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Mike's Minute: Is there enough competition between banks?

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Jun 2024, 10:12am

Mike's Minute: Is there enough competition between banks?

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Jun 2024, 10:12am

It was always coming because it's part of the coalition deal. 

But the Willis letter to a couple of select committees sets up, of all the inquires and market studies we have had, probably the most interesting investigation yet. 

Banks and whether we are getting a decent deal, is there enough competition? 

The rural community is screaming at the moment over their behaviour, there seems a very fair weather/social licence issue there. 

The Reserve Bank and commercial banks are at each other. 

Observers of the retail operators look on with interest at the margins charged here vs the margins charged in Australia, remembering of course that they are the same banks. 

So, a lot to look into. 

Like all the other market studies though, whether petrol, or supermarkets, or building supplies, looking into stuff is one thing, working out what to do if anything is another. 

What if it's found the Reserve Bank really is a problem? They are independent of the government, so what does the government do? 

Kiwibank was supposed to be a disruptor. It isn't, do you do anything about that? 

If a farmer is not helped in a way they might have wanted, and the committee finds banks are withdrawing from the rural sector, what actually do you do about that? 

On the flip side: banks are successful and we like and want that. The stability of banks is critical to an economy and in that we have been fortunate. 

How much has government policy through Covid messed with banks, and lending, and the economy? 

We get into DTIs, the LDRs, the treatment of investors, the flow on effect to housing and rentals and first home buyers, and access to money. 

This in some way or other touches about every single one of us. 

As always with big businesses people will go in with a preconceived notion: banks are thieves, or bullies, or rip off merchants, the Reserve Bank is overbearing. 

But, given we seem —rightly or wrongly— to be obsessed with inquires, here goes another one. 

The trick is not to have it end up like the others, where next to nothing happens.  

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