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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper discusses Cyprus’s Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Reviews Under the Extended Arrangement Under the Extended Fund Facility, Request for Waiver of Nonobservance of a Performance Criterion (PC), and Rephasing of Access. Economic developments have been encouraging. The recession in 2014 was milder than expected, and GDP growth was positive in the first quarter of 2015 for the first time in almost four years. Program performance has been generally strong. Compliance with quantitative conditionality has been good, and the authorities have advanced structural reforms. Further efforts to strengthen banking supervision and restructure banks are needed. The ongoing structural reform program is also crucial for public finances and growth.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper explores the links between wage policies, non-wage cost developments, and competitiveness. A series of program-era policies helped to partially reverse this trend, including labor market policies that cushioned the effect of the crisis on employment and brought unit labor costs broadly in line with trading partners. However, the resulting more competitive wage structure only partly translated into price adjustments due to product market rigidities (with firms retaining some profit margin) and rising non-wage cost factors (e.g., taxes and financing costs). This incomplete internal devaluation and subsequent low productivity gains reinforce the view that Greece has further to go to address its external imbalances. However, labor policy reversals following program exit in August 2018 threaten this objective. The paper shows that Greece must preserve its labor cost competitiveness while increasing efforts to facilitate price adjustment in product markets and reduce non-wage costs.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes insolvency and enforcement issues in Greece. The Greek insolvency and creditor rights framework has improved since the onset of the crisis as a result of successive reforms. Nonetheless, it remains underutilized, fragmented, and distortive, and is not supported by an adequate institutional setting. This is because many of the reforms undertaken in recent years were not part of a coordinated and comprehensive nonperforming loan resolution strategy, but were instead piecemeal and taken without proper stakeholder consultation and impact analysis. Also, the frequent and uncoordinated reforms have undermined legal predictability and certainty. This situation of distress, if left unaddressed, affects enterprises, households and financial and public creditors by preventing investment, credit, and consumption from recovering.
Mr. Claus Puhr, Mr. Andre O Santos, Mr. Christian Schmieder, Salih N. Neftci, Mr. Benjamin Neudorfer, Mr. Stefan W. Schmitz, and Mr. Heiko Hesse
A framework to run system-wide, balance sheet data-based liquidity stress tests is presented. The liquidity framework includes three elements: (a) a module to simulate the impact of bank run scenarios; (b) a module to assess risks arising from maturity transformation and rollover risks, implemented either in a simplified manner or as a fully-fledged cash flow-based approach; and (c) a framework to link liquidity and solvency risks. The framework also allows the simulation of how banks cope with upcoming regulatory changes (Basel III), and accommodates differences in data availability. A case study shows the impact of a "Lehman" type event for stylized banks.
José Garrido, Emanuel Kopp, and Anke Weber
To stabilize and bring down nonperforming loans (NPLs) in the Italian banking system, the Italian authorities have been implementing a number of reforms, aimed among others at speeding up insolvency and enforcement proceedings, strengthening bank corporate governance, cleaning up balance sheets, and facilitating bank consolidation. This paper examines the Italian banking system’s NPL problem, which ties up capital, weighing on bank profitability and authorities’ economic reforms. It argues for a comprehensive approach, encompassing economic, supervisory, and legal measures. The authorities’ reforms are important steps toward this end. The paper describes measures that could further support their actions.
Mr. Anil Ari
I propose a dynamic general equilibrium model in which strategic interactions between banks and depositors may lead to endogenous bank fragility and slow recovery from crises. When banks' investment decisions are not contractible, depositors form expectations about bank risk-taking and demand a return on deposits according to their risk. This creates strategic complementarities and possibly multiple equilibria: in response to an increase in funding costs, banks may optimally choose to pursue risky portfolios that undermine their solvency prospects. In a bad equilibrium, high funding costs hinder the accumulation of bank net worth, leading to a persistent drop in investment and output. I bring the model to bear on the European sovereign debt crisis, in the course of which under-capitalized banks in defaultrisky countries experienced an increase in funding costs and raised their holdings of domestic government debt. The model is quantified using Portuguese data and accounts for macroeconomic dynamics in Portugal in 2010-2016. Policy interventions face a trade-off between alleviating banks' funding conditions and strengthening risk-taking incentives. Liquidity provision to banks may eliminate the good equilibrium when not targeted. Targeted interventions have the capacity to eliminate adverse equilibria.
Mr. Manmohan Singh and Mr. Mohsan Bilal
This paper looks at some technical issues when using CDS data, and if these are incorporated, the analysis or regression results are likely to benefit. The paper endorses the use of stochastic recovery in CDS models when estimating probability of default (PD) and suggests that stochastic recovery may be a better harbinger of distress signals than fixed recovery. Similarly, PDs derived from CDS data are risk-neutral and may need to be adjusted when extrapolating to real world balance sheet and empirical data (e.g. estimating banks losses, etc). Another technical issue pertains to regressions trying to explain CDS spreads of sovereigns in peripheral Europe - the model specification should be cognizant of the under-collateralization aspects in the overall OTC derivatives market. One of the biggest drivers of CDS spreads in the region has been the CVA teams of the large banks that hedge their exposure stemming from derivative receivables due to non-posting of collateral by many sovereigns (and related entities).
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

West Bank and Gaza Strip: Economic Developments in the Five Years Since Oslo ($19.00)

Mr. Wolfgang Bergthaler, Mr. Kenneth H Kang, Ms. Yan Liu, and Mr. Dermot Monaghan
The global financial crisis has left a large private sector debt overhang and high levels of non- performing loans (NPLs) in several European countries. Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) represent a significant and weak segment of the nonfinancial corporate sector. SMEs face a number of legal, financial, and regulatory challenges to restructuring that differ from those of larger corporates, such as a rigid and costly insolvency regime, a higher fixed cost to loan restructuring, and the lack of alternative sources of financing. Given SMEs’ large presence and close links to the banking system, addressing the SME loan problem in Europe will be critical for strengthening bank and corporate balance sheets and supporting a more robust and sustained recovery.