Moody’s: Australia’s asset cycle has peaked and major bank credit metrics will be under pressure

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Australia’s asset cycle has peaked, according to credit rating agency Moody’s Investor Services. And that means the risk weight capital our major banks hold will come under pressure.

The agency also says that the looming increase in risk weightings on the average mortgage risk weights as a result of the Australian banking regulator’s, APRA, edict that “risk weights for IRB banks will rise to at least 25%, from the current 15-18% level” will also put downward pressure on the majors CET1 (Common Equity Tier One) ratio’s.

The good news for the banks, their shareholders, and the Australian financial system is that Moody’s believes, based on its scenario and sensitivity analysis, that “the potential decline in the banks’ capital metrics as a result of changes to risk weights will be limited”.

Ilya Serov, Moody’s senior vice president, added in the report that:

Even in a highly stressed scenario, and before factoring in any potential for organic capital generation, the major banks’ CET1 ratios will remain above 8.0%, a level which is the combination of the regulatory minimum CET1 plus Capital Conservation and Domestic Systemically Important Bank (D-SIB) buffers.

That doesn’t guarantee the banks won’t have to raise more capital at some point. But it certainly suggests the work they have already done in raising capital in preparation for the changes in regulation will keep them above the 8% trigger level.


Under each of the scenarios Moody’s ran a comparison of the impact of the upper end of Australian banks 2009 experience when the corporate “impaired and past due exposure ratio” hit 2.5%. In the second scenario Moody’s took the average of the banks 2009 experience – as opposed to upper-end of experience as it’s base input. It then included the increase in mortgage weights into this scenario.

Moody’s says: “The key cyclical pressure on risk-weighted capital ratios will come from an upward revision in credit risk weights as asset quality weakens. This is a reversal of the situation which has existed since the GFC’s nadir in 2008/09 which with the ‘decline in the major banks’ CRWA, as asset quality improved after the global financial crisis, has been the primary organic driver of their improving risk-weighted capital ratios.”

While Moody’s stressed this was not a credit rating note in the end though the company still sounds pretty upbeat on the big banks capital positions.

“The moderate degree of deterioration in capital levels indicated by our sensitivity analysis is in line with our view that Australia’s major banks remain in a strong position to maintain their strong credit profiles against a likely weakening in their asset performance” Moody’s said.