Outcomes from a COVID-19 stress test of New Zealand banks

Release date
Vol. 83, No. 3
Chris Bloor; John Knowles; Ken Nicholls

The Reserve Bank launched a stress test in March to determine the resilience of banks and the financial system to the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 stress test consisted of two parts. First, a desktop stress test where the Reserve Bank estimated the impact on profitability and capital for nine of New Zealand’s largest banks to the impact of two severe but plausible scenarios. Second, the Reserve Bank coordinated a process in which the five largest banks used their own models to estimate the effect on their banks for the same scenarios.

The pessimistic baseline scenario can be characterised as a one-in-50 to one-in-75 year event with the unemployment rate rising to 13.4 percent and a 37 percent fall in property prices. In the very severe scenario, the unemployment rate reaches 17.7 percent and house prices fall 50 percent. It should be noted that these scenarios are hypothetical and are significantly more severe than the Reserve Banks’ baseline scenario.