Archive for the ‘International Monetary Fund’ Category

Global Financial Stability Report: Restoring Confidence and Progressing on Reforms

September 26, 2012 Comments off

Global Financial Stability Report: Restoring Confidence and Progressing on Reforms

Source: International Monetary Fund

Chapter 3 of the October 2012 Global Financial Stability Report examines whether the regulatory reforms designed to make the financial system safer are moving the system in the correct direction, using a benchmark set of features that include financial institutions and markets that are more transparent, less complex, and less leveraged. The analysis suggests that progress has been limited so far, in part because many of the reforms are still in the early stages of implementation. Chapter 4 evaluates how aspects of current changes to financial structure, including those elicited from regulatory reforms, may be associated with economic outcomes. Both chapters stress that the success of measures to produce a safer financial system depend on effective implementation of reforms and strong supervision.

Small Island States in the Pacific: the Tyranny of Distance

September 11, 2012 Comments off

Small Island States in the Pacific: the Tyranny of Distance

Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper seeks to document key characteristics of small island states in the Pacific. It restricts itself to a limited number of indicators which are macro-orientated – population, fertility of land, ability to tap into economies of scale, income, and geographic isolation. It leaves aside equally important but more micro-orientated variables and development indicators. We show that small island states in the Pacific are different from countries in other regional groupings in that they are extremely isolated and have limited scope to tap economies of scale due to small populations. They often have little arable land. There is empirical evidence to suggest that these factors are related to income growth.

The Cyclicality of Sales, Regular and Effective Prices: Business Cycle and Policy Implications

September 11, 2012 Comments off

The Cyclicality of Sales, Regular and Effective Prices: Business Cycle and Policy Implications

Source: International Monetary Fund

We study the cyclical properties of sales, regular price changes and average prices paid by consumers ("effective" prices) in a dataset containing prices and quantities sold for numerous retailers across a variety of U.S. metropolitan areas. Both the frequency and size of sales fall when local unemployment rates rise and yet the inflation rate for effective prices paid by consumers declines significantly with higher unemployment. This discrepancy can be reconciled by consumers reallocating their expenditures across retailers, a feature of the data which we document and quantify. We propose a simple model with household shopping effort and store-switching consistent with these stylized facts and document its implications for business cycles and policymakers.

Effects of Culture on Firm Risk-Taking: A Cross-Country and Cross-Industry Analysis

August 30, 2012 Comments off

Effects of Culture on Firm Risk-Taking: A Cross-Country and Cross-Industry Analysis
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper investigates the effects of national culture on firm risk-taking, using a comprehensive dataset covering 50,000 firms in 400 industries in 51 countries. Risk-taking is found to be higher for domestic firms in countries with low uncertainty aversion, low tolerance for hierarchical relationships, and high individualism. Domestic firms in such countries tend to take substantially more risk in industries which are more informationally opaque (e.g. finance, mining, IT). Risk-taking by foreign firms is best explained by the cultural norms of their country of origin. These cultural norms do not proxy for legal constraints, insurance safety nets, or economic development.

Great Recession and Fiscal Squeeze at U.S. Subnational Government Level

July 20, 2012 Comments off

Great Recession and Fiscal Squeeze at U.S. Subnational Government Level
Source: International Monetary Fund

The paper discusses the fiscal impact of the Great Recession of 2007-08 on state and local governments in the United States. It documents the sharp decline in tax revenue and discusses how states responded to close the budget gaps in order to obey the balanced budget provisions. It highligts the procyclical nature of this policy response, provides a brief comparison with subnational policy stances in other advanced economies, and discusses some options for making subnational fiscal policy less procyclical within the framework of current rules.

IMF Marks Down Global Growth Forecast, Sees Risk on Rise

January 26, 2012 Comments off

IMF Marks Down Global Growth Forecast, Sees Risk on Rise
Source: International Monetary Fund

With intensifying strains in the euro area weighing on the global outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has sharply cut its forecast for world growth this year, saying prospects have dimmed and risks to financial stability have increased.
In an update to its World Economic Outlook (WEO), the IMF said that the euro area would fall into a mild recession in 2012 after the euro area crisis entered a “perilous new phase” toward the end of last year, affecting other parts of the world including the United States, emerging markets, and developing countries.

Overall, activity in the advanced economies is now projected to expand by just 1.2 percent in 2012—a downward revision of ¾ percentage points relative to the forecast last September—picking up to a still tepid 1.9 percent the next year. The global growth outlook for this year is 3.3 percent.

+ World Economic Outlook Update

Oil Shocks in a Global Perspective: Are they Really that Bad?

November 11, 2011 Comments off

Oil Shocks in a Global Perspective: Are they Really that Bad?
Source: International Monetary Fund

Using a comprehensive global dataset, we outline stylized facts characterizing relationships between crude oil prices and macroeconomic developments across the world. Approaching the data from several angles, we find that the impact of higher oil prices on oil-importing economies is generally small: a 25 percent increase in oil prices typically causes GDP to fall by about half of one percent or less. While cross-country differences in impact are found to depend mainly on the relative size of oil imports, we also show that oil price shocks are not always costly for oil-importing countries: although higher oil prices increase the import bill, there are partly offsetting increases in external receipts. We provide a small open economy model illustrating the main transmission channels of oil shocks, and show how the recycling of petrodollars may mitigate the impact.

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Do Remittances Reduce Aid Dependency?

October 31, 2011 Comments off

Do Remittances Reduce Aid Dependency?
Source: International Monetary Fund

Aid has been for decades an important source of financing for developing countries, but more recently remittance flows have increased rapidly and are beginning to dwarf aid flows. This paper investigates how remittances affect aid flows, and how this relationship varies depending on the channel of transmission from remittances to aid. Buoyant remittances could reduce aid needs when human capital improves and private investment takes off. Absent these, aid flows could still drop as remittances may dampen donors’ incentive to scale up aid. Concurrently, remittances could be positively associated with aid if migrants can influence aid policy in donor countries. Using an instrumental variable approach with panel data for a sample of developing countries from 1975-2005, the baseline results show that remittances actually increase aid dependency. However, a refined model controlling for the channels of transmission from remittances to aid reveals that remittances lead to lower aid dependency when they are invested in human and physical capital rather than consumed.

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Financial Integration and Rebalancing in Asia

October 24, 2011 Comments off

Financial Integration and Rebalancing in Asia
Source: International Monetary Fund

The paper shows that Asia’s degree of financial integration, both with the world and within the region remains low by various measures. The paper also provides empirical evidence that greater financial integration can support economic rebalancing in statistically meaningful ways. The implication is that in the debate on managing capital inflows the longer-term benefits of financial openness for broader-based growth should not be forgotten.

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See also: Risk Sharing and Financial Contagion in Asia: An Asset Price Perspective

The Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Microfinance and Policy Implications

October 14, 2011 Comments off

The Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Microfinance and Policy Implications
Source: International Monetary Fund

The global financial crisis affected microfinance institutions (MFIs) as lending growth was constrained by scarcer borrowing opportunities, while the economic slowdown negatively impacted asset quality and profitability. It also brought to the fore the relatively high interest rates that MFIs charge to their (low-income) customers. This paper revisits the issue of systemic risk of MFIs, and finds that contrary to the evidence before the crisis, MFI performance is correlated not only to domestic economic conditions but also to changes in international capital markets. It also presents an empirical analysis of lending rates with the purpose of informing policy decisions, and finds that loan sizes, productivity, and MFI age contribute to explain differences in lending rate levels. This suggest that regulation (and policies) promoting MFI competition, and innovation in lending technologies have a better chance to result in decreased lending rates.

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How Long Do Housing Cycles Last? A Duration Analysis for 19 OECD Countries

October 9, 2011 Comments off

How Long Do Housing Cycles Last? A Duration Analysis for 19 OECD Countries
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper analyzes the duration of house price upturns and downturns in the last 40 years for 19 OECD countries. I provide two sets of results, one pertaining to the average length and the other to the length distribution. On average, upturns are longer than downturns, but the difference disappears once the last house price boom is excluded. In terms of length distribution, upturns (but not downturns) are more likely to end as their duration increases. This duration dependence is consistent with a boom-bust view of house price dynamics, where booms represent departures from fundamentals that are increasingly difficult to sustain.

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Unforeseen Events Wait Lurking: Estimating Policy Spillovers From U.S. To Foreign Asset Prices

October 7, 2011 Comments off

Unforeseen Events Wait Lurking: Estimating Policy Spillovers From U.S. To Foreign Asset Prices
Source: International Monetary Fund

Event studies are used to analyze the impact of U.S. financial, fiscal, and monetary policies from US to foreign asset prices across a range of G20 countries and Switzerland. The initial announcement that the Administration supported tighter regulation of banks led to a generalized fall in advanced economy bank shares compared to local equity markets. For later Dodd-Frank announcements, however, falls in U.S. bank equity prices were accompanied by increases in U.K. and Swiss valuations, implying a potential for regulatory arbitrage. Turning to macro policies, the 2008/9 fiscal and monetary stimulus packages generally supported foreign activity, while the impact of similar stimulus in 2010 is less clear.

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Taxing Financial Transactions: An Assessment of Administrative Feasibility

October 5, 2011 Comments off

Taxing Financial Transactions: An Assessment of Administrative Feasibility
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper considers how a tax on financial transactions could be applied to three broad and partially overlapping categories of financial instruments: (1) exchange-traded instruments; (2) over-the-counter instruments; and, (3) foreign exchange instruments. For each category, the paper examines the factors that would facilitate or complicate the administration of a financial transactions tax, the options for collecting the tax, the types of compliance risks that are likely to be encountered, and measures for mitigating these risks.

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CRS — International Monetary Fund: Background and Issues for Congress

October 4, 2011 Comments off

International Monetary Fund: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State, Foreign Press Center)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), conceived at the Bretton Woods conference in July 1944, is the multilateral organization focused on the international monetary system. Created in 1946 with 46 members, it has grown to include 187 countries. The IMF has six purposes that are outlined in Article I of the IMF Articles of Agreement: promoting international monetary cooperation; expanding the balanced growth of international trade; facilitating exchange rate stability; eliminating restrictions on the international flow of capital; ensuring confidence by making the general resources of the Fund temporarily available to members; and adjusting balance-of-payments imbalances in an orderly manner.

Congressional interest in IMF activities has increased since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008. IMF lending has surged in recent years, particularly in light of large recent loans to Greece, Ireland, and Portugal. In 2009, major economies agreed to substantially increase the IMF’s resources and to move forward on several major reforms at the institution. These include increasing the voting share of emerging economies; revamping the IMF’s lending toolkit to introduce greater flexibility and create new facilities for low-income countries, and creating a road map for resolving the fast-growing economic imbalances in the global economy between surplus and deficit countries. In late 2010, IMF members agreed to a doubling of IMF quotas, which would require congressional authorization and appropriations.

The United States was instrumental in creating the IMF and is its largest financial contributor, providing 17.72% of total IMF resources. Since voting shares are based on financial contributions, the large U.S. voting share provides the United States veto power over major decisions at the IMF. Both the IMF and its sister organization, the World Bank, are headquartered in Washington, DC.

At the Bretton Woods conference, the IMF was tasked with coordinating the system of fixed exchange rates to help the international economy recover from two world wars and the instability in the interwar period caused by competitive devaluations and protectionist trade policies. From 1946 until 1973, the IMF managed the “par value adjustable peg” system. The U.S. dollar was fixed to gold at $35 per ounce, and all other member countries’ currencies were fixed to the dollar at different rates. This system of fixed rates ended in 1973 when the United States removed itself from the gold standard.

The IMF has evolved significantly as an institution since it was created. Floating exchange rates and more open capital markets in the 1990s created a new role for the IMF—the resolution of frequent and volatile international financial crises. The Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998 and subsequent crises in Russia and Latin America revealed many weaknesses of the world monetary system, which have only become more apparent in the wake of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis and the more recent sovereign debt crises in Europe.

This report evaluates the purpose, membership, financing, and focus of the IMF’s activities. It also discusses the role of Congress in shaping U.S. policy at the IMF and concludes by addressing key issues, both legislative and oversight-related, that Congress may wish to consider, including:

  • the role of the IMF as a lender of last resort;
  • the adequacy of IMF resources; and
  • the effectiveness of IMF surveillance.

Did the Euro Crisis Affect Non-financial Firm Stock Prices through a Financial or Trade Channel?

October 3, 2011 Comments off

Did the Euro Crisis Affect Non-financial Firm Stock Prices through a Financial or Trade Channel?
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper analyzes through what channels the euro crisis has affected firm valuations globally. It examines stock price responses over the past year for 3045 non-financial firms in 16 countries to three key crisis events. Using pre-crisis benchmarks, it separates effects arising from changes in external financing and trade conditions and examines how bank and trade linkages propagated effects across borders. It finds that policy measures announced impacted financially-constrained firms more, particularly in creditor countries with greater bank exposure to peripheral euro countries. Trade linkages with peripheral countries also played a role, with euro exchange rate movements causing differential effects.

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Understanding Chinese Bond Yields and their Role in Monetary Policy

October 2, 2011 Comments off

Understanding Chinese Bond Yields and their Role in Monetary Policy
Source: International Monetary Fund

China’s financial prices are informative enough for the PBC to introduce a monetary policy framework centered around interest rates. While bond yields are not fully efficient—reflecting regulation, liquidity, and segmentation—we find they contain considerable information about the state of the economy as well as evidence of an emerging transmission channel: changes in PBC rates influence the structure of Treasury, financial, and corporate bond yield curves, which are then associated with changes in growth and inflation. Coporate spreads are also a leading indicator of growth and inflation. While further liberalization will strengthen both efficiency and transmission, several necessary elements to move towards indirect monetary policy are already in place.

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World Economic Outlook – September 2011

September 26, 2011 Comments off

World Economic Outlook – September 2011
Source: International Monetary Fund

The World Economic Outlook (WEO) presents the IMF staff’s analysis and projections of economic developments at the global level, in major country groups (classified by region, stage of development, etc.), and in many individual countries. It focuses on major economic policy issues as well as on the analysis of economic developments and prospects. It is usually prepared twice a year, as documentation for meetings of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, and forms the main instrument of the IMF’s global surveillance activities.

Targets, Interest Rates, and Household Saving in Urban China

September 25, 2011 Comments off

Targets, Interest Rates, and Household Saving in Urban China
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper studies a panel of China’s provinces over the period 1996-2009 during which urban household saving rates increased from 19 percent of disposable income to 30 percent. It finds that the increase in urban saving rates is negatively associated with the decline in real interest rates over this period. This negative association suggests that Chinese households save with a target level of saving in mind. When the return to saving declines (increases), it becomes more difficult (easier) to meet a target and households increase (lower) their saving out of current disposable income to compensate. The results are robust across specifications and to the inclusion of additional variables. A main policy implication is that an increase in real deposit rates may help lower household saving and boost domestic consumption.

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Apocalypse Then: The Evolution of the North Atlantic Economy and the Global Crisis

September 5, 2011 Comments off

Apocalypse Then: The Evolution of the North Atlantic Economy and the Global Crisis
Source: International Monetary Fund

The financial crisis, originated from the collapse of US housing markets in 2008, reverberates around the world. Its destructive force was felt nowhere more keenly than Western Europe. Indeed, it continues to mire in financial volatility as the debt problem contagiously spreads around the periphery Euro area. Taking a wider historical view of the evolution over the recent decades of the North Atlantic economy, comprising North America and Western Europe, we argue that while trade links were in relative stasis, the increasing and uniquely-close Transatlantic financial relationship was a crucial conduit in transmitting US shocks into global ones.

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The Taxation and Regulation of Banks

August 29, 2011 Comments off

The Taxation and Regulation of Banks
Source: International Monetary Fund

The financial crisis has prompted a reconsideration of the taxation of financial institutions, with practice outstripping principle: France, Germany, the United Kingdom and several other European countries have now introduced some form of bank tax, and the U.S. administration has revived its own proposal for such a charge. This paper considers the structure, appropriate rate, and revenue yield of corrective taxation of financial institutions addressed to two externalities, consequent on excessive risk-taking, prominent in the crisis: those that arise when such institutions are simply allowed to collapse, and those that arise when, to avoid the harm this would cause, their creditors are bailed out. It also asks whether corrective taxation or a regulatory capital requirement is the better way to address these concerns. The results suggest a potential role for taxing bank borrowing, perhaps as an adjunct to minimum capital requirements, at marginal rates that rise quite sharply at low capital ratios (but are likely lower when the government cannot commit to its bailout policy), reaching levels higher than those of the bank taxes so far adopted or proposed.

+ Full Paper (PDF)


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