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IMF Global Financial Stability Report: Moving from Liquidity- to Growth-Driven Markets

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Global Financial Stability Report: Moving from Liquidity- to Growth-Driven Markets
Source: International Monetary Fund

The April 2014 Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR) assesses the challenging transitions that the global financial system is currently undergoing on the path to greater stability. Chapter 1 finds that these transitions are far from complete, and stability conditions are far from normal. For advanced and emerging market economies alike, a successful shift from liquidity-driven to growth-driven markets requires a number of elements. The report discusses these elements, including: a normalization of U.S. monetary policy that avoids financial stability risks; financial rebalancing in emerging market economies amid tighter external financial conditions and higher corporate debt levels; further progress in the euro area’s transition from fragmentation to robust integration; and the successful implementation of Abenomics in Japan to deliver sustained growth and stable inflation. Chapter 2 examines the role of the composition of the investor base and local financial systems for the stability of emerging market portfolio flows and asset prices. Chapter 3 looks at the issue of too-important-to-fail and provides new estimates of the implicit funding subsidy received by systemically important banks.

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Monetary Policy in the New Normal

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Monetary Policy in the New Normal
Source: International Monetary Fund

The proposed SDN would take stock of the current debate on the shape that monetary policy should take after the crisis. It revisits the pros and cons of expanding the objectives of monetary policy, the merits of turning unconventional policies into conventional ones, how to make monetary policy frameworks more resilient to the risk of being constrained by the zero-lower bound going forward, and the institutional challenges to preserve central bank independence with regards to monetary policy, while allowing adequate government oversight over central banks’ new responsibilities. It will draw policy conclusions where consensus has been reached, and highlight the areas where more work is needed to get more granular policy advice.

Recovery Strengthening, but Requires Stronger Policy Effort

April 9, 2014 Comments off

Recovery Strengthening, but Requires Stronger Policy Effort
Source: International Monetary Fund

The global recovery is becoming broader, but the changing external environment poses new challenges to emerging market and developing economies, says the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook (WEO).

The IMF forecasts global growth to average 3.6 percent in 2014―up from 3 percent in 2013―and to rise to 3.9 percent in 2015.

The strengthening of the recovery from the Great Recession in the advanced economies is a welcome development, according to IMF staff. But the latest WEO also emphasizes that growth remains subpar and uneven across the globe.

Asia’s Stock Markets: Are There Crouching Tigers and Hidden Dragons?

March 25, 2014 Comments off

Asia’s Stock Markets: Are There Crouching Tigers and Hidden Dragons?
Source: International Monetary Fund

Stock markets play a key role in corporate financing in Asia. However, despite their increasing importance in terms of size and cross-border investment activity, the region’s markets are reputed to be more “idiosyncratic” and less reliant on economic and corporate fundamentals in their pricing. Using a model that draws on international asset pricing and economic theory, as well as accounting literature, we find evidence of greater idiosyncratic influences in the pricing of Asia’s stock markets, compared to their G-7 counterparts, beyond the identified systematic factors and local fundamentals. We also show proof of a significant relationship between the strength of implementation of securities regulations and the “noise” in stock pricing, which suggests that improvements in the regulation of securities markets in Asia could enhance the role of stock markets as stable and reliable sources of financing into the future.

Assessing Countries’ Financial Inclusion Standing – A New Composite Index

March 20, 2014 Comments off

Assessing Countries’ Financial Inclusion Standing – A New Composite Index
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper leverages the IMF’s Financial Access Survey (FAS) database to construct a new composite index of financial inclusion. The topic of financial inclusion has gathered significant attention in recent years. Various initiatives have been undertaken by central banks both in advanced and developing countries to promote financial inclusion. The issue has also attracted increasing interest from the international community with the G-20, IMF, and World Bank Group assuming an active role in developing and collecting financial inclusion data and promoting best practices to improve financial inclusion. There is general recognition among policy makers that financial inclusion plays a significant role in sustaining employment, economic growth, and financial stability. Nonetheless, the issue of its robust measurement is still outstanding. The new composite index uses factor analysis to derive a weighting methodology whose absence has been the most persistent of the criticisms of previous indices. Countries are then ranked based on the new composite index, providing an additional analytical tool which could be used for surveillance and policy purposes on a regular basis.

Tracking Global Demand for Emerging Market Sovereign Debt

March 19, 2014 Comments off

Tracking Global Demand for Emerging Market Sovereign Debt
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper proposes an approach to track US$1 trillion of emerging market government debt held by foreign investors in local and hard currency, based on a similar approach that was used for advanced economies (Arslanalp and Tsuda, 2012). The estimates are constructed on a quarterly basis from 2004 to mid-2013 and are available along with the paper in an online dataset. We estimate that about half a trillion dollars of foreign flows went into emerging market government debt during 2010–12, mostly coming from foreign asset managers. Foreign central bank holdings have risen as well, but remain concentrated in a few countries: Brazil, China, Indonesia, Poland, Malaysia, Mexico, and South Africa. We also find that foreign investor flows to emerging markets were less differentiated during 2010–12 against the background of near-zero interest rates in advanced economies. The paper extends some of the indicators proposed in our earlier paper to show how the investor base data can be used to assess countries’ sensitivity to external funding shocks and to track foreign investors’ exposures to different markets within a global benchmark portfolio.

Fiscal Policy and Income Inequality

March 18, 2014 Comments off

Fiscal Policy and Income Inequality
Source: International Monetary Fund

Fiscal policy is the primary tool for governments to affect income distribution. Rising income inequality in advanced and developing economies has coincided with growing public support for income redistribution. This comes at a time when fiscal restraint is an important priority in many advanced and developing economies. In the context of the Fund’s mandate to promote growth and stability, this paper describes: (i) recent trends in the inequality of income, wealth, and opportunity in advanced and developing economies; (ii) country experience with different fiscal instruments for redistribution; (iii) options for the reform of expenditure and tax policies to help achieve distributive objectives in an efficient manner that is consistent with fiscal sustainability; and (iv) recent evidence on how fiscal policy measures can be designed to mitigate the impact of fiscal consolidation on inequality. This paper does not advocate any particular redistributive goal or policy instrument for fiscal redistribution.

Panama: Detailed Assessment Report—FATF Recommendations for Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism

February 20, 2014 Comments off

Panama: Detailed Assessment Report—FATF Recommendations for Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism
Source: International Monetary Fund

Panama is vulnerable to money laundering (ML) from a number of sources including drug trafficking and other predicate crimes committed abroad such as fraud, financial and tax crimes. It is a country with an open, dollarized economy and, as a regional and international financial and corporate services center, offers a wide range of offshore financial and corporate services. It is also a transit point for drug trafficking from South American countries with some of the highest levels of production and trafficking of illegal drugs in the world. These factors put the country at high risk of being used for ML. Although the authorities have not conducted a risk assessment, they attribute the largest sources of ML to drug trafficking and other predicate crimes committed abroad. No information or estimates were provided on the extent of domestic and foreign predicate crimes and the amount of related ML in Panama. No terrorism financing (TF) cases have been detected so far.

Mapping the Shadow Banking System Through a Global Flow of Funds Analysis

January 27, 2014 Comments off

Mapping the Shadow Banking System Through a Global Flow of Funds Analysis
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper presents an approach to understanding the shadow banking system in the United States using a new Global Flow of Funds (GFF) conceptual framework developed by the IMF’s Statistics Department (STA). The GFF uses external stock and flow matrices to map claims between sector-location pairs. Our findings highlight the large positions and gross flows of the U.S. banking sector (ODCs) and its interconnectedness with the banking sectors in the Euro area and the United Kingdom. European counterparties are large holders of U.S. other financial corporations (OFCs) debt securities. We explore the relationship between credit to domestic entities and the growth of non-core liabilities. We find that external debt liabilities of the financial sector are procyclical and are closely aligned with domestic credit growth.

Consumption Based Estimates of Urban Chinese Growth

January 3, 2014 Comments off

Consumption Based Estimates of Urban Chinese Growth
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper estimates the household income growth rates implied by food demand in a sample of urban Chinese households in 1993–2005. Our estimates, based on Engel curves for food consumption, indicate an average per capita income growth of 6.8 percent per year in 1993–2005. This figure is slightly larger than the 5.9 percent per year obtained by deflating nominal incomes by the CPI. We attribute this discrepancy to a small bias in the CPI, which is of a similar magnitude to the one often associated with the CPI in the United States. Our estimates indicate stronger gains among poorer households, suggesting that urban inflation up to 2005 in China was “pro-poor,” in the sense that the increase in the cost of living for poorer households was smaller than for the average one.

Africa’s Rising Exposure to China: How Large Are Spillovers Through Trade?

December 19, 2013 Comments off

Africa’s Rising Exposure to China: How Large Are Spillovers Through Trade?
Source: International Monetary Fund

The rapid growth in China’s domestic investment in recent decades has generated a large appetite for global goods, including from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This paper estimates the impact of changes in China’s investment growth on SSA’s exports. Although rising trading links with China have allowed African countries to diversify their export base across countries, away from advanced economies, they have also led SSA countries to become more susceptible to spillovers from China. Based on panel data analysis, a 1 percentage point increase (decline) in China’s domestic investment growth is associated with an average 0.6 percentage point increase (decline) in SSA countries’ export growth. This impact is larger for resource-rich countries, especially oil exporters. These effects could be mitigated, however, to the extent that countries can reorient their exports.

Aggregate Uncertainty and the Supply of Credit

December 5, 2013 Comments off

Aggregate Uncertainty and the Supply of Credit
Source: International Monetary Fund

Recent studies show that uncertainty shocks have quantitatively important effects on the real economy. This paper examines one particular channel at work: the supply of credit. It presents a model in which a bank, even if managed by risk-neutral shareholders and subject to limited liability, can exhibit self-insurance, and thus loan supply contracts when uncertainty increases. This prediction is tested with the universe of U.S. commercial banks over the period 1984-2010. Identification of credit supply is achieved by looking at the differential response of banks according to their level of capitalization. Consistent with the theoretical predictions, increases in uncertainty reduce the supply of credit, more so for banks with lower levels of capitalization. These results are weaker for large banks, and are robust to controlling for the lending and capital channels of monetary policy, to different measures of uncertainty, and to breaking the dataset in subsamples. Quantitatively, uncertainty shocks are almost as important as monetary policy ones with regards to the effects on the supply of credit.

Sector-Level Productivity, Structural Change, and Rebalancing in China

December 3, 2013 Comments off

Sector-Level Productivity, Structural Change, and Rebalancing in China
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper studies structural changes underlying China’s remarkable and unprecedented growth in recent years. While patterns of structural transformation across China’s provinces are broadly in line with international experience, one important difference is in labor productivity differentials between services and the rest of the economy. Specifically, the gap between labor productivity in the rest of the economy and services has widened across China’s provinces as they have moved from low to middle income, which is contrary to the trend observed in cross-country experience. Evidence from a panel of China’s provinces suggests that credit and labor market frictions have inhibited labor productivity growth in services relatively more than in the rest of the economy. Reducing these frictions is essential for achieving the next stage of China’s development, one in which the service sector will need to play a more prominent role as an engine of growth. The evidence also suggests that improving labor productivity in services will lift the consumption share of GDP, thereby advancing the needed rebalancing of domestic demand in China.

Drivers of Growth: Evidence from Sub-Saharan African Countries

November 27, 2013 Comments off

Drivers of Growth: Evidence from Sub-Saharan African Countries
Source: International Monetary Fund

This study examines the drivers of growth in Sub-Saharan African countries, using aggregate data, from the past decade. We correlate recent growth experience to key determinants of growth, including private and public investment, government consumption, the exchange regime and real exchange rate, and current account liberalization, using various econometric methodologies, including fixed and random effects models, with cluster-robust standard errors. We find that, depending on the specification, higher private and public investments boost growth. Some evidence is found that government consumption exerts a drag on growth and that more flexible exchange regimes are beneficial to growth. The real exchange rate and liberalization variables are not significant.

International Corporate Governance Spillovers: Evidence from Cross-Border Mergers and Acquisitions

November 21, 2013 Comments off

International Corporate Governance Spillovers: Evidence from Cross-Border Mergers and Acquisitions
Source: International Monetary Fund

We develop and test the hypothesis that foreign direct investment promotes corporate governance spillovers in the host country. Using firm-level data on cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and corporate governance in 22 countries, we find that cross-border M&As are associated with subsequent improvements in the governance, valuation, and productivity of the target firms’ local rivals. This positive spillover effect is stronger when the acquirer is from a country with stronger shareholder protection and if the target’s industry is more competitive. We conclude that the international market for corporate control promotes the adoption of better corporate governance practices around the world.

Aggregate Supply in the United States: Recent Developments and Implications for the Conduct of Monetary Policy

November 19, 2013 Comments off

Aggregate Supply in the United States: Recent Developments and Implications for the Conduct of Monetary Policy (PDF)
Source: International Monetary Fund

The recent financial crisis and ensuing recession appear to have put the productive capacity of the economy on a lower and shallower trajectory than the one that seemed to be in place prior to 2007. Using a version of an unobserved components model introduced by Fleischman and Roberts (2011), we estimate that potential GDP is currently about 7 percent below the trajectory it appeared to be on prior to 2007. We also examine the recent performance of the labor market. While the available indicators are still inconclusive, some indicators suggest that hysteresis should be a more present concern now than it has been during previous periods of economic recovery in the United States. We go on to argue that a significant portion of the recent damage to the supply side of the economy plausibly was endogenous to the weakness in aggregate demand—contrary to the conventional view that policymakers must simply accommodate themselves to aggregate supply conditions. Endogeneity of supply with respect to demand provides a strong motivation for a vigorous policy response to a weakening in aggregate demand, and we present optimal-control simulations showing how monetary policy might respond to such endogeneity in the absence of other considerations. We then discuss how other considerations— such as increased risks of financial instability or inflation instability—could cause policymakers to exercise restraint in their response to cyclical weakness.

Sovereign Wealth Funds: Aspects of Governance Structures and Investment Management

November 18, 2013 Comments off

Sovereign Wealth Funds: Aspects of Governance Structures and Investment Management
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper presents in a systematic (normative) manner the salient features of a SWF‘s governance structure, in relation to its objectives and investment management that can ensure its efficient operation and enhance its financial performance. In this context, it distinguishes among the various governing bodies and analyzes key aspects of the investment policy and setting of the risk tolerance level in order to ensure consistent risk-bearing capacity and greater accountability. Further, it discusses the important role of SWFs in macroeconomic management and the need for close coordination with other macroeconomic and financial policies as well as their role in global financial stability.

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia

November 12, 2013 Comments off

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia
Source: International Monetary Fund

The near-term economic outlook for the Middle East and North Africa region has weakened. In the oil-importing countries, many of which are Arab countries in transition, regional conflict, heightened political tensions, and delays in reforms continue to weigh on growth. In this context, the immediate policy priorities are to restore confidence and create jobs, make inroads into fiscal consolidation to restore debt sustainability and rebuild buffers, and embark on structural reforms needed to support private sector-led, job-intensive growth. Most oil-exporting countries continue to enjoy steady growth in the non-oil sector, supported in part by high levels of public spending. Although headline growth has declined because of domestic oil supply disruptions and lower global demand, a recovery in oil production is expected to lift growth next year. Increased vulnerability to a sustained decline in oil prices and intergenerational equity considerations underscore the need for countries to strengthen their fiscal buffers. Key medium-term challenges remain economic diversification and faster private-sector job-creation for nationals.

Economic activity in the Caucasus and Central Asia is expected to continue to expand rapidly. Growth will be driven by a recovery in the hydrocarbon sector and firm growth in domestic demand, supported in part by robust remittance inflows. Considerable downside risks weigh on this outlook, however, stemming in particular from slower-than-expected growth in Russia, an important trading partner and source of remittance inflows. Countries should take advantage of the favorable near-term economic conditions to rebuild fiscal policy buffers that were eroded after the global crisis and set in motion a process of structural transformation into dynamic emerging economies.

The Curious Case of the Yen as a Safe Haven Currency: A Forensic Analysis

November 8, 2013 Comments off

The Curious Case of the Yen as a Safe Haven Currency: A Forensic Analysis
Source: International Monetary Fund

During risk-off episodes, the yen is a safe haven currency and on average appreciates against the U.S. dollar. We investigate the proximate causes of yen risk-off appreciations. We find that neither capital inflows nor expectations of the future monetary policy stance can explain the yen’s safe haven behavior. In contrast, we find evidence that changes in market participants’ risk perceptions trigger derivatives trading, which in turn lead to changes in the spot exchange rate without capital flows. Specifically, we find that risk-off episodes coincide with forward hedging and reduced net short positions or a buildup of net long positions in yen. These empirical findings suggest that offshore and complex financial transactions should be part of spillover analyses and that the effectiveness of capital flow management measures or monetary policy coordination to address excessive exchange rate volatility might be limited in certain cases.

The International Monetary System: Where Are We and Where Do We Need to Go?

November 7, 2013 Comments off

The International Monetary System: Where Are We and Where Do We Need to Go?
Source: International Monetary Fund

The North Atlantic financial crisis of 2008-2009 has spurred renewed interest in reforming the international monetary system, which has been malfunctioning in many aspects. Large and volatile capital flows have promoted greater volatility in financial markets, leading to recurrent financial crises. The renewed focus on the broader role of the central banks, away from narrow price stability monetary policy frameworks, is necessary to ensure domestic macroeconomic and financial stability. Since international monetary cooperation might be difficult, though desirable, central banks in major advanced economies, going forward, need to internalize the implications of their monetary policies for the rest of the global economy to reduce the incidence of financial crises.

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