Reserve Bank calls for lower mortgage rates

Reserve Bank deputy governor Geoff Bascand has piled pressure on banks to slash mortgage rates as wholesale borrowing costs fall.

Bascand believes the Reserve Bank's bond-buying programme, and cut to a 0.25% Official Cash Rate, have effectively reduced wholesale lending rates for banks. 

Yet Bascand says lenders aren't doing enough to pass on rate cuts to home loan borrowers. 

"In one sense, they [the banks] are probably a bit cautious there but as time goes on, and they are more confident that they can fund in different ways and at lower costs, they hopefully will see more of that flow through," Bascand told the NZ Herald.

"We have seen some banks reduce their mortgage rates but we still think that there is a way to go," he added. 

The Reserve Bank highlighted its expectation of lower rates as it made its latest OCR decision last week.

"We expect to see retail interest rates decline further as lower wholesale borrowing costs are passed through to retail customers," the central bank's Monetary Policy Committee stated on May 13.

The comments will add to the expectation of even lower mortgage rates, after the big four and TSB, HSBC, and China Construction Bank launched sub-3% rates in recent weeks. 

Financial markets expect the OCR to drop even further than 0.25%, and have priced in negative rates for early next year.

The central bank yesterday re-affirmed its commitment to keeping the OCR on hold until March. 

"We stick to our commitment. We are keeping the OCR on hold for a year," Bascand told Stuff.

"It said the committee maintains its forward guidance the OCR will remain at 0.25 per cent until early 2021.

"We are very conscious that our word matters and the credibility of what we say is very important to the Reserve Bank.

"We are confident we won't be moving to negative interest rates before March next year," Bascand added.

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