This 2020 Article IV Consultation discusses that San Marino is now facing very significant challenges owing to the recent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, which has taken a heavy toll on local population and businesses. The staff report reflects discussions with the Sammarinese authorities in January 2020 and is based on the information available as of January 31, 2020. It focuses on San Marino’s near- and medium-term challenges and policy priorities and was prepared before COVID-19 became a global pandemic and resulted in unprecedented strains in global trade, commodity, and financial markets. It, therefore, does not reflect the implications of these developments and related policy priorities. The outbreak has greatly amplified uncertainty and downside risks around the outlook. Staff is closely monitoring the situation and will continue to work on assessing its impact and the related policy response in San Marino and globally. With no credible measures to restore banking system health and in the face of a continued weak external environment, economic growth is projected to remain subdued in the coming years. Slow progress in repairing the banking system and failure to restore fiscal sustainability are the key and material risks.
This Article IV Consultation highlights that deep-rooted weaknesses in the banking system have undermined economic activity and are now threatening financial stability and fiscal sustainability. Significant deposit outflows have left the banking system with low liquidity, while persistent losses and high non-performing loans (NPLs) resulted in sizable recapitalization needs, particularly in the state-owned bank. Growth is projected to remain subdued in the coming years, reflecting continued banking sector deleveraging and a less favorable external environment, most notably in Italy. Slow progress in repairing the banking sector, and full and upfront recognition of the state’s financial commitments to the banking system are the key risks. Urgent actions are needed to restore banking sector viability and credit supply, safeguard public finances, and promote sustained economic growth. It is recommended to strengthen labor supply by better targeting social benefits and further relaxing the hiring process of non-residents.
This 2018 Article IV Consultation highlights that San Marino’s economy rebounded in 2016, on the back of recovering domestic demand and important gains in employment. However, the growth momentum slowed in 2017 amid financial sector uncertainties around a sizable loss at the largest bank and a closure of a small bank. Only moderate growth is projected in the near and medium term. The economy is projected to grow at 1.3 percent in 2018, driven by domestic demand. Private consumption is expected to recover gradually, and an externally financed investment project will add a significant boost to investment, which otherwise lacks support from the deleveraging banking sector.
This 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights the slow recovery of San Marino’s economy after a deep recession following a series of financial sector shocks. Growth resumed in 2015 and accelerated in 2016 to an estimated 1 percent, thanks to stronger domestic and external demand. Moderate growth is expected in the near and medium term. GDP growth is projected to reach 1.3 percent in the medium term, driven by continued expansion in nonfinancial industries and services. However, following the current trend, the pace of growth would not be strong enough to bring output to precrisis levels over the next five years as risks remain tilted to the downside.
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.
Over the last half decade, San Marino’s economy has managed to weather the implosion of its offshore banking model, the global crisis, and Italy’s decision to put San Marino on a tax blacklist. Together, these shocks resulted in a loss of a third of output since 2008, caused banking system NPLs to rise to over 40 percent—with the largest bank requiring 13 percent of GDP in public support—and pushed up net public debt by some 20 percent of GDP (from virtually nil five years ago). Looking forward, the economy is stabilizing, reflecting the inclusion of San Marino in Italy’s tax whitelist, but downside risks persist.
This 2014 Article IV Consultation on the Republic of San Marino highlights global crisis and tense relations with Italy, which triggered a 30 percent GDP contraction since 2008 and a sea change in San Marino’s off-shore banking model. High liquidity in the system allowed banks to withstand the shock to deposits. Cassa di Risparmio della Repubblica di San Marino, the largest bank, has required 13 percent of GDP in public support. The deep recession and bank recapitalization costs are weighing heavily on public finances.
This Article IV Consultation focuses on San Marino’s prolonged recession. The global crisis has led to a significant decline in budget revenues. However, San Marino’s sizable pre-2008 budget surplus, combined with recent tax measures and efforts to restrain expenditures, have helped contain the deficit at about 3 percent of GDP. Executive Directors noted that San Marino’s economy will face financial and fiscal challenges in the near term, as well as uncertain medium-term prospects. Directors considered that, notwithstanding the recent recapitalization, the largest bank will need more capital to meet prudential requirements.
This 2012 Article IV Consultation highlights that rising unemployment, stagnant wage growth, and lower confidence have all contributed to falling private consumption and low inflation in San Marino. Financial sector balance sheets have continued to compress on the back of steady outflows of deposits. Directors have welcomed the measures taken to contain the 2012 budget deficit but called for a comprehensive medium-term consolidation plan, given growing fiscal risks. Directors have also stressed the need for a deficit-financing plan, which could involve issuing debt instruments on capital markets.
In this study, the economic development and growth of San Marino are discussed. For liquidity management, the Central Bank of San Marino was commended. Different measures have been taken to enhance the operational autonomy of the Central Bank of San Marino (CBSM), buttress supervisory functions, and strengthen Antimoney Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT). The goals to reduce the fiscal deficit are encouraged, but counseled that the credibility of fiscal plans would be enhanced by a better-articulated strategy. Cuts in public sector employment through attrition and reforms could be the key elements of this strategy.