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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.
Ms. Ratna Sahay and Mr. Martin Cihak
Women are underrepresented at all levels of the global financial system, from depositors and borrowers to bank board members and regulators. A new study at the IMF finds that greater inclusion of women as users, providers, and regulators of financial services would have benefits beyond addressing gender inequality. Narrowing the gender gap would foster greater stability in the banking system and enhance economic growth. It could also contribute to more effective monetary and fiscal policy. New evidence suggests that greater access for women to and use of accounts for financial transactions, savings, and insurance can have both economic and societal benefits. For example, women merchants who opened a basic bank account tend to invest more in their businesses, while female-headed households often spend more on education after opening a savings account. More inclusive financial systems in turn can magnify the effectiveness of fiscal and monetary policies by broadening financial markets and the tax base. The paper also studies the large gaps between the representation of men and women in leadership positions in banks and in banking-supervision agencies worldwide. It finds that, shockingly, women accounted for less than 2 percent of financial institutions’ chief executive officers and less than 20 percent of executive board members. The analysis suggests that, controlling for relevant bank- and country-specific factors, the presence of women as well as a higher share of women on bank boards appears associated with greater financial resilience. This study also finds that a higher share of women on boards of banking-supervision agencies is associated with greater bank stability. This evidence strengthens the case for closing the gender gaps in leadership positions in finance.
Mr. Shekhar Aiyar, Mr. Ali J Al-Eyd, Ms. Bergljot B Barkbu, and Andreas Jobst
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for a disproportionate share of output and employment in Europe but are still highly dependent on bank finance, which dried up or became prohibitively expensive during the crisis. Broader access to alternative, long-term finance through securitization would limit their exposure to banking sector difficulties and thus help revive credit. The SDN examines the various impediments to the development of a well-functioning and liquid securitization market in Europe and proposes a comprehensive multi-faceted strategy to support its development through regulatory reforms and infrastructure development together with targeted and time-bound official sector support. This would require (i) greater regulatory differentiation between securities of different quality and underlying asset structures; (ii) harmonized national enforcement and insolvency frameworks and standardized reporting requirements; and (iii) greater capacity of EU authorities to support new issuance. These measures would be underpinned by a pan-European definition of high-quality securitization (HQS) comprising simple, transparent and efficient asset structures receiving preferential regulatory treatment.
Mr. Wolfgang Bergthaler, Mr. Kenneth H Kang, Ms. Yan Liu, and Mr. Dermot Monaghan
The global financial crisis has left a large private sector debt overhang and high levels of non- performing loans (NPLs) in several European countries. Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) represent a significant and weak segment of the nonfinancial corporate sector. SMEs face a number of legal, financial, and regulatory challenges to restructuring that differ from those of larger corporates, such as a rigid and costly insolvency regime, a higher fixed cost to loan restructuring, and the lack of alternative sources of financing. Given SMEs’ large presence and close links to the banking system, addressing the SME loan problem in Europe will be critical for strengthening bank and corporate balance sheets and supporting a more robust and sustained recovery.
Ruud A. de Mooij
Staff Discussion Notes showcase the latest policy-related analysis and research being developed by individual IMF staff and are published to elicit comment and to further debate. These papers are generally brief and written in nontechnical language, and so are aimed at a broad audience interested in economic policy issues. This Web-only series replaced Staff Position Notes in January 2011.
Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, Ms. Jianping Zhou, Vanessa Le Leslé, and Michael Moore
The causes of the global financial crisis were multi-faceted but revealed still unresolved weaknesses in national and international financial oversight and resolution frameworks. In particular, many governments in the crisis-hit countries had to provide unprecedented levels of support to contain the crisis and protect financial stability. These interventions have not only contributed to a significant increase in sovereign exposures but, in many countries, they have also risked weakening market discipline and worsening moral hazard.