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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

Countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP) region and those in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with swift and stringent measures to mitigate its spread and impact but continue to face an uncertain and difficult environment. Oil exporters were particularly hard hit by a “double-whammy” of the economic impact of lockdowns and the resulting sharp decline in oil demand and prices. Containing the health crisis, cushioning income losses, and expanding social spending remain immediate priorities. However, governments must also begin to lay the groundwork for recovery and rebuilding stronger, including by addressing legacies from the crisis and strengthening inclusion.

Mr. Ananthakrishnan Prasad, Heba Abdel Monem, and Pilar Garcia Martinez
Several characteristics of the structure of the Arab economies, their economic policy framework, and their banking systems make macroprudential policy a particular relevant tool. For most oil exporters, heavy reliance on the extractive sector for generating fiscal revenues and export earnings translates into increased vulnerabilities to oil price shocks. In the case of oil importers, relatively small external and fiscal buffers make them highly vulnerable to shocks. This paper discusses the experience of Arab countries in implementing macroprudential policies and contains recommendations to strengthen their macroprudential framework.
International Monetary Fund

The Selected Issues paper of Lebanon provides an update of the vulnerability assessment based on the balance sheet approach. It explores the interest rate determination, the strength of the link to international interest rates, and exposure to international interest rate shocks, summarizes the methodology used to derive confidence intervals around the path of the debt ratio in the staff’s adjustment scenario, and provides an assessment of Lebanon’s competitiveness from a macroeconomic and microeconomic perspective, with a view to identify possible sources of competitiveness gains over the medium term.

Mr. Tushar Poddar, Mr. Mangal Goswami, Mr. Juan Sole, and Victor Echévarria Icaza
This paper seeks to understand how interest rates are formed in Lebanon, by focusing on the pass-through from benchmark rates, prevailing liquidity conditions, and the main characteristics of the Lebanese economy, notably its open capital account, fixed exchange rate, high government borrowing requirement, large public debt, and high degree of deposit dollarization. We find that international interest rates are an important element in the determination of interest rates in Lebanon. In particular, the pass-through of global benchmark rates to interest rates on sovereign bonds is about 70 percent. The less-than-complete pass-through could be attributed to a home-bias effect reflecting a relatively stable and dedicated investor base. The study also shows that interest rates in Lebanon are affected by liquidity conditions as well as perceived sovereign risk.
Antonio Garcia Pascual, Mr. Jorge Cayazzo, Mrs. Socorro Heysen, and Miss Eva Gutierrez
The paper presents a supervisory framework that addresses the vulnerabilities of partially dollarized banking systems. The tendency to underprice systemic liquidity risk and currency-induced credit risk creates vulnerabilities that need supervisory responses. The framework seeks to induce agents to better internalize risks by implementing a risk based approach to supervision, following the risk management guidelines of the Basel Committee, and by establishing buffers to cover higher liquidity and solvency risks. The paper also shows that most dollarized countries have addressed their liquidity vulnerabilities, but few have addressed those arising from currency-induced credit risks.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

Klakow Akepanidtaworn, Gareth Anderson, Dalmacio R Benicio, and Joyce C. Wong prepared this chapter, and Oluremi Akin-Olugbade provided research assistance.