Australia Staring Down a US 2008 Scenario, and for the Exact Same Reasons

(Bloomberg) — Australia’s central bank No. 2 official Guy Debelle says risky borrowing is more likely to be an accelerator to an economic downturn rather than its source, in an address discussing the impact of lending curbs.

“If a negative shock were to hit the Australian economy, particularly one that caused a sizeable rise in unemployment, then the risk on the household balance sheet would magnify the adverse effect of that shock,” Debelle said in the text of a speech Thursday. “This would have first order consequences for the economy and hence also for monetary policy.”

Australian regulators tightened lending as investors poured into east coast property markets, taking advantage of record-low interest rates. The measures limiting the availability of credit have weighed on the market, with a slide in housing now in its second year. Prices in Sydney and Melbourne were down 7.4 percent in October from a year earlier and 4.7 percent, respectively.