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International Monetary Fund
Risks to macroeconomic stability posed by excessive private leverage are significantly amplified by tax distortions. ‘Debt bias’ (tax provisions favoring finance by debt rather than equity) has increased leverage in both the household and corporate sectors, and is now widely recognized as a significant macroeconomic concern. This paper presents new evidence of the extent of debt bias, including estimates for banks and non-bank financial institutions both before and after the global financial crisis. It presents policy options to alleviate debt bias, and assesses their effectiveness. The paper finds that thin capitalization rules restricting interest deductibility have only partially been able to address debt bias, but that an allowance for corporate equity has generally proved effective. The paper concludes that debt bias should feature prominently in countries’ tax reform plans in the coming years.
Mr. Tamim Bayoumi, Mr. Joseph E. Gagnon, and Christian Saborowski
We use a cross-country panel framework to analyze the effect of net official flows (chiefly foreign exchange intervention) on current accounts. We find that net official flows have a large but plausible effect on current account balances. The estimated effects are larger with instrumental variables (42 cents to the dollar on average compared to 24 without instruments), reflecting a possible downward bias in regressions without instruments owing to an endogenous response of net official flows to private financial flows. We consistently find larger impacts of net official flows when international capital flows are restricted and smaller impacts when capital is highly mobile. A further result is that there is an important positive effect of lagged net official flows on current accounts that we believe operates through the portfolio balance channel.
Mr. Fabian Lipinsky and Li Lian Ong
Stock markets play a key role in corporate financing in Asia. However, despite their increasing importance in terms of size and cross-border investment activity, the region’s markets are reputed to be more “idiosyncratic” and less reliant on economic and corporate fundamentals in their pricing. Using a model that draws on international asset pricing and economic theory, as well as accounting literature, we find evidence of greater idiosyncratic influences in the pricing of Asia’s stock markets, compared to their G-7 counterparts, beyond the identified systematic factors and local fundamentals. We also show proof of a significant relationship between the strength of implementation of securities regulations and the “noise” in stock pricing, which suggests that improvements in the regulation of securities markets in Asia could enhance the role of stock markets as stable and reliable sources of financing into the future.
Iva Petrova, Jukka Pihlman, Mr. Peter J Kunzel, and Miss Yinqiu Lu
While SWF investment objectives to some extent reflect inherent characteristics, notable differences in strategic asset allocation (SAA) exist even amongst SWFs of similar types. Even so, this paper shows that the global crisis may have changed SWF’s asset allocations in ways that may not be ideal or justified in all cases and that a review of investment objectives may be warranted. It also argues for regular macro-risk assessments for the sovereign, the continued importance of SWFs as a stabilizer in international capital markets, as well as the active role they could play in international regulatory reform.
Mr. Eduardo Borensztein and Mr. Prakash Loungani
The paper compares trends in financial integration within Asia with those in industrialized countries and other regional groups. Declines in cross-country dispersion in equity returns and interest rates suggest increased Asian integration, with the process interrupted by crises and global volatility. Cross-border equity and bond holdings have also increased, but Asian countries remain considerably more financially integrated with major countries outside the region than with those within the region. The paper also discusses whether potential benefits of regional financial integration, such as increased risk-sharing and stability of the investor base, have materialized.
International Monetary Fund
At its Spring Meeting, the IMFC reiterated the importance of implementing the program of quota and voice reforms in line with the timetable set out by the Board of Governors in Singapore. The Committee welcomed the initial informal Board discussions on a new quota formula and stressed the importance of agreeing on a new formula, which should be simple and transparent and should capture members’ relative positions in the world economy. It noted that this reform would result in higher shares for dynamic economies, many of which are emerging market economies, whose weight and role in the global economy have increased. The Committee also stressed the importance of enhancing the voice and participation of low-income countries, a key issue for which is an increase in basic votes, at a minimum preserving the voting share of low-income countries. The Committee called on the Executive Board to continue its work on the reform package as a matter of priority.
Mr. Charles Frederick Kramer, Miss Catriona Purfield, Ms. Hiroko Oura, and Andreas Jobst
Asian equity markets have grown significantly in size since the early 1990s, driven by strong international investor inflows, growing regional financial integration, capital account liberalization, and structural improvements to markets. The development of equity markets provides a more diversified set of channels for financial intermediation to support growth, thus bolstering medium-term financial stability. At the same time, as highlighted by the May-June 2006 market corrections, the increasing role of stock markets potentially changes the nature of macroeconomic and financial stability risks, as well as the policy requirements for dealing with these risks.
Mr. Amadou N Sy and Ms. Li L Ong
The expansion of the global mutual funds industry has been characterized by growth in mature as well as emerging markets. This has clearly contributed to the development of local securities markets in emerging market economies, which in turn, has been key in attracting investment inflows from overseas funds. A major concern, however, is that large foreign investors could significantly disrupt the stability of local capital markets in the event of a market shock, with systemic implications for the real economy. Our estimates suggest that while local investors remain the more important group in terms of market share, the influence of foreign funds cannot be discounted. Asset allocation decisions by mature market funds- both dedicated and crossover-in aggregate, could affect emerging markets. In particular, European mutual funds appear to play a much bigger role in emerging markets than their U.S. counterparts.
Ms. Ling H Tan and Carlos D. Ramírez
Government-linked companies (GLCs) have a significant presence in Singapore's corporate sector. Unlike parastatals in many other countries, these companies are run on a competitive, commercial basis, ostensibly without government privileges. Based on data from publicly listed GLCs and non-GLCs, we indeed find no evidence that GLCs have easier access to credit. However, we do find that being a GLC is rewarded in financial markets with a positive premium, over and above what can be explained by the usual determinants of Tobin's q.