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BFCSA: APRA Ignoring risks of "self regulated" banks where Fraud and Forgery of documents become "the norm."

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APRA's inaction brings a housing crisis closer

Callam Pickering 7 hours ago 30 June 2014


Is it time Australia took the plunge and introduced measures to slow household lending?   Given our similarity to both New Zealand and the United Kingdom -- from heritage, institutions and yes, housing -- it is time that we stopped being complacent and took steps to limit the potential fallout from a housing downturn.  Last week the Bank of England followed the lead of a range of other countries -- such as New Zealand and Canada -- and introduced measures which intervene in mortgage lending markets. Under the new rules, only 15 per cent of new home loans will be allowed to have loan-to-income ratios of more than 4.5 times (Will APRA follow in the BoE’s footsteps to reduce mortgage risk? June 27).

This followed the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, which has already introduced temporary restrictions on lending with high loan-to-valuation ratios. Under these guidelines, banks are required to restrict new lending with LVRs over 80 per cent (meaning a deposit of less than 20 per cent) to no more than 10 per cent of their total residential mortgage lending.  But despite a few casual remarks, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority have been unwilling to make the same commitment to financial stability.  Household liabilities ticked up to 114 per cent of nominal GDP in the March quarter, the highest level on record, with outstanding household debt rising by 6 per cent over the year. It’s interesting to note that household debt is some five times larger than general government liabilities.

If that was sufficient to create an imaginary budget emergency what should we make of household indebtedness? And why hasn’t the federal government instructed the RBA or APRA to do something about it?  The simple fact is that we cannot afford to be lax on this issue. Not when we are dealing with a $5 trillion asset class, four major banks that each have massive exposure to housing assets, and state governments that are overly reliant on stamp duty to balance their books.  Even if the RBA was good at forecasting -- in reality it’s terrible -- doesn’t it make sense to take out an insurance policy?  A few months ago RBA governor Glenn Stevens noted that some Australians had become complacent following 23 years of uninterrupted growth Could the same be said of our financial regulators?





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