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Alexander F. Tieman and Wilko Bolt
In a dynamic theoretical framework, commercial banks compete for customers by setting acceptance criteria for granting loans, taking regulatory requirements into account. By easing its acceptance criteria a bank faces a trade-off between attracting more demand for loans, thus making higher per period profits, and a deterioration of the quality of its loan portfolio, thus tolerating a higher risk of failure. Our main results state that more stringent capital adequacy requirements lead banks to set stricter acceptance criteria, and that increased competition in the banking industry leads to riskier bank behavior. In an extension of our basic model, we show that it may be beneficial for a bank to hold more equity than prescribed by the regulator, even though holding equity is more expensive than attracting deposits.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

This Selected Issues paper examines growth, structural transformation, and diversification in Mali. At present, the majority of Mali's population is employed in low-productivity agriculture, and the secondary sector is underdeveloped. Further structural transformation and diversification of output and exports could thus yield significant growth dividends, but will be challenging in the context of a rapid projected increase in the workforce over coming decades, much of which would need to be absorbed by the agricultural sector. Policies could focus on easing the constraints to structural transformation in key areas such as education and the business climate, as well as devising a clear strategy for tackling the challenges posed by rapid population growth.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

This paper discusses Rwanda’s Seventh Review Under the Policy Support Instrument (PSI), Request for a Three-Year PSI and Cancellation of Current PSI. Progress under the PSI has continued to be satisfactory. Except for the ceiling on nonconcessional borrowing (NCB), all quantitative assessment criteria were met. All indicative targets and structural benchmarks were also met. The nonobservance of the NCB ceiling came about when the authorities allowed Rwandair to contract a new US$50.7 million external loan in July. Presently, the IMF staff recommends a waiver on the basis of the authorities’ commitment to prevent any reoccurrence.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Military coups that occurred in Guinea-Bissau and Mali caused economic disruption in the WAEMU countries. Regional policies have been in line with the recommendations, and growth is expected to remain robust, risks are on the downside, and the macroeconomic policy is appropriate. Preserving debt sustainability and stability of the Union in the medium term requires better coordination of fiscal policies. Development of the financial system, and strengthening of the regulatory and supervisory framework is necessary to address existing and new risks.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

KEY ISSUES Context. The region continued to experience strong growth in 2014, led by the continued economic expansion in Cote d’Ivoire. The outlook is for further strong growth, subject to a range of downward risks, in particular political instability ahead of upcoming elections in several countries, and security issues in Mali and Niger. With an elevated fiscal deficit exerting pressure on the balance of payments and the regional financial market, delays in fiscal consolidation or structural reforms pose the main medium-term risks. Policy recommendations: • Fiscal consolidation. Safeguarding external stability in the region will require governments to adhere to their budget deficit reduction plans while maintaining public investment efforts, which will require increasing tax revenue and controlling current expenditure. • Monetary policy. Macroeconomic conditions do not warrant a tightening of monetary policy at this juncture. However, if fiscal deficits do not decline as envisaged, the BCEAO should consider increasing its policy rates. In the mean time, the BCEAO should very closely follow the evolution of the macro-prudential risks flowing from its sharp increase in commercial bank refinancing. • Financial stability. The WAEMU authorities should enforce existing prudential rules and raise standards to international best practice. Ongoing reforms go in the right direction but need to be accelerated. • Structural transformation and regional integration. Policies to promote structural transformation should focus on addressing weaknesses, such as the lack of education and training, finance, and supportive regulatory environments. Countries should refrain from using the possibility to deviate from the common external tariff of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in force since January 1, 2015, in order to protect the gains from regional integration in WAEMU.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.