Insights into the economy and financial system from teams throughout the Reserve Bank of Australia
Dr HC Coombs was Governor of Australia’s central bank for nearly 20 years. His appointment followed significant roles in Australia’s war-time administration and post-war reconstruction, where he was an architect of Australia’s international full employment policy, known as the ‘Positive Approach’. When appointed Governor of the central bank in 1949, Coombs remained committed to the pursuit of full employment. Influenced by Keynes, he sought to maintain aggregate demand and supply in ‘reasonable balance’, something the Reserve Bank continues to do today. After retiring from the Bank in 1968, Coombs continued to promote the arts in Australia and the rights and welfare of First Nations Australians. He became a senior adviser to the Whitlam Government and chaired the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration – a fitting conclusion for someone often described as the nation’s greatest public servant. This article considers the life and career of HC Coombs, and complements the series of records that have been released on Unreserved.
One of the core objectives of the Reserve Bank’s public education program is to improve economic literacy. While the social benefits of economic literacy are well established, defining what is meant by this term is not straightforward and has been the subject of debate over many decades. This article explores the meaning of ‘economic literacy’. To arrive at a working definition, it discusses the economic principles that should be understood for someone to be considered economically literate, along with the topics they should be familiar with and the ways of thinking that we would expect them to display. In doing so, it distinguishes between economic and financial literacy. The article concludes by posing questions for future research on how economic literacy in Australia might be measured and how it might be supported.
The Australian tourism industry is gradually recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic that brought global travel to an unprecedented standstill. International tourism fell sharply in early 2020 and has only slowly recovered since restrictions were lifted in the first half of this year. By contrast, domestic tourism spending bounced back quickly as local restrictions eased and is now above pre-pandemic levels. This article outlines the recovery in the Australian tourism industry following the pandemic, the challenges the industry has faced in reopening, and the uncertainties around the outlook for the tourism industry over the next few years.
Household and business financial stress has significant implications for financial stability and monetary policy. However, high-frequency and timely indicators of emerging signs of financial stress are not readily available. To address this information gap, the Reserve Bank has developed novel measures of financial stress based on news, search and social media data. This article describes these new metrics and how they can capture meaningful changes in financial conditions and, in some cases, predict traditional measures of financial stress, such as loan arrears. Going forward, these indices will continue to be monitored for early signs of financial difficulties.
Stablecoins – a type of crypto-asset designed to maintain a stable value – have grown in popularity over recent years. Market developments, however, have highlighted the risks stablecoins can pose to investors, particularly if they are not fully backed by high-quality liquid assets. Stablecoins currently pose limited risks to the broader Australian financial system, but this could change if they become more widely used in the future – for example, in payments and other financial services. As such, regulators across the world are seeking to bring greater clarity to the regulatory treatment of stablecoins, not only to manage risks but also to support innovation in the market. This article considers the rise of stablecoins, the risks they pose and the response of regulators so far.
Australian Government Securities (AGS) play an important role in the transmission of monetary policy given that yields on these securities provide a benchmark for other interest rates across the economy. The Bank has a large amount of AGS and ‘semi-government’ bonds issued by state and territory borrowing authorities (semis) on its balance sheet as a result of purchases to support the economy through the COVID-19 pandemic. To support the efficient functioning of these markets, the Bank operates a securities lending facility (SLF) from which eligible counterparties can borrow AGS and semis; the Bank also operates an SLF on behalf of the Australia Office of Financial Management (AOFM). The use of these SLFs picked up noticeably following the end of the Bank’s yield target and bond purchase program. This article discusses these facilities in detail, including why market participants might use them and the recent increase in borrowing.
This Explainer discusses the main features of digital currencies, including cryptocurrencies and Central Bank Digital Currencies, and considers some of the public policy implications that arise from their use.
The graphs in the Bulletin were generated using Mathematica.
ISSN 1837-7211 (Online)
December | 2022 | Bulletin | RBA – Reserve Bank of Australia