Savers feel OCR pinch on interest


The Reserve Bank has called on banks to pass lower interest rates on to customers after cutting the OCR 25 basis points to a record low 2 percent.

The cut did nothing for the stubbornly high New Zealand dollar and it's those trying to live off interest on savings who are feeling the squeeze.

"Most of the news is about the low mortgage rate interests but on the other side, there's people like us who've saved and we don't get interest on our savings," says one woman.

"We're just going to have to ride this out and hopefully someone comes up with a creative way to drive income for people," another person says.

ANZ was first bank to move, cutting mortgage rates slightly and increasing rates on term deposits.

"That's incentivising people to save a bit more rather than get out there and borrow more money," says economist Cameron Bagrie.

Mr Bagrie says the decision to cut the cash rate wasn't a surprise, but the market reaction was.

"Normally you cut rates and the New Zealand dollar goes down. What we saw was we cut rates and the New Zealand dollar moved up."

He says that's because the market had expected a bigger cut.

Risks to the economy include:

But Mr Wheeler says New Zealand needs to look at the quality of its migrants.

"What are the skills that we're bringing in, can they bring value to the economy and are they getting employed?" Mr Wheeler asked.

He says high levels of migration are pushing wages down and putting pressure on the housing market.

But Prime Minister John Key isn't bothered.

"I don't think there's evidence we're letting in the wrong sort of people," he says.

Mr Bagrie says the Reserve Bank is under pressure to follow our trading partners.

"Around the globe central banks are doing nothing or taking rates into more negative territory."

When asked if New Zealand's OCR could be slashed to zero Mr Wheeler said: "Let's see what happens".

It's something one saver hopes she won't have to see.

"If it goes down to zero it's shave shave shave, and when I'm 80 I'm going to be a real drag on the Government then, aren't I?" she says.

The Bank indicated it will cut rates further by the end of the year.