A Framework for Currency Unions and IMF Lending

By Sean Hagan and Hugh Bredenkamp

March 16, 2018

New guidance approved by the IMF represents an important step in how the Fund supports members of currency unions undertaking adjustment (photo: IMF).

Countries benefit in various ways from belonging to a currency union—a group of countries that share a single currency. Businesses can trade and invest across borders more easily. Member countries gain access to larger markets without facing currency risk. And in some circumstances, currency unions can help support their members when they are hit by external shocks. Continue reading “A Framework for Currency Unions and IMF Lending” »

Addressing the Dark Side of the Crypto World

By Christine Lagarde

March 13, 2018

Versions in  عربي (Arabic),  中文 (Chinese), Français (French), 日本語 (Japanese), Português (Portuguese), Русский (Russian)

The same reason crypto-assets like Bitcoin are so appealing is also what makes them dangerous (iStock by GettyImages).

Whether Bitcoin’s value goes up or Bitcoin’s value goes down, people around the world are asking the same question: What exactly is the potential of crypto-assets?

The technology behind these assets—including blockchain—is an exciting advancement that could help revolutionize fields beyond finance. It could, for example, power financial inclusion by providing new, low-cost payment methods to those who lack bank accounts and in the process empower millions in low-income countries. Continue reading “Addressing the Dark Side of the Crypto World” »

Fintech Quiz: How Much Do You Know?

By IMFBlog

March 12, 2018

Rapid advances in digital technology are transforming the financial services landscape (iStock by Getty Images).

From artificial intelligence to cryptography, rapid advances in digital technology are transforming the financial services landscape, creating opportunities and challenges for consumers, service providers, and regulators alike. This new wave of technology is often called “fintech” and the industry is thriving. Consumers worldwide are using two or more fintech services, sometimes without knowing they are using fintech services. Continue reading “Fintech Quiz: How Much Do You Know?” »

Communications Can Help to Get Financial Stability Off the Ground

By Olga Stankova

February 22, 2018 

Versions in 中文 (Chinese), Español (Spanish), Português (Portuguese), Русский (Russian)

Policy and communications—two wings to fly to success (photo: iStock by Getty Images).

When the capacity to communicate effectively on financial stability policies is not there, it is like trying to fly a plane with one wing missing. It takes more than sound policy making. Communications is an essential part of the job.

Following the global financial crisis, many countries redoubled their efforts to build stronger financial stability frameworks. Central banks and supervisory agencies have enhanced their capacity to identify and monitor systemic risks in the financial system and have developed new policies to mitigate them. Continue reading “Communications Can Help to Get Financial Stability Off the Ground” »

More Action Needed to Resolve Problem Loans in the Caribbean

By Kimberly Beaton and Inci Otker

October 31, 2017

The global financial crisis has left high levels of problem loans in the Caribbean (image: William Potter/iStock by Getty Images).

The global financial crisis and subsequent economic recession saddled banks in the Caribbean with high levels of problem loans. The share of nonperforming loans to total loans more than tripled in many Caribbean countries from 2007 to 2016, and they have been slow to come down. Problem loans (loans that are 90 days or more past due) are bad news for banks and the economy. Continue reading “More Action Needed to Resolve Problem Loans in the Caribbean” »

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” »

Gaining Currency: The Rise of the Renminbi

By IMFBlog

August 4, 2017

Eswar Prasad at an IMF conference (photo: Staff/IMF)

As China’s economy catches up in size with that of the United States, some economists predict that the renminbi will soon challenge the dollar’s dominance in international finance.

Continue reading “Gaining Currency: The Rise of the Renminbi” »

Stepping up the Fight Against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing

By Christine Lagarde

July 26, 2017

Versions in ربي (Arabic),  中文 (Chinese), Français (French), Русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish)

Money laundering and terrorist financing threaten economic stability. International cooperation is vital in the fight against misuse of the financial system (photo: CraigRJD/iStock by Getty Images)

Corrupt officials, tax cheats, and the financial backers of terrorism have one thing in common: they often exploit vulnerabilities in financial systems to facilitate their crimes.

Money laundering and terrorist financing can threaten a country’s economic and financial stability while funding violent and illegal acts. That is why many governments have stepped up the fight against such practices, helped by international institutions such as the IMF.

Continue reading “Stepping up the Fight Against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing” »

Banking On the Go

By IMFBlog

June 23, 2017

Tayo Oviosu at IMF lecture (photo: Ryan Rayburn/IMF staff)

Worldwide, more than two billion people are without bank accounts, and only one in three adults in sub-Saharan Africa has access to any type of financial services. In this podcast, Tayo Oviosu, founder and CEO of Nigeria's leading mobile payment platform, Paga, reveals how his company is rapidly bringing millions of unbanked Nigerians into the banking fold. Continue reading “Banking On the Go” »

Why Talk of Bank Capital ‘Floors’ Is Raising the Roof

By Tobias Adrian and Aditya Narain

June 8, 2017

The headquarters of the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, which houses the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (photo: Christian Hartmann/Reuters/Newscom)

Calculating how much capital banks should have is often a bone of contention between regulators and banks. While there has been considerable progress on reaching consensus on an international standard, one key issue remains unresolved. This is a proposal to establish a “floor,” or minimum, for the level of capital the largest banks must maintain.

Some financial institutions and national authorities question the need for a “floor,’’ arguing either that differences in business models or other elements of the global regulatory framework—notably limits on the amount of leverage banks may take on—make them redundant. We disagree. The floor reduces the chances that banks can game the system to reduce their capital buffers to levels that aren’t aligned with their risks. It is an essential element of global efforts to create a level playing field for banks operating across countries by strengthening common standards for regulation, supervision and risk management.

Continue reading “Why Talk of Bank Capital ‘Floors’ Is Raising the Roof” »

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