Update 12.45pm: ANZ has just announced it will pass on the full rate cut to customers.
9:00am: The Reserve Bank’s decision to cut interest rates by 0.25% earlier this week has turned into a stand-off with the Big Four banks so far refusing to pass on the cuts to customers.
Banks are now ruining Christmas, according to Australia’s most popular newspapers:
Smaller banks and credit unions have passed the savings on to customers, but the Big Four — NAB, Westpac, Commonwealth and ANZ — are standing firm.
An unimpressed Treasurer Wayne Swan called on the banks to cut their rates in line with the RBA: “For this rate cut to have the desired effect, the big banks need to come to the party,” declared Swan. “Failing to pass on this rate cut would be economically irresponsible.”
He added that consumers should shop around if their banks aren’t passing on cuts. “They are among the most profitable banks in the world,” said Swan. “I think that is understood very clearly by their customers and if their customers are unhappy with the behaviour of their bank they can go down the road and get a better deal.”
The banks are being greedy, argues Phil Jacob in The Daily Telegraph:
“The majority of homeowners might receive little of the Reserve Bank’s pre-Christmas rate cut, with industry experts hinting the eerie silence pervading the banking sector was an ominous sign for families.
As cash-strapped customers patiently waited for their banks to provide some Christmas cheer, research conducted for The Daily Telegraph has found the banks will save up to $225 million per month — or $7.4 million for every day they fail to pass on the interest rate cut.”
Mark Kenny at The Adelaide Advertiser had some slightly different figures:
“Figures provided to The Advertiser by Fat Profits and other industry analysts, based on the big four banks’ annual results, indicate that every day the banks delay, it costs home loan customers more than $4 million.
If the banks pocket the full rate cut and give customers no reduction, it will cost home buyers $125 million a month or $1.5 billion a year.”
There’s good reason banks haven’t passed on the savings, writes Jennifer Hewett in The Australian:
“The deafening silence from the banks indicates a radically different perspective from that of the Treasurer. Instead, most of their higher echelons are quietly wondering whether Swan still really doesn’t understand how banking works or if he is just playing political games.
The reality is that bank funding costs have gone up by about 0.5 per cent for wholesale funding.”
Historically Aussie banks have consistently falled to pass on rates cuts, says George Megalogenis in The Oz:
“A longer view of the data complied by The Australian reveals that apart from a small window of robust competition in the mid-to-late 1990s, when home borrowers won both ways, the banks haven’t felt the pressure to go the extra point.”