New Central Bank governor sets out priorities in his role

New Central Bank governor sets out priorities in his role

The new governor of the Central Bank, Gabriel Makhlouf, has said that lessons should be learned from past mistakes to avoid "a return to the credit-house price spirals".

In his first keynote speech since being appointed to the role, the British citizen spoke today to students and staff at the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).

Mr Makhlouf, who was born in Egypt, highlighted the vulnerability of the Irish economy, particularly in the context of Brexit and the risk of escalating trade wars.

He said: "Building economic resilience is not like building a bulwark and then assuming the job is done.

"There is no one-off solution to the challenge of building resilience. It is a continuous process, involving individuals, households, businesses, institutions and authorities, such as the Central Bank, both at home and abroad."

While acknowledging improvements in resilience over the last decade, he also identified four key transitions which pose challenges to the Irish people.

These are Brexit, climate change, the pace of technological change and major changes taking place in the financial system.

He said building resilience through these is essential.

"For me it is about continuing to focus on the fundamentals, about managing the short term while planning for the medium term.

"It is about ensuring our frameworks are fit-for-purpose and learning the lessons of the past while preparing for the future. It is also about being prepared to challenge ourselves."

He noted that the mortgage measures are a permanent feature of the mortgage market here - and have been key to enabling sustainable lending.

"It is important to take stock, learn lessons and continue to develop.

New Central Bank governor sets out priorities in his role

"In particular it is important to consider how the suite of macroprudential buffers interact not only with each other but also with those of microprudential supervision - arriving at a consistent and holistic view of capital for the banking sector - and the other key macroprudential tools in operation."

"We must continue to look at whether the objectives and scope of our wider macroprudential framework remains appropriate to the current environment."

Speaking about debt, Mr Makhlouf said: "Most household debt is in mortgages. We are currently reviewing our calibration of the mortgage measures so I will not discuss them in great detail today.

"However, I want to emphasise that the measures are aimed at strengthening borrower and bank resilience. And our focus remains on avoiding a return to the credit-house price spirals of the past.

"Irish firms have also reduced their debt relative to their assets, and debt repayment burdens have fallen", he said.

Since its peak of €202.9bn in the third quarter of 2008, household debt here has fallen by 32.5%, or €66bn.

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