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Mr. JaeBin Ahn, Mr. Romain A Duval, and Can Sever
While there is growing evidence of persistent or even permanent output losses from financial crises, the causes remain unclear. One candidate is intangible capital – a rising driver of economic growth that, being non-pledgeable as collateral, is vulnerable to financial frictions. By sheltering intangible investment from financial shocks, counter-cyclical macroeconomic policy could strengthen longer-term growth, particularly so where strong product market competition prevents firms from self-financing their investments through rents. Using a rich cross-country firm-level dataset and exploiting heterogeneity in firm-level exposure to the sharp and unforeseen tightening of credit conditions around September 2008, we find strong support for these theoretical predictions. The quantitative implications are large, highlighting a powerful stabilizing role for macroeconomic policy through the intangible investment channel, and its complementarity with pro-competition product market deregulation.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office

Abstract

In 2008, the IEO undertook an evaluation on the IMF governance and concluded that effectiveness had been the strongest aspect of IMF governance, while accountability and voice had been the weakest. Since then, IMF governance has been strengthened aided by quota and voice reforms to address misalignments in shares and chairs as well as numerous improvements in governance procedures and practices. The update finds that IMF governance has proven its effectiveness in supporting the Fund to fulfill its mandates, but concerns remain on voice and accountability. Challenges remain related to representation and voice, interaction between governance bodies, the selection process for management, and the role of the G20 in IMF governance. Addressing these challenges will take time and may be subject to difficult tradeoffs between governance objectives such as preserving effectiveness while ensuring appropriate representation.

Mr. Norbert Funke, Asel Isakova, and Maksym Ivanyna
Using data from the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report as an example, this paper compares structural indicators for 25 countries in Emerging Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia with a generic country with similar charactersitics that is 40 percent richer as well as a country with the average EU income. This comparison suggests that improvements will be particularly crucial in the areas of institutions, financial market development, infrastructure, goods and labor market efficiency and areas related to innovation. For the generally more ambitious goal of reaching average EU income, the reform needs are correspondingly larger. The methodology focuses on (approximate) comparisons between countries and does not try to establish the link between structural reforms and growth. While we test for changes in empirical specifications, caveats relate to the quality of structural indicators, possible non-linearities, and reform complementarities. The approach can be applied to other indicators and at a more granular level.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper focuses on the following key issues of the Slovenian economy: export competitiveness, corporate financial health and investment, European Central Bank (ECB) quantitative easing, and financial sector development issues and prospects. Slovenia’s exports have been the main contributor to GDP growth in recent years. In particular, by 2015 exports of goods and services had increased by 20 percentage points of GDP compared to their postcrisis low in 2009. Preceding the global economic slump in 2008, bank credit in Slovenia fueled corporate investment. The past few years have witnessed substantial monetary easing by the ECB. With inflation running well below target, the ECB has been pursuing unconventional monetary policy-easing actions.
Mr. Serkan Arslanalp and Mr. Takahiro Tsuda
Portfolio flows to emerging markets (EMs) tend to be correlated. A possible explanation is the role global benchmarks play in allocating capital internationally, the so-called “benchmark effect.” This paper finds that benchmark-driven investors indeed play a large role in a key segment of the market—the EM local currency government bond market—, accounting for more than one third of total foreign holdings as of end-2014. We find that the prominence of these investors declined somewhat after the May 2013 taper tantrum, but remain high. This distinction is important in understanding the drivers of EM capital flows and their sensitivity to different types of shocks. In particular, a high share of benchmark-driven investors may result in capital flows that are more sensitive to global shocks and less sensitive to country factors.
Mr. Ales Bulir, Mr. Martin Cihak, and Mr. David-Jan Jansen
We study whether clarity of central bank inflation reports affects return volatility in financial markets. We measure clarity of reports by the Czech National Bank, the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and Sveriges Riksbank using the Flesch-Kincaid grade level, a standard readability measure. We find some evidence, mainly for the euro area, of a negative relationship between clarity and market volatility prior to and during the early stage of the global financial crisis. As the crisis unfolded, there is no longer robust evidence of a negative connection. We conclude that reducing noise using clear reports is possible but not without challenges, especially in times of crisis.
Guodong Chen and Mr. Yi Wu
This paper examines bank credit growth in emerging markets before, during, and after the 2008-09 financial crisis using bank-level data, focusing on the role of bank ownership. Credit growth by foreign banks lagged behind that of domestic banks in 2009 in Asia, and in 2010 in Latin America and emerging Europe. State-owned banks instead played a counter-cyclical role during the crisis in particular in Latin America and emerging Europe, and credit by stateowned banks also grew faster than that of private banks after the crisis in Latin America. Expansionary monetary policy on average led to higher credit growth. Banks in Latin America and Asia that relied more on retail funding had higher credit growth, in particular during the crisis. Better-capitalized banks and banks with more liquid assets also had faster credit growth. Finally, banks in countries with stronger banking regulation had higher credit growth during the crisis.
International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.

Abstract

Global growth is in low gear, and the drivers of activity are changing. These dynamics raise new policy challenges. Advanced economies are growing again but must continue financial sector repair, pursue fiscal consolidation, and spur job growth. Emerging market economies face the dual challenges of slowing growth and tighter global financial conditions. This issue of the World Economic Outlook examines the potential spillovers from these transitions and the appropriate policy responses. Chapter 3 explores how output comovements are influenced by policy and financial shocks, growth surprises, and other linkages. Chapter 4 assesses why certain emerging market economies were able to avoid the classical boom-and-bust cycle in the face of volatile capital flows during the global financial crisis.