and less.

“So, from a remuneration point of view, we’re working as hard as we ever had for our money. And from a systemic point of view, the market is healthy, and if the regulators weren’t, there then the housing market would be putting the financial system at risk.

“Just because the US housing market went up and then had an almighty housing crash does not mean that we are going to have one here in Australia. I don’t believe that at all, considering the house price growth in the last 12 months has risen [by] 3 per cent. That’s hardly a market out of control.”

More lenders to change their commission models

From Australian Broker.

Other lenders are expected to amend their remuneration structures following ANZ’s changes to its upfront commission model, with major banks to lead the way.

ANZ will pay brokers an upfront commission of 62.5 basis points effective 1 February 2018, up from the current 57.5 basis points.

Under the new structure, ANZ will no longer give brokers volume-based incentives, following the Combined Industry Forum’s proposal to stop the payment of volume-based bonus commissions and campaign-based commissions in response to the ASIC and Sedgwick reviews.

ANZ’s trail commission structure remains the same.

While ANZ is ahead of the curve, other lenders are likely also re-examining their own broker remuneration models in the wake of the CIF reforms.

“It’s indicative of what’s going to happen – the pressure as a result of the ASIC inquiry to remove soft benefits and incentives, particularly volume-based incentives,” said Martin North, principal at Digital Finance Analytics.

He believes the change in ANZ’s upfront commission model is a good move because it streamlines the structure and makes it clearer.

“The problem with volume incentives and soft benefits is that they raise complexity and confusion in the minds of potential consumers, on whether they are getting the best advice they could get and whether the advice is in some way being influenced by financial incentives. Anything that can be done to remove that ambiguity is a good thing,” he said.

While some brokers believe it is still too early to tell how further changes to broker commission will affect their business, they welcome such changes if they will help improve customer experience.

“Ultimately, if the reforms help deliver better customer outcomes, then that is a good thing,” said John Flavell, CEO of Mortgage Choice.

David Meadows, client services manager at Astute Financial, said further regulatory reviews and changes to remuneration structures will affect profitability, but that such changes are not entirely bad. “Increased regulatory reviews are happening across the financial services industry,” he said. “We are not the only ones going through them.”

For now, ANZ’s tweaking of its commission system is not believed to be a disincentive for brokers. It in fact represents a slight increase in broker commission, said North.

“My understanding is that not very many brokers would have gotten the higher commission previously because it was volume-incentivised.”

The UK’s “Open Banking” Initiative Went Live Last Saturday

Open Banking, where customers can elect to share their banking transaction information with third parties went live in the UK.

This initiative is designed to lift completion across financial services, and of course in Australia, there are early moves in this direction, though the shape of those here are not yet clear. An issues paper from August 2017 outlines the questions being considered by the Australian Review into Open Banking.

What data should be shared, and between whom?

How should data be shared?

How to ensure shared data is kept secure and privacy is respected?

What regulatory framework is needed to give effect to and administer the regime?

Implementation – timelines, roadmap, costs

 

The report was due to report end 2017.  So the UK experience is useful.

In essence, consumers (if they choose to) are able to give access to the data on their bank accounts to selected third parties, which allows them potentially to offer new and differentiated banking and financial services products.  In practice, whilst some firms rely on simple (and risky) “screen scraping” the idea is that banks will provide a standard application programme interface (API) to allow selected third parties to access agreed data.  Screen scraping is based on sharing the standard internet banking password and credentials, whilst API’s are more selective, using special passwords, which can time-limit access. This is more secure.

In addition, customers give access by logging on to their bank account, and establishing the data share from there, so again is more secure. Also, in the UK, firms wanting to access the data must be registered, and will be listed on an FCA directory. This is to avoid fraud. In addition, there is some protection for consumers if validly shared credential are misused, unlike the current state of play, where if banking passwords are shared, banks may avoid liability.

It is too soon to know whether this is truly a banking revolution, or something more incremental, but in the light of the emerging Fintech wave, we think the opportunities could be large, and the impact disruptive.

For example, Moody’s says the UK’s Open Banking initiative is credit positive for consumer securitisations.

By directly accessing current accounts, the lenders will gain valuable data about its customers’ disposable income and spending patterns. This data will complement the less detailed data that credit reference agencies provide and will result in stronger underwriting and better risk-adjusted returns when prudently applied.

The improved access to information also will benefit the debt collection process. Data on disposable income provides a realistic picture of a consumer’s debt repayment patterns. A clearer picture of consumers’ repayment patterns increases the probability of successful debt collection while ensuring compliance with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority’s guidelines on fair treatment of customers.

Of the approximately £32 billion of UK consumer securitisations that we publicly rated in 2017, around half were backed by pools solely originated by non-banks. The exhibit below shows that auto and consumer pools, which will benefit most from improved underwriting, are almost entirely originated by non-banks lenders. We include auto-captive bank lenders in the non-bank category since they do not have a material current account presence.

The nine banks with the largest current accounts market share in the UK that will be obliged to share their data are Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Ireland (UK), Barclays Bank , Danske Bank, HSBC Bank, Lloyds Bank, Nationwide Building Society, The Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander UK plc. Four of the nine banks have been granted an extension of six weeks and the Bank of Ireland has until September to meet the technical requirements.

There is an initial six weeks trial during which only bank staff and third parties will be able to test new services.

Moody’s also notes that “the Open Banking requirements coincide with the European Union’s (EU) Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2), which requires all payment account providers across the EU to provide third-party access. For as long as the UK remains part of the EU, it will need to comply with the EU’s legal framework. However, the regulatory technical standards on customer authentication and secure communication under PSD2 have yet to be agreed, meaning that full data sharing under PSD2 likely will be applied no earlier than third-quarter 2019”.

The Game Is Up – The Property Imperative Weekly 13 Jan 2018

The game is up. Major changes are rippling through the property market, with continued pressure on many households, so we examine the latest data.

Welcome to the Property Imperative weekly to 13 January 2018. Watch the video or read the transcript.

In this week’s review of the latest finance and property news, we start with the AFG Mortgage Index with data to December 2017. While the view is myopic (as its only their data) it is useful and really highlights some of the transitions underway in the industry.  First, there has been an astonishing drop in the number of interest only loans being written, from 60% of volume in 2015, to 20% now – WOW! We also see a small rise in first time buyer volumes, as expected. So the regulatory intervention is having some impact. However, average loans size is rising (and faster than income and inflation), and Victoria stands out as the state to watch with an increase in average loan size over the past 12 months nearly double the size of the increase in New South Wales. So more still needs to be done on the regulatory front. Overall, the national average loan size is up 2.8% over the past 12 months. The average loan size in New South Wales is now $613,084. Queensland has increased by 3.4% to now be sitting at $416,921. South Australia is up 3.4% to $390,706. The Northern Territory is up 22% to $469,502, albeit from a low volume. Reflecting the challenges being encountered by the WA economy, the state’s average loan size is down 1.1% to $439,944. Finally, the share of the major’s banks is falling, as we have seen from other data, as smaller players and non-banks pick up the slack. The majors now have just 64.2% of the market compared to the non-majors sitting at 35.8%.

There is more evidence of poor mortgage lending practice, according to online property lender Tic:Toc Home Loans as reported in The Australian Financial Review. This is another version of the ‘liar loans’ story, and shows that borrowers are more stretched than some lenders suspect. Tic:Toc says, one in five property borrowers are exaggerating their income and nearly half understating their spending, triggering new concerns about underwriting standards and vulnerability to sharp economic corrections. We see similar issues in our own surveys, as households stretch to get the largest mortgage they can, whatever the cost, and whatever the risk.

APRA  released the final version of the revised reporting requirements for residential mortgage lending. It comes into effect from March and lenders will have to report more fully, including data on gross income, (excluding super contributions), new reporting on self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) and non-residents, as well as all family trusts holding residential mortgages. Reporting of refinanced loans should include date of refinance (not original funding date) and APRA says the original purpose of the loan is not relevant to reporting when refinanced. Once again we see APRA in catch-up mode trying to get the data to manage the mortgage lending sector more effectively. We think they have been late to the party, and have much to do.

The chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has revealed that there will be some “surprises” in the upcoming draft report into how the banks price residential mortgage products. The inquiry into how the major banks price their mortgage is the first undertaking of the ACCC’s new Financial Sector Competition Unit, which is tasked with undertaking regular inquiries into specific competition issues across the financial sector. Starting with the $1.2 million inquiry into residential mortgage product pricing, the ACCC is aiming to understand how the banks affected by the major bank levy explain any changes or proposed changes to fees, charges or interest rates in relation to residential mortgage products. The inquiry relates to prices charged until 30 June 2018. A draft report will be published in February or March. This will be an important piece of work especially, as the corporate watchdog has also previously warned that the big banks could be in breach of the ASIC Act over the reasons given for hiking interest rates.

Turning to broader economic news, The November data from the ABS shows that Australian retail turnover rose 1.2 per cent in November 2017, seasonally adjusted, with Black Friday and iPhone X sales driving the outcome This follows a 0.5 per cent rise in October 2017. Some will spruke this as a positive sign. However, the more reliable trends are less positive, with the estimate for retail turnover up 0.1 per cent in November 2017 the same as October 2017. This is just 1.7 per cent over that past year, so still weak, reflecting stagnant wage growth, rising costs and high levels of debt. The state trend data showed NSW, ACT and QLD had no change, NT fell 0.2% along with WA, while VIC rose 0.3% and SA 0.4%, and TAS rose 0.2%. Online retail turnover was a new record at 5.5 per cent of total retail turnover. But the key takeaway is that households are continuing to keep their wallets firmly in their pockets.

The latest ANZ Job Ads series for December in seasonally adjusted terms, fell 2.3% largely unwinding the increase over the previous two months. On an annual basis job ads are up 11.4%, a slight moderation from 12.0% y/y growth the previous month. The labour market in 2017 was characterised by widespread job growth (particularly in full time jobs), an increase in participation and a fall in the unemployment rate to a four-year low of 5.4%. Growth in ANZ Job Ads provided a leading signal of this strong performance. But of course this has not been converted to rising wages growth so far.

The Building Approvals data from the ABS was much stronger than expected, with the number of dwellings approved up 0.9 per cent in November 2017, in trend terms, and has risen for 10 months. The strong results were driven by renewed strength in approvals for apartments. Approvals for private sector houses fell 0.1 per cent in November. Private sector house approvals fell in Western Australia (3.3 per cent), New South Wales (0.8 per cent) and Queensland (0.4 per cent), but rose in South Australia (1.3 per cent) and Victoria (1.1 per cent).

Consumer Confidence was stronger in the first week of January according to the ANZ/Roy Morgan index, which jumped 4.7% to 122 last week, leaving it at the highest level since late 2013. It often jumps after Christmas, and perhaps the holidays and ashes victory are colouring perspectives. Certainly, it makes an interesting contrast to our own Household Financial Security Index, which we released this week, based on December 2017 survey data. The latest edition of the Digital Finance Analytics Household Financial Security Confidence Index, fell from 96.1 last month to 95.7 this time, and remains below the neutral measure of 100. You can watch our video where we discuss the research.

Analysis of households by their property owning status reveals that property investors are in particular turning sour, as flat net rental incomes, and rising interest rates hit many, at a time when property capital growth is stalling. Owner occupied households are faring a little better, thanks to a range of ultra-cheap mortgage rates on offer at the moment, but they are also concerned about price momentum. Those without property interests remain the least confident, as the costs of renting outstrip income growth, and more are slipping into rental stress.

More questions came out this week, when The ABC is reporting that a Treasury  FOI request has shown that Federal Labor’s negative gearing overhaul would likely have a “small” impact on home values, official documents reveal, contradicting Government claims the policy would “smash” Australia’s housing market. The previously confidential advice to Treasurer Scott Morrison from his own department said the Opposition’s plan might cause “some downward pressure” and could have “a relatively modest downward impact” on prices. This is further evidence that tackling negative gearing should be a strategic priority to help bring our housing market back to reality.

There is also a blind spot at the heart of macroeconomics according to Claudio Borio Head of the BIS Monetary and Economic Department – the BIS is the Central Bankers Banker. He argues that a core assumption implicit in policy setting is that macroeconomics can treat the economy as if it produced a single good through a single firm. The net effect of this assumption is to drag down interest rates and productivity. The truth is much more complex, and within the economy there are “zombie firms” where resources are effectively misallocated, leading to reduced productivity and lower than expected economic outcomes, which will cast a long shadow through the economic cycle. The bottom line is first, credit booms tend to undermine productivity growth as they occur and second, the subsequent impact of the labour reallocations that occur during a financial boom is much larger if a banking crisis follows. This may also help to explain the current gap between employment and wages growth.

Finally, if you want more evidence of the risks in the system look at the RBA chart pack which was released this week. You can watch our video on this, but first, relative to the ultra-low cash rate, actual mortgage rates are rising – no surprise given the rise in mortgage stress we are registering. Next, home loan approvals are on the slide – expect more of this as tighter underwriting standards bite, and many interest only borrowers are forced to switch to higher cost interest and principal loans. Home price indices are trending lower (but still net positive growth overall at the moment). Expect more falls in the months ahead. Household debt continues higher. Now double disposable income, and we have some of the most highly in debt households in the world. Lending growth is still three times income, so this is likely to continue higher. All this is bearing down on household consumption as real income growth stalls. The savings ratio is falling, as households tap these to prop up their finances, OK in the short term, but unsustainable longer term.

In summary, UNSW’s Professor Richard Holden wrote that troubling borrowing and lending markers in the Australian housing market suggest that the lessons from the US mortgage meltdown have not been learned. He rightly draws comparisons with the USA, as we discussed in last week’s Property Imperative, with loose lending standards, a high penetration of interest only loans, many of which will need to be refinanced to higher rate principal and interest loans down the track, and liar loans. Plus, there are questions about where borrowers are getting their deposits from (even drawing from credit cards or borrowing from the Bank of Mum and Dad), and while more loans are originated via brokers, he suggests the banks are myopic to the risks in their portfolio.  He says we are still left with highly indebted households who have nearly $2 of debt for every $1 of GDP, a raft of interest-only loans that will soon involve principal repayments, and stagnant wage growth, and concludes “Having lived in the US during the mortgage meltdown I’m sorry to say that I’ve seen this movie before. The question is: why haven’t our bankers?” I would add, our Regulators should answer the same question. We are on the brink; the game is up!

And that’s the Property Imperative weekly to 13 January 2018. If you found this useful, do like the post, add a comment, or subscribe to receive future updates. In the past week our YouTube Channel followers have grown by a third, so thanks to all those who joined and the comments you left.  We are busy collecting questions for our next Q&A session, so keep a look out for that.

Meantime, we will be back with more insights in the next few days, and many thanks for taking the time to watch.

ANZ Confirms UDC sale to HNA is not proceeding

ANZ today announced the agreement to sell UDC Finance to HNA Group will not proceed as the agreement with HNA has now been terminated in accordance with the contracted timeframe.

This follows the 21 December 2017 announcement that New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office had declined HNA Group’s application to acquire UDC Finance.

ANZ Group Executive and New Zealand CEO David Hisco said: “Following the termination of the agreement with HNA, we’ll continue to assess our strategic options regarding the future of UDC, although there is no immediate requirement to do anything.

“It will be business as usual for staff and customers. UDC continues to be a very profitable business with a strong capital position and a growing loan portfolio across a range of industries.

“Its focus remains on its core business of financing vehicles and equipment for people and companies across New Zealand,” Mr Hisco said.

The Shifting Sands of the Mortgage Industry

The latest AFG Mortgage Index just released, to December 2017,  really highlights some of the transitions underway in the industry. While the view is myopic ( as its only their data) it is useful.

First, there has been an astonishing drop in the number of interest only loans being written, from 60% of volume in 2015, to 20% now – WOW! We also see a small rise in first time buyer volumes, as expected. So the regulatory intervention is having some impact.

But, the second chart shows the volume of lodgements rising but the average loans size rising (faster than income and inflation). Victoria stands out as the state to watch with an increase in average loan size over the past 12 months nearly double the size of the increase in New South Wales. So more still needs to be done on the regulatory front.

The share of the majors banks is falling, as we have seen from other data, as smaller players and non-banks pick up the slack.

Here is their commentary:

As the year drew to a close, Victoria stands out as the state to watch with an increase in average loan size over the past 12 months nearly double the size of the increase in New South Wales.

“There has been a lot of focus on Sydney house prices, and therefore mortgage sizes, but homebuyers in Victoria are seeing the biggest increases,” explained AFG CEO David Bailey. “In Victoria, the average mortgage size has jumped 3.2% in the final quarter of 2017 to now be sitting at $496,815.”

The increase in the last 12 months for Victoria was $20,385 compared to $10,662 for NSW. With the average NSW mortgage already substantially higher than in Victoria, the increase over the last 12 months was 4.3% for Victorians compared to 1.8% for those buyers in NSW.

“The average loan size in New South Wales is now $613,084. Queensland has increased by 3.4% to now be sitting at $416,921. South Australia is up 3.4% to $390,706. The Northern Territory is up 22% to $469,502, albeit from a low volume. Reflecting the challenges being encountered by the WA economy, the state’s average loan size is down 1.1% to $439,944.

Overall, the national average loan size is up 2.8% over the past 12 months.

“Fixed rate products have dropped back to 21.9% of the market after a high of 26.5% last quarter and First Home Buyers are sitting steady at 13% for the second consecutive quarter.

“What is noticeable is that the majors are continuing to lose ground to the non-majors, as borrowers increasingly look at alternatives to the major bank owned brands. The majors have 64.2% of the market compared to the non-majors sitting at 35.8%,” said Mr Bailey.

“Whilst tightened lending criteria continues to impact the market, particularly with respect to refinancers, our overall volumes compared to prior year remain strong. Refinancers now represent just 22% of the market. Investors have also been caught in the cross-hairs and have dropped to 28%.”

As they turn away from Investors, the majors are proving competitive for First Home Buyers (69.6%). Overall, Upgraders are proving attractive to lenders and now represent 44% of the market.

“Interest rate and lending policy changes have meant many clients are turning to their mortgage broker for help to understand what the changes may mean for them,” said Mr Bailey.

“Individual circumstances are assessed differently by lenders, so having the insight into which lender may be the right fit for your needs is vital to a consumer looking for finance. A mortgage broker is uniquely placed to have that information.

China implements Basel Committee framework for controlling large exposures, curtailing bank risk

From Moody’s.

Last Friday, the China Banking Regulatory Commission published for public comment a draft regulation of commercial banks’ large exposure management in accordance with the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision’s framework. The draft regulation is credit positive for banks because it will quantifiably curtail the shadow-banking practice of investing in structured products without risk-managing the underlying exposures and will limit the concentration risk in traditional non-structured loan portfolios.

For the first time, regulators are introducing binding and quantifiable metrics to implement the look-through approach when measuring credit exposures of investments in structured products, as emphasized in a series of recent steps to tighten shadow banking activities.  A bank must aggregate unidentified counterparty risk in a structured investment’s underlying assets as if the credit exposures relate to a single counterparty (i.e., the unknown client) and reduce that aggregate exposure to below 15% of the bank’s Tier 1 capital by the end of 2018. Any investment in structured products above the capped amount must identify counterparty risks associated with underlying assets so that investing banks can manage the risks accordingly.

The draft regulation’s measure of the unknown client limit will discipline banks’ implementation of the look-through approach to their investment portfolio to address opaque bank investment categories such as “investment in loans and receivables” that have been originated by other financial institutions. For the 16 listed banks that we rate, which account for more than 70% of the country’s commercial banking-sector assets, total investment in loans and receivables was slightly more than 100% of Tier 1 capital as of 30 June 2017. This implies a forced look-through approach will be applied to more than 85% of this segment of banks’ investment portfolios (see exhibit).

For the concentration risk in traditional non-structured loan portfolios, the draft regulation reiterates the current rule limiting a bank’s loans to a single customer to 10% of the bank’s Tier 1 capital, and extends the limit to include non-loan credit exposure to a single customer at 15% of Tier 1 capital. For a group of connected customers, either through corporate governance or through economic dependence, the draft regulation caps a bank’s total credit exposure at 20% of Tier 1 capital.

For a group of connected financial-institution counterparties, the draft regulation caps a bank’s total credit exposure at 100% of Tier 1 capital by 30 June 2019 and steadily lowers the cap to 25% by the end of 2021. In the case of credit exposures between global systemically important banks (G-SIBs), the cap is 15% of Tier 1 capital within a year of the bank’s designation as a G-SIB.

Macroeconomic Blindspot and Zombie Firms

Interesting Panel remarks by Claudio Borio Head of the BIS Monetary and Economic Department, who argues that a core assumption implicit in policy setting is that macroeconomics can treat the economy as if it produced a single good through a single firm. The net effect of this assumption is to drag down interest rates and productivity.

The truth is much more complex, and within the economy there are “zombie firms”where resources are effectively misallocated, leading to reduced productivity and lower than expected economic outcomes, which will cast a long shadow through the economic cycle.

In my remarks today, I would like to suggest that the link between resource misallocations and macroeconomic outcomes may well be tighter than we think. Ignoring it points to a kind of blind spot in today’s macroeconomics.

It would thus be desirable to bridge the gap, investigate the nexus further and explore its policy implications. Today’s conference is a welcome sign that the intellectual mood may be changing.

As an illustration, I will address this question from one specific angle: the role of finance in macroeconomics. As we now know, the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) has put paid to the notion that finance is simply a veil of no consequence for the macroeconomy – another firmly and widely held notion that has proved inadequate. I will first suggest, based on some recent empirical work, that the resource misallocations induced by large financial expansions and contractions (financial cycles) can cause material and long-lasting damage to productivity growth. I will then raise questions about the possible link between interest rates, resource misallocations and  productivity. Here I will highlight the interaction between interest rates and the financial cycle and will also present some intriguing empirical regularities between the growing incidence of “zombie” firms in an economy and declining interest rates. I will finally draw some implications for further analysis and policy.

Their research shows first, credit booms tend to undermine productivity growth as they occur and second, the subsequent impact of the labour reallocations that occur during a financial boom is much larger if a banking crisis follows.

For a typical credit boom, a loss of just over a quarter of a percentage point per year is a kind of lower bound (Graph 1, lefthand column). The key mechanism is the credit boom’s impact on labour shifts towards lower productivity growth sectors, notably a temporarily bloated construction sector. That is, there is an economically and statistically significant relationship between credit expansion and the allocation component of productivity growth (compare the left-hand panel with the right-hand panel of Graph 2). This mechanism accounts for slightly less than two thirds of the overall impact on productivity growth (Graph 1, left-hand column, blue portion).

Second, the subsequent impact of the labour reallocations that occur during a financial boom is much larger if a banking crisis follows. The average loss per year in the five years after a crisis is more than twice that during the boom, around half a percentage point per year (Graph 1, right-hand column). Indeed, as shown in the simulation presented in Graph 3, the impact of productivity growth in that case is very long-lasting. The reallocations cast a long shadow.

Let me conclude by highlighting the key takeaways of my remarks for analytics and policy.

I believe we need to go beyond the stark distinction between resource allocation and aggregate macroeconomic outcomes often implicit in current analysis and debates – a kind of blind spot in today’s macroeconomics. There is a lot to be learned from studying their interaction as opposed to stressing their independence. I have illustrated this with a focus on the long-neglected link between finance and macroeconomic fluctuations. The financial cycle can cause first-order and long-lasting damage to productivity growth through its impact on resource misallocations. And we need to understand much better also the possible link between interest rates and such misallocations.

Policy, too, needs to be much better aware of these interactions. Some lessons are well understood, if not always put into practice. For instance, one such example is the need to tackle balance sheet repair head-on following a banking crisis so as to lay the basis for a strong and sustainable recovery. Such a strategy is also important to relieve pressure on monetary policy. Doing so, however, has proved quite difficult in some jurisdictions following the GFC . Other aspects need to be better incorporated into policy considerations. The impact of persistently low rates is one of them. How well all of this is done may well hold one of the keys to the resolution of the current policy challenges.

APRA Releases New Mortgage Lending Reporting Requirements

APRA has released the final version of the revised reporting requirements for residential mortgage lending. It comes into effect from March.

Gross income will need to be reported (excluding super contributions).  Reporting on self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) and non-residents should be included, as well as all family trusts holding residential mortgages. Reporting of refinanced loans should include date of refinance (not original funding date) and APRA says the original purpose of the loan is not relevant to reporting when refinanced.

On 24 October 2016, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) released proposed revisions to the residential mortgage lending reporting requirements for authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADIs), Reporting Standard ARS 223.0 Residential Mortgage Lending (ARS 223.0) and accompanying reporting guidance.

On 23 May 2017, APRA released a revised ARS 223.0, which responded to submissions received and proposed a small number of additional data items. APRA sought feedback on these additional data items.

APRA received six submissions from ADIs and industry associations in response to the May 2017 proposals. No submissions objected to the proposals, but changes and clarifications were suggested.

Today APRA released the final ARS 223.0. Reporting will commence:

  • for ADIs that currently report on Reporting Form ARF 320.8 Housing Loan Reconciliation (ARF 320.8), from the reporting period ending 31 March 2018; and
  • for ADIs that do not currently report on ARF 320.8, from the reporting period ending 30 September 2018.

CHANGES TO REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

Loan-to-income (LTI) and debt-to-income (DTI) ratios

APRA received feedback in two submissions that using gross income for LTI and DTI may not reflect ADIs’ risk management practices. However, ADIs that apply more conservative discounts or ‘haircuts’ to income will report higher LTI and DTI measures, limiting comparability. In APRA’s view, using gross income for reporting purposes is necessary to allow comparison between all ADIs, acknowledging that it does have limitations.

Two submissions asked for additional guidance on the definition of gross income. The definition of gross income for LTI and DTI reporting has been amended to exclude compulsory superannuation contributions. Further detail has been included in the reporting guidance.

Additional increases in lending

One submission sought clarity on whether loans to self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) and non-residents should be included in this item. The instructions have been updated to include such loans.
Two ADIs noted in submissions that they do not expect to report this item, as all increases in credit limits are already captured as new loans funded. APRA confirms that loans subject to a credit assessment should be reported as loans funded, and not as an additional increase.

Lending to private unincorporated businesses

APRA proposed that ADIs report two data items on loans to private unincorporated businesses that are secured by residential mortgages. The definition of private unincorporated businesses is consistent with the Economic and Financial Statistics (EFS) proposed by APRA, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Three submissions stated that collecting information on ‘family trusts with a controlling interest in a business’ would be problematic. APRA has amended the definition to include all family trusts, not just family trusts with a controlling interest in business. The EFS definitions were also amended accordingly.

Two submissions suggested expanding the reporting to cover loans to all trading companies, to provide a more complete picture of ADIs’ lending activity. APRA does not propose to expand reporting beyond private unincorporated businesses. ARS 223.0 is intended to capture household (and similar) lending only. Commercial lending for property is captured on other reporting forms.

External refinancing

The current definition of external refinancing is limited to loans for substantially the same purpose as the loan they replace. One submission noted that it is not feasible for an ADI to know the predominant purpose of external loans. In line with EFS, the reference to the loan being for substantially the same purpose has been removed from the definition in ARS 223.0.

Loan vintage

Two submissions questioned if loan vintage should be measured from the date of a refinance or from the date of the original loan. As per the instructions, loan vintage is to be reported from when the loan is funded, meaning the date of a refinance should be used.