October 11, 2017
The headquarters of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany: To avoid causing market turbulence, central banks will have to clearly communicate their plans to gradually unwind crisis-era policies (photo: Caro/Sven Hoffman/Newscom).
It seems like a paradox. The world’s financial system is getting stronger, thanks to healthy economic growth, buoyant markets, and low interest rates. Yet despite these favorable conditions, dangers in the form of rising financial vulnerabilities are starting to loom. That is why policymakers should act now to keep those vulnerabilities in check. […]
August 2, 2017
Versions in Español (Spanish)
Exchange rates board, Australian Securities Exchange: Emerging economies have several tools to manage capital flows. The most common are foreign exchange intervention and monetary policy (photo: wx-bradwang/iStock by Getty Images)
The global financial crisis and its aftermath saw boom-bust cycles in capital flows of unprecedented magnitude. Traditionally, emerging market economies were counselled not to impede capital flows. In recent years, however, there has been growing recognition that emerging market economies may benefit from more proactive management to avoid crisis when flows eventually recede. But do they adopt such a proactive approach in practice?
Emerging markets have had a great run. The fifteen largest emerging market economies grew by 48% from 2009 to 2014, a period when the Group of Twenty economies collectively expanded by 6%.
How did emerging markets sustain this growth? In part, they drew upon bank lending to drive corporate credit expansion, strong earnings, and low defaults. This credit boom, combined with falling commodity prices and foreign currency borrowing, now leaves emerging market firms vulnerable and financial sectors under stress, as we discuss in the latest Global Financial Stability Report.
By Min Zhu
For the past decade, house prices have steadily increased in the vast majority of the 30 countries that make up the IMF’s House Price Index for Emerging Markets released today at a conference organized by the IMF and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India (Figure 1).
The index shows a lull in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, followed by an increase for nine consecutive quarters since 2012. This run-up—four times as fast as that in advanced economies—would be even more pronounced if the larger countries in the group such as China and India receive greater weight in the index.
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.
(Versions in Español)
Much has been said lately about growing private sector debt in emerging market economies. In our recent analysis, we examined the corporate sector in a number of countries and found their rising levels of debt could make them vulnerable.
Low global interest rates in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and ample amounts of money pouring in from foreign investors have enabled nonfinancial corporations to raise record levels of debt.
Credit was readily available in the aftermath of the crisis, and economic expansion enabled earnings to grow healthily, thus helping to prevent leverage from rising too far and too fast. Recently though, slowing growth prospects are beginning to put pressure on firms’ profitability. Moreover, higher debt loads have led to growing interest expense, despite low interest rates. As a result, the ability of firms to service their debt has weakened (Figure 1).
By Min Zhu
House prices are inching up. But is this a cause for much cheer? Or are we watching the same movie again? Recall how after a decade-long boom, house prices started to fall in 2006, first in the United States and then elsewhere, contributing to the 2008-9 global financial crisis. In fact, our research indicates that boom-bust patterns in house prices preceded more than two-thirds of the recent 50 systemic banking crises.
While a recovery in the housing market (Figure 1) is surely a welcome development, we need to guard against another unsustainable boom. Housing is an essential sector of every country’s economy and has systemic implications, which is why we at the IMF are focusing on it not only in individual countries but on a cross-country basis.
By IMFdirect editors
Socrates’ famous method to develop his students’ intellect was to question them relentlessly in an unending search for contradictions and the truth—or at the very least, a great quote.
The method was alive and well among the moderators, panelists and audiences of the IMF’s Spring Meetings seminars that took place alongside official discussions, where boosting high-quality growth, with a focus on the medium term, was at the top of the agenda. Our editors fanned out and found a couple of big themes kept coming up. Here are some of the highlights.
Lots of people are talking about what happens when the flood of easy money into emerging markets thanks to low interest rates in advanced economies like the United States slows even more than it has in the past year.
At a seminar on fiscal policy the discussion focused on the challenges facing policymakers as central banks slowly exit from unconventional monetary policy and interest rates begin rising.
A live poll of the audience found 63 percent said the global economy remains weak and unconventional monetary policies should remain in place.
The IMF has just hosted a second conference devoted to rethinking macroeconomic policy in the wake of the crisis. After two days of fascinating presentations and discussions, I am certain of one thing: this is unlikely to be our last conference on the subject.
Rethinking and reforms are both taking place. But we still do not know the final destination, be it for the redefinition of monetary policy, or the contours of financial regulation, or the role of macroprudential tools. We have a general sense of direction, but we are largely navigating by sight.