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Valentina Flamini, Pierluigi Bologna, Fabio Di Vittorio, and Rasool Zandvakil
Credit is key to support healthy and sustainable economic growth but excess aggregate credit growth can signal the build-up of imbalances and lead to systemic financial crisis. Hence, monitoring the credit cycle is key to identifying vulnerabilities, particularly in emerging markets, which tend to be more exposed to sudden external shocks and reversal in capital flows. We estimate the credit cycle in Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic and find that the creadit gap is a powerful predictor of systemic vulnerability in the region. We simulate the activation of the Basel III countercyclical capital buffers and discuss the macroprudential policy implications of the results, arguing that countercyclical macroprudential policies based on the credit gap could prove useful to enhance the resilience of the region’s financial sector but the activation of macroprudential instruments should also be informed by the development of other macrofinancial variables and by expert judgment.
Mr. Geoffrey J Bannister, Mr. Jarkko Turunen, and Malin Gardberg
Despite significant strides in financial development over the past decades, financial dollarization, as reflected in elevated shares of foreign currency deposits and credit in the banking system, remains common in developing economies. We study the impact of financial dollarization, differentiating across foreign currency deposits and credit on financial depth, access and efficiency for a large sample of emerging market and developing countries over the past two decades. Panel regressions estimated using system GMM show that deposit dollarization has a negative impact on financial deepening on average. This negative impact is dampened in cases with past periods of high inflation. There is also some evidence that dollarization hampers financial efficiency. The results suggest that policy efforts to reduce dollarization can spur faster and safer financial development.
Ms. Corinne C Delechat, Ms. Camila Henao Arbelaez, Ms. Priscilla S Muthoora, and Svetlana Vtyurina
Banks’ liquidity holdings are comfortably above legal or prudential requirements in most Central American countries. While good for financial stability, high systemic liquidity may nonetheless hinder monetary policy transmission and financial markets development. Using a panel of about 100 commercial banks from the region, we find that the demand for precautionary liquidity buffers is associated with measures of bank size, profitability, capitalization, and financial development. Deposit dollarization is also associated with higher liquidity, reinforcing the monetary policy and market development challenges in highly dollarized economies. Improvements in supervision and measures to promote dedollarization, including developing local currency capital markets, would help enhance financial systems’ efficiency and promote intermediation in the region.
International Monetary Fund
The Nicaraguan economy continued to post robust growth in the first half of 2011. The Seventh Review Under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and Financing Assurances Review highlights that all quantitative performance criteria for end-June 2011 were met and the structural agenda is broadly on track. The fiscal performance of the central government was stronger than envisaged. The deficit in the external current account is projected to remain large and to be financed by resilient capital flows.
Stephanie Medina Cas, Mr. Alejandro Carrion-Menendez, and Ms. Florencia Frantischek
Several Central American (CADR) countries with independent monetary policies are strengthening their monetary frameworks and some have implemented or are moving towards inflation targeting (IT) regimes. Strengthening the monetary policy frameworks of CADR is key to improving the effectiveness of monetary policy. The paper reviews the literature on the reforms needed for strengthening the monetary policy frameworks, and examines the experiences of IT countries, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay to help distill lessons for CADR. It also constructs an index to measure the relative strength of the monetary policy framework of CADR countries.
International Monetary Fund
Nicaragua's economic performance in 2010 was satisfactory. Real GDP grew, supported by strong consumption and investment. Bank credit started recovering while the financial system remained liquid and profitable. Exchange-rate and monetary policy have contributed to macroeconomic stability. The authorities plan to improve public financial management and also to adopt a legal framework and remain committed to contain the macroeconomic risks from external aid flows. They also welcomed the sixth review and Financing Assurances under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement.
International Monetary Fund
Economic performance in Nicaragua has been better than envisaged; nonetheless, vulnerabilities remain and will be compounded by electoral uncertainties. The decision to use part of the strong revenue performance to lower the fiscal deficit is appropriate. Exchange-rate and monetary policy remain broadly adequate. Fiscal adjustment should set the stage for a strong program of fiscal consolidation following the elections. Continued vigilance in the financial sector will be critical. Improvement in reporting and monitoring of foreign aid flows and transparency is necessary.