19 Oct 2009

NZ banks get good report from IMF

6:08 am on 19 October 2009

International Monetary Fund (IMF) researchers think New Zealand banks have weathered the international economic storm well.

While weaknesses may exist, a sixfold increase in loan defaults would be needed to push the banks' capital adequacy ratios below required levels, they say.

The IMF research found New Zealand's banks remained profitable with low levels of impaired assets and aggregate capital well above the regulatory minimum during the global financial crisis

However the research says banks are heavily exposed to households, whose debt has risen significantly and whose assets have been hit by a slump in house and equity prices.

They're also reliant on short-term wholesale funding from offshore markets that have been disrupted since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September last year.

The report concludes the mortgage default rate would need to increase from less than 1% at present, to between 6% and 8% for all loans, to reduce bank capital below the 8% regulatory minimum.

A disruption to banks' offshore funding could put pressure on the exchange rate but would not trigger a systemic liquidity problem.