Financial Stability Improves, But Rising Vulnerabilities Could Put Growth at Risk

By Tobias Adrian

October 11, 2017

Versions in Versions in عربي (Arabic), 中文 (Chinese), Español (Spanish), Français (French)

The headquarters of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany: To avoid causing market turbulence, central banks will have to clearly communicate their plans to gradually unwind crisis-era policies (photo: Caro/Sven Hoffman/Newscom).

It seems like a paradox. The world’s financial system is getting stronger, thanks to healthy economic growth, buoyant markets, and low interest rates. Yet despite these favorable conditions, dangers in the form of rising financial vulnerabilities are starting to loom. That is why policymakers should act now to keep those vulnerabilities in check. Continue reading “Financial Stability Improves, But Rising Vulnerabilities Could Put Growth at Risk” »

How Policy Makers Can Better Predict a Downturn – and Prepare

By Claudio Raddatz and Jay Surti

October 3, 2017

Versions in  عربي (Arabic) ,  (Chinese), Español (Spanish), Français (French),日本語  (Japanese),  Русский (Russian)

A trading floor in Singapore. Financial conditions provide valuable clues to the economic outlook and can improve the accuracy of forecasts (photo: Caro/Oberhaeuser/Newscom).

The global financial crisis showed that periods of robust growth and seeming calm in financial markets can be followed by a sudden surge in market volatility and an unexpected economic downdraft. That’s why it is so important for policy makers to keep a close watch on so-called financial conditions. These can include everything from bond yields and oil prices to foreign exchange rates and levels of domestic debt. Continue reading “How Policy Makers Can Better Predict a Downturn – and Prepare” »

Rising Household Debt: What It Means for Growth and Stability

By Nico Valckx

October 3, 2017

Versions عربي (Arabic), Español (Spanish),  Français (French),  日本語, (Japanese),  Русский (Russian)

Household debt, including mortgage debt, has been on the rise since the global financial crisis (photo: Louoates/iStock).

Debt greases the wheels of the economy. It allows individuals to make big investments today–like buying a house or going to college – by pledging some of their future earnings.

That’s all fine in theory. But as the global financial crisis showed, rapid growth in household debt – especially mortgages – can be dangerous. Continue reading “Rising Household Debt: What It Means for Growth and Stability” »

Chart of the Week: Banking on Women—A Case for More

By IMFBlog

September 19, 2017

Versions in  中文 (Chinese), Español (Spanish),日本語 (Japanese), Русский (Russian) 

Worldwide, women hold less than 20 percent of board seats of banks and banking supervision agencies. More women on bank boards may have a positive effect on bank stability (photo: istocksdaily/iStock by Getty Images)

The “glass ceiling” in finance has barely cracked. Compared to the available talent pool, there is still a large gap between the representation of men and women in leadership positions in banks and bank supervision agencies worldwide.

A recent IMF staff paper provides a comprehensive dataset on banking sector characteristics and performance, as well as on the share of women on the boards of directors and banking supervision agency boards, covering 72 countries over 13 years. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Banking on Women—A Case for More” »

Drifting Apart: Income Convergence in the Euro Area

A souvenir shop in Lisbon, Portugal: Income convergence in the euro area has slowed (Photo: Rafael Marchante/REUTERS/Newscom)

By Jeffrey Franks and Hanni Schölermann

September 13, 2017

Versions in Español (Spanish), 語 (Japanese)

The experience of recent decades has challenged the prediction that the single currency would help differences in income levels across euro area countries narrow over time. This income convergence among the founding countries of the euro has not happened, prompting a need for further economic reforms. While newer members of the euro have converged, even this trend has stalled since the crisis.

Continue reading “Drifting Apart: Income Convergence in the Euro Area” »

Back-to-School Blogs

By IMFBlog

September 5, 2017

Back to school in Paris, France: get caught up on our top blogs you may have missed over the summer (photo: LAURENT CHAMUSSY/SIPA/Newscom)

What a summer it’s been. To help you get a handle on all that has happened in the global economy, our editors have compiled a handy primer of our blogs published over the summer months. Continue reading “Back-to-School Blogs” »

More Action Needed on European Bank Profitability

By John Caparusso, Rohit Goel and Will Kerry

August 30, 2017

Versions in Español (Spanish), Deutsche (German), Français (French)

A woman withdraws money from an automated teller machine in Italy: Some European banks have too many branches relative to assets (photo: Martin Moxter imageBROKER/Newscom)

European banking has made considerable progress in the past few years: Banks have built up capital, regulation is stronger and supervision has been enhanced. But profitability remains weak, posing risks for financial stability.

In a sample of more than 170 large European lenders with combined assets of $35 trillion, roughly half generated a weak return on equity in 2016, and banks representing only 15 percent of assets generated a healthy return on equity, defined as more than 10 percent. Weak profitability is also shown in a low return on assets for domestic banks in many European countries. The drivers of these weak returns reflect varying combinations of low income, high costs, or provisions needed to build buffers against non-performing assets.

Continue reading “More Action Needed on European Bank Profitability” »

Off the Charts: Your Favorite 5 Charts

By IMFBlog

August 28, 2017

(photo: iStock by Getty Images).

Much as sailors use nautical charts to determine their location at sea, economists use charts to show who we are, where we are, and where we might be going.

In the Spring, we began our Chart of the Week feature on the blog: snapshots in time and over time of how economies work to help illuminate the uncharted waters ahead for the global economy.

Here are our top five charts of the week, based on readership:

Continue reading “Off the Charts: Your Favorite 5 Charts” »

Chart of the Week: House of Cards

By IMFBlog

August 21, 2017

House for sale: young adults in the UK, US, and Europe have experienced declining home ownership rates (photo: Chris Helgren/Reuters/Newscom).

In some countries, owning a home is a rite of passage: a symbol of a stable life and a sound investment.

However young adults in the United Kingdom, United States, and Europe have experienced declining home ownership rates. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: House of Cards” »

By | August 21st, 2017|Advanced Economies, banking, Economic research, Europe, housing|

Aging Japan Puts a Strain on the Financial System

By Gaston Gelos and Sònia Muñoz

August 10, 2017

Versions in 中文 (Chinese), 日本語 (Japanese)

Elderly shoppers in Tokyo’s Sugamo district: As Japan's population ages, demand for financial services shifts (photo: Issei Kato/Reuters/Newscom).

Japan’s population is shrinking and getting older, posing challenges to the nation’s financial system. How Japan copes could guide other advanced economies in Asia and Europe that are grappling with the same trends but are at an earlier phase of similar demographic developments.

Continue reading “Aging Japan Puts a Strain on the Financial System” »

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