The financial inquiry's competing interests

Improving competitiveness in the financial system won't be achieved by simply making the Big Four less competitive. Such a move will risk their credit ratings and the sector's stability.

Standard & Poor’s rating of the Australian banking system as one of the five strongest in the world isn’t exactly new news. Nor is it a revelation that a credit ratings agency regards the level of government support and the creditworthiness of the government itself as a factor in its conclusions. But as the financial system inquiry looms, the S&P analysis provides a useful reminder of the strengths of the domestic system and the potential threats to its stability.

S&P rates Australian banks as among the least risky in the world, just behind Hong Kong and alongside Switzerland, Canada, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.

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