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  • Corporate Finance and Governance: Government Policy and Regulation x
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Mr. Federico J Diez, Mr. Romain A Duval, Jiayue Fan, José Garrido, Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Chiara Maggi, and Mr. Nicola Pierri
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased insolvency risks, especially among small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which are vastly overrepresented in hard-hit sectors. Without government intervention, even firms that are viable a priori could end up being liquidated—particularly in sectors characterized by labor-intensive technologies, threatening both macroeconomic and social stability. This staff discussion note assesses the impact of the pandemic on SME insolvency risks and policy options to address them. It quantifies the impact of weaker aggregate demand, changes in sectoral consumption patterns, and lockdowns on firm balance sheets and estimates the impact of a range of policy options, for a large sample of SMEs in (mostly) advanced economies.
Thilo Kroeger, Anh Thi Ngoc Nguyen, Yuanyan Sophia Zhang, Pham Dinh Thuy, Nguyen Huy Minh, and Duong Danh Tuan
The paper uses firm-level data to assess the financial health of the Vietnamese non-financial corporate sector on the eve of pandemic. Our analysis finds that smaller domestic firms were particularly vulnerable even by regional comparison. A sensitivity analysis suggests that the COVID-19 shock will have a substantial impact on firms’ profitability, liquidity and even solvency, particularly in the hardest hit sectors that are dominated by SMEs and account for a sizeable employment share, but large firms are not immune to the crisis. Risks of default can propagate more broadly through upstream and downstream linkages to industries not directly impacted, with stresses potentially translating into an increase in corporate bankruptcies and bank fragility. Policy measures taken in the immediate aftermath of the crisis have helped alleviate liquidity pressures, but the nature of policy support may have to pivot to support the recovery.
Mariusz Jarmuzek and Mr. Tonny Lybek
This paper argues that better governance practices can reduce the costs, risks and uncertainty of financial intermediation. Our sample covers high-, middle- and low-income countries before and after the global financial crisis (GFC). We find that net interest margins of banks are lower if various governance indicators are better. More cross-border lending also appears conducive to lower intermediation costs, while the level of capital market development is not significant. The GFC seems not to have had a strong impact except via credit risk. Finally, we estimate the size of potential gains from improved governance.
Ms. Deniz O Igan, Ali Mirzaei, and Tomoe Moore
We examine the extent to which regulations of entry and credit access are related to competition using data on 28 manufacturing sectors across 64 countries. A robust finding is that bureaucratic and costly entry regulations tend to hamper competition, as proxied by the price-cost margin, in the industries with a naturally high entry rate. Rigid entry regulations are also associated with a larger average firm size. Conversely, credit information registries are associated with lower price-cost margin and smaller average firm size in industries that rely heavily on external finance—consistent with access to finance exerting a positive effect on competition. These results suggest that incumbent firms are likely to enjoy the rent and market share arising from strict entry regulations, whereas regulations enhancing access to credit limit such benefits.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This Technical Note discusses the findings and recommendations in the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) for Spain in the area of banking supervision. Banking regulation and supervision of Spanish banks have improved considerably since the 2012 FSAP. Swift and determined action addressed the major weaknesses that led to the accumulation of imbalances in the banking system in the period leading to the crisis. Further reforms are needed because the transformation of the banking supervision function is far from complete. Actions to address misclassification and underprovisioning of assets have shown very good progress, but oversight must continue.
Rima Turk-Ariss
Concerns about excessive variability in bank risk weights have prompted their review by regulators. This paper provides prima facie evidence on the extent of risk weight heterogeneity across broad asset classes and by country of counterparty for major banks in the European Union using internal models. It also finds that corporate risk weights are sensitive to the riskiness of an average representative firm, but not to a market indicator of a firm’s probablity of default. Under plausible yet severe hypothetical scenarios for harmonized risk weights, counterfactual capital ratios would decline significantly for some banks, but they would not experience a shortfall relative to Basel III’s minimum requirements. This, however, does not preclude falling short of meeting additional national supervisory capital requirements.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department

Abstract

The current report finds that short-term risks to global financial stability have abated since April 2016, but that medium-term risks continue to build. Financial institutions in advanced economies face a number of cyclical and structural challenges and need to adapt to low growth and low interest rates, as well as to an evolving market and regulatory environment. Weak profitability could erode banks’ buffers over time and undermine their ability to support growth. A cyclical recovery will not resolve the problem of low profitability. More deep-rooted reforms and systemic management are needed, especially for European banks. The solvency of many life insurance companies and pension funds is threatened by a prolonged period of low interest rates. Corporate leverage in emerging market economies remains elevated in some countries, but the current favorable external environment presents an opportunity for overly indebted firms to restructure their balance sheets. The political climate is unsettled in many countries. A lack of income growth and a rise in inequality have opened the door for populist, inward-looking policies. These factors make it even harder to tackle legacy problems and further expose economies and markets to shocks. A potent and more balanced policy mix is needed to deliver a stronger path for growth and financial stability, and avoid slipping into a state of financial and economic stagnation. The report also examines how the rise of nonbank financing has altered the impact of monetary policy and finds that fears of a decline in the effectiveness of monetary policy are unfounded. It appears that the transmission of monetary policy is, if anything, stronger in economies with larger nonbank financial sectors. Finally, the report examines the link between corporate governance, investor protection, and financial stability in emerging market economies. It finds that the improvements over the past two decades have helped bolster the resilience of their financial systems. These benefits strengthen the case for further reform.

Galen Sher
Over the last two decades, cash holdings in nonfinancial firms around the world have increased. This phenomenon is particularly concerning in Japan, where the success of Abenomics depends on a transition from stimulus-driven to self-sustaining growth based on private consumption and investment. This paper finds that Japanese nonfinancial firms have accumulated cash at the expense of investment and dividends, hampering this transition. The evidence suggests that cash accumulation is due to financial imperfections combined with rising corporate profitability and uncertainty, while corporate governance plays only a limited role. These firms have cash holdings available for investment of about 5 percent of GDP. Policy options for encouraging the use of these cash holdings include improving firms’ access to market-based financing and discouraging CEO duality.