Why Aussie banks are weakening

Australian banks are breaking primary support levels. There are two major reasons for this. One is the precarious level of household debt as a result of the housing bubble. The first graph below shows how housing prices have more than doubled compared to disposable incomes (after tax but before interest payments) over the past 30 years. And how household debt has risen, not as a result of, but as the underlying cause of, the housing bubble. Without rising debt there would be no bubble.

Australian House Prices and Household Debt to Disposable Income

Growth in Australian housing prices is now slowing, prompting fears of a correction.

Australian House Price Growth

The second reason is falling returns on equity. Banking regulators have increased pressure on major banks to improve lending standards and increase capital backing for their lending exposure. For decades banks were given free rein to increase lending without commensurate increases in capital, to the extent that the majors hold only $4 to $5 of common equity for every $100 of lending exposure. Low interest rates, increases in capital and slowing credit growth have all contributed to the decline in bank equity returns to the low teens.

Australian Banks Return on Equity

ASX equity shrinking

From Chris Pash:

Credit Suisse’s Equity Strategist Hasan Tevfik says the cost of debt is very low relative to the cost of equity….This means that few equities are being added to the Australian market because companies are using cheap debt, rather than going to their investors or shareholders, to raise cash for expansion or investment.

This is not a healthy sign — when companies use cheap debt, rather than equity, to fund acquisitions. Artificially low interest rates distorting companies’ WACC (weighted average cost of capital) could lead to poor investment decisions.

Read more at Credit Suisse: This Is Why The ASX Will Hit 6000 By The End Of The Year | Business Insider.