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Banks and the Housing Crisis

Written By: - Date published: 8:23 am, April 5th, 2017 - 15 comments
Categories: business, Economy, Financial markets, housing - Tags:

Since New Zealand is mostly a client state of the Australian retail banks, it was instructive to hear from their central bank Governor Philip Lowe recently. He’s worth watching because it’s really easy to attribute the softening of New Zealand real estate prices to the policy steps that our government took in October last year to restrict investor activity with the “bright line” test. Whereas in reality, the choke has mostly been applied by Australian retail banks.

Governor Lowe is signalling that the money supply will probably tighten even more. “Too many loans are still made where the borrower has the skinniest of income buffers,” he said in a speech in Melbourne on Tuesday. “In some cases, lenders are assuming that people can live more frugally than they can, leaving little buffer if things go wrong.”

Nice to hear how bank mortgages essentially impoverish many of us.

He was also crystal clear that all layers of government are responsible for doing more: they’ve “failed to release land, encourage residential development, or build transport infrastructure that would have allowed Sydney and Melbourne to absorb their rapidly expanding populations without triggering runaway prices.”

“Nothing increases the supply of well-located land like good transport links. Under-investment in this area is one of the factors that has pushed prices up. Put simply, the supply side simply did not keep pace with the stronger demand side. The result has been higher prices.”

The staggering thing about this pretty obvious statement is how rarely we hear our own Reserve Bank actually make reasonable criticisms of both banks and government. Our own Reserve Bank has failed to publicly make the same links that the Australian one makes. No matter: it’s the Australian one that matters in New Zealand.

In the absence of our central government really partnering with local government (other than in tiny instances like the Tamaki Transformation Project), and both NZTA and AT rigorously avoiding urban development integration, the default control of housing supply lies with Australian regulation of New Zealand’s retail banks and their lending.

And that foreign choke-hold describes much of our housing crisis.

15 comments on “Banks and the Housing Crisis ”

  1. Nice article.

    Lets remind ourselves of who REALLY owns us , calls the shots and sends the message to our so called ‘sovereign ‘ govt the next time we get all orgasmic with an All Black win over the Wallabie’s….

    I like this bit among a few more…

    —————————————————————

    ” He was also crystal clear that all layers of government are responsible for doing more: they’ve “failed to release land, encourage residential development, or build transport infrastructure that would have allowed Sydney and Melbourne to absorb their rapidly expanding populations without triggering runaway prices.”

    “Nothing increases the supply of well-located land like good transport links. Under-investment in this area is one of the factors that has pushed prices up. Put simply, the supply side simply did not keep pace with the stronger demand side. The result has been higher prices.”
    ————————————————————-

    Sounds all too suspiciously like he was aiming that at Key and now English , doesn’t it?…

    * The Buck Stops Here.

    Nice adage for NZ PM’s to have on their desks if any RWNJ’s try to rush to the rescue to deflect and blame it on local councils.

    Here’s another beauty corker :

    ————————————————————

    ” The staggering thing about this pretty obvious statement is how rarely we hear our own Reserve Bank actually make reasonable criticisms of both banks and government. Our own Reserve Bank has failed to publicly make the same links that the Australian one makes. No matter: it’s the Australian one that matters in New Zealand.”

    ———————————————————–

    L00L ! – says it all about who calls the shots.

    Bill English must be having wet dreams over all this , – as he was the guy who more or less said ” we should be glad we have a LOW WAGE ECONOMY , … as that attracts foreign investment ”

    He also went on to say we ” needed a LOW WAGE ECONOMY to compete with the Aussies” several years back !!!!! – he probably didn’t think that was good enough , – so he reckoned he’d help the situation out a bit more by opening the immigration floodgates to bring in EVEN MORE low wage workers !!!!

    L0L0L0L0L0L !

    Fair dinkum , cobber !!!!

    Crikey !!!

  2. saveNZ 2

    Nice deflection there by the banks. Nothing to do with the 200,000+ people coming into the country per year. Great little earner for the banks who make eye watering profits. And now, the solution, more housing, more infrastructure which surprise surprise also great for the banks profits!

    A lot of the issues for the first home buyers are banking driven, they require much higher levels of deposit and less likely to lend to them. For a long time banks locked first home buyers out by requiring them to have a 30% deposit on an apartment, that meant often only investors or cashed up people could buy them. They also do not like to lend on apartments under 40M2 so the cheapest apartments were not able to be purchased by first home buyers.

    I’m all for better transport links, but it’s a croc, to blame transport for the housing crisis. The transport crisis is from to many people and years of governments devoted to building roads not trains.

    I also don’t think getting China and foreign workers to build the public transport system is going to create more jobs, because under neoliberalism the’ll bring their own people to build it and then they require more houses and transport while they are here!

    It’t the local people who are the cash cows in these scenario’s. Since most banks are foreign owned they are all for it!

    • Very good. Rail is the way to move large amounts of people round – efficient transport systems . Which has always been a bone of contention here as no one is prepared to pick up the tab. And as you say , – its usually outsourced to offshore company’s who WILL bring their own labour.

    • Ad 2.2

      Transport isn’t solely to blame for our housing crisis.
      The Australian Reserve Bank Governor did not state that.

      But if you think transport links are not a factor, pop over to the Greater Auckland site and propose that thought.

  3. Adrian Thornton 3

    While domestic housing remains just another lucrative commodity market item, and citizens/investors are encouraged by both National and Labour to trade/invest in these commodities for financial gain and security, nothing will change in the long game…so in effect this article makes a mute point.

    Of course banks make huge profits from this sick obsession with housing…that is exactly what they are designed to do, the real problem is that we don’t have a Labour Party that is not part of the neo liberal frame work…so thereby, we have no major political party in NZ whose principles and platform opposes this ideology of debt enslavement, low wages and relentless commodification of every part of our daily lives.

    Philip Lowe or anyone else talking about the housing issue without confronting and acknowledging the obscene commodification of homes under neo liberalism is like talking about changing deck chairs on the Titanic….pointless, but then again he is the Australian central bank Governor.

    • Ad 3.1

      The housing policies between National and Labour are pretty substantial and easy to find on their sites.

      Go look them up.

      Then comment.

      • Brendon 3.1.1

        Agreed there is a massive difference between Labour and National re housing policy.

      • Adrian Thornton 3.1.2

        @Ad
        I know exactly what Labour’s housing policies are thank you very much.

        What part of my comment exactly do you disagree with?

        Just because Labour is different from National, what difference does it make if they are not addressing the core problem?, which as we all know they can’t, because they are tied to their free market, neo liberal economic ideology, which all of their policies, housing included, must conform to.

    • ropata 3.2

      This housing crisis calls into question the core myth of capitalism: that with hard work and good character anyone can get ahead. What a crock of shit.

      http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2017/04/04/the-new-media-focus-on-under-30s-who-have-managed-to-buy-houses-is-life-style-envy-porn/

      The myths of neoliberalism are vital for it to continue as the dominant ideology, and the most important myth of neoliberalism is that with just some hard work from the individual you can be rich.

      See also this piece by Willie Jackson
      http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2017/04/05/guest-blog-willie-jackson-housing-crisis-not-helped-by-smug-speculators/

      • Nic the NZer 3.2.1

        “He’s worth watching because it’s really easy to attribute the softening of New Zealand real estate prices to the policy steps that our government took in October last year to restrict investor activity with the “bright line” test. Whereas in reality, the choke has mostly been applied by Australian retail banks.”

        So your attributing the underlying cause of the slow down to, Australian banks just happened to slow lending down?

        If thats the main cause why should we worry about all the other regulation and local government stuff then?

  4. johnm 4

    If you could eliminate all the Kiwi property speculators for capital Gain housing prices would drop dramatically plus rents.

    The World’s Best Economist
    http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/04/04/worlds-best-economist/

    If you want to learn real economics instead of neoliberal junk economics, read Michael Hudson’s books.

    What you will learn is that neoliberal economics is an apology for the rentier class and the large banks that have succeeded in financializing the economy, shifting consumer spending power from the purchase of goods and services that drive the real economy to the payment of interest and fees to banks.

    His latest book is J is for Junk Economics. It is written in the form of a dictionary, but the definitions give you the precise meaning of economic terms, the history of economic concepts, and describe the transformation of economics from classical economics, where the emphasis was on taxing incomes that are not the product of the production of goods and services, to neoliberal economics, which rests on the taxation of labor and production.

  5. FeralKiwi 5

    To say that NZ’s Reserve Bank has been rarely heard suggests that Advantage has missed their eight speeches about housing. This could be because the speeches (and also what they say about housing in their statement every quarter) are drowned out by commentary from the house and land-owning moneyed class, combined with media coverage that’s buried in the business pages that few people bother to read. This lets the Nats’ respond by sticking their fingers in their ears and saying “lalalala I can’t hear you” while their voters dream about becoming millionaires just by owning a shack in Auckland. Links below to the speeches that Advantage seemed to miss.

    Speech: Reserve Bank perspective on housing, 8 April 2013
    http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/research-and-publications/speeches/2013/speech2013-04-08

    Speech: Forces affecting the New Zealand economy and policy challenges around the exchange rate and the housing market, 30 May 2013
    http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/research-and-publications/speeches/2013/speech2013-05-30

    Speech: Macro-prudential policy and the New Zealand housing market, 27 June 2013
    http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/research-and-publications/speeches/2013/speech2013-06-27

    Speech: Trends in the New Zealand housing market, 15 October 2013
    http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/research-and-publications/speeches/2013/speech2013-10-15

    Speech: Update on the New Zealand housing market, 9 May 2014
    http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/research-and-publications/speeches/2014/speech2014-05-09

    Speech: Action needed to reduce housing imbalances, 15 May 2015
    http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/research-and-publications/speeches/2015/speech2015-04-15

    Speech: Investors adding to Auckland Housing Market risk, 24 August 2015
    http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/research-and-publications/speeches/2015/speech2015-08-24

    Speech: Housing risks require a broad policy response, 7 July 2016
    http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/research-and-publications/speeches/2016/speech2016-07-07

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