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Gustavo Adler and Mr. Daniel Garcia-Macia
With the rapid growth of countries' foreign asset and liability positions over the last two decades, financial returns on those positions ('NFA returns') have become material drivers of current accounts and net stock positions. This paper documents the relative importance of NFA return versus trade channels in driving NFA dynamics, for a sample of 52 economies over 1990-2015. While persistent trade imbalances have been a strong force leading to diverging NFA positions, NFA returns have played an important stabilizing role, mitigating NFA divergence. The stabilizing role of NFA returns primarily reflects the response of asset prices, rather than yield differentials or exchange rates. There is also evidence of heterogeneity in the speed of NFA adjustment, with emerging market economies adjusting more rapidly than advanced economies, and reserve-currency countries adjusting more slowly than others. The paper also documents the role of NFA returns as insurance against domestic and global income shocks, with a focus on reserve-currency countries.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This Technical Note discusses the findings and recommendations made in the Financial Sector Assessment Program for Japan in the areas of insurance sector regulation and supervision. The Japanese insurance sector is characterized by a mature market, high concentration, and the predominance of life insurance products with interest guarantees. It is recommended that the Japan Financial Services Agency (JFSA) should take further steps to implement an economic-value-based solvency regime as soon as practicable. A risk assessment methodology needs to be completed as part of the risk-based supervision framework. The risk and impact assessment will enable JFSA to determine the appropriate supervisory intensity for each insurer, and a holistic supervisory plan.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This paper assesses the stability of the financial system in Japan. Although the financial system has remained stable, the low profitability environment is creating new risks, and pressures are likely to persist. The search for yield among banks has led some to expand their overseas activities, and more generally to a growth in real estate lending and foreign securities investments. Efforts to increase risk-based lending to small-and medium-sized enterprises are welcome, but many banks still need to develop commensurate credit assessment capacities. Stress tests suggest that the banking sector remains broadly sound, although market risks are increasing, and there are some vulnerabilities among regional banks.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department

Abstract

Financial stability has continued to improve since the October 2016 Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR). Economic activity has gained momentum, as outlined in the April 2017 World Economic Outlook (WEO), amid broadly accommodative monetary and financial conditions, spurring hopes for reflation. Chapter 2 analyzes the potential long-term impact of a scenario of sustained low growth and low real and nominal rates for the business models of financial institutions and the products offered by the financial sector. Chapter 3 examines whether countries still retain influence over their domestic financial conditions in a globally integrated financial system. The chapter develops financial conditions indices that make it possible to compare a large set of advanced and emerging market economies.

International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department

Abstract

The current Global Financial Stability Report (April 2016) finds that global financial stability risks have risen since the last report in October 2015. The new report finds that the outlook has deteriorated in advanced economies because of heightened uncertainty and setbacks to growth and confidence, while declines in oil and commodity prices and slower growth have kept risks elevated in emerging markets. These developments have tightened financial conditions, reduced risk appetite, raised credit risks, and stymied balance sheet repair. A broad-based policy response is needed to secure financial stability. Advanced economies must deal with crisis legacy issues, emerging markets need to bolster their resilience to global headwinds, and the resilience of market liquidity should be enhanced. The report also examines financial spillovers from emerging market economies and finds that they have risen substantially. This implies that when assessing macro-financial conditions, policymakers may need to increasingly take into account economic developments in emerging market economies. Finally, the report assesses changes in the systemic importance of insurers, finding that across advanced economies the contribution of life insurers to systemic risk has increased in recent years. The results suggest that supervisors and regulators should take a more macroprudential approach to the sector.

Mr. Andreas A. Jobst, Nobuyasu Sugimoto, and Timo Broszeit
Over the last decade, stress testing has become a central aspect of the Fund’s bilateral and multilateral surveillance work. Recently, more emphasis has also been placed on the role of insurance for financial stability analysis. This paper reviews the current state of system-wide solvency stress tests for insurance based on a comparative review of national practices and the experiences from Fund’s FSAP program with the aim of providing practical guidelines for the coherent and consistent implementation of such exercises. The paper also offers recommendations on improving the current insurance stress testing approaches and presentation of results.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

This Selected Issues paper examines implications for long-term bond yields in case of Japan. The analysis finds that so far, upward pressure on interest rates from high public debt has been offset by domestic factors, including a stable investor base with a preference for safe assets. As these effects could decline with population aging, yields could rise unless reforms are implemented to stimulate growth and reduce the public debt-to-GDP ratio. In such a scenario, long-term Japanese government bond rates would remain relatively low and stable. The paper also analyzes to what extent rising health care spending poses a fiscal risk to Japan’s economy.