Reserve Bank governor Wheeler not keen on bank deposit insurance

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler

The Reserve Bank is unlikely to introduce state-backed insurance on bank deposits, saying the moral hazard is too high and it prefers the option of protecting those with small balances through guaranteed repayments.

New Zealand is the only country in the OECD without deposit insurance, with Israel's central bank in the process of introducing the state guarantee on bank deposits.

Governor Graeme Wheeler told Parliament's finance and expenditure committee, at the central bank's annual review this morning, that developing a deposit insurance fund would take an "awfully long time" and New Zealand's banking system is highly concentrated in bigger banks.

"Where they tend to be most successful is in banking systems with a large number of very small banks, and some of those collapse over time, but our setup is completely different," Wheeler said "We do worry about the moral hazard issues, for example, what is the incentive bank managers would feel knowing there's a bailout fund set up."

There would also be difficulty in charging appropriate premiums, Mr Wheeler said. "You would want to make sure you were adopting appropriate credit risk pricing to build up that fund. You'd be saying bank X, the deposit levy on that is so much, bank Y, the levy is so much again. You end up with differential rates."

Grant Spencer, deputy governor and head of financial stability, said there was scope for the minister to determine a minimum guaranteed repayment amount to protect small depositors, and the bank was having some discussion as to whether to fix that number more specifically, at around $5000.

James Shaw, Green party co-leader and finance spokesperson, said there was a view the banking market is concentrated because New Zealand doesn't have a deposit insurance scheme, so savers don't feel confident putting their money outside the major banks. Such a scheme could encourage competition, he said.

Mr Spencer said the bank didn't want to encourage unfair competition by guaranteeing a riskier institution, as happened with the collapsed South Canterbury Finance.

"People suffered, and the government suffered as a result. To avoid that, you need a risk-adjusted insurance premium but, when you look around the world, you never actually see proper risk-adjusted premia. You often have a bias toward a flow of funds to riskier banks, and that's the moral hazard issue," Mr Spencer said. "We support more the approach of de minimis to protect smaller deposit holders rather than putting in protection for $250,000, as you might have in Australia."


5 · Got a question about this story? Leave it in Comments & Questions below.

This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about MyNBR Tags

Post Comment

5 Comments & Questions

Commenter icon key: Subscriber Verified

Why should it take an awfully long time to develop.
Surely we could adapt another countries scheme to what would be required for NZ.

  • 0
  • 0

Mr Wheeler could head over to the NZ treasury website and look at this section - seems like it could work as a template ( And all the finance companies are mainly gone so no problems there.... )

Check out -

Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme

  • 0
  • 0

A deposit insurance scheme is a daft idea, based on socialist principles of nanny state will take care of you. In the end depositors would pay for it as the costs were passed on by banks.

  • 0
  • 0

It's a catch 22, in some ways. If you don't have it, people may start moving their money out of banks and this will undermine banks abilities to lend and still meet capital requirements.

If you do have it, you have the worst kind of capitalism - the 2008 USA style privatise the profits, socialise the losses model where bankers go laughing to their homes in the Hamptons while Joe Public picks up the tab.

Iceland may be a model to look to: any public bailout of banks comes with an equity stake as part of the deal.

  • 0
  • 0

A $5000 Gtee would provide some small level of comfort in the event of a bank failure that day-to-day costs can be met and avoid the Greek debacle where significant funds never returned to the system and the cash economy flourished.

  • 0
  • 0

Post New comment or question

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

NZ Market Snapshot


Sym Price Change
USD 0.7215 0.0000 0.00%
AUD 0.9353 0.0000 0.00%
EUR 0.5871 0.0000 0.00%
GBP 0.5174 0.0000 0.00%
HKD 5.6597 0.0000 0.00%
JPY 76.4290 0.0000 0.00%


Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1312.3 -2.100 2018-03-16T00:
Oil Brent 66.0 1.090 2018-03-16T00:
Oil Nymex 62.4 1.140 2018-03-16T00:
Silver Index 16.3 -0.150 2018-03-16T00:


Symbol Open High Last %
NASDAQ 7504.4 7514.2 7481.7 0.00%
DJI 24877.3 25031.0 24873.7 0.29%