June 2022

Payments
Photo: Reserve Bank of Australia

What Can You Do With Your Damaged Banknotes?

Amanda Burton and Henry Winata

Through the Reserve Bank's damaged banknote claims service, members of the public can ask for their damaged banknotes to be assessed and the value redeemed. Removing poor-quality banknotes also supports the Bank's aim of ensuring that the public has confidence in Australian banknotes as a means of payment and a secure store of wealth. This article provides an overview of the service, its key users and the circumstances in which claims are lodged. While the value of the majority of claims is relatively low, claims containing banknotes damaged in storage can be significant, reflecting the role of cash as a secure store of wealth.

banknotes, currency, money
Payments
Photo: Reserve Bank of Australia

Recent Trends in Banknote Counterfeiting

Leigh Mann and Siddarth Roche

Counterfeiting of Australian banknotes is approaching its lowest level in a decade. Several factors are playing a role in this decline, including fewer transactions being made with cash, COVID-19-induced lockdowns, the rollout of a new banknote series with upgraded security features, and law enforcement continuing to interrupt counterfeiting operations. This article quantifies the effect of some of these factors, while exploring the broader trends in banknote counterfeiting.

banknotes, counterfeit, currency, money
Australian Economy
Photo: skynesher – Getty Images

Job Mobility in Australia during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Susan Black and Emma Chow

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to large disruptions to the Australian labour market. Initially, workers were less likely to change jobs because of the uncertain economic environment, the decrease in advertised jobs and the JobKeeper program that helped workers remain attached to their employers. More recently, job mobility has increased as workers have caught up on planned job changes or been encouraged by the strong labour market to change jobs, particularly in high-skilled roles experiencing strong labour demand. This article reviews developments in job mobility in Australia through the pandemic, and compares these outcomes to other advanced economies. It also examines the potential implications for wages; a high rate of job mobility tends to be associated with higher wages growth in a tight labour market, as employers in sectors with high demand for labour compete for new staff or raise wages to retain staff.

employment, labour market, pandemic, wages
Australian Economy Guest article
Photo: Jorge de Araujo

First Nations Businesses: Progress, Challenges and Opportunities

Michelle Evans and Cain Polidano

Australia's First Nations business sector is growing at a pace of around 4 per cent per year, fuelled by growing demand. However, many budding First Nations entrepreneurs still face substantial barriers to establishing a successful business. This article discusses the need to develop trust for effective policy environments that support First Nations businesses, and describes how ongoing challenges of access to financial, social and symbolic capital continue to test First Nations business owners. Despite this, there are opportunities for First Nations businesses in the forms of Indigenous preferential procurement policies, and First Nations-specific business development programs as well as financial products and services. It is not yet clear how effective the policy environment is in addressing access and discrimination challenges, nor how widespread the benefits are to First Nations businesses. As such, the article concludes by discussing the role of data development for accountability.

business, data, First Nations, start-ups
Financial Stability
Photo: Viaframe – Getty Images

Household Liquidity Buffers and Financial Stress

Lydia Wang

The ratio of household liquid assets to household income in Australia has increased substantially over recent decades, at both the aggregate and individual household levels. The increase in buffers has been most pronounced for households with mortgage debt and among indebted households – with those with the most debt typically holding the highest liquidity buffers. This is important from a financial stability perspective as liquidity buffers allow households to smooth their spending and maintain their debt payment obligations in the event of adverse shocks to their cash flows; as such, they are a key factor in reducing household financial stress. This article considers these trends and finds that, to the extent that rising liquidity buffers have increased household financial resilience, the risks associated with high and rising household indebtedness are unlikely to be as great as suggested by focusing on gross debt-to-income ratios alone.

debt, financial stability, households, mortgages
Global Economy
Photo: Yuichiro Chino – Getty Images

An International Perspective on Monetary Policy Implementation Systems

Nick Baker and Sally Rafter

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and building on policies introduced during the global financial crisis, central banks in advanced economies deployed balance sheet policies to support their economies and address disruptions to the smooth functioning of financial markets. The introduction of these policies has changed how most of these central banks implement their primary policy tool – the policy rate. This article describes how many central banks transitioned from a corridor system of monetary policy implementation to a de facto floor system. It also details the range of implications of choosing a floor system. While this transition may prove to be temporary for some central banks, others have signalled that they expect to retain a floor system in the long term.

interest rates, international, market operations, monetary policy, pandemic
Payments
Photo: Watchara Piriyaputtanapun – Getty Images

Bank Fees in Australia

Karl Sparks and Rachael Fitzpatrick

This article updates previous Reserve Bank research on bank fees charged to Australian households, businesses and government. Since 2021, improved data on the fees charged by banks have been available from the new Economic and Financial Statistics collection, which replaced the survey on banks' fee income undertaken annually since 1997 by the Reserve Bank. The new data suggest that the overall fees charged by banks declined in 2021. This decline was broadly based across different categories, although total fees charged on loans (excluding personal lending) increased moderately, in part reflecting the higher volume of lending activity.

banking, fees, rba survey
Finance
Photo: Visual Communications – Getty Images

Fallbacks for BBSW Securities

Duke Cole and Lara Pendle

The bank bill swap rate (BBSW) is an important short-term benchmark interest rate for Australian financial markets across various maturities. It is a robust benchmark based on a liquid market. However, it is possible that, at some point in the future, BBSW might no longer be robust. Market participants need to be prepared for the possibility that BBSW, or at least some BBSW tenors, cease to be published. To do so, participants should include a ‘robust, reasonable and fair’ fallback to another interest rate in their financial contracts. To promote appropriate use of fallbacks, the Reserve Bank will only accept securities referencing BBSW issued after 1 December 2022 as collateral in its domestic market operations if those securities include such a fallback. The article explains this change and how participants can prepare for the contingency of BBSW ceasing to exist.

financial markets, interest rates, market operations, securitisation

The graphs in the Bulletin were generated using Mathematica.

ISSN 1837-7211 (Online)