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Middle East Transitions: A Long, Hard Road

August 11, 2014 Comments off

Middle East Transitions: A Long, Hard Road
Source: International Monetary Fund

Since the onset of the Arab Spring, economic uncertainty in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen (Arab Countries in Transition, ACTs) has slowed already sluggish growth; worsened unemployment, particularly of youth; undermined business confidence, affected tourist arrivals, and depressed domestic and foreign direct investment. Furthermore, political and social tensions have constrained reform efforts. Assessing policy options as presented in the voluminous literature on the Arab Spring and based on cross-country experience, this paper concludes that sustainable and inclusive growth calls for a two pronged approach: short term measures that revive growth momentum and partially allay popular concerns; complemented with efforts to adjust the public’s expectations and prepare the ground for structural reforms that will deliver the desired longer tem performance.

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The IMF crisis and how to solve it

August 7, 2014 Comments off

The IMF crisis and how to solve it
Source: Oxford Economics

As the IMF approaches its 70th birthday, this extract from our July UK Economic Outlook investigates the Fund’s Greek programme, one of the most credibility-sapping in its history. We trace the IMF’s role in the programme from its stormy launch to misfiring implementation; the Fund’s half-hearted apology; and its early (and ongoing) attempts to draw lessons and revise its sovereign debt restructuring framework, which appear destined to deliver insufficient meaningful change. A transparency revolution is both necessary and feasible. It worked for central banks in the 1990s. Why not the Fund?

Debt, Growth and Natural Disasters: A Caribbean Trilogy

August 4, 2014 Comments off

Debt, Growth and Natural Disasters: A Caribbean Trilogy
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper seeks to determine the effects that natural disasters have on per capita GDP and on the debt to GDP ratio in the Caribbean. Two types of natural disasters are studied –storms and floods– given their prevalence in the region, while considering the effects of both moderate and severe disasters. I use a vector autoregressive model with exogenous natural disasters shocks, in a panel of 12 Caribbean countries over a period of 40 years. The results show that both storms and floods have a negative effect on growth, and that debt increases with floods but not with storms. However, in a subsample I find that storms significantly increase debt in the short and long run. I also find weak evidence that debt relief contributes to ease the negative effects of storms on debt.

Impact of Fed Tapering Announcements on Emerging Markets

July 21, 2014 Comments off

Impact of Fed Tapering Announcements on Emerging Markets
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper analyzes market reactions to the 2013–14 Fed announcements relating to tapering of asset purchases and their relationship to macroeconomic fundamentals and country economic and financial structures. The study uses daily data on exchange rates, government bond yields, and stock prices for 21 emerging markets. It finds evidence of markets differentiating across countries around volatile episodes. Countries with stronger macroeconomic fundamentals, deeper financial markets, and a tighter macroprudential policy stance in the run-up to the tapering announcements experienced smaller currency depreciations and smaller increases in government bond yields. At the same time, there was less differentiation in the behavior of stock prices based on fundamentals.

Future of Asia’s Finance: How Can it Meet Challenges of Demographic Change and Infrastructure Needs?

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Future of Asia’s Finance: How Can it Meet Challenges of Demographic Change and Infrastructure Needs?
Source: International Monetary Fund

There is a role for Asia’s financial sector to play to address the challenges associated with the region’s changing demographics and infrastructure investment needs. Enhancing financial innovation and integration in the region could facilitate intra-regional financial flows and mobilize resources from the aging savers in industrialized Asia to finance infrastructure investment in emerging Asia. Strengthening the financial ties within the region as well as with the global financial markets alongside appropriate prudential frameworks could also help diversify sources of financing and reduce the cost of funding in emerging Asia. Finally, financial deepening could help ease the potential overheating from scaling up infrastructure investment and hence achieve a more balanced growth in the region.

Oversight Issues in Mobile Payments

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Oversight Issues in Mobile Payments
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper examines oversight issues that underlie the potential growth and risks in mobile payments. International experience suggests that financial authorities can develop effective oversight frameworks for new payment methods to safeguard public confidence and financial stability by establishing: (i) a clear legal regime; (ii) proportionate AML/CFT measures to prevent financial integrity risks; (iii) fund safeguarding measures such as insurance, similar guarantee schemes, or “pass through” deposit insurance; (iv) contingency plans for operational disruptions; and (v) risk controls and access criteria in payment systems. Such measures are particularly important for low-income countries where diffusion is becoming more widespread.

Deposit Insurance Database

July 10, 2014 Comments off

Deposit Insurance Database
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper provides a comprehensive, global database of deposit insurance arrangements as of 2013. We extend our earlier dataset by including recent adopters of deposit insurance and information on the use of government guarantees on banks’ assets and liabilities, including during the recent global financial crisis. We also create a Safety Net Index capturing the generosity of the deposit insurance scheme and government guarantees on banks’ balance sheets. The data show that deposit insurance has become more widespread and more extensive in coverage since the global financial crisis, which also triggered a temporary increase in the government protection of non-deposit liabilities and bank assets. In most cases, these guarantees have since been formally removed but coverage of deposit insurance remains above pre-crisis levels, raising concerns about implicit coverage and moral hazard going forward.

After the Fall: Lessons for Policy Cooperation from the Global Crisis

June 13, 2014 Comments off

After the Fall: Lessons for Policy Cooperation from the Global Crisis
Source: International Monetary Fund

A crisis is a terrible thing to waste, and nowhere is this truer than in the arena of international economic policy cooperation. With the world facing the largest and most synchronized plunge in output of the postwar era, policy makers banded together to find solutions. This paper looks at the lessons from what did—and did not—occur in the area of policy cooperation since the crisis. Outcomes seem to be weaker over time in areas such as macroeconomic policies, where institutional procedures were less well defined and there were disagreements over spillovers. By contrast, cooperation seems to have been most effective where there was a consensus that such policies could avoid the risk of highly detrimental outcomes and institutional arrangements were more concrete. Principle amongst these was trade, but bank capital buffers, IMF resources, and derivatives exchanges also fall into this category. Lessons for those interested in promoting cooperation seems to be: it may be more fruitful to: focus on the potential for major costs from a lack of cooperation, rather than the minor gains from fuller coordination; strive for more consensus estimated spillovers; convince policy-makers costs of loss of cooperation are large; and focus on building better and more enduring institutional arrangements.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Macroprudential Tools at Work in Canada

June 9, 2014 Comments off

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Macroprudential Tools at Work in Canada
Source: International Monetary Fund

The goal of this paper is to assess the effectiveness of the policy measures taken by Canadian authorities to address the housing boom. We find that the the last three rounds of macroprudential policies implemented since 2010 were associated with lower mortgage credit growth and house price growth. The international experience suggests that—in addition to tighter loan-to-value limits and shorter amortization periods—lower caps on the debt-to-income ratio and higher risk weights could be effective if the housing boom were to reignite. Over the medium term, the authorities could consider structural measures to further improve the soundness of housing finance.

Determinants of International Tourism

May 26, 2014 Comments off

Determinants of International Tourism
Source: International Monetary Fund

The paper estimates the impact of macroeconomic supply- and demand-side determinants of tourism, one of the largest components of services exports globally, and the backbone of many smaller economies. It applies the gravity model to a large dataset comprising the full universe of bilateral tourism flows spanning over a decade. The results show that the gravity model explains tourism flows better than goods trade for equivalent specifications. The elasticity of tourism with respect to GDP of the origin (importing) country is lower than for goods trade. Tourism flows respond strongly to changes in the destination country’s real exchange rate, along both extensive (tourist arrivals) and intensive (duration of stay) margins. OECD countries generally exhibit higher elasticties with respect to economic variables (GDPs of the two economies, real exchange rate, bilateral trade) due to the larger share of business travel. Tourism to small islands is less sensitive to changes in the country’s real exchange rate, but more susceptible to the introduction/removal of direct flights.

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.

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.

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