Conference – 1991 Introduction Ian Macfarlane

Each year the Reserve Bank holds a conference on an issue of current economic interest. In 1989 the conference was on money and credit; in 1990 it was on macro-economic developments in the 1980s; and this year it was on the deregulation of financial intermediaries.

In organising a conference such as this, it is necessary to plan well in advance. The first papers for this conference were commissioned as long ago as May 1990. In October 1990, the Treasurer announced a Parliamentary Inquiry into the Banking Industry (the Martin Inquiry). Inevitably, there is some overlap between some of the conference papers and some of the deliberations of the Martin Inquiry, even though the purposes of the two are very different.

This conference brought together a group of bankers, government officials, and academics from Australia and abroad to discuss a limited range of issues within the general subject matter of deregulation. No attempt was made to be all embracing and to canvass the views of, for example, consumer groups, farmers and small business. The collection, however, does contain three papers on the experience of other countries with deregulation – two on the United States and one on European countries.

This volume also records some of the main themes of the discussion that occurred during the conference. There are five summaries of discussions in the volume placed after the papers to which they refer.