Overseas debt grows as banks continue to lend and borrow

debt fortune cookieThe major banks’ pressure to sell lending products to New Zealanders (and fund it with overseas borrowing) continues to manifest itself in our growing overseas debt. Statistics New Zealand now refers to bank lending and profits by large foreign owned companies as significant contributors to our financial situation and, in his comments on the statistics, the Minister of Finance does likewise. This month the Reserve Bank had to intervene in New Zealand’s foreign exchange market for the first time since 1985.

It seems that no matter how well the rest of the economy performs it cannot keep up with a foreign-owned financial sector determined to lend and grow. As long as New Zealand continues to borrow more than it earns our economy will remain at risk, particularly as our dollar continues to rise and threaten our export led economy.

Part of the problem probably with New Zealanders’ spend and borrow culture and part probably lies with government policy. But we believe that at the centre of the issue is the pressure banks continue to place on their staff to make the sale and increase profits beyond sustainable limits. If banks expect to make 10 percent or more increases in profit each year, which they currently seem to do, then simply and crudely put that means 10% more lending each year.

(thanks to idiolector for the photo)

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