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Ms. Marina Moretti, Mr. Marc C Dobler, and Mr. Alvaro Piris Chavarri
This paper updates the IMF’s work on general principles, strategies, and techniques from an operational perspective in preparing for and managing systemic banking crises in light of the experiences and challenges faced during and since the global financial crisis. It summarizes IMF advice concerning these areas from staff of the IMF Monetary and Capital Markets Department (MCM), drawing on Executive Board Papers, IMF staff publications, and country documents (including program documents and technical assistance reports). Unless stated otherwise, the guidance is generally applicable across the IMF membership.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper identifies key challenges among households in reducing nonperforming loans (NPL) further in Cyprus, namely, low repayment capacity, particularly among a certain group of debtors; and weak repayment discipline owing to strategic behavior. Despite some revival of lending activity, the role of bank credit as a funding source remains limited. External inflows, drawdown of savings, use of own funds, and unpaid debt service obligations are contributing to financing economic activities, but these sources may not be sustainable over the medium term. Addressing NPLs to lower borrowing costs and reviving credit supply will be important for supporting longer-term growth. Since 2017, bank credit has provided only a moderate amount of new financing. The reduction in credit-to-GDP ratio has been almost entirely achieved by NPL write-offs and sale or transfer of loans out of the banking system, and through denominator effect. As of 2017, credit demand appears moderately strong, in line with robust economic growth, while credit supply remains broadly unchanged, reflecting continued risk averseness by banks. These trends suggest that while deleveraging is expected to continue through clean-up of bank balance sheets, growth in credit flows (pure new loans) are likely to remain at a moderate level until NPL recovery and repayment discipline improves significantly.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
Cyprus is recovering strongly from the 2012–13 crisis. GDP growth is projected to remain above 4 percent in 2018–19, buoyed by services and foreign-financed construction. Unemployment is rapidly declining while large fiscal primary surpluses are putting public debt back on a declining path. Nevertheless, crisis legacies continue to weigh on the banking system. In early 2018, difficulties in the Cyprus Cooperative Bank led the authorities to intervene, albeit at a significant fiscal cost. In the process, a package of legislative measures strengthening the insolvency and foreclosure regime was also approved, which is now catalyzing the cleanup of bank balance sheets. These developments have led to a sovereign ratings upgrade, restoring Cyprus’s investment grade status.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This technical note consists of five chapters focusing on various aspects of systemic risk analysis across the euro area financial system. The chapters cover bank profitability, balance sheet- and market-based interconnected analysis, contingent claims analysis, and a brief discussion of data gaps in the nonbank, non-insurance (NBNI) financial sector. The ongoing economic recovery will support euro area bank profitability in general, but it is unlikely to resolve the structural challenges faced by the least profitable banks despite some recent improvements. This is important because persistently weak bank profitability is a systemic financial stability concern. Empirical analysis of 109 major euro area banks over 2007–2016 reveals that real GDP growth and the NPL ratio are the most reliable determinants of profitability, after accounting for other factors. Although higher growth would raise profits, a large swath of banks with the weakest profitability would most likely continue to struggle even with a robust recovery. Therefore, banks should take advantage of the current upswing by resolutely addressing their NPL stocks—such a strategy holds the most promise for weak banks’ profitability prospects.
International Monetary Fund

Abstract

A speech delivered by the IMF's Managing Director Christine Lagarde at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) as part of the Institute's Europe Lecture Series in Berlin, Germany, on March 26, 2018.

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper analyzes the economic effects of weak claims enforcement for Cyprus. Claims enforcement in Cyprus is considerably less efficient than in most European Union countries. The banking crisis, which led to a spike in the number of pending litigious civil and commercial cases, could be a factor in the low enforcement efficiency. For Cyprus, piecemeal reform of the enforcement framework may have limited success, and a wholesale review is likely needed. Adding updated components may not fit well with the underlying civil procedure. Instead a comprehensive review, with a focus on limiting case suspensions allowed under interim applications and considering an alternative compensation basis for lawyers should be considered.
Mr. Tamon Asonuma, Dirk Niepelt, and Mr. Romain Ranciere
Rejecting a common assumption in the sovereign debt literature, we document that creditor losses (“haircuts”) during sovereign restructuring episodes are asymmetric across debt instruments. We code a comprehensive dataset on instrument-specific haircuts for 28 debt restructurings with private creditors in 1999–2015 and find that haircuts on shorter-term debt are larger than those on debt of longer maturity. In a standard asset pricing model, we show that increasing short-run default risk in the run-up to a restructuring episode can explain the stylized fact. The data confirms the predicted relation between perceived default risk, bond prices, and haircuts by maturity.
Sophia Chen and Miss Yinqiu Lu
Fixed investment was the most important contributing factor to the boom-bust cycle in Cyprus over the last decade. Investment boomed during a credit boom in mid-2000s, during which the corporate sector borrowed heavily. Investment collapsed after 2008 when the credit boom ended. Investment and corporate balance sheets further deteriorated during the Cypriot banking crisis over 2012–2014. Using firm-level investment and balance sheet data, we find that corporate indebtedness is negatively associated with investment both before and after the banking crisis, although the effect is weaker after the Cypriot banking crisis, possibly due to the reduced role of credit in driving post-crisis investment and growth. Our results suggest the need to repair corporate balance sheets to support sustainable invesetment.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper offers elements of a possible strategy to deal with San Marino’s nonperforming loans (NPLs). It provides a brief overview of the reasons behind the accumulation of impaired assets by Sammarinese banks. This paper also presents some stylized facts regarding the nature and composition of San Marino’s problem loans. Further, it summarizes the experience of other small economies in dealing with weak banks and NPLs, with a view to drawing policy lessons. This paper also discusses recent measures implemented by the Sammarinese authorities to address weak financial institutions and their problem assets and examines the main impediments to deal with NPLs in San Marino’s legal and tax framework.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper discusses Cyprus’ Eighth Review Under the Extended Arrangement Under the Extended Fund Facility and Request for Modification of Performance Criteria (PC). Cyprus continues to recover from the crisis, and program performance remains generally strong. Risks to the program remain, although their impact would likely be manageable. The domestic political situation remains a challenge to policy implementation. Despite the reduced real and financial linkages between Greece and Cyprus, developments in Greece have the potential to affect Cyprus through the confidence channel. Based on the continued progress under the program and policy commitments going forward, the IMF staff supports the completion of the eighth review and the proposed modifications of PCs.