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Reserve Bank under the microscope

12 June 2006

Reserve Bank under the microscope

The recent history of New Zealand’s Reserve Bank has been put under the microscope by Victoria University researchers in a new book which will be launched in Wellington tonight (12 June 2006).

Authors Dr John Singleton, Dr Arthur Grimes, Professor Gary Hawke and Emeritus Professor Sir Frank Holmes discuss the formulation and implementation of monetary policy between the 1970s and the 1990s in Innovation & Independence: A history of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. The book also deals with the evolution of policies to promote the stability of the banking system.

Dr Singleton, a Reader in Economic History in the School of Economics & Finance, says the Reserve Bank is one of New Zealand’s most influential and successful economic institutions.

“The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is regarded overseas as one of the world’s most innovative central banks. This book complements Malcolm McKinnon’s recent history of The Treasury, and follows on from Gary Hawke’s Between Governments and Banks, published in 1973, which dealt with the early decades of the Bank’s history. We bring the story of the Reserve Bank up to date, emphasising the period from the mid-1970s until 2002.”

Dr Singleton says during the late 1980s and 1990s the Bank was a pioneer in several areas of central banking.

“The 1989 Reserve Bank Act introduced a novel form of central bank autonomy based on a contractual relationship between the Governor of the central bank and the government. New Zealand was the first country to adopt inflation targeting, a monetary policy framework that has since been copied by dozens of countries around the world.

“The Bank also developed a distinctive approach to financial stability policy. Instead of subjecting banks to close administrative supervision, the thrust of policy in New Zealand has been to require banks to disclose full and relevant information to the public and to hold directors responsible for the accuracy of this information.

“Finally, the Bank has done more than many other central banks to improve internal efficiency. Foreign central banks often looked to New Zealand, especially in the 1990s, for examples of best practice.”

Professor Hawke is Head of the School of Government at Victoria University and a Distinguished Fellow of the NZ Association of Economists. He was a Chair of the NZ Planning Council. Sir Frank is an Emeritus Professor and Distinguished Fellow of both the NZ Association of Economists and the Institute of Directors. He was Chairman of the Monetary and Economic Council and the first Chair of the NZ Planning Council. Dr Grimes is a Senior Research Associate at Motu and Adjunct Professor of Economics at the University of Waikato. He is currently Chair of the Board of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

The launch will be held this evening at the National Library foyer in Wellington, at 5.30pm.


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