The massive macro-financial shock caused by the pandemic continues to ravage the global economy and has put both banks and borrowers under severe strain. Supervisors find themselves confronted with unprecedented challenges which call for decisive action to ensure that banking systems support the real economy while preserving financial stability. This blog introduces nine joint IMF-World Bank recommendations to help supervisors navigate these uncharted waters and calls for vigilance regarding policy measures taken that are not consistent with international standards. This is critical to prevent the health and economic crisis morphing into a financial crisis. […]
October 29, 2018
The many 10th anniversary retrospectives of the global financial crisis mostly agree: the financial system is safer today than it was when US investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008. […]
October 31, 2017
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. […]
August 30, 2017
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.
June 8, 2017
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 […]
Islamic banking, a small but fast-growing corner of the financial world, is receiving greater attention from regulators and policy makers. The IMF recently adopted a set of proposals on Islamic banking and called for a more comprehensive set of policies to ensure financial stability in countries with Islamic banking and support the sound development of the industry. The IMF is now calling for additional work and cooperation by its staff with other international agencies to improve the adoption of relevant standards for Islamic banking and to address remaining regulatory gaps. […]
Large banks were at the center of the recent financial crisis. The public dismay at costly but necessary bailouts of “too-big-to-fail” banks has triggered an active debate on the optimal size and range of activities of banks.
But this debate remains inconclusive, in part because the economics of an “optimal” bank size is far from clear. Our recent study tries to fill this gap by summarizing what we know about large banks using data for a large cross-section of banking firms in 52 countries.
We find that while large banks are riskier, and create most of the systemic risk in the financial system, it is difficult to determine an “optimal” bank size. In this setting, we find that the best policy option may not be outright restrictions on bank size, but capital—requiring large banks to hold more capital—and better bank resolution and governance.