Western Australia




From: Wednesday June 21, 2023, 5:15 pm

To: Wednesday June 21, 2023, 7:00 pm

With inflation at its highest levels in 30 years, and interest rates rising sharply in response, monetary policy is one of the hottest topics in economics. Is the current outburst of inflation different to past periods of rapidly rising prices; and if so, what policies do we need to address it?  What are the social consequences of rising living costs and interest rates, especially in a housing and rental market many experts say is in “crisis”? How well (or badly) has the Reserve Bank of Australia handled monetary policy, and will the recommendations of the recent independent review of the Bank improve its transparency and decision making?

In this forum, the speakers will address some of these questions before a general panel discussion on inflation and the reserve bank.

The forum will be held in person and via Zoom. However, the event venue has reached it's capacity. Attendance via Zoom can still be booked.

Facilitator: Cassandra Winzar (Chief Economist, CEDA)

Welcome: John Roberts (President, ESAWA)


Professor Ken Clements

Ken is Emeritus Professor at UWA, where he has been since 1981, teaching and researching international finance, monetary economics and applied micro. He founded the PhD Conference in Economics and Business that has now involved almost 1,000 students.

Title: Inflation over the Long Term

Synopsis: I discuss three longer-term aspects of inflation. (1) Why worry about inflation? This covers the cost of distortions to the financial system and the noisy price signals caused by inflation. (2) Can the current burst of inflation be understood in terms of the expansion of central-bank balance sheets around the world? After being long forgotten, is it time to relearn the lessons of the quantity theory of money? (3) Inflation, interest and iPhones. The technological change of digital finance has important implications for inflation and monetary policy. With lower transaction costs, individuals can now do more to avoid the worst of inflation, but this comes with a higher deadweight cost.

Professor Rachel Viforj

Rachel Ong Viforj is an ARC Future Fellow and John Curtin Distinguished Professor at Curtin University. Her research interests include housing affordability, intergenerational housing concerns, housing inequality, and the links between housing and non-shelter outcomes. Rachel is a member of the Interim National Housing Supply and Affordability Council. She is currently Managing Editor of Australian Economic Papers.

Title: Government Policy and Housing Affordability: Interest Rates and Beyond

Synopsis: After enjoying more than two decades of declining interest rates, Australians have in the past year faced a series of rapid interest rate rises as the Reserve Bank seeks to combat high levels of inflation. The impacts of recent interest rate hikes on cost-of-living pressures are profound, affecting property prices, mortgage loan servicing costs, and rental affordability stress for low-income households. This presentation will chart the impact of interest rate changes on the housing market over the past few decades, review recent Federal government policies to ameliorate housing affordability pressures, and discuss whether these housing policies erode the success of contractionary monetary policy as a means of fighting inflation.

Nicky Cusworth

Nicky has extensive experience as an economist working in economic analysis, regulation, and policy development spanning the private, not-for-profit and government sectors. From 2016 to 2021 she was Chair of the Economic Regulation Authority in Western Australia and had previously held senior positions in the Departments of State Development and Treasury and Finance. She is currently Secretary of the WA Branch of the Economic Society of Australia.

Title: Reform of the RBA

Synopsis: The recent review of the Reserve Bank of Australia - An RBA fit for the future – recommends several measures intended to improve the Bank’s accountability and decision making, including creating a dedicated Monetary Policy Board, more transparency in reporting decisions, and strengthening the capacity of staff to research policy issues and influence policy making.

This presentation will address the challenges faced by independent economic decision makers in formulating and explaining complex and sometimes controversial policies, and discuss whether the proposed reforms will help the RBA to make better decisions and communicate them more effectively.

Panel Discussion: Ken Clements, Rachel Viforj, Nicky Cusworth

Concluding Comments: Cassandra Winzar


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