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International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This paper examines Comoros’ weak domestic revenue and volatile windfall revenues. Weak revenue mobilization and the reliance on volatile one-off windfall gains remains a significant development challenge for Comoros. Weak revenue mobilization not only makes it more difficult for Comoros to finance its significant development needs, but also increases the budget’s reliance on uncertain and volatile one-off revenue streams. Sustainably improving revenue mobilization based on realistic and attainable budgetary targets, is key for financing Comoros’ medium to long-term development goals without endangering debt sustainability. Broadening the tax base and thereby increasing the tax ratio to develop more predictable budgetary financing sources will aid execution of Comoros’ ambitious investment program that underpins the country’s development strategy.
Mr. Andreas A. Jobst, Li Lian Ong, and Mr. Christian Schmieder
Bank liquidity stress testing, which has become de rigueur following the costly lessons of the global financial crisis, remains underdeveloped compared to solvency stress testing. The ability to adequately identify, model and assess the impact of liquidity shocks, which are infrequent but can have a severe impact on affected banks and financial systems, is complicated not only by data limitations but also by interactions among multiple factors. This paper provides a conceptual overview of liquidity stress testing approaches for banks and discusses their implementation by IMF staff in the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) for countries with systemically important financial sectors over the last six years.
Stephen Cecchetti, Mr. Tommaso Mancini Griffoli, and Mr. Machiko Narita
Using firm-level data for approximately 1,000 bank and nonbank financial institutions in 22 countries over the past 15 years we study the impact of prolonged monetary policy easing on risk-taking behavior. We find that the leverage ratio, as well as other measures of firm-level vulnerability, increases for banks and nonbanks as domestic monetary policy easing persists. Cross-border effects are also notable. We find effects of roughly similar magnitude on foreign financial sector firms when the U.S. eases policy. Results appear robust to a variety of specifications, and to be non-linear, with risk-taking behavior rising most quickly at the onset of monetary policy easing.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department

Abstract

The October 2015 Global Financial Stability Report finds that, despite an improvement in financial stability in advanced economies, risks continue to rotate toward emerging markets. The global financial outlook is clouded by a triad of policy challenges: emerging market vulnerabilities, legacy issues from the crisis in advanced economies, and weak systemic market liquidity. With more vulnerable balance sheets in emerging market companies and banks, firms in these countries are more susceptible to financial stress, economic downturn, and capital outflows. Recent market developments such as slumping commodity prices, China’s bursting equity bubble, and pressure on exchange rates underscore these challenges. The prospect of the U.S. Federal Reserve gradually raising interest rates points to an unprecedented adjustment in the global financial system as financial conditions and risk premiums “normalize” from historically low levels alongside rising policy rates and a modest cyclical recovery. The report also examines the factors that influence levels of liquidity in securities markets, as well as the implications of low liquidity. Currently, market liquidity is being supported by benign cyclical conditions. Although it is too early to assess the impact of recent regulatory changes on market liquidity, changes in market structure, such as larger holdings of corporate bonds by mutual funds, appear to have increased the fragility of liquidity. Finally, the report studies the growing level of corporate debt in emerging markets, which quadrupled between 2004 and 2014. The report finds that global drivers have played an increasing role in leverage growth, issuance, and spreads. Moreover, higher leverage has been associated with, on average, rising foreign currency exposures. It also finds that despite weaker balance sheets, firms have managed to issue bonds at better terms as a result of favorable financial conditions.

International Monetary Fund and World Bank

Abstract

The Revised Guidelines for Public Debt Management have been developed as part of a broader work program undertaken by the IMF and the World Bank to strengthen the international financial architecture, promote policies and practices that contribute to financial stability and transparency, and reduce countries external vulnerabilities.

Ms. Carmen Reinhart and M. Belen Sbrancia
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.
Mr. Magnus Saxegaard
This paper develops a methodology for estimating a safe public debt level that would allow countries to remain below a maximum sustainable debt limit, taking into account the impact of uncertainty. Our analysis implies that fiscal policy should target a debt level well below the debt ceiling to allow space to absorb shocks that are likely to hit the economy. To illustrate our findings we apply the methodology to estimate a safe debt level for South Africa. Our results suggest that South Africa’s debt ceiling is around 60 percent of GDP, although uncertainty is high. Simulations suggest targeting a debt-to-GDP ratio of 40 percent of GDP would allow South Africa to remain below this debt ceiling over the medium-term with a high degree of confidence.