Mr. Sami Ben Naceur, Mr. Ralph Chami, and Mohamed Trabelsi
This paper explores the relationship between remittances and financial inclusion for a sample of 187 countries over the period 2004-2015, using cross-country as well as dynamic panel GMM regressions. At low levels of remittances-to-GDP, these flows act as a substitute to formal financial channels, thereby reducing financial inclusion. In contrast, when remittance-to-GDP ratio is high, above 13% on average, they tend to complement formal access and usage channels, thus enhancing financial inclusion. This “U shaped” relationship highlights the role of remittance flows in financing household consumption at low levels, while raising formal household bank savings and allowing for more intermediation, at high levels of remittance-to-GDP.
This Technical Assistance report on El Salvador highlights analysis on the Monthly Volume Indicator of Economic Activity (IMVAE) and institutional sector accounts mission. The mission reviewed the process followed by the National Accounts Department team to consolidate the IMVAE and compile the economic activity indicators established in accordance with the recommendations of the previous mission carried out in September 2017. It found a very thorough analysis and review of the basic statistics available for measuring that indicator. Particularly noteworthy is the magnitude of the interinstitutional effort to provide new information gleaned from the results of the Monthly and Quarterly Economic Surveys, conducted by the Directorate General of Statistics and Censuses with Central Reserve Bank of El Salvador support. The mission suggested to continue to apply the methodology established for compiling and continuously updating the IMVAE, while constantly analyzing the consistency, quality, and timeliness of the calculation of the indicator and its alignment with quarterly data and ensuring that it is consistent with the concepts and guidelines underlying Quarterly National Accounts aggregates.
Natural disasters are a source of economic risks in many countries, especially in smaller and lower-income states, and ex-ante preparedness is needed to manage the risks. The paper discusses sovereign experience with disaster insurance as a key instrument to mitigate the risks; proposes ways to judge the adequacy of insurance; and considers ways to enhance its use by vulnerable countries. The paper especially aims to inform policy decisions on disaster insurance. Through simulations of natural disasters and various insurance options, we find that sovereign decisions on optimal risk transfer involve balancing trade-offs between growth and debt, based on government risk preferences and country risk exposure. The choice of optimal insurance for smaller countries turns out to be more constrained by cost considerations due to their higher exposure, likely resulting in underinsurance; donor grants could help them achieve a more optimal protection. We also find that optimal insurance packages are those that are least costly relative to expected payouts (i.e. have the lowest insurance multiple), which are also the packages that insure less severe (more frequent) disasters.
Valentina Flamini, Pierluigi Bologna, Fabio Di Vittorio, and Rasool Zandvakil
Credit is key to support healthy and sustainable economic growth but excess aggregate credit growth can signal the build-up of imbalances and lead to systemic financial crisis. Hence, monitoring the credit cycle is key to identifying vulnerabilities, particularly in emerging markets, which tend to be more exposed to sudden external shocks and reversal in capital flows. We estimate the credit cycle in Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic and find that the creadit gap is a powerful predictor of systemic vulnerability in the region. We simulate the activation of the Basel III countercyclical capital buffers and discuss the macroprudential policy implications of the results, arguing that countercyclical macroprudential policies based on the credit gap could prove useful to enhance the resilience of the region’s financial sector but the activation of macroprudential instruments should also be informed by the development of other macrofinancial variables and by expert judgment.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper estimates potential output growth and the output gap for Guatemala. Potential output growth averaged 4.4 percent just before the global financial crisis but has since declined to 3.75 percent owing to lower capital accumulation and total factor productivity (TFP) growth. It is estimated at 3.8 percent in 2016, and the output gap has virtually closed. Potential growth is expected to reach 4 percent in the medium term owing to the expected improvements in TFP growth. Policies should also prioritize mobilizing domestic savings to invest and build a higher capital stock.
This report evaluates the level of implementation of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations for Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) in Panama. The findings reveal that Panama is vulnerable to money laundering from a number of sources, including drug trafficking and other predicate crimes committed abroad, such as fraud and financial and tax crimes. The AML Law covers most of the core financial sectors but does not fully apply to the insurance sector and does not extend to a number of other financial activities as required under the FATF standard. Competent authorities, including law enforcement and the Financial Intelligence Unit, do not have timely access to information on legal persons and arrangements as required under the FATF standard.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This paper presents an assessment of compliance with the Basel Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision in El Salvador. The regulatory authority Superintendencia del Sistema Financiero (SSF) has taken a number of initiatives to strengthen and upgrade supervision. This includes, among others, a risk unit with specialized expertise and continued efforts to foster cross-border cooperation and coordination. Despite considerable efforts, for the SSF is commended for its efforts, the lack of regulation in practically all risk categories is a major impediment to further progress. The lack of standards in those areas, combined with severe shortcomings in legal protection and deficiencies in the remedial action framework for addressing minor transgressions, limits the SSF’s ability to address imprudent behavior by banks.