Guy Debelle: Interest rate benchmarks

Address by Mr Guy Debelle, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, at the FINSIA Signature Event "The Regulators", Sydney, 8 September 2017.

Today I am going to talk again about interest rate benchmarks, as recently there have been some important developments internationally and in Australia. These benchmarks are at the heart of the plumbing of the financial system. They are widely referenced in financial contracts. Corporate borrowing rates are often priced as a spread to an interest rate benchmark. Many derivative contracts are based on them, as are most asset-backed securities. In light of the issues around the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and other benchmarks that have arisen over the past decade, there has been an ongoing global reform effort to improve the functioning of interest rate benchmarks.

I will focus on the recent announcement by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on the future of LIBOR, and the implications of this for Australian financial markets. I will then summarise the current state of play in Australia, particularly for the major interest rate benchmark, the bank bill swap rate (BBSW). Our aim is to ensure that BBSW remains a robust benchmark for the long term. I will also discuss the important role for 'risk-free' interest rates as an alternative to credit-based benchmarks such as BBSW and LIBOR.