A review of things you need to know before you go home on Thursday; no rate changes, mini-budget bores, no leverage reduction, wool prices dive, lamb prices rise, livestock numbers drop, TSB refunds, swaps down, NZD up

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

MORTGAGE RATE CHANGES
No changes to report here.

TERM DEPOSIT RATE CHANGES
No changes here either.

COLD COFFEE
Today's mini-budget was completely underwhelming. The reversal of National's tax cuts make the new Government's 100 Day Plan largely cost neutral, according to Treasury's Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update. Its all a rehash of what we already knew. There is no change to the Government debt raising program.

PROFIT 'PROGRESS', BUT NO LEVERAGE PROGRESS
With the BNZ financial disclosure to September 2017, we now have all disclosures for all retail banks. That enabled us to complete our leverage review which shows New Zealand banks have 12.4 times as many banking assets as shareholder capital. As risky as that may be, it is unchanged from June and the lowest in two and a half years. Bank boards are making no concerted effort on their own to reduce leverage; the only way that will happen is with regulator spine. And we are not helped by Australia's APRA requiring some banks to repatriate funding back from New Zealand. Rabobank is the least leveraged and Kiwibank the most leveraged (although to their credit Kiwibank is making minor progress getting their risky levels lowered). The same monitoring shows banks earn 13.3% pa after tax, and total tax-paid profits of just a whisker under $5 bln in the full year to September - a new record high.

KIWISAVER ANALSIS UPDATED
If you are one of the hundreds of readers who check out our KiwiSaver fund analysis every day, you will want to know that we have updated our databases bringing the analysis up-to-date until November 2017. Our next quarterly reviews and comparative stories will be at the end of January for the December quarter.

UNEXPECTED
Peter Dunne has annointed his politician of the year. It's not the person you would expect.

FICKLE MARKETS
In rural markets, coarse crossbred wools have fallen below NZ$3.00/kg again, which is not a good signal at all. This time last year they were over NZ$4.00/kg for this indicator price, so the loss of revenue is very substantial. Going the other way, schedule prices for M2 Bulls are up +8.6% in the year, for P2 steers they are unchanged, and for Y lambs they are up a remarkable +35% on lower volumes. (Econ 101). Prices in saleyards for store lambs are up +43%. Deer (venison) prices are up +31%.

'HERD EQUILIBRIUM' ?
The number of dairy cattle dipped -2% to 6.5 mln in June 2017 from a year ago, Stats NZ reported. Peak dairy cow was in 2014 it seems and has been largely stable since 2012. The national sheep flock continues to reduce. New Zealand now has fewer than six sheep for every person, after peaking at 22 sheep for every person in 1982. It is not rural animal numbers that are growing; rather it is urban human numbers. In the fifteen years from 2002 to 2017 total livestock numbers have fallen -24.7% (sheep, cattle, dairy cows, deer, pigs) while the human population has risen +21.4% in the same period. Still, urban humans continue to blame rural animals for increasing environmental stress, pandered to by urban lobby groups.

OUCH
China's Foreign Ministry today summoned the Australian ambassador in for a dressing down over Aussie actions to curb Chinese influence in Australia's domestic affairs and politics. Senior Labor politician Sam Dastyari has been required to quit after peddling Chinese influence inside Canberra. China is not happy (at being caught?) The People's Daily, described media coverage of Chinese influence in Australia as "hysterical paranoia" with racist undertones. The Australian Government is risking a lot by standing up to China. The risks also extend to New Zealand. (And as Bill English has pointed out, Australia is not backward at imposing their influence on New Zealand, so they know how this game is played. Big bullies small.)

OUCH II
TSB is to refund about 2800 customers an average of $170 each after overcharging loan break fees between 2008 and 2016. (To save you the arithmetic, that is a total cost of $476,000.)

WHOLESALE RATES LOWER
Updated: Swap rates are down -2 bps for all terms five years and longer, but down less for shorter durations. The 90 day bank bill rate dropped today to a new record low of 1.86%.

NZ DOLLAR RISES
The NZ dollar rose strongly overnight and has since fallen back (on the mini-Budget) to just above yesterday's levels at 70.2 USc. On the cross rates we are at 91.6 AUc and 59.3 euro cents. This puts the TWI-5 at 73 for a net gain in the past 24 hours. It's been another wild ride in the bitcoin market. It rose to US$17,334 (not a record), then fell to US$15,821 a shift of more than US$1,500 in just six hours. Now it is back up to US$16,172.

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End of day NY time
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3 Comments

How is Oz standing up to China "big bullies small"?????

I think the idea was, China (big) bullies Aussie (small) but then Aussie (big) bullies NZ (smaller).