September 2017

The Transmission of Monetary Policy: How Does It Work?

Australian Economy
Tim Atkin and Gianni La Cava

The transmission of monetary policy refers to how changes to the cash rate affect economic activity and inflation. This article outlines the stages of transmission and the channels through which it occurs. The effects of monetary policy are hard to quantify, though the housing market seems particularly important to the transmission process in Australia. A lower cash rate stimulates household spending and housing investment, partly through increasing the wealth and cash flow of households. A lower cash rate also tends to result in a depreciation of the exchange rate, leading to higher net exports and imported inflation.

education, inflation, interest rates, monetary policy

The Neutral Interest Rate

Rachael McCririck and Daniel Rees

Central banks monitor the neutral interest rate for a number of reasons, a key one being that it provides a benchmark for assessing the stance of monetary policy. This article describes the determinants of the neutral interest rate and discusses its trends in Australia over recent decades. We estimate that Australia's neutral interest rate has declined by 150 basis points since 2007 and is currently around 1 per cent. However, because we cannot observe the neutral rate directly, there is considerable uncertainty around these estimates. The fall over the past decade is largely attributable to a decline in the economy's potential growth rate and an increase in risk aversion of households and firms.

inflation, interest rates, modelling, monetary policy

The Rising Share of Part-time Employment

Australian Economy
Natasha Cassidy and Stephanie Parsons

One of the most significant changes to the Australian labour market in recent decades has been the rise in the share of part-time employment to account for nearly one-third of total employment. This article details the various supply and demand factors that have underpinned the increase in part-time employment, as well as some of the characteristics of part-time workers. Because there are some part-time workers who want to work additional hours, it is useful to consider underemployment as well as unemployment in measuring labour market spare capacity.

labour market, wages

The Resources Economy and the Terms of Trade Boom

Australian Economy
Sean Langcake and Emily Poole

The transition from the investment to the production phase of the resources boom is nearly complete. The adjustment has affected industries beyond the resources sector, which has amplified the impact of the resource investment boom on the Australian economy. The value added and employment shares of this broader ‘resources economy’ have retreated from their 2011/12 peaks, but remain above their pre-boom averages.

investment, mining, resources sector, terms of trade

Structural Liquidity and Domestic Market Operations

Benn Robertson

The Reserve Bank is a net supplier of liquidity to the Australian financial system. This reflects demand for the Reserve Bank's liabilities from its customers, as well as the asset allocation decisions of the Reserve Bank. The key drivers of variations in the amount of liquidity supplied by the Reserve Bank have been fluctuations in government deposits and the demand for banknotes. The Reserve Bank meets the demand for liquidity through its domestic market operations.

bonds, financial markets, liquidity

Shadow Bank Lending to the Residential Property Market

Financial Stability
Michael Gishkariany, David Norman and Tom Rosewall

Shadow bank lending can play an important role in the economy, but on a large enough scale it could damage financial system resilience. Domestic banks have tightened standards for lending to the residential property market over recent years, creating an opportunity for other lenders to expand. However, shadow banks appear to account for only a small share of total property loans in Australia. Their share of lending for property development has increased more than for housing lending.

banking, financial stability, lending standards

Covered Bonds in Australia

Australian Economy
Benjamin Watson

Since their introduction in Australia in 2011, the stock of covered bonds has grown to around $80 billion, or around 15 per cent of Australian financial institutions' long-term debt. Covered bonds are a form of secured funding backed by both the issuer and a specific pool of assets. In practice, covered bonds are typically issued by banks and secured against pools of residential mortgages. Since they are secured against assets, covered bonds provide increased protection for lenders. As a result, they can be issued at lower yields and longer tenors than unsecured bonds and can be easier to issue during periods of market stress. However, covered bonds can reduce the protection of other unsecured creditors who then may require extra return.

bonds, financial markets, funding

The Growing Demand for Cash

Gordon Flannigan and Andrew Staib

While survey data indicate that the share of Australian consumers' payments made with cash continues to fall, the number (and value) of banknotes in circulation continues to grow at around its trend pace of 6 per cent per year. This article discusses the reasons for these diverging trends, including: population, inflation and real income growth; a slower decline in total (rather than relative) cash payments; high cash users not captured by survey data; and the increasing stock of banknotes held for non-transactional purposes.

banknotes, currency, money, payments

Trends in Global Foreign Currency Reserves

Global Economy
David Sunner

Over the decade to 2014, global foreign currency reserves doubled relative to GDP, though balances have declined a little since then. Accompanying this growth has been a shift in the composition of reserves towards higher-yielding assets, including equities and non-traditional reserve currencies, such as the Australian dollar. This article examines the overall growth trend as well as the potential causes of the compositional shift in reserves, including a decline in yields offered by traditional reserve assets and higher reserve balances.

currency, exchange rate, global economy, international

The graphs in the Bulletin were generated using Mathematica.

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