Mr. Giovanni Dell'Ariccia, Caio Ferreira, Nigel Jenkinson, Mr. Luc Laeven, Alberto Martin, Ms. Camelia Minoiu, and Alex Popov
This paper reviews empirical and theoretical work on the links between banks and their governments (the bank-sovereign nexus). How significant is this nexus? What do we know about it? To what extent is it a source of concern? What is the role of policy intervention? The paper concludes with a review of recent policy proposals.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The SSM (SSM) has made a solid start. Set up a little over three years ago, the SSM has developed into a coherent banking supervision mechanism operating across the 19 Euro Area Member States. Banking supervision at the European Central Bank (ECB) is underpinned by a clear mandate and independence from government or industry interference in individual supervisory decisions. Its well-defined supervisory methodology and processes—complemented by committed staff—have laid the foundations for more forward-looking, pre-emptive, and evenhanded supervision. This is a noteworthy achievement for the Euro Area.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The FSAP team undertook a thorough top-down stress testing analysis using end-2017 data. This note covers the methodology and results of the scenario-based solvency tests, the single factor sensitivity tests, and the liquidity tests. The stress test exercise was carried out on a sample of major euro area banks supervised by the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM). The analysis is heavily dependent on comprehensive and granular supervisory data on individual banks’ positions shared by the European Central Bank (ECB). While FSAP results are not directly comparable to the 2018 EU-wide stress test results due to differences in scenarios, methodologies, and objectives, they provide an assessment of the system-wide resilience of the euro area banking sector at the current juncture.
Financial crises are traditionally analyzed as purely economic phenomena. The political
economy of financial booms and busts remains both under-emphasized and limited to
isolated episodes. This paper examines the political economy of financial policy during
ten of the most infamous financial booms and busts since the 18th century, and presents
consistent evidence of pro-cyclical regulatory policies by governments. Financial booms,
and risk-taking during these episodes, were often amplified by political regulatory stimuli,
credit subsidies, and an increasing light-touch approach to financial supervision. The
regulatory backlash that ensues from financial crises can only be understood in the context
of the deep political ramifications of these crises. Post-crisis regulations do not always
survive the following boom. The interplay between politics and financial policy over these
cycles deserves further attention. History suggests that politics can be the undoing of
This paper discusses Portugal’s Ex-post Evaluation of Exceptional Access Under the 2011 Extended Arrangement. Portugal faced a sudden stop in financing in 2011. The authorities’ IMF-supported program aimed to address the problems that had made Portugal vulnerable to changes in market confidence. The evaluation concurs that the program’s “big decisions” were justified. The main lesson to be drawn from Portugal’s experience is that adjustment in the context of currency union membership is difficult. Further work is needed to flesh out the measures required to support internal devaluation and private sector deleveraging. Options for union-level conditionality would benefit from clarification.
The crisis has highlighted the importance of setting up macro-prudential oversight
frameworks, having effective macro-prudential instruments in place to be called upon to
mitigate growing financial imbalances as needed. We develop a new approach using the euro
area Bank Lending Survey to assess the effectiveness of macro-prudential policies in
containing credit growth and house price appreciation in mortgage markets. We find
instruments targeting the cost of bank capital most effective in slowing down mortgage credit
growth, and that the impact is transmitted mainly through price margins, the same banking
channel as monetary policy. Limits on loan-to-value ratios are also effective, especially when
monetary policy is excessively loose.
Ireland’s major property bubble burst at the same time as the global financial crisis erupted, plunging the country into a severe recession in 2008–10. Public debt climbed rapidly as revenues collapsed and as banks’ rising loan losses increasingly required public support. Following the Greek crisis in spring 2010 and emerging tensions in the euro area, the last act in the process saw the operation of the “sovereign-bank loop”—a vicious cycle where uncertainty about banks’ health fed into doubts around the sustainability of public debt, which only added to fears about the banks. The government lost access to market financing at manageable interest rates, and Ireland entered into a three-year program supported by €67.5 billion of financial assistance from the European Union (EU) and IMF in late 2010.
Ireland’s program therefore had three main goals: restoring the viability of the banking system; putting the public finances on a sustainable path and returning to market funding; and restarting economic recovery including by improving growth potential. A large bank recapitalization in early 2011 helped stabilize deposits and other bank funding. The government’s access to market financing was progressively regained from mid 2012, enabling Ireland to exit the program at the end of 2013 and rely fully on market financing at highly favorable terms. The first signs of recovery were seen in strong job creation starting in the second half of 2012, and Ireland’s recent economic figures have surpassed even the most optimistic expectations, with growth of about 5 percent in 2014.
Seeking to draw lessons for Ireland, the EU, and the IMF, as well as other countries facing similar challenges, the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI), the Centre for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), and the IMF organized a conference titled “Ireland—Lessons from Its Recovery from the Bank-Sovereign Loop.” Held on January 19, 2015, at the historic Dublin Castle, it brought together Irish government representatives, European officials, academics, journalists, private sector representatives, and other stakeholders, as well as the IMF’s Managing Director. The conference discussions were anchored by three papers by leading international academics and moderated by journalists familiar with the issues. The event concluded with a high-level panel discussion by senior policymakers.
Among member states, many structural weaknesses were exposed when economic performance declined significantly and financial markets became more discerning. This book focuses on the analytical underpinnings of real-time policy advice given to euro area policymakers during four cycles of the IMF’s annual Article IV consultations (2012–15) with euro area authorities.