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Bollard boosts confidence; floating rates slashed

Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard delivered a large boost to confidence by aggressively slashing interest rates in reaction to the devastating Christchurch earthquake.

Thursday, March 10th 2011, 10:18AM 1 Comment

by Jenny Ruth

Bollard cut his official cash rate (OCR) from 3% to 2.5%, taking it back to the record lows which followed the global financial crisis.

Financial markets had already priced in most of the cut and short-term wholesale interest rates fell about another 10 basis points after the decision. The New Zealand dollar fell about half a US cents initially but then recovered about half that.

Home lending banks are already cutting their floating mortgage rates, for example, ASB Bank slashing its rate from 6.2% to 5.75% and Kiwibank cutting its rate from 6.2% to 5.65%.

"Most New Zealand economists were reasonably convince they (the Reserve Bank) had to do something," says Robin Clements at UBS New Zealand who is Christchurch based.

If Bollard hadn't cut rates today, the banks which cut a number of fixed-rate mortgages since the earthquake would have been raising them again.

"Confidence had almost certainly deteriorated. You do what you can to try and buffer that impact," Clements says. "A stronger economy outside of Christchurch is going to be important if we're to maintain any sense of recovery."

Stephen Toplis at Bank of New Zealand says in the current environment "like everyone else, we're flying completely blind."

Indicative of that, the Reserve Bank's monetary policy didn't contain the usual macro economic outlook nor a quarterly track for GDP, inflation and exchange and interest rates, Toplis says.

"That's not necessarily a criticism but it's symptomatic of how much uncertainty there is out there."

Paul Bloxham at HSBC, who had argued that rather than interest rates being cut, a better response to the Christchurch quake would have been targeted government spending, nevertheless says it was a reasonably difficult call for Bollard.

"Obviously, the Reserve Bank's judgment is that the weakened confidence and the reduction in the economy's capacity in the short run is going to be large enough" to warrant today's cut.

"Cutting interest rates when there's a great deal of construction going to be happening over the next years and when global inflation is rising is potentially a risk," Bloxham says. It may be Bollard will have to reverse today's cut sooner than he currently envisages.

Banks cut floating rates

« Major banks cut floating rates by 50 basis pointsASB's mortage book shrinks for a third successive quarter »

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Comments from our readers

On 10 March 2011 at 12:50 pm Darcy Ungaro said:
Their pain - our gain - does not seem fair that Christchurch is the reason that rates have decreased. I'd like to think regardless of that event, that the OCR should have been decreased anyway due to the economic data that was coming out in the last two quarters.
Commenting is closed

 

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Mortgage Rates Table

Full Rates Table | Compare Rates

Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
ANZ 5.19 3.95 4.15 4.49
ANZ Special - 3.45 3.65 3.99
ASB Bank 5.20 3.89 4.05 4.39
ASB Bank Special - 3.39 3.55 3.89
Bluestone 4.44 4.44 4.29 4.34
BNZ - Classic - 3.49 3.55 3.89
BNZ - Mortgage One 5.90 - - -
BNZ - Rapid Repay 5.35 - - -
BNZ - Std, FlyBuys 5.30 4.45 4.35 4.55
BNZ - TotalMoney 5.30 - - -
China Construction Bank 5.50 4.70 4.80 4.95
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
China Construction Bank Special - 3.19 3.19 3.19
Credit Union Auckland 5.95 - - -
Credit Union Baywide 5.65 4.75 4.75 -
Credit Union North 6.45 - - -
Credit Union South 5.65 4.75 4.75 -
Finance Direct - - - -
First Credit Union 5.85 3.99 4.49 -
Heartland 6.70 7.00 7.25 7.85
Heartland Bank - Online - - - -
Heretaunga Building Society 5.75 4.65 4.80 -
HSBC Premier 5.24 3.54 ▼3.20 3.69
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
HSBC Premier LVR > 80% - - - -
HSBC Special - - - -
ICBC 5.15 3.18 3.18 3.20
Kainga Ora 5.18 3.97 4.05 4.39
Kiwibank 5.15 4.20 4.30 4.64
Kiwibank - Capped - - - -
Kiwibank - Offset 5.15 - - -
Kiwibank Special - 3.45 3.55 3.89
Liberty 5.69 - - -
Napier Building Society - - - -
Nelson Building Society 5.70 4.25 4.15 -
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
Pepper Money Near Prime 5.64 - 5.44 5.44
Pepper Money Prime 5.18 - 4.98 4.98
Pepper Money Specialist 7.59 - 7.39 7.39
Resimac 4.50 4.45 3.89 3.94
RESIMAC Special - - - -
SBS Bank 5.29 4.85 5.05 5.49
SBS Bank Special - 3.39 3.55 3.89
Sovereign 5.30 3.89 4.05 4.39
Sovereign Special - 3.39 3.55 3.89
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 5.15 3.49 3.59 3.89
The Co-operative Bank - Standard 5.15 3.99 4.09 4.39
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
TSB Bank 6.09 4.19 4.35 4.69
TSB Special 5.29 3.39 3.55 3.89
Wairarapa Building Society 5.50 3.95 4.05 -
Westpac 5.34 4.15 4.09 4.49
Westpac - Offset 5.34 - - -
Westpac Special - 3.39 3.55 3.99
Median 5.34 3.96 4.09 4.39

Last updated: 14 February 2020 10:02am

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