This is an edited extract from Michele Bullock’s speech to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (WA) in Perth on 20 March 2019.

The wellbeing of households and businesses in Australia depends on growth in the Australian economy. And a crucial facilitator of sustained growth is credit – flows of funds from people who are saving to people who are investing. Credit provides households and businesses with the ability to borrow on the back of future expected income to finance large outlays, for example, the purchase of a home or equipment to establish or grow a business. A strong and stable financial system is important for this flow of funds.

There is no universal definition of financial stability but one way to think about it is to consider what is meant by financial instability. My colleague Luci Ellis suggested that this is best thought of as a disruption in the financial sector so severe that it materially harms the real economy. This leaves unsaid where the disruption might come from, but we would all recognise the outcomes of financial stability when we see it. For example, while Australia was spared the worst impact of the global financial crisis, internationally it demonstrated the impact that financial instability can have on growth and hence the wellbeing of households and businesses in the economy.

Most of you will know about the Reserve Bank’s role in conducting monetary policy. But another key role of the Reserve Bank that you might be less familiar with is promoting financial stability. In this area, we share responsibility with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). But it is APRA that has responsibility for the stability of individual financial institutions and the tools that go along with that. So how does the Bank contribute to financial stability?