New Zealand's central bank Thursday announced it was delaying by six months a rise in banks' core funding ratio (CFR) because of an increase in global economic and financial risks.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) had planned to raise the CFR from 70 percent to 75 percent in July next year, but the rise will now be implemented on Jan.1, 2013, to give the banks "more latitude in managing their funding programs," said RBNZ deputy governor Grant Spencer.
The banks were better placed to weather market turbulence than at the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008 after increasing their capital and liquidity buffers, said Spencer in a statement.
"We are currently consulting with the banks on the new Basel III capital regime, with an expectation that capital requirements will be increased to match the new international standards," he said.
The postponement was announced with the publication of the RBNZ half-yearly Financial Stability Report, which detailed growing risks to New Zealand's banking system.
RBNZ governor Alan Bollard said in the statement that despite progress in reshaping regulatory frameworks, financial systems in many countries remained under stress due to an overhang of private and public debt.
"Markets have been particularly concerned about the sovereign debt situation in Greece, and the potential for contagion to other European countries. This has made access to offshore debt markets more challenging for New Zealand's banks," said Bollard.
"In New Zealand, households and businesses have been containing debt, which has helped to reduce the country's overall external imbalance. However, these efforts have been offset, in part, by rising levels of public debt. Further, many households and farmers remain highly leveraged, which leaves them vulnerable to a sharp slowdown in global growth."
The RBNZ has been gradually raising the CFR, with the aim of ensuring banks have more long-term funds on their books, since 2010.
Finance Minister Bill English Thursday announced that tax revenue, government spending and net debt were all slightly lower than expected for the three months to the end of September.
The lower than forecast tax revenue contributed to a slightly larger than expected operating deficit before gains and losses of 2.48 billion NZ dollars (1.93 billion U.S. dollars) for the three months, said English in a statement.
The deficit was still on line for the forecast 10.8 billion NZ dollars for the year to end of June 2012 down from 18 billion NZ dollars last year but that was "still too high for comfort, especially in the face of ongoing global economic uncertainty," said English.
"As the Reserve Bank governor reiterated this morning, many countries remain under stress due to an overhang of private and public debt. He noted New Zealand households and businesses have been helping to reduce our external liabilities, but this has been partially offset by rising public debt."
The government was focused on returning to surplus and keeping net core government debt below 30 percent of GDP.
"The deficit is forecast to more than halve to 4.4 billion NZ dollars next year and the government is forecast to return to surplus in 2014-15," said English.
"But getting there won't be easy. In many ways restraint in the public sector has only just started and getting back to surplus will require ongoing spending discipline for many years."