September 2014

The RBA's Business Liaison Program

Australian Economy

The Reserve Bank meets regularly with businesses and associations in every state and across industries of the Australian economy. The information collected under the liaison program complements that available from official sources and helps the Bank to monitor cyclical and structural developments, as well as the effect of unusual events on the Australian economy. The broad messages gathered through liaison are incorporated into the Bank's policy discussions and public communications.

business, rba survey

Unemployment and Spare Capacity in the Labour Market

Australian Economy
Alexander Ballantyne, Daniel De Voss and David Jacobs

The unemployment rate provides an important gauge of spare capacity in the labour market and the economy more generally. However, other factors also affect unemployment, which complicates its interpretation when informing monetary policy. Statistical methods can be used to estimate the extent to which the unemployment rate reflects spare capacity versus more enduring structural factors. This involves estimating the NAIRU. Information can also be gleaned from the composition of unemployment, as jobseekers with certain characteristics may be more indicative of spare capacity than others. These approaches suggest that spare capacity in the labour market has increased over the past few years but remains well below that which prevailed over much of the 1990s.

inflation, labour market, wages

Foreign Investment in Australian Commercial Property

Kevin Lane, Adam Sinclair and David Orsmond

Foreign investors' demand for commercial buildings in Australia has been strong in the past few years, as captured by their rising share of transaction values. Foreigners have generally purchased established properties, although there has also been some interest in developing new commercial buildings or converting existing buildings to apartments. These purchases have probably boosted net financing to the sector and also construction activity.

commercial property, finance, international, investment

The Determinants of Non-tradables Inflation

Australian Economy
David Jacobs and Thomas Williams

This article examines the factors that explain inflation in prices of non-tradable items in the CPI. Non-tradable goods and services by definition have relatively little exposure to international competition. Consequently, their prices are more likely to be influenced by developments in the domestic economy, particularly the extent of spare capacity in both production and the labour market. A more granular breakdown of prices highlights the importance of conditions in individual markets, such as housing, as well as non-market influences on prices.

income and wealth, inflation

Measures of Inflation in India

Global Economy
Graham White

India has experienced persistently high inflation in recent years, despite a period of below-trend economic growth. As a result, controlling inflation has become a key objective for policymakers. The two main indicators of inflation in India are the wholesale price index (WPI) and the consumer price index (CPI). Although the WPI has traditionally been the most widely used measure for assessing inflationary pressures, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently conducted a review of its monetary policy framework, which recommended adopting a flexible inflation-targeting regime, based on headline CPI inflation. This article outlines the two main price measures available for the Indian economy and discusses their role in India's monetary policy.

emerging markets, inflation, monetary policy

Trading in Treasury Bond Futures Contracts and Bonds in Australia

Belinda Cheung

Treasury bond futures are a key financial product in Australia, with turnover in Treasury bond futures contracts significantly larger than turnover in the market for Commonwealth Government securities (CGS). Treasury bond futures contracts provide a wide variety of market participants with the ability to hedge against, or gain exposure to, interest rate risk. This article discusses some of the features of the Treasury bond futures contract, and how the contract is used to facilitate hedging activities and management of bond inventories by bond dealers.

bonds, financial markets, liquidity

The Effective Supply of Collateral in Australia

Belinda Cheung, Mark Manning and Angus Moore

High-quality assets play an important role as collateral for a wide range of transactions and activities in wholesale financial markets. Regulatory changes since the global financial crisis are increasing the demand for high-quality assets, thereby raising concerns about possible collateral shortages. This article attempts to quantify the ‘effective’ supply of collateral assets in Australia by using a measure of supply that adjusts outstanding issuance for two important features of the collateral market. One feature is that a large proportion of Australian high-quality assets is held by long-term investors that do not make these assets available for sale, loan or use in repurchase agreements. A second feature is the ability to re-use collateral assets, thereby allowing a single piece of collateral to meet multiple demands. Using a new survey that adjusts for these features, the current effective supply of Australian government debt for collateral purposes is estimated to be around $128 billion, comprising around $80 billion of active supply that is re-used on average 1.6 times. This amount would appear to be sufficient to support current demand for collateral.

asset quality, credit, financial markets, risk and uncertainty

A Century of Stock-Bond Correlations

Global Economy
Ewan Rankin and Muhummed Shah Idil

The correlation between movements in equity prices and bond yields is an important input for portfolio asset allocation decisions. Throughout much of the 20th century, the correlation between equity prices and government bond yields in the United States and other countries, including Australia, fluctuated but tended to be negative. However, stock-bond yield correlations have been largely positive since the late 1990s, rose strongly during the global financial crisis and have since remained at a high level for a prolonged period. The more recent period of positive correlation in part reflects the pronounced and persistent effect of the financial crisis on the economic outlook, though it may also owe in part to an increase in the importance of uncertainty about real economic activity in driving both government bond yields and stock prices. Changes in US monetary policy look to have exerted an opposing force on the correlation at times, driving it lower.

bonds, financial markets, liquidity

The graphs in the Bulletin were generated using Mathematica.

ISSN 0725–0320 (Print)
ISSN 1837-7211 (Online)