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Maher Hasan and Mr. Jemma Dridi

This paper examines the performance of Islamic banks (IBs) and conventional banks (CBs) during the recent global crisis by looking at the impact of the crisis on profitability, credit and asset growth, and external ratings in a group of countries where the two types of banks have significant market share. Our analysis suggests that IBs have been affected differently than CBs. Factors related to IBs‘ business model helped limit the adverse impact on profitability in 2008, while weaknesses in risk management practices in some IBs led to a larger decline in profitability in 2009 compared to CBs. IBs‘ credit and asset growth performed better than did that of CBs in 2008-09, contributing to financial and economic stability. External rating agencies‘ re-assessment of IBs‘ risk was generally more favorable.

Mohsin S. Khan and Mr. Abbas Mirakhor

In an Islamic system, as interest is prohibited, banks are expected to operate solely on the basis of profit and risk sharing. This paper describes the developments in Islamic banking in Iran and Pakistan. As these two countries have initiated the most far-reaching experiments with Islamic banking, their experiences have a significant bearing on the feasibility of such a system. The developments in these countries are evaluated against the theory underlying the Islamic banking, and suggestions are made to achieve a more efficient system.

Patrick A. Imam, Mr. Kangni R Kpodar, and Mr. Vitaliy Kramarenko

This paper investigates the determinants of the pattern of Islamic bank diffusion around the world using country-level data for 1992 - 2006. The analysis illustrates that income per capita, share of Muslims in the population and status as an oil producer are linked to the development of Islamic banking, as are economic integration with Middle Eastern countries and proximity to Islamic financial centers. Interest rates have a negative impact on Islamic banking, reflecting the implicit benchmark for Islamic banks. The quality of institutions does not matter, probably because the often higher hurdle set by Shariah law trumps the quality of local institutions in most countries. The 9/11 attacks were not important to the diffusion of Islamic banking; but they coincided with rising oil prices, which are a significant factor in the diffusion of Islamic banking. Islamic banks also appear to be complements to, rather than substitutes for, conventional banks.

Mr. Alfred Kammer, Mr. Mohamed Norat, Marco Piñón, Mr. Ananthakrishnan Prasad, Mr. Christopher M Towe, Mr. Zeine Zeidane, José Viñals, and Masood Ahmed

The SDN discusses the main policy issues and challenges in building an inclusive and safe Islamic finance industry, with emphasis on Islamic banking and Sukuk markets. To this end, it discuses why Islamic finance matters, taking into account its recent and prospective growth; and, its potential contributions in terms of financial inclusion, support for small- and medium-sized enterprises and investment in public infrastructure and, in principle, reduced systemic risk. It then covers a range of regulatory and other challenges, and offers policy advice, to address factors that hamper the development of the industry and, more generally, the delivery of its potential benefits. The paper covers regulatory and supervisory issues, safety nets and resolution frameworks, access to finance, Sukuk markets, and macroeconomic policies.

Ms. Inutu Lukonga and Mr. Zeine Zeidane

Consumer protection and financial literacy are essential pillars of a well functioning and stable financial system. As the global financial crisis demonstrated, inadequate attention to consumer protection and financial literacy can lead to financial instability. Though Shari’ah principles provide a strong foundation for consumer protection, the principles alone cannot provide adequate protection because not all providers are guided by ethical precepts and the practices have deviated from the principles. To safeguard the stability of the Islamic finance industry, consumer protection frameworks that cater to the specifics of Islamic financial products should be an integral part of regulatory frameworks.

Mr. Enrique A Gelbard, Mr. Mumtaz Hussain, Mr. Rodolfo Maino, Mr. Yibin Mu, Etienne B. Yehoue, and Anne-Marie Gulde-Wolf

Islamic finance is a fast growing activity in world markets. This paper provides a survey on Islamic Finance in SSA. Ongoing activities include Islamic banking, sukuk issuances (to finance infrastructure projects), Takaful (insurance), and microfinance. While not yet significant in most Sub-Saharan countries, several features make Islamic finance instruments relevant to the region, in particular the ability to foster SMEs and micro-credit activtities. As a first step, policy makers could introduce Islamic financing windows within the conventional system and facilitate sukuk issuance to tap foreign investors. The entrance of full-fleged Islamic banks require addressing systemic issues, and adapting the crisis management and resolution frameworks. The IMF can play a role by sharing international experiences and providing advice on supervisory and regulatory frameworks as needed.

Ms. Ritu Basu, Mr. Ananthakrishnan Prasad, Mr. Sergio L. Rodriguez, and Mr. Zeine Zeidane

The assessment provides evidence of market segmentation across Islamic and conventional banks in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), leading to excess liquidity, and an uneven playing field for Islamic banks that might affect their growth. Liquidiy management has been a long-standing concern in the global Islamic finance industry as there is a general lack of Shari’ah compliant instruments than can serve as high-quality short-term liquid assets. The degree of segmentation and bank behavior varies across countries depending on Shari’ah permissibility and the availability of Shari’ah-compliant instruments. A partial response would be to support efforts to build Islamic liquid interbank and money markets, which are crucial for monetary policy transmission through the Islamic financial system.This can be achieved, to a large extent, by deepening Islamic government securities and developing Shari’ah-compliant money market instruments.

Mr. Andreas A. Jobst, Juan Solé, and Martin Čihak

This paper provides a conceptual overview of key aspects of the design and implementation of solvency stress testing of Islamic banks. Based on existing regulatory standards and prudential practice, the paper explains how Islamic finance principles and their impact on various risk drivers affect the capital assessment of asset-oriented financial intermediation under stress. The formal specification of these risk factors helps operationalize and integrate the stress testing of Islamic banks within established frameworks for financial stability analysis.

Mr. Mumtaz Hussain, Asghar Shahmoradi, Rima Turk, and Mr. Zeine Zeidane

Islamic finance has started to grow in international finance across the globe, with some concentration in few countries. Nearly 20 percent annual growth of Islamic finance in recent years seems to point to its resilience and broad appeal, partly owing to principles that govern Islamic financial activities, including equity, participation, and ownership. In theory, Islamic finance is resilient to shocks because of its emphasis on risk sharing, limits on excessive risk taking, and strong link to real activities. Empirical evidence on the stability of Islamic banks, however, is so far mixed. While these banks face similar risks as conventional banks do, they are also exposed to idiosyncratic risks, necessitating a tailoring of current risk management practices. The macroeconomic policy implications of the rapid expansion of Islamic finance are far reaching and need careful considerations.

Ms. Olga Krasicka, Sylwia Nowak, and Mr. Sanjaya P Panth

What attracts conventional investors to Islamic financial instruments? We answer this question by comparing Malaysian Islamic and conventional security prices and their response to macrofinancial factors. Our analysis suggests that Islamic and conventional bond and equity prices are driven by common factors. Likewise, especially in recent years, Islamic banks have responded to economic and financial shocks in the same way as conventional banks, suggesting that the gap between Islamic and conventional financial practices is shrinking.