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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
Norway’s key challenge is to get the right balance of support for recovery and adjustment until the crisis is firmly in its past. The authorities intend to continue exceptional policy support into 2021, adjusted to reflect the rebound in economic activity and pace of vaccinations in the second half of the year, and with better targeting to affected sectors. This will support the expected closing of the output gap by 2023 and help mitigate scarring, while also facilitating reallocation of capital and labor.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The Norwegian financial system has a long history of incorporating new technology. Norway is at the forefront of digitization and has tight interdependencies within its financial system, making it particularly vulnerable to evolving cyber threats. Norway is increasingly a cashless society, with surveys and data collection suggesting that only 10 percent of point-of-sale and person-to-person transactions in 2019 were made using cash.1 Most payments made in Norway are digital (e.g., 475 card transactions per capita per annum)2 and there is an increase in new market entrants providing a broad range of services. Thus, good cybersecurity is a prerequisite for financial stability in Norway.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
While Norway’s institutional arrangement for macroprudential policy is uncommon, the authorities have shown strong willingness to act. The Ministry of Finance (MoF) is the sole macroprudential decision-maker in Norway, which is rare in international comparison. However, Norges Bank and the Finanstilsynet (FSA) play important advisory roles. In recent years, the authorities have taken substantive and wide-ranging macroprudential policy actions in response to growing systemic vulnerabilities—and these seem to have been effective in slowing down some of the riskier trends. The macroprudential policy toolkit is well stocked and actively used.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The Norwegian insurance sector is well-capitalized. In recent years, the authorities have taken steps to recapitalize weak insurers and to boost capital for the overall industry. Risk-resilience has been strengthened by stronger retention of profits leading to accumulation of reserves, better risk management, and higher capital in the run-up to the implementation of the Solvency II regulatory regime.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
Much of the work of the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the missions ending on February 13, 2020. Given the FSAP’s focus on medium-term challenges and vulnerabilities, however, its findings and recommendations for strengthening policy and institutional frameworks remain pertinent. The report was updated to reflect key developments and policy changes since the mission work was completed. It also includes a risk analysis that quantifies the possible impact of the COVID-19 crisis on bank solvency. Since the previous FSAP in 2015, the Norwegian authorities have taken welcome steps to strengthen the financial system. Regulatory capital requirements for banks were raised and actions were taken to bolster the weak capital position of insurers. Alongside other macroprudential measures, temporary borrower-based measures for residential mortgages were introduced, which seem to have had some moderating impact on segments of the housing market. The resolution framework was also strengthened, with the implementation of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) and the designation of Finanstilsynet (FSA) as the resolution authority.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
Denmark’s insurance sector is highly developed with a particularly high penetration and density in the life sector. Traditionally, work-related life insurance and pension savings are offered as a combined package, and life insurance companies dominate the market for mandatory pension schemes for employees. The high penetration explains the overall size of the insurance sector, which exceeds those of peers from other Nordic countries and various other EU member states. Assets managed by the insurance industry amounted to 146 percent of the GDP at end-2018, compared to 72 percent for the EU average.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
Norway has made substantial progress in strengthening its framework for financial crisis management and bank safety nets since the 2015 FSAP. The Norwegian authorities have implemented the EU framework. The Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) has been transposed into the Norwegian legal framework mainly by amendments to the Financial Institutions and Financial Groups Act and accompanying regulations. Finanstilsynet (the Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway, FSA) has been designated as Norway’s resolution authority. Resolution financing options were broadened by establishing a resolution fund. While the Deposit Guarantee Scheme Directive (DGSD) has yet to be brought into the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement, Norway has, in fact, already transposed it into the Norwegian law. This provides the Norwegian authorities with a broadened and detailed regulatory framework for dealing with weak banks.