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The Liquidation of Government Debt

March 30, 2015 Comments off

The Liquidation of Government Debt
Source: International Monetary Fund

High public debt often produces the drama of default and restructuring. But debt is also reduced through financial repression, a tax on bondholders and savers via negative or belowmarket real interest rates. After WWII, capital controls and regulatory restrictions created a captive audience for government debt, limiting tax-base erosion. Financial repression is most successful in liquidating debt when accompanied by inflation. For the advanced economies, real interest rates were negative ½ of the time during 1945–1980. Average annual interest expense savings for a 12—country sample range from about 1 to 5 percent of GDP for the full 1945–1980 period. We suggest that, once again, financial repression may be part of the toolkit deployed to cope with the most recent surge in public debt in advanced economies.

Can Islamic Banking Increase Financial Inclusion?

March 23, 2015 Comments off

Can Islamic Banking Increase Financial Inclusion?
Source: International Monetary Fund

The paper analyses existing country-level information on the relationship between the development of Islamic banking and financial inclusion. In Muslim countries—members of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC)—various indicators of financial inclusion tend to be lower, and the share of excluded individuals citing religious reasons for not using bank accounts is noticeably greater than in other countries; Islamic banking would therefore seem to be an effective avenue for financial inclusion. We found, however, that although physical access to financial services has grown more rapidly in the OIC countries, the use of these services has not increased as quickly. Moreover, regression analyis shows evidence of a positive link to credit to households and to firms for financing investment, but this empirical link remains tentative and relatively weak. The paper explores reasons that this might be the case and suggests several recommendations to enhance the ability of Islamic banking to promote financial inclusion.

Borrower Protection and the Supply of Credit: Evidence from Foreclosure Laws

February 17, 2015 Comments off

Borrower Protection and the Supply of Credit: Evidence from Foreclosure Laws
Source: International Monetary Fund

Laws governing the foreclosure process can have direct consequences on the costs of foreclosure and could therefore affect lending decisions. We exploit the heterogeneity in the judicial requirements across U.S. states to examine their impact on banks’ lending decisions in a sample of urban areas straddling state borders. A key feature of our study is the way it exploits an exogenous cutoff in loan eligibility to GSE guarantees which shift the burden of foreclosure costs onto the GSEs. We find that judicial requirements reduce the supply of credit only for jumbo loans that are ineligible for GSE guarantees. These laws do not affect, however, the relative demand of jumbo loans. Our findings, which also hold using novel nonbinary measures of judicial requirements, illustrate the consequences of foreclosure laws on the supply of mortgage credit. They also shed light on a significant indirect cross-subsidy by the GSEs to borrower-friendly states that has been overlooked thus far.

IMF — World Economic Outlook Update — January 2015

January 22, 2015 Comments off

World Economic Outlook Update — January 2015
Source: International Monetary Fund

+ Global growth will receive a boost from lower oil prices, which reflect to an important extent higher supply. But this boost is projected to be more than offset by negative factors, including investment weakness as adjustment to diminished expectations about medium-term growth continues in many advanced and emerging market economies.

+ Global growth in 2015–16 is projected at 3.5 and 3.7 percent, downward revisions of 0.3 percent relative to the October 2014 World Economic Outlook (WEO). The revisions reflect a reassessment of prospects in China, Russia, the euro area, and Japan as well as weaker activity in some major oil exporters because of the sharp drop in oil prices. The United States is the only major economy for which growth projections have been raised.

+ The distribution of risks to global growth is more balanced than in October. The main upside risk is a greater boost from lower oil prices, although there is uncertainty about the persistence of the oil supply shock. Downside risks relate to shifts in sentiment and volatility in global financial markets, especially in emerging market economies, where lower oil prices have introduced external and balance sheet vulnerabilities in oil exporters. Stagnation and low inflation are still concerns in the euro area and in Japan.

Shedding Light on Shadow Banking

January 20, 2015 Comments off

Shedding Light on Shadow Banking
Source: International Monetary Fund

In this paper, we develop an alternative approach to estimate the size of the shadow banking system, using official data reported to the IMF complemented by other data sources. We base our alternative approach on the expansion of the noncore liabilities concept developed in recent literature to encompass all noncore liabilities of both bank and nonbank financial institutions. As opposed to existing measures of shadow banking, our newly developed measures capture nontraditional funding raised by traditional banks. We apply the new approach to 26 jurisdictions and analyze the results over a twelve-year span. We find that noncore liabilities are procyclical and display more volatility than core liabilities for most jurisdictions in the sample. We also compare our measures to existing measures, such as the measure developed by the Financial Stability Board. Our approach can be replicated over time using internationally-comparable data and thus may serve as an operational tool for IMF surveillance and policy analysis.

Identifying Speculative Bubbles: A Two-Pillar Surveillance Framework

December 10, 2014 Comments off

Identifying Speculative Bubbles: A Two-Pillar Surveillance Framework
Source: International Monetary Fund

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the issue of how best to identify speculative asset bubbles (in real-time) remains in flux. This owes to the difficulty of disentangling irrational investor exuberance from the rational response to lower risk based on price behavior alone. In response, I introduce a two-pillar (price and quantity) approach for financial market surveillance. The intuition is straightforward: while asset pricing models comprise a valuable component of the surveillance toolkit, risk taking behavior, and financial vulnerabilities more generally, can also be reflected in subtler, non-price terms. The framework appears to capture stylized facts of asset booms and busts—some of the largest in history have been associated with below average risk premia (captured by the ‘pricing pillar’) and unusually elevated patterns of issuance, trading volumes, fund flows, and survey-based return projections (reflected in the ‘quantities pillar’). Based on a comparison to past boom-bust episodes, the approach is signaling mounting vulnerabilities in risky U.S. credit markets. Policy makers and regulators should be attune to any further deterioration in issuance quality, and where possible, take steps to ensure the post-crisis financial infrastructure is braced to accommodate a re-pricing in credit risk.

Global Financial Stability Report: A Report by the Monetary and Capital Markets Department on Market Developments and Issues (Last Updated Wednesday October 08, 2014)

October 9, 2014 Comments off

Global Financial Stability Report: A Report by the Monetary and Capital Markets Department on Market Developments and Issues
Source: International Monetary Fund

The October 2014 Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR) finds that six years after the start of the crisis, the global economic recovery continues to rely heavily on accommodative monetary policies in advanced economies. Monetary accommodation remains critical in supporting the economy by encouraging economic risk taking in the form of increased real spending by households and greater willingness to invest and hire by businesses. However, prolonged monetary ease may also encourage excessive financial risk taking.

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