Banks and other providers of credit to households have been competing vigorously to expand or protect their market share. In the process, lending standards have been progressively eroded so that lenders are now engaging in practices that would have been regarded as out of the question five or ten years ago.
When everyone feels that risks are at their minimum, over-confidence can take over and elementary precautions start to get watered down.
If people can’t abide by the confidentiality of the cabinet room, then they should leave the cabinet.
Most of us at the Reserve Bank come from a background in economics and hence have a predisposition in favour of free markets and a sceptical attitude towards intervention in those markets unless there is a clearly defined economic rationale for it.
For equity markets, the combination of low interest rates, strong economic growth and low inflation has proved very beneficial, with global share markets rising solidly in each of the past three years. This has been underpinned by strong growth in profits so that, notwithstanding the rise in share prices, P/E ratios have been declining on average.
For years I have made the point that progress in winding back economic slack is made not by high growth in any individual year, but by maintaining an expansion over a sustained period.
A government cannot be expected to allow independence to its central bank unless that bank is also accountable to it and to the wider public. That is, the central bank must be able to be judged on whether or not it has achieved its agreed objective.