Cross-Country and Cross-Sector Analysis of Transparency of Monetary and Financial Policies
  • 1 https://isni.org/isni/0000000404811396, International Monetary Fund

Contributor Notes

In this paper we construct indices of transparency of monetary and financial policies, based on self-evaluations carried out by 135 IMF member countries in 1999, and use them to identify transparency patterns across different policies and country groups. We find that across all countries, transparency is highest in the formulation and conduct of monetary policy and lowest in insurance supervision and deposit-insurance oversight. Across country groups having similar political/economic characteristics, the average degree of transparency is highest in advanced countries and lowest in developing ones for both monetary policy and those financial policies for which there are differences between country group means.

Abstract

In this paper we construct indices of transparency of monetary and financial policies, based on self-evaluations carried out by 135 IMF member countries in 1999, and use them to identify transparency patterns across different policies and country groups. We find that across all countries, transparency is highest in the formulation and conduct of monetary policy and lowest in insurance supervision and deposit-insurance oversight. Across country groups having similar political/economic characteristics, the average degree of transparency is highest in advanced countries and lowest in developing ones for both monetary policy and those financial policies for which there are differences between country group means.

I. Introduction

The growing integration of financial markets and recent experience of crises associated with capital flow volatility have led to much reflection and analysis on ways to strengthen financial systems. Within this broad context, the role of enhanced transparency and public disclosure practices has gained prominence. The notion of transparency itself has attracted greater public attention, with increasing calls by legislatures, the media, markets, and the general public for the official sector (in this context central banks, supervisory agencies, and relevant governmental units) to become more open about policies and practices. Recent high-profile corporate bankruptcies have also revealed risks and potential systemic issues stemming from accounting and corporate governance practices on the global and national levels, highlighting the need for improved transparency and disclosure by financial intermediaries and other nonfinancial constituents in financial markets.

While the IMF has taken the lead in promoting transparency and public disclosure practices of the policy framework relating to the financial system and its functioning, international standard setters, such as the Basel Committee, the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), have been devising guidance relating to disclosure and transparency for financial transactions and financial institutions. There is widespread recognition that, as the complexity of financial systems and their oversight grows, the general public needs to be provided with easy-to-understand and timely information on financial performance and risk exposures based on well-accepted practices.

While transparency has achieved the status of “golden rule” of the new international financial system and theoretical arguments in favor of greater transparency abound, empirical investigations in this area have been hampered by lack of comparable cross-country data. In this paper, we present a comprehensive analysis of transparency patterns across different policies and country groups, based on indices of observance of the Code of Good Practices on Transparency in Monetary and Financial Policies (MFP Transparency Code) constructed from self-evaluations by 135 IMF member countries completed in 1999.

Section II defines transparency of monetary and financial policies and presents the main policy and theoretical arguments in its favor. Section III discusses recent trends in transparency practices around the world drawing from the formal assessments of the MFP Transparency Code carried out under the joint IMF-World Bank Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP). Section IV analyzes transparency patterns across different policies and country groups, based on indices of observance of the MFP Transparency Code. The paper concludes with a summary of the main findings.

II. Transparency: Its Meaning and Relevance

A. Definition and Relevance

Monetary and financial policy transparency refers to an environment in which the objectives of the policy; its legal, institutional, and economic framework; policy decisions and their rationale; data and information related to monetary and financial policies; and the accountability of the policymaking body are provided to the public in an understandable, accessible and timely basis. As part of the microprudential policy framework, transparency consists of public disclosure of prudential regulations, market-conduct rules, reporting requirements, supervisory practices, internal control and governance arrangements, thus helping to maintain depositor and investor confidence. Transparency is also an element of the macroprudential policy framework (Sundararajan et al., 2002). It helps shape expectations and improve the robustness of linkages across institutions and markets by improving the recognition of risks and clarifying the transmission mechanism from policies to objectives. Just as inadequate information about the state of the economy and the financial markets can make it difficult for monetary and financial sector policymakers to formulate consistent policies, uncertainty about the policy framework and its intent could itself contribute to abrupt and destabilizing market behavior (Das and Quintyn, 2002).

Transparent monetary and financial policies enhance the efficiency of financial markets and the real sector by anchoring market participants’ expectations and alleviating the problems of adverse selection and moral hazard in the relationship between supervised entities and their clients. Lack of transparency in policy decision making and unsystematic public disclosure of information relevant for the formation of rational expectations result in frequent revisions of private agents’ expectations that raise the variability of asset prices, consumption, and investment, thereby increasing the riskiness of investments in financial and physical assets.2 The latter translates into higher risk-premiums demanded on investments, which increases the rate of interest. The possibility for adverse selection and moral hazard in the relationship between supervised entities and their clients also results in higher risk-premiums and interest rates that prevent firms from pursuing otherwise economically viable investment projects (Box 1). Public disclosure of information on supervised banks, nonbank financial institutions, and securities markets, can lower the costs of identifying the riskiness of investment projects and foster reputational concerns on the side of borrowers (or issuers of stock), thus mitigating market inefficiencies created by adverse selection and moral hazard in financial markets.

Adverse Selection and Moral Hazard in Financial Markets

Adverse selection.1 In financial markets, borrowers of funds (or issuers of stock) typically know more about the quality of their investment opportunities than potential lenders (or shareholders) due to the high cost of collecting information on the riskiness of projects by investors. In the case of markets of borrowed funds, potential lenders cannot distinguish high-risk from low-risk projects and they demand a risk premium above the risk-free rate of return on all their investments that corresponds to the average risk of all projects.2 Intuitively, the excess risk premium imposed on high-quality borrowers offsets the losses incurred in funding high-risk investment projects. As a result, the highest quality borrowers are priced out of the market, which lowers market efficiency.

Moral hazard.1 Once external financing is secured, borrowers (or issuers of stock) have an incentive to break the terms of their contracts with investors and use the funds for riskier projects than agreed upon. In the case of markets of borrowed funds, moral hazard comes into play when the amount of external financing exceeds the value of firm’s own capital. Because for the borrower, the potential loss from the investment is bounded by the value of his own capital, there is a positive discrepancy between the expected private payoff from the project that accrues to him and the expected social payoff that accrues to all parties involved.3 As a result, the debtor will always prefer to invest in projects with high expected private payoff, even though their social payoffs might be lower than the social payoff of an alternative low-risk project. Knowing this, the lenders would require an additional risk-premium on the cost of their funds to compensate them for the risks associated with moral hazard. The higher interest rates in the presence of moral hazard prevent firms from pursuing otherwise economically viable investment projects.4

Sources: Fazzari, Hubbard, and Petersen (1988); Hirshleifer and Riley (1979); and Akerlof (1970).1 In the presence of asymmetric information on the side of borrowers (or shareholders) and creditors (or equity issuers), adverse selection could arise prior to the act of borrowing (or investing), whereas moral hazard could arise following the act of borrowing (or investing).2 In the case of stock markets, potential shareholders value all firms at the stock market’s average valuation. The implications are similar to the ones described above in the case of markets for borrowed funds. High quality firms withdraw from the market and resort to alternative means of financing, or raise less capital, which constrains their ability to pursue economically viable investment opportunities.3 The expected private payoff is the weighted average (with weights equal to the expected probabilities of the two realizations) of the payoff in case of success and the loss incurred by the borrower, which is bounded by the value of his own capital, in case of failure. The expected social payoff is the weighted average of the payoff in case of success and the loss (up to the full amount invested) in case of failure.4 In stock markets, the moral hazard problem is even more acute as the managers of publicly traded companies typically own a much smaller fraction of firms’ own capital. Consequently, the discrepancy between the private and social payoff of the investments they make is larger than in the case of borrowed funds.

Transparency is also an important component of good regulatory governance in its own right and by reinforcing the independence, accountability, and integrity of financial sector regulators (Box 2). As a “good” in itself, transparency has become a powerful vehicle for removing flawed practices and policies. Increased transparency also supports the achievement of other components of regulatory governance, and as such supports credibility. First, it directly supports accountability by making the actions of the agency clear to the outside world (government and markets). Second, it protects the independence of the agency by demonstrating when and under which form interference is taking place. Finally, transparency may limit self-interest on the part the supervisors.

Components of Good Regulatory Governance

Regulatory governance applies to those institutions that possess legal powers to regulate, supervise and/or intervene in the financial sector (i.e., financial sector regulatory and supervisory agencies) and encompasses several factors, including (1) their capacity to manage resources efficiently and to formulate, implement and enforce sound policies and regulations; (2) the respect of citizens and the state for the regulatory and supervisory agencies—abstention of industry capture and political interference; and (3) the respect of the regulatory and supervisory agencies for the broader goals and policies of the (elected) legislature. There are four distinct components of good regulatory governance: independence, accountability, transparency, and integrity of financial sector regulatory and supervisory agencies:

Independence. There is a growing consensus worldwide that regulatory governance can best be achieved by giving financial sector regulatory and supervisory agencies a fair degree of independence—that is, independence from the political sphere and from the supervised entities. Two main arguments have been offered in favor of delegating to independent agencies (as opposed to a government agency, a specific ministry or a local body) the tasks related to economic and social regulation. The first argument is the advantage of relying on dedicated and highly specialized expertise, particularly when responses are needed in complex situations. The second argument is the advantage of potentially shielding market interventions from political interference and improving transparency and stability of operations. Agency independence increases the possibility of making credible policy commitments.

Accountability. It has also been increasingly recognized in theory (but not always implemented in practice) that independence goes hand in hand with accountability. Accountability is essential for regulatory and supervisory agencies to justify their actions against the background of the mandate given to them. Independent agencies should be accountable not only to those who delegated the responsibility (the government and legislative bodies) but also to those who fall under their realm of competency and the public at large.

Integrity. This component reflects the mechanisms that ensure that staff of the agencies can pursue the institution’s goal without compromising these goals because of their own behavior, or their own positions. Integrity affects staff of regulatory agencies at various levels. First, procedures for appointment of agency officials, their terms of office and criteria for removal should be such that their integrity is safeguarded. Second, the integrity of the agency’s operations should be ensured. Internal governance implies that internal audit arrangements are in place to ensure that the agency’s objectives are set and met, that decisions are made, and the accountability is maintained. Thus, ensuring the quality of the agency’s operations will maintain the integrity of the institution and strengthen its credibility. Third, integrity also implies that there are standards for the conduct of personal affairs of officials and staff to prevent exploitation of conflicts of interest. Fourth, integrity also implies that the staff of the agency enjoys legal protection which discharging their duties. Without such legal protection, staff would be prone to bribery and the overall effectiveness and credibility of the institution would suffer greatly.

Transparency. See text above for definition and relevance to regulatory governance.

Source: Das and Quintyn (2002).

B. Areas of Policy Transparency

A good policy transparency framework in the monetary and financial sectors should therefore consist of three basic elements: (i) clear and consistent policy objectives and periodic explanation of its rationale and performance; (ii) a well-founded legal, institutional, and economic basis; and (iii) provision of data and information to create an informed view of the state of monetary and financial policies that is likely to affect individual’s and firm’s financial choices. These have been codified in the International Monetary Fund’s Code of Good Practices on Transparency in Monetary and Financial Policies (MFP Transparency Code), which was developed in 1999, as part of the international momentum to strengthen domestic governance and reporting framework relating to fiscal and monetary affairs. Patterned on the IMF’s Fiscal Transparency Code (IMF, 1999a) and linked to the IMF’s Data Dissemination Standards, the MFP Transparency Code is extensive (containing 37 main practices supplemented by 45 subsidiary ones), and covers both monetary and financial policy formulation and implementation. The premise underlying this approach is that in the context of financial stability, monetary and financial policies are interrelated and often mutually reinforcing. The good transparency practices for monetary and financial policies are each grouped into four categories (IMF, 1999b):

Clarity of roles, responsibilities, and objectives of agencies for monetary/financial policies—includes practices relating to definition and disclosure of (i) the ultimate objectives and institutional framework of monetary and financial policy; and (ii) the institutional relationship between monetary and fiscal operations, as well as between financial agencies.

Open process for formulating and reporting monetary/financial policies: This area covers practices that govern public disclosure and explanation of (i) the framework, instruments, and any targets used to pursue monetary objectives; (ii) the regulatory framework and operating procedures governing the conduct of financial policies; (iii) changes in settings of monetary policy instruments and in financial policies; (iv) progress toward achieving monetary policy objectives, as well as prospects for achieving them; and (v) regulations on data reporting.

Public availability of information on monetary/financial policies: This section covers disclosure and publication practices relating to (i) presentations and releases of central bank data according to data dissemination standards; (ii) balance sheet and annual reports of the central banks and, where applicable, by financial agencies; (iii) major developments in the banking, securities, and insurance sectors and aggregate data relating to institutions in these sectors; and (iv) deposit protection schemes, policy holder guarantees, and client asset protection schemes.

Accountability and assurances of integrity by agencies: This segment includes specific accountability arrangements such as (i) appearances by officials of central banks and financial agencies before designated public authorities to report on the conduct of policies; (ii) availability of audited financial statements; (iii) internal governance procedures to ensure the integrity of operations; and (iv) standards of conduct and legal protection for officials.

C. Dimensions of Transparency

There are four broad dimensions of disclosure that underlie credible transparency: (i) means of disclosure, (ii) timeliness of disclosure, (iii) periodicity of disclosure, and (iv) quality and content of disclosure. Tables 1 and 2 present a taxonomy of the dimensions of transparency addressed by each of the individual practices of the MFP Transparency Code.

Table 1.

Dimensions of Transparency Addressed by Individual Practices of the MFP Transparency Code for Monetary Policy

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Source: IMF.
Table 2.

Dimensions of Transparency Addressed by Individual Practices of the MFP Transparency Code for Financial Policies

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Source: IMF.

Means of disclosure

There are a variety of means and methods of communicating with the public, which can be grouped in four broad categories: (i) disclosure via official public documents; (ii) disclosure to media or representative public bodies; (iii) direct disclosure to the general public, and (iv) other means of disclosure.

In many instances, use of more than one of these forms of disclosure may be necessary if a central bank or financial agency seeks to achieve effective transparency. Depending on the extent that a central bank or financial agency desires to broaden public understanding of aspects of its institutional mandate, for example, the legislation or regulation could be supplemented and detailed in several ways: (i) by a publicly released and readily available mission statement; (ii) through recurring discussion and explanation in the institution’s publications, public statements and public appearances; and posting on the central bank’s or financial agency’s website. Similarly, for other practices of the MFP Transparency Code, central banks and financial agencies can practice transparency by utilizing more than one form of disclosure.

Timeliness of disclosure

Timeliness of disclosure refers to the elapsed time between the occurrence of an event and the public release of information on it. Timeliness is paramount for effective transparency. In the area of data disclosure, which is an important aspect of the MFP Transparency Code, the guidelines and procedures of the IMF data dissemination standards and other standards developed by different international organizations and associations call for presenting readily accessible data on an orderly and timely basis, with an emphasis on reliability. Regarding the various statements and reports called for in the MFP Transparency Code, these need to contain meaningful and relevant information issued on a timely basis.

Periodicity of disclosure

Periodicity of disclosure refers to the frequency of public release of information on a particular event/issue. Publication and data release schedules, once established, should be honored. Not applying transparency practices consistently (e.g., reversals of previously applied transparency practices when developments are unfavorable) would go against the spirit and intent of transparency and could weaken credibility.

Quality and content of disclosure

The focus of transparency practices should be on the materiality and relevance of the information that is being provided to the public. The objective of transparency would not be met by releasing reports that offer contradictory assessments. Transparency would also not be met by issuing multiple regulations (particularly if earlier-issued and dated regulations are not revoked and withdrawn), or if regulations are written in highly technical or arcane language. Quality and content of disclosure refers to specific requirements related to the form and content of publicly released information explicitly set forth in the MFP Transparency Code practices.

III. Recent Developments in Transparency Practices

International efforts to enhance transparency have been wide-ranging and are targeting both the public and private sectors. The IMF has taken steps toward enhancing the transparency of its policies and country programs,3 and—given its mandate to promote international financial stability through sound national macroeconomic and financial policies—has undertaken special efforts to promote transparency in macroeconomic policies. Transparency of monetary and financial policies, including the institutional and legal framework, has a close relationship with the other key standards relating to macroeconomic policy, data and fiscal policy transparency, and financial regulation and supervision.

Transparency also involves collaborative endeavors by the agencies across financial sectors, along with the private sector as appropriate. Various standard-setting agencies have also striven to promote greater transparency in the areas of their expertise. Some of the initiatives currently under way involve improving practices relating to market information, disclosure and transparency to strengthen market discipline, maintain investor confidence, and public accountability.4 5 As shifts take place from a compliance-oriented supervisory approach to risk-based supervision, the role of enhanced standards of transparency becomes critical (see IMF 2002a). The new Basel Capital Accord (Basel II) therefore emphasizes elements of disclosure and market discipline.

The International Association of Insurance Supervisors and the Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems have formally recognized the transparency framework recommended the MFP Transparency Code as being relevant to the effective implementation of the core principles relating to insurance supervision and systemically important payment systems. In the case of banking supervision, the need for enhancing governance and transparency standards for banks and banking supervisors has been emphasized by the IMF staff when a new generation of Basel Core Principles are developed.6 Within the IMF, guidelines relating to Foreign Exchange Reserves Management, Public Debt Management, and Strengthening Safeguards on the Use of Fund Resources have also recognized the value of transparency and disclosure as a key operational component (IMF, 2001b; IMF and World Bank, 2001; IMF, 2002b).

A systematic approach toward enhanced disclosure and transparency by central banks and financial policy agencies is however a relatively recent phenomenon. The scope, practicality, and efficacy of these practices are still evolving. In developed countries and emerging market economies, increasing emphasis is being given by central banks and financial agencies to public consultations, public disclosure of aggregate data, and modalities of accountability and reporting in order to account for their performance and operations. Changes in the policy and regulatory structure are also providing impetus to increased transparency. The creation of a multinational central bank arrangement in Europe and the formation of composite financial regulatory agencies in a number of countries have required these agencies to focus on the role and form of transparency in the conduct of their affairs (Abrams and Taylor, 2000).7

The assessments of country observance with the MFP Transparency Code began in the Spring of 1999 and are currently conducted mostly under the joint IMF-World Bank Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP). Some are published as ROSCs (www.imf.org/external/np/rosc/rosc.asp). To date, MFP Transparency Code assessments under the FSAP have been conducted in 61 countries (Table 3).

Table 3.

Countries in Which the MFP Transparency Code was Assessed Under the Completed and Ongoing FSAPs, as of mid-January, 2002

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Source: IMF.

Country groupings according to the IMF, 2001a.

Refers to those country assessments that have been submitted to the Board of the IMF for discussion.

Transparency practices of the assessed central banks and financial agencies, illustrate the diversity of central bank and financial agency experiences. While some countries are promoting transparency on the full range of practices, others are more selective and advancing some practices and not others. The general trend is toward broadening the public understanding of the policy and operational framework, focusing on the materiality and relevance of the information being disclosed and improving the timeliness and accessibility of data and information disclosed. Some countries have initiated greater public dialogue in determining ways of improving the form and content of transparency.

The assessments of country transparency practices relating to monetary and financial policies carried out by the IMF-World Bank reveal that monetary policy transparency practices relating to the clarity of roles, responsibilities and objectives of central banks for monetary policy are fairly well established in the countries reviewed. Increasingly central banks are expanding the channels of communication to the press, markets and the public. Across all financial sectors, transparency is strongest in public availability of information on financial policies using different forms of communication strategies. Nevertheless, there remains room for significant improvement in the overall content and form of transparency. For both monetary and financial policies, transparency appears weakest in the areas of accountability and assurances of integrity by central banks and financial agencies. Those requiring strengthening include: (i) transparency of the central bank relations with the government, (ii) disclosure practices relating to inflation targeting frameworks, (iii) communicating the formal information sharing arrangements among financial agencies, and (iv) public disclosure of internal governance procedures for insuring integrity of operations. Improvements are also needed in the form, content, and quality of disclosure. In monetary policy, further efforts should be directed towards improving disclosure and explanation of the monetary policy framework and procedures. In the case of financial policy transparency, greater public disclosure of relationships between financial agencies and increased frequency of data reporting are emerging as areas requiring strengthening.

Countries have pointed out several factors limiting the acceptance of transparency as an essential component of policymaking and policy implementation. These limiting factors include: a lack of understanding of the role and relevance of transparency in the country; institutional and legal factors; and the stage of development of the financial system. In some cases, the ability to adopt transparency practices is hindered by legislative requirements. Budgetary factors also restrict the use of multiple disclosure channels for effective communication.

IV. Cross-Country and Cross-Sector Analysis of Transparency Practices

The indices of transparency in monetary and financial policies used in this paper measure the degree of observance of the MFP Transparency Code by IMF member countries in the areas of monetary policy formulation and implementation, and financial sector regulation and supervision. Separate indices of transparency are calculated for monetary policy, banking supervision, deposit insurance oversight, insurance regulation, payment systems oversight, and securities regulation.

The data used in the construction of these transparency indices comes from a survey on the implementation of the MFP Transparency Code by IMF member countries. The survey was conducted for the purposes of the Supporting Document to the MFP Transparency Code (IMF, 2000), which was developed by IMF staff as an implementation guide. In July 1999, a comprehensive questionnaire, covering all transparency practices of the MFP Transparency Code, was mailed to 160 central banks and 159 government agencies8 from 178 IMF member countries.9 Most responses were received in September 1999, with a few follow-up revisions and late replies arriving in the following months. The participation rate in the survey was particularly high, with 75 percent of the central banks and 91 percent10 of the other government agencies submitting responses from a total of 135 countries. The countries in our sample are representative of each category of the analytical country groupings most commonly used in policy research—political/economic, and by stage of economic development (Figure 1). This makes the cross-country analysis of transparency practices presented below representative of the world patterns in transparency in monetary and financial policies at the end of 1999. In this paper, we examine countries’ overall observance of the MFP Transparency Code, as well as their observance of transparency practices from each of the constituting sections of the MFP Transparency Code for both monetary and financial policies.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Analytical Groupings of the 135 Countries that Responded to the Survey 1/

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2003, 094; 10.5089/9781451851748.001.A001

Source: IMF, 2001a.1/ Not all countries provided responses for each area of monetary/financial policies.

The value of each transparency index for a given country is computed as the unweighted average of the overall scores assigned to the country’s implementation of the four dimensions of transparency in the area of the respective monetary/financial policy: (1) means of disclosure, (2) timeliness of disclosure, (3) periodicity of disclosure, and (4) observance of requirements related to the form and content of disclosure set forth in the MFP Transparency Code. These overall scores, in effect auxiliary indices, are estimated as unweighted averages of the scores on the respective dimension of transparency for each relevant practice11 of the MFP Transparency Code. Details of the construction of the auxiliary indices are presented in Appendices I and II.

Before proceeding with the cross-country analysis of transparency practices, however, a word of caution is appropriate. The transparency indices developed in this paper are based on self-assessments done by national authorities and as such are potentially vulnerable to the usual problems associated with survey data. Misinterpretation of the questions by respondents could affect the answers provided resulting in underestimating or overstating the degree of policy transparency. This can also occur if respondents answer only questions that refer to transparency practices, with which they have strong experience (since the construction of the transparency indices does not penalize respondents who do not reply to individual questions).12

A. Cross-Sectoral Analysis of Transparency Practices

Across all countries, transparency is highest13 in the formulation and conduct of monetary policy and lowest in the areas of insurance supervision and deposit insurance (see first row of each panel in Table 4). Transparency practices in insurance supervision are most deficient in the areas of accountability and assurances of integrity by supervisory agencies, and in the public availability of information on financial policies. Transparency of deposit insurance oversight is most lacking in the areas of public availability of information on financial policies and in the open process for formulating and reporting financial policy decisions.

Table 4.

Country Group Means by Stage of Economic Development1/ of the Overall Index of Observance of the MFP Transparency Code and the Indices of Observance of Its Constituting Sections for Monetary and Financial Policies

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Sources: National authorities’ responses to the Survey on Implementation of the MFP Transparency Code and authors’ estimates.

Country classification as in World Bank, 2001.

B. Transparency Patterns Across Countries at Different Stages of Economic Development

The average degree of overall observance of the MFP Transparency Code in monetary policies is substantially higher in high-income OECD countries than in any other country group by stage of economic development, including high-income non-OECD countries (Table 4).14 The average degree of transparency in banking supervision is also highest in high-income OECD countries. Low-income countries lag substantially in the implementation of transparency practices in the areas of accountability and assurances of integrity by supervisory agencies, as well as in the open process for formulating and reporting financial policy decisions.

For securities regulation, insurance supervision, payment systems oversight, and deposit insurance, there are no significant differences in the average degree of observance of the MFP Transparency Code among countries at different stages of economic development.

C. Transparency Patterns Across Countries with Different Political/Economic Characteristics

The average degree of overall observance of the MFP Transparency Code in monetary policies is highest in advanced countries and lowest in developing countries (Table 5). In advanced countries, transparency practices in the area of public availability of information on monetary policies are particularly strong relative to other countries. In developing countries, transparency is most deficient in the area of the open process for formulating and reporting monetary policy decisions.

Table 5.

Country Group Means by Political/Economic Characteristics 1/ of the Overall Index of Observance of the MFP Transparency Code and the Indices of Observance of Its Constituting Sections for Monetary and Financial Policies

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Sources: National authorities responses to the Survey on Implementation of the MFP Transparency Code and authors’ estimates.

Country classification as in IMF, 2001a.

For all supervisory areas in which differences between country group means exist, the average degree of transparency is highest in advanced countries and lowest in the developing ones. A notable exception is the area of securities regulation, in which the transitional countries are the laggards due to their poor performance in the area of accountability and assurances of integrity by supervisory agencies. In the area of banking supervision, significant deficiencies in transparency practices in the area of open process for formulating and reporting financial policy decisions exist in developing countries.

Despite the fact that advanced countries have the highest average degree of overall observance of the MFP Transparency Code in the area of payment systems oversight, they lag behind the other two country groups in the area of open process for formulating and reporting financial policy decisions.

For deposit insurance, there are no significant differences in the average degree of observance of the MFP Transparency Code among countries with different political/economic characteristics.

Appendix III presents detailed crosstabulations of indices of observance of the MFP Transparency Code for monetary and financial policies transformed in quartile ranks and World Economic Outlook (WEO) country groups.

D. Interdeterminacy of Country Transparency Practices in Monetary and Financial Policies

The relationship between monetary policy transparency and transparency in banking supervision policy is determined by, among other things, the state of development of the banking system and whether the supervisory policy is carried out by a single agency or multiple agencies. Transparency practices in monetary policy and in banking supervision policy are broadly complementary. These two policy areas are interrelated and mutually reinforcing, with the health of the banking system affecting conduct of monetary policy and vice versa. Therefore, the effectiveness of monetary policy can be strengthened by transparency in banking supervision policy, as the latter can sharpen the public perception of monetary policy transmission, thereby reducing uncertainty. In addition, the degree of transparency of both policy areas is likely to be similarly affected, particularly when the two functions are performed in a single institution (the central bank). For these reasons, one would generally expect a positive association between transparency of monetary policy and that of banking supervisory policy.

Figure 2A presents a scatter plot of the scores of advanced, developing, and transitional countries on the indices of transparency in monetary policy and banking supervision. The coefficient of correlation between countries’ scores on the two indices is 0.39 and is statistically significant at the 95 percent level of confidence. As seen from the regression lines fitted to the data in Figure 2A, this positive association is strong and statistically significant for developing countries, weaker and statistically insignificant for advanced countries, and roughly zero among transitional countries. The strong overall positive association is preserved, even after adjusting for differences in the level of development and the types of institutional arrangements (that is, whether banking supervision is within or outside the central bank or the central bank shares supervisory policy responsibilities) (Figure 2B).

Figure 2.
Figure 2.

Interdependence of Country Transparency Indices in Monetary Policy and Banking Supervision

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2003, 094; 10.5089/9781451851748.001.A001

Source: Authors’ estimates.1/ Residuals from linear regression of the index of transparency in banking supervision on two sets of dummy variables that control for: (1) WEO country group, and (2) whether the central bank participates in banking supervision. The latter set consists of two dummy variables—the first receives a value of one if banking supervision in a country is exercised solely by the central bank, zero otherwise; the second receives a value of one if banking supervision is exercised jointly by the central bank and an outside agency, zero otherwise.2/ Residuals from linear regression of the index of transparency in monetary policy on a set of dummy variables that control for WEO country group.* Statistically significant at the 95 percent level of confidence.

V. Conclusion

We have analyzed transparency patterns across different policies and countries at different stages of economic development and political/economic characteristics, based on indices of observance of the MFP Transparency Code constructed from self-evaluations by 135 IMF member countries done in 1999. We have found that across all countries, transparency is highest in the formulation and conduct of monetary policy and lowest in insurance supervision and deposit insurance. The average degree of overall observance of the MFP Transparency Code in monetary policies is substantially higher in high-income OECD countries than in any other country group at any stage of economic development, including high-income non-OECD countries. The average degree of transparency in banking supervision is also highest in high-income OECD countries. Low-income countries lag substantially in the implementation of transparency practices in accountability and assurances of integrity by supervisory agencies, and in the process for formulating and reporting policy decisions in banking supervision. Across country groups by similar political/economic characteristics, the average degree of transparency is highest in advanced countries and lowest in the developing ones for both monetary policy and those financial policies for which differences between country group means exist.

Cross-Country and Cross-Sector Analysis of Transparency of Monetary and Financial Policies
Author: International Monetary Fund