NZ Herald business editor at large

Liam Dann: Did the Reserve Bank just give two fingers to the Prime Minister?

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It is not the Reserve Bank's job to fix the housing crisis. Photo / File
It is not the Reserve Bank's job to fix the housing crisis. Photo / File

Did the Reserve Bank just give two fingers to the Prime Minister?

If John Key was trying to hurry the Bank to hit investors with tougher lending restrictions, he has been ignored.

With comments this week - that the Reserve Bank "should just get on with it" - John Key did manage to build plenty of hype around deputy governor Grant Spencer's speech to New Zealand Institute of Valuers in Wellington tonight.

But the Bank, quite rightly, didn't respond to political pressure.

In fact, in a sign of growing tension with Government, Spencer hit back suggesting it might want to take a look at its migration policy - which it cites as driving strong housing demand - and ongoing housing supply shortfalls.

Anyone expecting policy details or even timing details of LVRs or proposed Debt to Income Ratios will have been disappointed.

Spencer said the Reserve Bank was now considering tightening restrictions on loan-to-value ratios (LVRs) for investors further.

"Such a measure could potentially be introduced by the end of the year."

This goes no further than governor Graeme Wheeler at the June Monetary Policy Statement press conference, when he said new tools could be ready to go "towards the end of the year or before that".

Critics will say that the Reserve Bank is moving too slowly. But it is cautious on any market intervention. These things are complex and can have unexpected outcomes if all the ramifications are not carefully worked through.

Public concern about a growing housing crisis is becoming problematic for the Government and it is in catch-up mode.

It is not the Reserve Bank's job to fix that problem. Regardless, the Reserve Bank's public concern about the housing risk pre-dates this Government's by several years.

If anyone needs to get on with it, it is John Key.

- NZ Herald

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NZ Herald business editor at large

Liam Dann is business editor at large at the New Zealand Herald. He has been a journalist for 20 years, covering business for the last 14 of them. He has also worked in the banking sector in London and travelled extensively. His passion is for Markets and Economics, because they are the engine of the New Zealand economy. He hosts The Economy Hub video show every Thursday.

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