A review of things you need to know before you go home on Tuesday; minor rate changes, migration records, tourism at capacity, credit cards maxed, swaps stable, NZD firms

Here are the key things you need to know before you leave work today.

Housing NZ Corporation lifted their one year fixed rate from 4.80% to 4.89%.

The Co-operative Bank has moved its 3.50% 'special' from five months to six months.

Net migration gain remains at record high of 71,300 in 12 months to February. There has been no let up in Auckland's population growth pain as net migration remains at 71,300 a year. Migrant arrivals numbered 128,800 in the February 2017 year, a new annual record. We have never seen citizen returns at this level before. Citizen departures peaked in October 1979 at 64,300 and are low running at only half that level. Total migrant departures are now only 57,500. The February result gave some suggestion that net migration might be closing in on its peak.

The growth in tourist numbers was slower in February, with overseas visitor arrivals up just +1.8% from a year earlier. A shift in the timing of Chinese New Year dragged Chinese tourist numbers down, although the fall was mitigated by a significant lift in visitors from the US, and a smaller increase from the UK. However, underlying growth looks to have softened as the industry reaches capacity during the peak season - three-month annual growth of +8.1% was the weakest since August 2015.

Have we put away our credit cards? Data out today suggests more of us have. In February we sent -0.6% less this February that in the same month a year ago locally, and -3.9% less using them overseas. However, overseas visitors spent +2.9% more in the same period. One reason might be that we are having trouble paying off our card balances. They are up +3.1% over the same period to just under the record levels we owed on them in December. Another interesting detail is that positive credit card balances are now up to $105 mln, the highest we have seen in almost a decade. Using a credit card with only positive balances can be a smart, convenient no-fee way to pay for stuff (although only for those with self-discipline).

The Reserve Bank has published an exposure draft of its revised outsourcing policy. The policy applies to banks whose net liabilities exceed $10 billion being ANZ, ASB, BNZ, Westpac and Kiwibank. Banks must have direct ownership and/or legal and practical control over their back-up systems, although the system doesn't have to be located in New Zealand, the Reserve Bank says, but can't be provided by a parent bank or related party. Consultation on the exposure draft closes on May 26.

Aussie residential property prices rose +7.7% pa in 2016. It is all about their two largest cities. Melbourne recorded the largest through the year growth of all capital cities at +10.8%, followed closely by Sydney at +10.3%. The total value of Australia's 9.8 mln residential dwellings increased AU$274.2 bln to AU$6.4 tln. (New Zealand housing is now worth NZ$1 tln.) The mean price of dwellings in Australia is now AU$656,800 (=NZ$717,000. In New Zealand the mean (=average) is $675,000.)

We have a major issue with our FSPR regime bringing reputation damage to New Zealand. But hopefully it is nothing like the damage some major British banks have done in working with the Russians. Britain’s high street banks processed more than NZ$1 bln from a vast money-laundering operation run by Russian criminals with links to the Russian government and the KGB. HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Barclays and Coutts are among 17 banks in the UK, that are facing questions over what they knew about the international scheme and why they did not turn away suspicious money transfers.

Rates for terms of one to three years are unchanged today. But they slipped -1 bp for longer terms. The 90 day bank bill is also unchanged at 1.95%.

The NZD is holding its exchange rate at 70.5 USc. On the cross rates we are now at 91.3 AUc and 65.5 euro cents. The TWI-5 is still at 75.4.

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Can you explain this , in relation to FSPR, I don't understand.

Yes, perhaps confusing. I added this piece to the front of the report on Russian corruption aided by British banks, just as a background point to the fact that we have our issues too. But the NZ angle doesn't really have anything to do with manipulation of election results by Russia or money laundering by their elites. Apologies for the confusion. 

With respect to credit cards I'm not surprised. The increase is more than just a bit of Christmas spending as there's a significant uptick. I've known people who both have a positive credit card balance and those who have used credit cards for financing work to houses. Given the uptick in loan applications to consolidate credit card debt and the slow in Auckland house sales there is likely to be a correlation. It's hard to clear credit cards completely until the house you've been working on has been sold.

HSBC successfully promoted itself as the safest global bank during the GFC. Under the surface it appears they have been the biggest facilitator of money laundering and also been running a racquet in the FX market.
Hopefully lots of prime central London property will be seized as a result.

There is no racquet in forex.
It is a tough market. But regulated so long as you stay with the big banks.
It is called a captive market.

More tourist demand than we can sensibly supply, - put the prices up to regulate demand. Do this by taxes so that some of the money can be applied to addressing the demands that they are placing on our infrastructure etc. Pocket the rest as profit for the nation and recompense for us having to put up with the problems that they cause on the roads etc. Fairly basic

Is there a difference between paying off the credit card in full every month and a "positive balance"? If so what would be the point of keeping cash in the credit card as it would then only be a debit card?