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Sharjil M. Haque and Mr. Richard Varghese
We study the impact of the COVID-19 recession on capital structure of publicly listed U.S. firms. Our estimates suggest leverage (Net Debt/Asset) decreased by 5.3 percentage points from the pre-shock mean of 19.6 percent, while debt maturity increased moderately. This de-leveraging effect is stronger for firms exposed to significant rollover risk, while firms whose businesses were most vulnerable to social distancing did not reduce leverage. We rationalize our evidence through a structural model of firm value that shows lower expected growth rate and higher volatility of cash flows following COVID-19 reduced optimal levels of corporate leverage. Model-implied optimal leverage indicates firms which did not de-lever became over-leveraged. We find default probability deteriorates most in large, over-leveraged firms and those that were stressed pre-COVID. Additional stress tests predict value of these firms will be less than one standard deviation away from default if cash flows decline by 20 percent.
Pelin Berkmen, Ms. Kimberly Beaton, Mr. Dmitry Gershenson, Mr. Javier Arze del Granado, Kotaro Ishi, Miss Marie S Kim, Emanuel Kopp, and Mrs. Marina V Rousset
In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), financial technology has been growing rapidly and is on the agenda of many policy makers. Fintech provides opportunities to deepen financial development, competition, innovation, and inclusion in the region but also creates new and only partially understood risks to consumers and the financial system. This paper documents the evolution of fintech in LAC. In particular, the paper focuses on financial development, fintech landscape for domestic and cross border payments and alternative financing, cybersecurity, financial integrity and stability risks, regulatory responses, and considerations for central bank digital currencies.
Mr. Dong He, Mr. Ross B Leckow, Mr. V. Haksar, Mr. Tommaso Mancini Griffoli, Nigel Jenkinson, Ms. Mikari Kashima, Mr. Tanai Khiaonarong, Ms. Celine Rochon, and Hervé Tourpe
A new wave of technological innovations, often called “fintech,” is accelerating change in the financial sector. What impact might fintech have on financial services, and how should regulation respond? This paper sets out an economic framework for thinking through the channels by which fintech might provide solutions that respond to consumer needs for trust, security, privacy, and better services, change the competitive landscape, and affect regulation. It combines a broad discussion of trends across financial services with a focus on cross-border payments and especially the impact of distributed ledger technology. Overall, the paper finds that boundaries among different types of service providers are blurring; barriers to entry are changing; and improvements in cross-border payments are likely. It argues that regulatory authorities need to balance carefully efficiency and stability trade-offs in the face of rapid changes, and ensure that trust is maintained in an evolving financial system. It also highlights the importance of international cooperation.
Mr. Dong He, Mr. Ross B Leckow, Mr. V. Haksar, Mr. Tommaso Mancini Griffoli, Nigel Jenkinson, Ms. Mikari Kashima, Mr. Tanai Khiaonarong, Ms. Celine Rochon, and Hervé Tourpe
A new wave of technological innovations, often called “fintech,” is accelerating change in the financial sector. What impact might fintech have on financial services, and how should regulation respond? This paper sets out an economic framework for thinking through the channels by which fintech might provide solutions that respond to consumer needs for trust, security, privacy, and better services, change the competitive landscape, and affect regulation. It combines a broad discussion of trends across financial services with a focus on cross-border payments and especially the impact of distributed ledger technology. Overall, the paper finds that boundaries among different types of service providers are blurring; barriers to entry are changing; and improvements in cross-border payments are likely. It argues that regulatory authorities need to balance carefully efficiency and stability trade-offs in the face of rapid changes, and ensure that trust is maintained in an evolving financial system. It also highlights the importance of international cooperation.
Mr. Maria Soledad Martinez Peria and Mr. Sergio L. Schmukler
This short paper reviews recent literature on the use of long-term finance in developing economies (relative to advanced ones) to identify where long-term financing occurs, and what role different financial intermediaries and markets play in extending this type of financing. Although banks are the most important providers of credit, they do not seem to offer long-term financing. Capital markets have grown since the 1990s and can provide financing at fairly long terms. But few firms use these markets. Only some institutional investors provide funding at long-term maturities. Governments might help to expand long-term financing, although with limited policy tools.
Christoph Aymanns, Carlos Caceres, Christina Daniel, and Miss Liliana B Schumacher
Understanding the interaction between bank solvency and funding cost is a crucial pre-requisite for stress-testing. In this paper we study the sensitivity of bank funding cost to solvency measures while controlling for various other measures of bank fundamentals. The analysis includes two measures of bank funding cost: (a) average funding cost and (b) interbank funding cost as a proxy of wholesale funding cost. The main findings are: (1) Solvency is negatively and significantly related to measures of funding cost, but the effect is small in magnitude. (2) On average, the relationship is stronger for interbank funding cost than for average funding cost. (3) During periods of stress interbank funding cost is more sensitive to solvency than in normal times. Finally, (4) the relationship between funding cost and solvency appears to be non-linear, with higher sensitivity of funding cost at lower levels of solvency.
Mr. Dong He, Mr. Karl F Habermeier, Mr. Ross B Leckow, Mr. V. Haksar, Ms. Yasmin Almeida, Ms. Mikari Kashima, Mr. Nadim Kyriakos-Saad, Ms. Hiroko Oura, Tahsin Saadi Sedik, Natalia Stetsenko, and Ms. Concha Verdugo Yepes
New technologies are driving transformational changes in the global financial system. Virtual currencies (VCs) and the underlying distributed ledger systems are among these. VCs offer many potential benefits, but also considerable risks. VCs could raise efficiency and in the long run strengthen financial inclusion. At the same time, VCs could be potential vehicles for money laundering, terrorist financing, tax evasion and fraud. While risks to the conduct of monetary policy seem less likely to arise at this stage given the very small scale of VCs, risks to financial stability may eventually emerge as the new technologies become more widely used. National authorities have begun to address these challenges and will need to calibrate regulation in a manner that appropriately addresses the risks without stifling innovation. As experience is gained, international standards and best practices could be considered to provide guidance on the most appropriate regulatory responses in different fields, thereby promoting harmonization and cooperation across jurisdictions.
Mr. Alexander Massara and André Mialou
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.