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More pain for the big 4 banks

  • October 09 2020
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More pain for the big 4 banks

Australian banks are confronting a protracted recovery from the COVID-19 economic downturn, which will hurt the big banks’ profitability, although strong credit buffers should protect the businesses, a rating agency has found.

More pain for the big 4 banks

More pain for the big 4 banks

Australian banks are confronting a protracted recovery from the COVID-19 economic downturn, which will hurt the big banks’ profitability, although strong credit buffers should protect the businesses, a rating agency has found.

More pain for the big 4 banks

According to S&P ratings, low interest rates, weak credit growth and a drop in fees all threaten the banks’ future earning potential.

However, despite a weakening bottom line, the banks are not in financial trouble. 

“Still, we believe banks’ reduced earnings should remain adequate to absorb elevated credit losses,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Sharad Jain. 

Elevated unemployment, weak sentiment, net outward immigration and restrictions impacting home inspections and sales will drag down house prices by 10 per cent from the peak in April-May 2020, while the combination of high unemployment and fall in home prices will lead to higher credit losses given that home loans make up 60 per cent of bank loan books. 

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And while the recovery is underway, banks will still struggle to regain pre-COVID earnings metrics despite receding credit losses. 

“Many businesses and households will suffer from the structural changes to the economy due to the downturn, in our view,” S&P said. 

“Consequently, a large number of borrowers will struggle to meet their financial commitments even when the broad-based recovery takes place.”

A delay in finding a vaccine, more COVID-19 outbreaks and an escalation in the strategic confrontation between the US and China could also prolong or deepen the economic downturn beyond S&P’s base case.

“Nevertheless, we believe that Australian banks should be able to preserve their creditworthiness in the next two years, despite the unprecedented economic disruption due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” Mr Jain said. 

“A downgrade on the Australian sovereign remains the main risk to our ratings on the four major Australian banks and Macquarie Bank Ltd.”

More pain for the big 4 banks
More pain for the big 4 banks
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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