A significant advance in the Australian payments system occurred in February 2018 with the public launch of the New Payments Platform (NPP). The NPP enables customers of financial institutions to make immediate payments 24 hours a day, every day of the week (‘24/7’). In conjunction with the development of the NPP, the Reserve Bank developed new infrastructure, the Fast Settlement Service (FSS), which provides for settlement of NPP transactions between financial institutions on a 24/7 basis across their Exchange Settlement Accounts (ESAs) at the Reserve Bank. These new systems have brought fast payment services to Australians in line with similar initiatives that have been undertaken or are underway internationally. The initial adoption of the NPP has been gradual, reflecting the staged introduction of services by financial institutions, as well as the time taken for customers to assess and adjust to the new services being offered.
The Reserve Bank has conducted additional outreach this year to hear a broad range of perspectives on small business finance. Many small businesses looking to grow still find it challenging to access finance, particularly without providing real estate as security. Lenders highlight that they are keen to lend to small businesses, but that unsecured finance involves more risk. This article considers these issues and outlines some initiatives market participants have suggested that could help to improve access to finance for small businesses.
Economics graduates work in a broad range of occupations and industries, often beyond the discipline of economics itself. The earnings of economics graduates are higher than in most other fields of study, including business studies. By estimating wage premiums for various skills, we assert that the comparatively strong earnings of economics graduates comes from the development of analytical thinking and quantitative skills which are highly rewarded in the labour market.
Australia has a detailed system of ‘awards’ that specify different minimum wages depending on the industry, location and skill of an employee. I find that legislated adjustments to award wages in Australia between 1998 and 2008 were almost fully passed on to wages in award-reliant jobs. There is no evidence that modest, incremental increases in award wages had an adverse effect on hours worked or the job destruction rate.
Money forms part of our everyday lives and is integral to the smooth functioning of the financial system and the real economy; however, discussions of what money is and how it is created are generally left to economics textbooks. This article provides an introduction to the concept of money and describes how it is created and measured. We also discuss what these measures can tell us about economic activity.
Firms in Australia have used advances in information and communication technology (IT) to become more productive, reduce costs, and improve their understanding of customers. The rate at which new technology has been adopted by firms differs greatly, as do the benefits from using IT. The way firms are using IT can help to explain trends in the broader economy. Firms' expenditure on computer software has grown faster than other forms of investment. The adoption of new technology is also changing the composition of jobs in the economy.
When economic conditions improve, more people enter the labour force. Understanding the nature of this cyclical relationship between participation and economic activity is important for determining the amount of slack in the labour market and predicting how the economy will respond to changes in economic conditions. The participation rates of young people, 25–54-year-old females and older males are the most responsive to changes in economic conditions. If the participation rate did not adjust, expansions would be more inflationary, while recessions would be more disinflationary and lead to larger increases in involuntary unemployment.
Discretionary goods retailers are facing a challenging environment of increased competition, slow growth in consumer spending and changing consumer preferences. Despite this, these retailers generally appear to be in good financial health and there are many new shopping centres and refurbishments in the pipeline. Banks are active in funding these developments, and are increasing their exposure to retail commercial property, although they are reducing their exposure to retail businesses. If these new developments fail to attract sufficient customer spending, retailers may find themselves unable to pay rent to landlords who have taken on additional debt, and this could lead to losses at banks.
Interest rate benchmarks are widely relied upon in global financial markets. They are referenced in contracts for derivatives, loans and securities. They are also used by market participants to value financial instruments, and by investment funds as benchmarks for assessing their performance. The key interest rate benchmarks for the Australian dollar are the bank bill swap rates (BBSW) and the cash rate. This article provides an overview of these benchmarks, and the reforms that have been undertaken over recent years to make them more robust.
China's push to make its own currency – the renminbi (RMB) – available for use by non-residents was a catalyst for important reforms. Since the RMB internationalisation policy began in 2009, not only is the RMB now in greater use internationally, capital flows more freely across China's borders, the exchange rate is more flexible and domestic interest rates are more market determined. In time, the RMB could emerge as a widely used regional currency in Asia.
The graphs in the Bulletin were generated using Mathematica.
ISSN 1837-7211 (Online)