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International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This note provides an update and assessment of developments in insurance supervision since 2014. It is part of the 2020 Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) for the Hong Kong SAR (HKSAR) and draws on discussions there from September 10 to 24, 2019. It has not been updated for the impact of recent global events associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The insurance sector is large, especially long-term (life) insurance, highly international and has been growing steadily. The long-term market is amongst the world’s largest, particularly by penetration (premiums to GDP). Growth has been supported by the popularity of savings products, including sales of policies to Mainland Chinese visitors (MCVs), although these have declined from their peak. The general insurance sector, though comprising many more companies, is relatively small and spread over many lines. The authorities have identified scope for growth in protection policies as well as opportunities for captive and specialty lines related to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Tax incentives have supported the recent successful introduction of new annuity and health insurance products. Although foreign-owned companies account for a large share of business, the HKSAR is the home of three major domestic groups operating internationally.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
he Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is among the world’s major fintech hubs, well positioned to develop fintech initiatives from its traditional strengths in financial services. Key factors enabling the HKSAR to emerge as a fintech hub include its presence as an international financial center, its free-flowing talent and capital, a highly developed information and technology communication (ITC) infrastructure, and its most unique trait, a geographical and strategic advantage by proximity to the market in Mainland China.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The main macro-financial risks relate to extensive linkages to Mainland China, stretched real estate valuations, and exposure to shifts in global market and domestic risk sentiment, compounded by escalating U.S.-China tensions. Stress tests show that the financial system is resilient to severe macro-financial shocks, but there are pockets of vulnerabilities in foreign bank branches, investment funds, households, and nonfinancial corporates. Hong Kong SAR’s financial sector is also exposed to physical and transition risks from climate change.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
GDP contracted by 9½ percent in 2020—a much steeper decline than during the Asian Financial Crisis (AFC)—but it is now recovering with the easing of containment measures and economic policy support. Banks are closely connected to the corporate sector through high credit exposures and conglomerate ownership linkages. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) may list the Philippines as a jurisdiction with serious Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) deficiencies in 2021. The country is also vulnerable to climate change (physical) risks, especially the destruction of physical capital from typhoons.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This paper presents Financial System Stability Assessment of Australian financial systems. The report highlights that financial supervision and systemic risk oversight have been enhanced. And the authorities have taken successful policy action to calm rapid growth in riskier segments of the mortgage market. Restrictions on the growth of investor loans and the share of interest-only mortgages, as well as the introduction of stronger lending standards, appear to have led to a slowdown in mortgage credit growth, and the housing market is now cooling. Financial supervision shows generally high conformity to international best practices, although there are opportunities to close identified gaps and strengthen arrangements. Steps are recommended to bolster the independence and resourcing of the regulatory agencies, by removing constraints on their policy making powers and providing additional budgetary autonomy and flexibility. The paper explains that greater formalization and transparency of the work of the Council of Financial Regulators would further buttress the financial stability framework.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This paper discusses the findings of the Financial System Stability Assessment for India. Since the 2011 Financial Sector Assessment Program, India has recorded strong growth in both economic activity and financial assets, supported by important structural reforms and terms of trade gains. Increased diversification, commercial orientation, and technology-driven inclusion have supported growth in the financial industry, backed by improved legal, regulatory, and supervisory frameworks. Yet, the financial sector is facing considerable challenges, and economic growth has recently slowed down. High nonperforming assets (NPAs) and slow deleveraging and repair of corporate balance sheets are testing the resilience of the banking system, and holding back investment and growth. The authorities have been pursuing policies to accelerate the process of NPA resolution.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This paper discusses the findings of the Financial System Stability Assessment (FSAP) for China. Since the 2011 FSAP, China’s impressive economic growth has continued, and it is now undertaking a necessary but prolonged economic and financial transformation. However, tensions have also emerged in various areas of the Chinese financial system. The monetary and fiscal policies aimed at supporting employment and growth have been expansionary in recent years. Pressures to keep nonviable firms open are strong, particularly at the local government level, where these objectives, at times, conflict with financial stability. The demand for high-yield investment products coupled with strengthening oversight of the banking sector has also led to regulatory arbitrage and the growth of increasingly complex investment vehicles.