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.

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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. (more…)

By | June 2nd, 2017|Financial markets, financial policy, IMF, technology, trade|0 Comments

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.

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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.

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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. (more…)

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. (more…)

How an Extended Period of Low Growth Could Reshape the Financial Industry

By Gaston Gelos and Jay Surti

Versions in  عربي (Arabic), Français (French), Русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish)

What happens if advanced economies remain stuck in a long-lasting funk marked by tepid growth, low interest rates, aging populations and stagnant productivity? Japan offers an example of the impact on banks, and our analysis suggests that there could also be far-reaching consequences for insurance companies, pension funds, and asset-management firms.

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With Global Financial Markets, How Much Control Do Countries Have Over Economic Policies?

By Selim Ali Elekdag and Gaston Gelos

Versions in عربي (Arabic), Français (French), Русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish)

The outlook for further interest-rate increases by the US Federal Reserve revives interest in a compelling question: In an increasingly integrated global financial system, how much control do countries outside of the US retain over their economic policies?

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Chart of the Week: Slowing Productivity: Why It Matters and What To Do

By IMFBlog

Output per worker and total factor productivity have slowed sharply over the past decade in most advanced economies and many emerging and developing countries.

Even before the global financial crisis, productivity growth showed signs of slowing in many advanced economies. But in the aftermath of the crisis, there was a further, abrupt deceleration. (more…)

Fintech—A Brave New World for the Financial Sector?

Lagarde.2015MDPORTRAIT4_114x128By Christine Lagarde

Versions in: عربي (Arabic),  中文 (Chinese), Français (French), 日本語 (Japanese), and Español (Spanish)

From smartphones to cloud computing, technology is rapidly changing virtually every facet of society, including communications, business and government. The financial world is no exception.

As a result, the financial world stands at a critical juncture. Yes, the widespread adoption of new technologies, such as blockchain-based systems, offers many potential benefits. But it also gives rise to new risks, including risks to financial stability. That causes challenges for financial regulators, a subject I addressed at the 2017 World Government Summit in Dubai.

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