Anthony Keane | Herald Sun | June 27, 2012
Interest rate cuts are having a much weaker effect on home-loan borrowing than they used to, bank executives warn.
The Reserve Bank’s cuts of 75 basis points in the past two months have prompted only a small rise in lending because consumer confidence is down, Commonwealth Bank and Adelaide Bank mortgage executives Kathy Cummings and Damian Percy told a forum in Adelaide yesterday.
RBA assistant governor Guy Debelle said the muted reaction was not surprising as households were using the rate cuts to help pay down debt, reports The Herald Sun.
“We don’t expect credit going back to the pace it was in the mid-2000s, or household spending going back to that pace,” he said.
Despite a survey by property information service RP Data showing house prices across Australia’s capital cities fell an average 5.3 per cent in the 12 months to May, Dr Debelle said households in Australia were managing their debt levels and there was no oversupply of houses.
“Turnover in the housing market is about as low as it was 20 years ago,” he said.
Dr Debelle said he was more concerned about the ongoing global uncertainty over the European Union.
“I think the day of reckoning is going to happen in Europe … but nobody knows how it will play out,” he said.
Ms Cummings was optimistic the recent rate cuts had stimulated a “slight upturn” in lending activity.
“But consumer confidence is the malaise that’s affecting Australia, even though if you go overseas you come back and wonder what everyone is worrying about,” she said.
Mr Percy noted there had been “a bit of an uptick” in lending, but “whether it’s a function of survivor’s guilt I don’t know, but Australians have changed their attitude to debt.”