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International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This paper summarizes the stress tests (ST) undertaken for the Malaysian banking system as part of the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP). All banks were subject to solvency, liquidity and contagion tests in the macroeconomic stress testing set-up. The solvency tests assessed the resilience of the Malaysian banking system under three macroeconomic scenarios from 2012 to 2016. Single year bottom up (BU) sensitivity tests for Malaysian banks covered various single-factor credit and market risk shocks. A multi-factor BU sensitivity liquidity test was also carried out by participating banks and extended to not only key onshore banks but covered some Labuan entities and overseas subsidiaries. The findings suggest that the onshore banking system in Malaysia has substantial capital buffers to absorb credit losses on its credit risk exposures. Conventional banks can benefit from buffers provided by significant income as a first line of defense against credit losses. Some larger domestic banks benefit from income in terms of strong revenues from domestic operations as well as potential income from overseas operations.
Jihad Dagher
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 macro-prudential regulations.
Mr. Ashoka Mody and Mr. Abdul d Abiad
Despite stops, gaps, and reversals, financial reforms advanced worldwide in the last quarter century. Using a new index of financial liberalization, we conclude that influential events shook the status quo, inducing both reforms and reversals, while learning, more so than ideology and country structure, shaped and sustained widespread reforms. Among shocks, a decline in global interest rates and balance of payments crises strengthened reformers; banking crises were associated with reversals, while new governments brought about both reforms and reversals. Learning occurred domestically-initial reforms raised the likelihood of further reforms-and through observing regional reform leaders. Among structural features, greater openness to trade appears to have increased the pace of financial reform.
Raja Almarzoqi, Mr. Sami Ben Naceur, and Alessandro Scopelliti
The paper analyzes the relationship between bank competition and stability, with a specific focus on the Middle East and North Africa. Price competition has a positive effect on bank liquidity, as it induces self-discipline incentives on banks for the choice of bank funding sources and for the holding of liquid assets. On the other hand, price competition may have a potentially negative impact on bank solvency and on the credit quality of the loan portfolio. More competitive banks may be less solvent if the potential increase in the equity base—due to capital adjustments—is not large enough to compensate for the reduction in bank profitability. Also, banks subject to stronger competitive pressures may have a higher rate of nonperforming loans, if the increase in the risk-taking incentives from the lender’s side overcomes the decrease in the credit risk from the borrower’s side. In both cases, country-specific policies for market entry conditions—and for bank regulation and supervision—may significantly affect the sign and the size of the relationship. The paper suggests policy reforms designed to improve market contestability and to increase the quality and independence of prudential supervision.
Mr. Juan Sole and Andreas Jobst
Derivatives are few and far between in countries where the compatibility of financial transactions with Islamic law requires the development of shari'ah-compliant structures. Islamic finance is governed by the shari'ah, which bans speculation and gambling, and stipulates that income must be derived as profits from the shared generation of goods and services between counterparties rather than interest or a guaranteed return. The paper explains the fundamental legal principles underpinning Islamic finance with a view towards developing a cohesive theory of derivatives subject to shari'ahprinciples. After critically reviewing accepted contracts and the scholastic debate surrounding existing financial innovation in this area, the paper offers an axiomatic perspective on a principle-based permissibility of derivatives under Islamic law.
International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept.
Precautionary balances are a key element of the Fund’s multilayered framework to mitigate financial risks. Overall financial risks remain elevated but have not increased significantly since the last review. Staff proposes to leave the medium-term target of SDR 25 billion, and the minimum floor of SDR 15 billion, unchanged at this time. With the projected increase in lending income, the pace of reserve accumulation is expected to remain adequate relative to the medium-term indicative target. The paper also reviews policy factors discussed in recent Board meetings that affect the level and accumulation of reserves.
Davide Furceri, Jun Ge, Mr. Jonathan David Ostry, Mr. Chris Papageorgiou, and Gabriele Ciminelli
Many countries are experiencing persistent, weak medium-term growth and limited fiscal space. Against this background, economic policy agendas—in both advanced and developing economies—are focusing increasingly on structural reforms. While there is broad agreement on the economic benefits of structural reforms, the political-economy of reform is less settled. This is because reforms may generate gains only in the longer term while distributional effects may be sizable in the short run, and because governments may lack political capital to confront vocal interest groups. In these circumstances, politicians may hold back on reforms, fearing they will be penalized at the ballot box. The aim of this Staff Discussion Note is to examine whether the fear of a political cost associated with structural reforms is justified by the available evidence, and whether there are lessons from the data about how reform strategies might be designed to mitigate potential political costs. It provides a major addition to recent IMF analysis examining the output and employment effect of reforms