Reserve Bank achieves goals


It has been a good week at the office for Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler and his team.

They have achieved two goals - lowering the dollar and imposing tougher lending rules on property investors.

On Tuesday the Reserve Bank (RBNZ) announced plans to require most property investors to have a deposit of forty percent to get a loan. The Banks will still be allowed to make up to five percent of their loans to people with a smaller deposit.

The proposals are supposed to come into force in September, but the RBNZ said it wanted the banks to comply with the "spirit" of the new rules straight away.

Westpac moved first, announcing on Wednesday that it would no longer take new applications from investors with a deposit of less than forty percent.

Now ASB, ANZ, BNZ and Kiwibank have said they will also be tightening up on their lending to investors.

The tougher new rules give the RBNZ room to cut interest rates.

The Bank warned yesterday a rate cut was "likely" next month and that was enough to send the dollar down by over half a cent against the US dollar within minutes.

The Kiwi was trading at 69.80 US cents at 6am Friday. That is three cents lower than where it was eleven days ago.

The New Zealand dollar was sitting at 93.25 Australian, down from 96.77 on July 8.

It was trading at 52.90 pence, compared to 56.29 pence on July 11. 

The currency is still higher than the RBNZ and exporters would like. Inflation is also stubbornly below the RBNZ's mid-range target of 1 - 3 percent.

That is why it is likely the Official Cash Rate will be cut by 0.25 percent to a record low of 2 percent on August 11th.

There are also growing prospects for another cut in November, which would take the OCR to 1.75 percent.

The strong New Zealand dollar does not seem to be harming the tourism sector.

There were a record 3.31 million visitors to New Zealand in the year to June, an increase of eleven percent.

Holiday-makers rose by 235,000 to 1.7 million.

Holiday-makers and visits to friends and relatives accounted for 81 percent (2.68 million) of the visitor arrivals in the June 2016 year.

Infometrics says New Zealanders are taking advantage of cheap flights and a relatively strong currency, with a rise in June of 6.5 percent in the number of people holidaying abroad compared to a year ago.

Statistics New Zealand says annual net migration climbed to 69,090 in June.

Migrant arrivals totalled a record 125,100. That was an increase of 9,400 or eight percent from the June 2015 year. New Zealand citizens returning to live in New Zealand accounted for one-quarter (30,800) of all migrant arrivals.

Departure numbers dropped by 2.4 percent to 56,000 in the year to June.

That was driven by a fall in departures to Australia (down 1,500).

This led to a net gain of 1,900 arrivals from Australia in the year to June.

That is quite a turnaround.

Four years ago New Zealand lost a net-39,800 people to Australia. The long term average is a net 17,000 annual departures to Australia.

So although 1,900 might not seem a massive number it does reflect how people perceive the relative strength of the New Zealand and Australian economies right now.