Hands off

Macau’s monetary authority is happy with the way banks are dealing with mortgages Banks are aware of the risks they face when they trade in real estate mortgages, according to the Monetary Authority of Macao (AMCM). The AMCM believes the market is healthy and intervention on speculation is not necessary, and an international association has been working in partnership with a local institute to certify specialists in fighting money laundering. In 2009, property prices in Hong Kong rose 27.7 percent, earning the territory the top spot in The Economist magazine’s list of developed countries and cities, and increasing pressure on the government there to take action. The mainland has revealed that it will impose new restrictions on bank mortgages to curb speculation, but nothing has been done in Macau. The chairman of the board of directors of ACMC, Teng Lin Seng, said recently that banks in Macau were “traditionally cautious” and perfectly capable of deciding how to lend money. He stressed that the mortgage market is in good health, while adding it would not be convenient if measures were taken to cool down the real estate market. Up to February 28, the ratio of deposited loans in local banks was 47.5 percent for residents’ businesses, and 70.2 percent for non-residents’, both having witnessed increases of 2 and 3.1 percent, respectively. The AMCM recently released the numbers on mortgages up until December 31, 2009. Unstable mortgage rates amounted to MOP44.2 billion, 9.5 percent more than the numbers for September of that same year, and 28.7 percent more than the previous year. Also, 13.8 percent of mortgages were taken by non-residents.