One of my all-time favorite movies is “The Third Man” starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten. Perhaps the most striking part of the movie is the shadowy cinematography, set in post-World War II Vienna. Strangely, it springs to mind lately when I have been thinking of China. Many China-watchers looked on in 2009 as the government’s response to the global financial crisis unfolded, causing bank lending to expand by close to 20 percentage points in less than a year. At the same time, a less visible phenomenon was also getting underway. One that, like Orson Welles’ character in the movie, resided firmly in the shadows. Various types of nonbank financial intermediaries were gearing up to provide more credit. Talking to people in China, and looking at what numbers are available, one cannot help but have an uneasy feeling that more credit is now finding its way into the economy outside of the banking system than is actually flowing through the banks. This worries me for four broad reasons.
Just as a tornado in Kansas transplanted Dorothy and, her dog, Toto from familiar comforts to the unknown land of Oz, the global crisis has led many to wonder what has become of the global financial system and, more importantly, what will it look like next. Is the wicked witch of the West—excessive risk taking and leverage—really dead? Now, as the storm subsides, there is time to speculate about what the future financial sector might look like. Here, Laura Kodres blogs about a new Staff Position Note she co-authored with Aditya Narain that attempts to discern the contours of this new financial landscape.
Following the G-20’s renewed commitment in Toronto to a comprehensive reform agenda, policymakers must seize the moment to follow through with an ambitious set of plans to reform the global financial system. The IMF’s Financial Counsellor, José Viñals, says action must be taken soon in five key areas: (1) the micro -prudential and macro-prudential dimensions of financial reform, (2) regulation of nonbank financial institutions, (3) core rules governing capital and liquidity levels, (4) consistency of national and international regulations, and (5) reform of supervision.