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Marco Belloni, Maciej Grodzicki, and Mariusz Jarmuzek
Using a panel data approach for two samples of listed and unlisted European banks, this paper provides evidence that, over a decade and a half preceding the pandemic, bank dividend payouts were adjusted in line with the motivations found in the literature. Banks change their dividend payouts because they would like to signal good profitability to shareholders to address information asymmetry, or use dividends to mitigate the agency costs, or could come under pressure from prudential supervisors and regulators to retain earnings. Banks are found not to discount expectations about future economic conditions or their own profitability when making payouts. Simulations show that, in the absence of supervisory sector-wide recommendations to suspend dividend payouts, banks would likely have reduced the payouts only slightly in the first year of the pandemic.
Iacovos Ioannou
Lithuania’s current credit cycle highlights the strong link between housing prices and credit. We explore this relationship in more detail by analyzing the main features of credit, housing price, and output cycles in Baltic and Nordic countries during1995-2017. We find a high degree of synchronization between Lithuania’s credit and housing price cycles. Panel regressions show a strong correlation between a credit upturn and housing price upturn. Moreover, panel VAR suggests that shocks in housing prices, credit, and output within and outside Lithuania strongly impact Lithuania’s credit.
IMF Research Perspective (formerly published as IMF Research Bulletin) is a new, redesigned online newsletter covering updates on IMF research. In the inaugural issue of the newsletter, Hites Ahir interviews Valeria Cerra; and they discuss the economic environment 10 years after the global financial crisis. Research Summaries cover the rise of populism; economic reform; labor and technology; big data; and the relationship between happiness and productivity. Sweta C. Saxena was the guest editor for this inaugural issue.
Miss Rita Babihuga and Marco Spaltro
This paper investigates the determinants of bank funding costs for a sample of internationally active banks from 2001–12. We find that changes in banks’ unsecured funding costs are associated with bank-specific characteristics such as an institution’s credit worthiness and the return on its market value, and importantly, on the level and quality of capital. Similarly, market factors such as the level of investor risk appetite, as well as shocks to financial markets—notably the US subprime crisis and the Euro Area sovereign debt crisis—have also been key drivers of the sharp rise in bank funding costs. We also find evidence that large systemically important institutions have enjoyed a funding advantage, and that this advantage has risen since the onset of the two crises. With the exception of Euro Area periphery banks, by end-2012 the rise in funding costs had generally been reversed for most major banks as a result of improvments in bank asset quality as well as steps taken to increase resilience, notably higher capitalization. Our results suggest increased capital buffers may potentially support bank lending to the real economy by reducing bank funding costs.