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International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept.
On October 30, 2020, the IMF’s Executive Board reviewed the adequacy of the Fund’s precautionary balances. Precautionary balances, comprising the Fund’s general and special reserves and the Special Contingent Account (SCA-1), are one element of the IMF’s multi-layered framework for managing financial risks. These balances provide a buffer to protect the Fund against potential losses, resulting from credit, income, and other financial risks. This review of the adequacy of the Fund’s precautionary balances took place on the standard two-year cycle, although it was delayed by a few months to allow for an assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Fund financial risks. In conducting the review, the Executive Board applied the rules-based framework agreed in 2010.
International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
A technical assistance (TA) mission on external sector statistics (ESS) visited Guinea-Bissau during February 3 to 7, 2020. The mission was conducted in Bissau at the request of the National Directorate for Guinea-Bissau of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO-DNGB). The mission assisted in improving the quality of ESS. This was the fourth and final mission under the JSA-AFR project for improving ESS in 17 francophone countries of Central and West Africa, financed by the government of Japan and administered by the IMF.
Rui Mano and Jiayi Zhang
While China’s growth gathered momentum in 2017, rebalancing was uneven and decelerated along many dimensions reflecting the temporary factors behind the growth pickup. Going forward, rebalancing is expected to proceed as these temporary factors recede, but elevated income inequality and leverage will remain a challenge. The authorities are already pursuing several pro-rebalancing policies which could be expanded to support each dimension of rebalancing while reducing trade-offs between them.
Mr. Daniel Garcia-Macia
High household wealth is often cited as a key strength of the Italian economy. Both in absolute terms and relative to income, the Italian household sector is wealthier than most euro area peers. A sizable fraction of this wealth is held by the rich and upper middle classes. This paper documents the changes in the Italian household sector’s financial wealth over the past two decades, by constructing the matrix of bilateral financial sectoral exposures. Households became increasingly exposed to the financial sector, which in turn was exposed to the highly indebted real and government sectors. The paper then simulates different financial shocks to gauge the ability of the household sector to absorb losses. Simple illustrative calculations are presented for a fall in the value of government bonds as well as for bank bail-ins versus bailouts.
Davide Furceri, Mr. Prakash Loungani, and Mr. Jonathan David Ostry
We take a fresh look at the aggregate and distributional effects of policies to liberalize international capital flows—financial globalization. Both country- and industry-level results suggest that such policies have led on average to limited output gains while contributing to significant increases in inequality—that is, they pose an equity–efficiency trade-off. Behind this average lies considerable heterogeneity in effects depending on country characteristics. Liberalization increases output in countries with high financial depth and those that avoid financial crises, while distributional effects are more pronounced in countries with low financial depth and inclusion and where liberalization is followed by a crisis. Difference-indifference estimates using sectoral data suggest that liberalization episodes reduce the share of labor income, particularly for industries with higher external financial dependence, those with a higher natural propensity to use layoffs to adjust to idiosyncratic shocks, and those with a higher elasticity of substitution between capital and labor. The sectoral results underpin a causal interpretation of the findings using macro data.
Mariusz Jarmuzek and Rossen Rozenov
Nonfinancial private sector debt increased significantly in advanced economies prior to the global financial crisis and, with a few exceptions, deleveraging has been limited. Furthermore, in some countries households and corporations have continued to accumulate debt. Drawing on the literature, the paper aims to provide a quantitative assessment of the gaps between actual and sustainable levels of debt and to identify the key factors that drive excessive borrowing. Results suggest that variables that are typically found important in studies focusing on borrowing decisions, are also relevant for explaining the debt sustainability gaps.
Davide Furceri and Mr. Prakash Loungani
This paper examines the distributional impact of capital account liberalization. Using panel data for 149 countries from 1970 to 2010, we find that, on average, capital account liberalization reforms increase inequality and reduce the labor share of income in the short and medium term. We also find that the level of financial development and the occurrence of crises play a key role in shaping the response of inequality to capital account liberalization reforms.
Mr. Eduardo Borensztein, Mr. Damiano Sandri, and Mr. Olivier D Jeanne
This paper uses a dynamic optimization model to estimate the welfare gains of hedging against commodity price risk for commodity-exporting countries. The introduction of hedging instruments such as futures and options enhances domestic welfare through two channels. First, by reducing export income volatility and allowing for a smoother consumption path. Second, by reducing the country's need to hold foreign assets as precautionary savings (or by improving the country's ability to borrow against future export income). Under plausibly calibrated parameters, the second channel may lead to much larger welfare gains, amounting to several percentage points of annual consumption.
International Monetary Fund
This technical note explains stress testing for Portugal’s financial sector. A core part of the banking stress tests was the bottom-up exercise implemented by individual institutions. The bottom-up stress tests focus only on the impact of expected losses on indicators of profitability and capitalization. The results are presented in terms of the actual solvency levels before and after the shock, allowing for an assessment of the capacity of banks to withstand the shocks.
Mr. Biaggio Bossone and Mr. Abdourahmane Sarr
Our proposal draws on the premise that the availability of stable demand deposits for bank lending, in the process of which inside money is created, does not require any act of intentional saving. The mechanism allowing banks to lend deposits does not function well in low-income countries, owing to a number of structural constraints. We argue that separating inside money creation from lending, and distributing it on a nonlending basis to depositors through specialized payment service institutions, could broaden access to financial resources, fuel non-inflationary, demand-led growth; and foster financial deepening, diversification, and stability. We also argue that the proposed reform is consistent with market incentives and sound economic management.