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For those of us who aren’t watching the sharemarket religiously or flipping through capital city median house prices on a daily basis, it might be easy to assume that the economy is bubbling away quite nicely. However, new analysis suggests Australians are quietly preparing for the worst.
The study by finder.com.au compares APRA data of owner-occupied home loans versus deposits from households, and at first glance the numbers seem fairly inconspicuous. Over the past 13 years of available data, both the number of these home loans funded by banks and the number of household bank deposits – including transaction and savings accounts – has been steadily moving up and to the right.
Households have borrowed from banks a record high $828 billion for owner-occupied home loans, and $732 billion in deposits is also the highest level we’ve ever seen.
However, when we compare the difference between these figures over time, an alarming insight becomes apparent: consumer sentiment seems to have slipped back to global financial crisis levels.
Despite households buying property with bigger mortgages and saving more money, the amount of money borrowed for home loans has slowed, while bank accounts are growing at a faster pace. This trend is mimicking the consumer behaviour we saw during one of the world’s darkest financial chapters.
In just four years, the difference between how much households are saving in the bank and how much they’re receiving for owner-occupied home loans has almost halved – from $195 billion in June 2011 to just $106 billion in August 2015.
In the midst of a heated debate around the future of Australia’s property market and overseas investors spreading into capital cities, the question presents itself: are Australians bracing for another financial crisis? Are we scaring ourselves into an economic nosedive?
We know from the comparatively recent events in Greece that when people lose faith in their country’s ability to regulate the market (read: keep their livelihoods safe), a nation’s finances can collapse.
But are we losing faith and pre-empting our country hitting financial turmoil? Or is it simply a case of being more responsible with our money? Let’s just hope it’s the latter.