Oceania

The Reserve Bank's proposals to double minimum bank equity levels will cost New Zealand's economy $1.5-to-$2 billion a year without making banks much safer, according to former long-serving central bank official Ian Harrison, The New Zealand Herald reported. Worse, he says the bank's decision to base its policy on ensuring that bank collapses occur only once in every 200 years happened at the last minute when it realised that its initial target of limiting bank collapses to once in every 100 years would have meant New Zealand banks already had sufficient capital to meet that test.

Read more

Crown Resorts director and former AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou has been grilled in court over the $145 million collapse of education group Acquire Learning, ABC News reported. Mr Demetriou was never a director of the company but was executive chairman of an advisory board and paid $75,100 a month and $1.6 million in shares for three days a week of work in an office downstairs from the directors.

Read more

Construction business Arrow International has gone into voluntary administration after a contractual dispute left it with insufficient cashflow to meet operating costs, The New Zealand Herald reported. Administrators from accountancy BDO were appointed at 2.30pm today. "This is not the outcome we wanted or expected, but in light of a recent adjudicator's decision, we had no choice but to take this course of action," the company's board said in a statement.

Read more

A special government-appointed inquiry excoriated Australia's financial sector for misconduct on Monday, referring two dozen cases to regulators for possible legal action but leaving the structure of the country's powerful banks in place, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. Regulators will be subjected to a new oversight body and the financial industry's pay will be overhauled to remove conflicts of interest, according to the recommendations of the so-called Royal Commission.

Read more

Australia’s banking regulator said on Tuesday it had decided to keep the countercyclical capital buffer (CCyB) for banks on hold at zero percent, though it was considering setting a different rate in time. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) reviews the buffer quarterly and it has been held at zero since it started in 2016, Reuters reported. The buffer is an additional amount of capital that banks can be required to hold during periods of heightened systemic risk.

Read more

Free iPads, rental guarantees and an eye-watering A$100,000 ($72,000) off the price of an apartment are some of the sweeteners on offer from property developers amid the worst housing downturn in Australia for 35 years, the Financial Times reported. National house prices fell 1.3 per cent in December, the largest monthly fall since 1983, which resulted in an annual decline of 6.1 per cent last year.

Read more

Asia is finally succumbing to the global property slowdown that’s jolted homeowners and investors from Vancouver to London, with markets in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia showing fresh signs of softening, Bloomberg News reported. The economic ramifications could be serious. Lower house prices and higher mortgage rates will not only dent consumer confidence, but also disposable incomes, S&P Global Ratings said in a report last month. A simultaneous decline in house prices globally could lead to “financial and macroeconomic instability,” the IMF said in study released in April.

Read more

An inquiry that has exposed rampant greed and wrongdoing in Australia’s major banks and wealth managers wraps up this week ahead of a final report which could trigger sweeping reform of the financial sector of the world’s 12-largest economy, Reuters reported. Dismissed initially as a “populist whinge” by the ruling conservative party, the quasi-judicial inquiry known as a Royal Commission has revealed branch-to-boardroom misconduct which will almost certainly trigger tougher regulation.

Read more

CBL Insurance has finally entered liquidation amid accusations of massive solvency breaches, Insurance Times reported. Nathan Gedye, lawyer for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, said CBL Insurance’s balance sheet was insolvent by $86.6m in 2013, $102m in 2014, $104m in 2015 and $98.6m in 2016, according to The New Zealand Herald. The company’s solvency position as at December 2017 was 25 per cent compared to the ratio required by direction of the Reserve Bank of 170 per cent and the required 100 per cent under licence, a shortfall of $136.5m.

Read more

Australia’s big banks are set for their worst earnings season since the global financial crisis. A softening housing market, margin pressure from rising funding costs, and the ballooning cost of dealing with the fallout from an inquiry into misconduct in the financial industry, are all squeezing profits, Bloomberg News reported. Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. and National Australia Bank Ltd. are expected to report their first declines in full-year cash profit since 2016, while Westpac Banking Corp.

Read more