Professor Bruce Preston, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia Fellow 2020

Congratulations to Professor Bruce Preston, who has been elected a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.

Professor Preston is among 38 leading lawyers, psychologists, philosophers and other social scientists elected to the academy in 2020.

The Academy champions excellence in the social sciences and provides evidence-based advice on a range of social policy issues.

Prof Preston was awarded his PhD from Princeton University in 2003, and joined the University’s Department of Economics in 2015.

His research focuses on macroeconomics, particularly monetary policy. He is currently working on a series of papers that look at whether people’s expectations around future inflation rates are aligned with the policy goals of central banks.

Since the Global Financial Crisis, inflation has fallen short of targets set by central banks. This is a concern because it may lead to falling long-term inflation expectations, which may in turn cause deflation. Prof Preston’s work seeks to model this possibility and understand the implications for policy.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has a been a focus of policy discussion this year, with business and government closely watching how the bank addresses the COVID-19 recession.

“Broadly, I think the RBA has performed well this year. They were quick to realise the economic challenges that confronted Australia as a result of the pandemic. They introduced a range of policy measures to provide credit to businesses and households at highly favourable terms, and to maintain liquidity in key asset markets. They have shown a willingness to change their thinking and institutional practice, most notably by introducing new policy tools and improving their communication about evolving policy developments,” Prof Preston said.

“I think their awareness and action placed pressure on the Government to pursue sensible fiscal policy. And while there is an active debate about whether the RBA can in fact do more to support the recovery, I think it is important to acknowledge there are limits to what monetary policy can do.”

Professor Jeff Borland paid tribute to Prof Preston’s contribution to the discipline.

“Bruce's record of academic publication and professional contribution to the field of macroeconomics, combined with his ability to engage with macro policy makers, is unmatched in Australia at present.  It's excellent that this has been recognised by his very well-deserved election to the Academy,” Prof Borland said.