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Ms. Piyabha Kongsamut and Mr. V. Haksar
Recent crises in emerging markets have highlighted the role of the corporate sector in transmitting financial shocks to the macroeconomy. This paper takes stock of the performance of the Thai corporate sector in emerging from the Asian crisis, and discusses remaining challenges and vulnerabilities. Econometric evidence is presented on the impact of excess leverage on performance. Debt levels, though high, have fallen from post-crisis peaks, while returns and corporate cash flows have stabilized. However, the aggregate picture masks significant firm-level variation, which is analyzed by examining estimated distributions for various indicators across firms.
Galen Sher
Over the last two decades, cash holdings in nonfinancial firms around the world have increased. This phenomenon is particularly concerning in Japan, where the success of Abenomics depends on a transition from stimulus-driven to self-sustaining growth based on private consumption and investment. This paper finds that Japanese nonfinancial firms have accumulated cash at the expense of investment and dividends, hampering this transition. The evidence suggests that cash accumulation is due to financial imperfections combined with rising corporate profitability and uncertainty, while corporate governance plays only a limited role. These firms have cash holdings available for investment of about 5 percent of GDP. Policy options for encouraging the use of these cash holdings include improving firms’ access to market-based financing and discouraging CEO duality.
International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper on Nigeria highlights challenges faced by the country in building on the achievements of 2004. The authorities will have to maintain macroeconomic stability while implementing ambitious structural reforms aimed at reducing the costs of doing business in Nigeria and supporting faster growth and poverty reduction. The government’s ambitious and broad-based medium-term economic reform strategy and the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy aim to break with the misguided government-led development paradigm of the past that created a difficult environment for the private sector.

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

This Selected Issues paper examines social spending reform and fiscal savings in Slovenia. Rising expenditure has been at the root of Slovenia’s fiscal deterioration since the onset of the crisis. The paper explores reform options to reduce Slovenia’s social spending over the medium and long term. It discusses key features of the pension system, and analyzes the evolution of pension spending in the absence of reforms. The paper also examines the health and education spending and provides a framework to assess their efficiency relative to other countries.

Mr. John C Bluedorn, Mr. Shekhar Aiyar, Mr. Romain A Duval, Davide Furceri, Mr. Daniel Garcia-Macia, Yi Ji, Davide Malacrino, Mr. Haonan Qu, Jesse Siminitz, and Ms. Aleksandra Zdzienicka
Cross-country differences in economic resilience—in an economy’s ability to withstand and adjust to shocks—remain significant in the euro area. In part, the differences reflect the lack of a national nominal exchange rate as a mechanism to adjust to shocks. The IMF staff has argued that union-wide architectural changes such as the banking union, the capital markets union, and a central fiscal capacity can help foster greater international risk sharing. Yet even these changes cannot insure against all shocks. National policies thus have a vital role to play. This IMF staff discussion note analyzes how national structural policies can help euro area countries better deal with economic shocks. Using a mix of empirical and modeling approaches, the note finds that growth-enhancing reforms to labor and product market regulations, tailored to country-specific circumstances, would help individual euro area economies weather adverse shocks. Higher-quality insolvency regimes are associated with more efficient factor reallocation following a shock. The note also finds that structural and cyclical policies interact. Greater rigidities make economies more fragile, putting a higher burden on fiscal policy. This is especially true for members of a monetary union. Countries should build fiscal space in good times and tackle rigidities, reducing their need for countercyclical policies in bad times while making countercyclical policies more effective when deployed.