The Asia-Pacific region was the first to be hit by the COVID-19 pandemic; it put a strain on its people and economies, and policymaking became exceptionally difficult. This departmental paper contains the assessment of the key challenges facing Asia at this critical juncture and policy advice to the region both to address the current challenges and to build the foundations for a more sustainable and inclusive future. The paper focuses on (1) adjusting to the COVID-19 shock, (2) using unconventional policies when policy space is limited, (3) dealing with debt, and (4) helping the vulnerable and greening the recovery. The paper first presents the different ways countries are adjusting to the COVID-19 shock.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The current report finds that short-term risks to global financial stability have abated since April 2016, but that medium-term risks continue to build. Financial institutions in advanced economies face a number of cyclical and structural challenges and need to adapt to low growth and low interest rates, as well as to an evolving market and regulatory environment. Weak profitability could erode banks’ buffers over time and undermine their ability to support growth. A cyclical recovery will not resolve the problem of low profitability. More deep-rooted reforms and systemic management are needed, especially for European banks. The solvency of many life insurance companies and pension funds is threatened by a prolonged period of low interest rates. Corporate leverage in emerging market economies remains elevated in some countries, but the current favorable external environment presents an opportunity for overly indebted firms to restructure their balance sheets. The political climate is unsettled in many countries. A lack of income growth and a rise in inequality have opened the door for populist, inward-looking policies. These factors make it even harder to tackle legacy problems and further expose economies and markets to shocks. A potent and more balanced policy mix is needed to deliver a stronger path for growth and financial stability, and avoid slipping into a state of financial and economic stagnation. The report also examines how the rise of nonbank financing has altered the impact of monetary policy and finds that fears of a decline in the effectiveness of monetary policy are unfounded. It appears that the transmission of monetary policy is, if anything, stronger in economies with larger nonbank financial sectors. Finally, the report examines the link between corporate governance, investor protection, and financial stability in emerging market economies. It finds that the improvements over the past two decades have helped bolster the resilience of their financial systems. These benefits strengthen the case for further reform.
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.