The author has been described by News Ltd as an "iconoclast", "Svengali", a pollie's "economist muse", and "pungently accurate". Fairfax says he is a "Renaissance man" and "one of Australia’s most respected analysts." Stephen Koukoulas concludes that he is "85% right", and "would make a great Opposition leader." Terry McCrann claims the author thinks "‘nuance’ is a trendy village in the south of France", but can be "scintillating" when he thinks "clearly". The ACTU reckons he’s "an enigma wrapped in a Bloomberg terminal, wrapped in some apparently well-honed abs."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ai Group and ACCI urge support for small and new lenders

From the banking industry bible, Banking Day, today:

"The two major groups representing medium-sized businesses in Australia have both thrown their support behind measures to support smaller lenders and new entrants in the banking industry.

Yesterday the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) both released submissions to the Senate Economics Committee’s banking competition inquiry.

Both groups say many of their members are finding it harder to access funding.

Ai Group’s submission says lower competitive pressure is allowing the Big Four banks to impose more stringent terms and conditions on lending.

It suggests measures to make it easier for new banks to enter the market, for foreign banks to “resurface” and for second- and third-tier banks and other lenders to grow.

It also argues for a ban on commission selling by financial advisers and for a requirement that advisers act in the best interests of their clients. It says the wealth management arms of the Big Four banks are the leading beneficiaries of the current commission selling model.

But it opposes “price signalling” legislation of the type introduced by the Coalition and hinted at by the Government, and warns generally against ill-considered measures that would add to finance costs.

Ai Group has been a significant player in Canberra since 2007, with chief executive Heather Ridout particularly close to former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

ACCI, in contrast, is widely considered an opponent of the Government. But its small business-friendly stance may find favour with the independent senator on the committee, Senator Nick Xenophon.

ACCI wants support for smaller lenders, especially the regional banks, including greater purchases of residential mortgage-backed securities by the Australian Office of Financial Managements. And it wants the Federal Government’s wholesale guarantee pitched at the same price for large and small institutions, abolishing the current gap of 50 basis points in pricing.

ACCI also wants a temporary small business loans scheme similar to those in the US, UK and Canada.

The third major business group, the Business Council of Australia, represents large businesses, with all of the Big Four as key members; its submission is likely to stress the successes of the current system."