Mr. Tobias Adrian, Mr. James Morsink, and Miss Liliana B Schumacher
This paper explains specifics of stress testing at the IMF. After a brief section on the evolution of stress tests at the IMF, the paper presents the key steps of an IMF staff stress test. They are followed by a discussion on how IMF staff uses stress tests results for policy advice. The paper concludes by identifying remaining challenges to make stress tests more useful for the monitoring of financial stability and an overview of IMF staff work program in that direction. Stress tests help assess the resilience of financial systems in IMF member countries and underpin policy advice to preserve or restore financial stability. This assessment and advice are mainly provided through the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP). IMF staff also provide technical assistance in stress testing to many its member countries. An IMF macroprudential stress test is a methodology to assess financial vulnerabilities that can trigger systemic risk and the need of systemwide mitigating measures. The definition of systemic risk as used by the IMF is relevant to understanding the role of its stress tests as tools for financial surveillance and the IMF’s current work program. IMF stress tests primarily apply to depository intermediaries, and, systemically important banks.
Unlike most nonfinancial corporations, in a market-based economy, banks are subject to a special regime of licensing, regulation, and supervision (hereinafter also “prudential regulation”). In a market-based economy, the function of banks differs from that of other enterprises, calling for special treatment of banks by the state.
Banks require a strong legal framework providing certainty concerning their rights and obligations under the law and permitting them to enforce their financial claims expeditiously and effectively against counterparties in default. Conversely, weaknesses in the legal system that create uncertainties concerning the existence and enforceability of property rights increase the risk that, as debtors hiding behind such weaknesses default on their obligations, banks will not be able to collect on their claims. Inefficiencies in the judicial processing of financial claims by banks may inhibit the marketing of financial assets and reduce their value; this often results in unhealthy accumulations of nonperforming assets on banks’ balance sheets, weakening the banking system as a whole. Meanwhile, banks will cover these risks and market inefficiencies in the form of higher charges, creating upward pressure on transaction costs throughout the economy.
Regulatory intervention includes all action taken by the bank regulator with respect to a bank in response to continuing violations of prudential law (banking law, implementing regulations, etc.) on the part of that bank. Thereby, the bank regulator intervenes directly or indirectly in the bank’s management and operations.
The paper discusses key incentive-related issues of the sovereign debt restructuring mechanism recently outlined by the IMF First Deputy Managing Director. The structure of incentives in the mechanism should be consistent with the principle of favoring market-oriented, voluntary solutions to financial crises. The paper frames the mechanism in the context of involving the private sector in financial crisis resolution (PSI), and identifies the conditions for setting up an appropriate incentive structure. The paper explores issues relating to the functioning of the mechanism, including access policy on IMF resources; the power to activate the mechanism; its relation with intermediate PSI instruments; and its impact on investment in emerging markets.
This paper examines the Insurance Regulation and Supervision for Cyprus’s Financial Sector Assessment Program. The domestic nonlife market is dominated by motor insurance which accounted for 58 percent of net premiums. All Cypriot business is reinsured with nondomiciled reinsurers. Health insurance is regulated as nonlife business when written as add-ons to accident and sickness or as life business when written with life policies. A number of professional bodies and self-regulatory industry associations complement the regulatory regime for the insurance industry.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This Technical Note provides an update on the Austrian insurance industry and an analysis of its regulatory and supervisory regime. The structure of the domestic insurance sector has remained largely stable since the last update. At Q3-2012 there were 50 insurance companies with assets of €108 billion, making up nearly 40 percent of GDP. Although insurance portfolios are largely concentrated in high-quality bonds, they have significant exposure to European banks. Most insurance companies in Austria appear well capitalized under the Solvency I regime. The industry remains profitable though margins have come under some pressure recently.
This paper presents a factual update of the Insurance Core Principles including insurance sector market and regulatory developments for Switzerland. Regulatory reforms since 2003 have updated Switzerland’s regulatory and supervisory regime for the insurance industry to bring it in line with international best practices. The Insurance Supervision Law (ISL) has reoriented the regulatory focus and expanded the regulatory scope to include group/conglomerate supervision, corporate governance, risk management, and market conduct of insurance intermediaries. The ISL also provides for a range of corrective and preventive regulatory measures.