Progress_report_on_the_new_history_of_th - Australian...

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83 PROGRESS REPORT ON THE NEW HISTORY OF THE RESERVE BANK OF NEW ZEALAND B J  S , A  G , G  H   S  F  H  Victoria University of Wellington Work began in 2001 on a new official history of the RBNZ, focusing on the period since publication of Gary Hawke’s study of the Bank in 1973. This paper discusses the arrangements under which the current project is managed, explains the significance of the RBNZ for central banking, and indicates the challenges facing the histori- ans. A brief outline is given of the planned contents of each chapter. It is hoped that the book arising from this project will be of value to those interested in central banking and monetary policy as well as in the recent history of New Zealand. Over the years, a number of leading central banks, including the Bank of England, the Reserve Bank of Australia, and the Deutsche Bundesbank, have commis- sioned institutional histories. The present research project on the history of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ or the ‘Bank’) falls within this tradition. In 1973 the RBNZ published an official history, Between governments and banks , written by Gary Hawke. Much has happened in central banking in New Zealand since then, and in 2001 the RBNZ commissioned a new history, focusing on devel- opments over the last three decades. At first, there was uncertainty about a suit- able termination point for the project, but this conundrum was solved by the resignation in April 2002 of Dr Don Brash, the Governor since 1988, in order to take up a political career. The purpose of this brief article is to discuss the planning of the RBNZ history project and outline the scope of the research program. Under the governorship of Don Brash, the RBNZ consciously devoted greater attention than previously to explaining itself to the public and to the financial markets. The long run success of the central bank was perceived to depend on the maintenance of a public consensus in favour of low inflation – the equiva- lent of the ‘stability culture’ (Stabilitätskultur) stressed by Helmut Schlesinger, when he was President of the Deutsche Bundesbank. 1 Similarly, the creation of © Blackwell Publishers Ltd and the Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand 2003 Australian Economic History Review, Vol. 43, No. 1 March 2003 ISSN 0004-8992 1 Neumann, Monetary stability , p. 303.
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84 a reputation for transparency was deemed essential for smooth relations with the financial markets and thus for the effective conduct of monetary policy. The Bank’s decision to commission a history that incorporates the recent past is con- sistent with its communications strategy.
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