Time to Act Now: It’s All About the Right Policy Mix

By IMFBlog

October 19, 2017

"The road ahead is not an easy one,’’ the IMF’s Executive Directors wrote after the IMF’s first ever Annual meeting in 1946.’’ We do not underestimate the difficulties facing us.’’

More than 70 years later, we’ve encountered many a storm across continents from the Latin American sovereign debt crisis to the Savings and Loans crisis to the Asian crisis. And then there was the global financial crisis of 2008. Continue reading “Time to Act Now: It’s All About the Right Policy Mix” »

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” »

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” »

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” »

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” »

The SDR: Giving An Old Idea New Life

By IMFBlog

June 2, 2017

The IMF's Special Drawing Right, or SDR, was created more than 50 years ago and used only by IMF member countries to supplement their official reserves. The SDR’s value is based on a basket of five major currencies—the US dollar, the euro, the Chinese renminbi, the Japanese yen, and the British pound. In this podcast, Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economic Advisor at the financial services firm Allianz, and a former deputy director at the IMF, says an expanded use of the SDR in global markets could help to strengthen the world economy. Continue reading “The SDR: Giving An Old Idea New Life” »

By | June 2nd, 2017|Financial markets, financial policy, IMF, technology, trade|

Democratizing the Money Market

By IMFBlog

May 26, 2017

Just as technology is changing the way we live and work, it also affects the way we use and move our money. In this podcast, lawyer and bitcoin expert Patrick Murck of Harvard University tells us that financial technology, or fintech, is poised to revolutionize the way the world does business.

Continue reading “Democratizing the Money Market” »

Restarting the Growth Engine in Sub-Saharan Africa

By IMFBlog

May 19, 2017

Version in Français (French)

The IMF’s latest economic health check of sub-Saharan Africa shows that growth fell to its lowest level in 20 years.

In this podcast, the IMF African Department’s Celine Allard, who oversaw the report, says that this drop brought a halt to the 5 to 6 percent growth rate that was enjoyed in the last two decades. Some factors contributing to this slowdown are lower commodity prices, the devastation of a severe drought—exacerbating crop infestation and leading to a famine affecting some 20 million people—and political conflicts that affect trade.

Continue reading “Restarting the Growth Engine in Sub-Saharan Africa” »

IMF Spring Meetings 2017: Keeping Growth on Track

By IMFBlog

April 28, 2017

Panelists, including IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, discuss global gender challenges.

The world’s economic leaders and stakeholders came together at the 2017 IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings amid a more positive outlook on the global growth, which is forecast to hit its fastest pace in five years. A clear theme running through the meetings was the need to protect the growth momentum, given policy and political uncertainties, and to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to share in the fruits of global integration and technological progress.

More than 10,000 people took part. In addition to central bankers, finance ministers and other officials, the meetings drew around 650 journalists, 160 parliamentarians from 68 countries, and a record 850 civil society representatives, who gathered to learn, listen, and share their points of view. Continue reading “IMF Spring Meetings 2017: Keeping Growth on Track” »

Global Financial Stability Improves; Getting the Policy Mix Right to Sustain Gains

By Tobias Adrian

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

The world’s financial system has become safer and more stable since our last assessment six months ago. Economic activity has gained momentum. The outlook has improved and hopes for reflation have risen. Monetary and financial conditions remain highly accommodative. And investor optimism over the new policies under discussion in the United States has boosted asset prices. These are some of the conclusions of the IMF’s latest Global Financial Stability Report

But it’s important for governments in the United States, Europe, China and elsewhere to follow through on investor expectations by adopting the right mix of policies. This means preventing fiscal imbalances, resisting calls for higher trade barriers, and maintaining global cooperation on regulations needed to make the financial system safer. Continue reading “Global Financial Stability Improves; Getting the Policy Mix Right to Sustain Gains” »

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