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Mike's Minute: Where are the solutions from the Reserve Bank?

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Fri, 3 May 2024, 9:57am
Photo / Getty | File
Photo / Getty | File

Mike's Minute: Where are the solutions from the Reserve Bank?

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Fri, 3 May 2024, 9:57am

The Reserve Bank has an odd mandate. 

On one hand they directly involved themselves in cocking up the economy to the extent it has been by throwing printed money about the place, often with no real guidelines to banks as to where it would end up. Small clue: it went into housing. 

But the on the other hand they are all over us in terms of rules around what we can and can't do with income to debt ratios, how much money a bank has to hold in reserve for troubled times, etc. 

The latest is the directive to banks about insurance cover on the places they lend money on, i.e. when we get a mortgage, we need cover and they now expect the banks to be even more vigilant about the sort of cover, how much for and how long it will last. 

It's all in their Financial Stability Report. 

But on the insurance issue they revert to their hands off approach, where they point out that they are seeing more people having trouble getting and paying for insurance and that this will be a growing issue. 

Thanks for the warning. Have you got any advice? 

Well, they have, sort of. They recommend insurers, Governments and home buyers, as well as lenders, should take action to improve our understanding of natural hazards and to proactively manage affordability challenges. 

Awesome. Thanks for that. 

This in some respects is the issue of our time. Like it or not insurance, if it hasn’t already, will become a burden, if not a nightmare. 

The Government has already moved on the earthquake rules around buildings, knowing full well the current deadlines are unrealistic. 

But the day is coming, if it isn't already here, where people cannot afford to be where they are or want to be, or even if they have money, can't find a backer. 

So, the big question the Reserve Bank doesn’t answer is - then what? 

If you can't get insurance, you can't get a mortgage. Maybe you can't get a mortgage because you can't afford insurance to the level they now expect. 

You are stuck in a place that was once safe and now isn't. What do you do? 

This all has enormous economic and social consequences. So, who is in charge of this and what is the plan? 

Telling us it's an issue in a stability report isn't really a solution and that’s probably the way they like it. 

It's always easier to point a problem out than to actually deal to it. 

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