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.
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?(more…)
By José Viñals
Today global financial stability is not yet assured and downside risks prevail. Our recommendation is for an urgent upgrade in policies, to avoid downside risks and to achieve our upside scenario of “successful normalization” of monetary and financial conditions. This will secure financial stability and strengthen the economic recovery.
Debt held by firms in emerging market economies in a currency other than their own poses extra complications these days. When the U.S. Fed does eventually raise interest rates, the accompanying further strengthening of the U.S. dollar will mean an emerging market’s own currency will depreciate against the higher value of the U.S. dollar, and would make it increasingly difficult for firms to service their foreign currency-denominated debts if they have not been properly hedged.
In the latest Global Financial Stability Report, we find that firms in emerging markets that have increased their debt-to-assets ratios have generally also increased their overall sensitivity to changes in the exchange rate—commonly called exchange-rate exposure.
Global financial markets traditionally take their cue from the United States. Unexpected Fed rate hikes have unsettled global markets in the past. The entire global financial system threw a tantrum when then Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke merely suggested in May 2013 that the end to bond-buying and other policies could soon begin. However for the past year, the gears of global markets seem to have been thrown into reverse — it is German government bonds, known as Bunds, rather than U.S. bonds, known as Treasuries, that appear to be driving prices in global bond markets. This role reversal could add a new layer of complexity to investor calculations as they prepare for the beginning of Fed interest rate hikes, which are expected later in 2015. Also, as developments in Greece lead to rises and falls in Bund and Treasury yields, this is a trend worth keeping an eye on.
By José Viñals
Financial market liquidity can be fleeting. The ability to trade in assets of any size, at any time and to find a ready buyer is not a given. As discussed in some detail last fall in this blog, a number of factors, including the evolving structure of financial markets and some regulations appear to have pushed liquidity into a new realm: markets look susceptible to episodes of high price volatility where liquidity suddenly vanishes.
In our April 2015 Global Financial Stability Report we identify a new aspect to the problem: asset price correlations have risen sharply in the last five years across all major asset classes (see figure). (more…)
A year ago our research showed Europe had an €800 billion stock of bad loans. In our latest Global Financial Stability Report we show that the problem has now grown to more than €900 billion. This stock of nonperforming loans is concentrated in the hardest hit economies, with two-thirds located in just six euro area economies. The European Central Bank’s Asset Quality Review confirmed this picture, which revealed that the majority of banks in many of these economies had high levels of nonperforming assets (see chart 1).
By José Viñals
I have three key messages for you today:
1. Policymakers are facing a new global imbalance: not enough economic risk-taking in support of growth, but increasing excesses in financial risk-taking posing stability challenges.
2. Banks are safer but may not be strong enough to vigorously support the recovery. And risks are shifting to the shadow banking system in the form of rising market and liquidity risks. If left unaddressed, these risks could compromise global financial stability.
3. In order to address this new global imbalance, we must promote economic risk-taking by improving the transmission of monetary policy to the real economy. And we must address financial excesses through better micro- and macroprudential policies.
Shadow banking has grown by leaps and bounds around the world in the last decade. It is now worth over $70 trillion. We take a closer look at what has driven this growth to help countries figure out what policies to use to minimize the risks involved.
In our analysis, we’ve found that shadow banks are both a boon and a bane for countries. Many people are worried about institutions that provide credit intermediation, borrow and lend money like banks, but are not regulated like them and lack a formal safety net. The largest shadow banking markets are in the United States and Europe, but in emerging markets, they have also expanded very rapidly, albeit from a low base.
By José Viñals (Version in Español, Français, Русский, 中文 and 日本語) Global financial stability is improving—we have begun to turn the corner. But it is too early to declare victory as there is a need to move beyond liquidity dependence—the central theme of our report—to overcome the remaining challenges to global stability. Progress We have made substantial strides over the past few years, and this is now paying dividends. As Olivier Blanchard discussed at yesterday’s press conference of the World Economic Outlook, the U.S. economy is gaining strength, setting the stage for the normalization of monetary policy. In Europe, better policies have led to substantial improvements in market confidence in both sovereigns and banks. In Japan, Abenomics has made a good start as deflationary pressures are abating and confidence for the future is rising. And emerging market economies, having gone through several recent bouts of turmoil, are adjusting policies in the right direction. (more…)