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R. Barry Johnston, Effie Psalida, Phil de Imus, Jeanne Gobat, Mr. Mangal Goswami, Mr. Christian B. Mulder, and Mr. Francisco F. Vazquez

This paper outlines some of the key information gaps in the information used in the assessment of financial institution and financial system stability and the priorities for filling them. Key areas for attention include the granularity of disclosures on exposures by large and complex financial institutions; disclosures and assessments of complex structured products; revamping of indicators used in financial stability analysis to focus on indicators with greater early warning content; and improving transparency in over-the-counter derivatives markets. Recommendations have been made by several institutions and forums to address gaps in information that contributed to the crisis. One of the key recommendations is to adopt good practices for disclosures by banks on activities affected by the financial turmoil, including meaningful information on exposures and impacts, with appropriate levels of granularity. It is imperative to strengthen public disclosure practices of systemically important financial institutions by making reporting information more granular and consist.

Mr. Thomas Baunsgaard, Steven A. Symansky, and Mr. Carlo Cottarelli

This paper discusses how to enhance automatic stabilizers without increasing the size of government. We distinguish between permanent changes in the parameters of the tax and expenditure system (e.g., changes in tax progressivity) that will enhance the traditional automatic stabilizer, and temporary changes triggered by certain economic developments (e.g., tax measures targeted at credit and liquidity constrained households, triggered during a severe downturn). We argue that, with some exceptions, the latter are preferable as they can be implemented with lower disruptions in other fiscal policy goals (e.g., economic efficiency). Moreover, countries should also avoid introducing procyclicality as a result of fiscal rules, as these would offset the effect of existing automatic stabilizers.

Benjamin Jones, Mr. Michael Keen, and Mr. Carlo Cottarelli

Negotiations toward a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change have come to a critical point, and domestic climate policies are being developed, as the world seeks to recover from the deepest economic crisis for decades and looks for new sources of sustainable growth. This position paper considers the challenge posed by these two policy imperatives: how to exit from the crisis while developing an effective response to climate change. Blending the objectives of a sustained recovery and effective climate policies presents both challenges and opportunities. Although there are potential “win-win” spending measures conducive to both, the more fundamental linkages and synergies lie in the broader strategies adopted toward each other. Greater climate resilience can promote macroeconomic stability and alleviate poverty; and carbon pricing, essential for mitigation, can contribute to the strengthening of fiscal positions that is expected to be needed in many countries. There are, nevertheless, also difficult trade-offs to face, notably in the somewhat greater caution now warranted in moving to more aggressive emissions pricing. However, the simple policy guidelines for addressing climate issues remain fundamentally unchanged; the need to deploy a range of regulatory, spending, and emissions pricing measures.

John Brondolo

The global financial and economic crisis presents major challenges for tax agencies. With the economic downturn, tax agencies are encountering emerging compliance problems and greater demands for taxpayer support in the face of prospective budget cuts. To help address these challenges, this paper encourages tax agencies to develop a tax compliance strategy for the crisis by (1) expanding assistance to taxpayers, (2) refocusing enforcement on emerging compliance risks, (3) enacting legislative reforms that facilitate tax administration, and (4) improving communication programs. In each of these areas, the paper identifies specific measures to underpin the strategy, drawing on practices from leading tax agencies and experiences from IMF technical assistance. The paper also highlights emerging tax compliance issues in the financial sector.

Atish R. Ghosh, Mr. Marcos d Chamon, Mr. Christopher W. Crowe, Jun I. Kim, and Jonathan D. Ostry

This chapter outlines policies to help solve the debt overhang and bring about recovery in both groups of countries. The current financial turmoil is confronting emerging market economies with two shocks: a ‘sudden stop’ of capital inflows resulting from the global deleveraging process, and a collapse in export demand associated with the global slump. A key ingredient appears to be greater official financing to expand the ‘policy space’ available to emerging market economies (EME) to pursue supportive macroeconomic policies—including, in countries with large debt overhangs, by helping to meet the fiscal outlays associated with the resolution of that overhang. An important first step is to ensure an adequate framework to facilitate rapid debt workouts. Debt restructuring mechanisms can provide greater scope for monetary easing by reducing the negative repercussions of exchange rate depreciation on unhedged balance sheets. Depending on the available fiscal space, expansionary fiscal policy should also be deployed to support economic activity.

International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department and World Bank

This joint IMF-World Bank note provides a set of high-level recommendations that can guide national regulatory and supervisory responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and offers an overview of measures taken across jurisdictions to date.

Mr. Carlo Cottarelli, Lorenzo Forni, Jan Gottschalk, and Mr. Paolo Mauro

This note summarizes the main arguments put forward by some market commentators who argue that default is inevitable, and presents a rebuttal for each argument in turn. Their main arguments focus on the size of the adjustment and continued market concerns reflected in government bond spreads. The essence of our reasoning is that the challenge stems mainly from the advanced economies’ large primary deficits. Thus, by lowering the interest bill while triggering the need to move to primary balance or a small primary surplus, default would not significantly reduce the need for major fiscal adjustment. In contrast, the emerging economies that defaulted in recent decades did so primarily as a result of high debt servicing costs, often in the context of major external shocks. We conclude that default would be ineffective and undesirable in today’s advanced economies.

Greetje Everaert, Ms. Manal Fouad, Mr. Edouard Martin, and Ricardo Velloso

This paper discusses appropriate methods for disclosing fiscal risks from exogenous shocks and the realization of explicit or implicit contingent obligations of the government. Expanding on previous guidance prepared prior to the crisis, the note focuses on fiscal risks emerging from recent public interventions in the financial sector. Information on fiscal risks and its public reporting leads to a better understanding of the true state of the public finances. Thus, it helps policymakers design and gets public support for, appropriate responses to the realization of various contingencies. More specifically, in the context of the unfolding global financial crisis, a wide range of public sector interventions have been in support of the financial system. Although these interventions have been necessary, they have generated further fiscal risks. Comprehensive reporting would help governments to define a management strategy of the assets and liabilities that they have taken on their balance sheet and to prepare exit strategies for reducing their presence in the financial sector and eventually withdrawing support.

Augustin Landier and Mr. Kenichi Ueda

Based on a simple framework, this note clarifies the economics behind bank restructuring and evaluates various restructuring options for systemically important banks. The note assumes that the government aims to reduce the probability of a bank’s default and keep the burden on taxpayers at a minimum. The note also acknowledges that the design of any restructuring needs to take into consideration the payoffs and incentives for the various key stakeholders (i.e., shareholders, debt holders, and government).

Mr. Hugh Bredenkamp and Ms. Catherine A Pattillo

This note outlines a scheme for mobilizing financing to help developing countries confront the challenges posed by climate change. The idea is to create a “Green Fund” with the capacity to raise resources on a scale commensurate with the Copenhagen Accord ($100 billion a year by 2020). By providing a unified resource mobilization framework, with up-front agreement on burdensharing and the capacity to meet the financing needs identified at Copenhagen, the Green Fund could facilitate progress toward a binding global agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and allow developing countries to begin scaling up their climate change responses without delay. To achieve the necessary scale, the Green Fund would use an initial capital injection by developed countries in the form of reserve assets, which could include SDRs, to leverage resources from private and official investors by issuing low-cost “green bonds” in global capital markets. Contributors could agree to scale their equity stakes in proportion to their IMF quota shares, making these the “key” for burden sharing among the contributing countries. Since much of the financing would need to be provided ultimately as grants or highly concessional loans, the fund would also need to mobilize subsidy resources from contributors. Governments would likely require new sources of fiscal revenue for this purpose, including from carbon taxes and expanded carbon-trading schemes, which may take time to put in place. In the interim, the Green Fund could cover its subsidy needs from bond proceeds, interest income on its reserve asset capital base, and/or revenues from other innovative international tax schemes. Resources mobilized by the Green Fund could be channeled through existing climate funds, or via newly created special-purpose disbursement facilities. We are not proposing that the IMF itself would create, finance, or manage the Green Fund. The ideas set out in this note are being offered purely for consideration by the international community, and as a contribution to the broader public debate.