Since the 2008 global financial crisis, the international community has made a great deal of progress in strengthening legal frameworks governing the financial sector, but a great deal more needs to be done to implement international standards and develop appropriate approaches to emerging challenges.
On April 15-16, the IMF organized the third conference on "Rethinking Macro Policy."
Here are my personal take aways.
1. What will be the "new normal"?
I had asked the panelists to concentrate not on current policy challenges, but on challenges in the "new normal." I had implicitly assumed that this new normal would be very much like the old normal, one of decent growth and positive equilibrium interest rates. The assumption was challenged at the conference.
On the one hand, Ken Rogoff argued that what we were in the adjustment phase of the “debt supercycle.” Such financial cycles, he argued, end up with debt overhang, which in turn slows down the recovery and requires low interest rates for some time to maintain sufficient demand. Under that view, while it may take a while for the overhang to go away, more so in the Euro zone than in the United States, we should eventually return to something like the old normal.
By iMFdirect editors
What a week it’s been. Practical and existential questions on how to do good and be good for the sake of the global economy and finance dominated the seminars at the IMF’s Annual Meetings in Washington.
Our editors fanned out to cover what the panelists, moderators, and audiences said in a variety of seminars, and two big themes caught our eye.
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.
(Versions in 中文)
“Shadow” banking: a surprisingly colorful term for our staid economics profession. Intended or not, it conjures images of dark, sinister, and even shady transactions. With a name like “shadow banking” it must be bad. This is unfair. While the profession lacks a uniform definition, the idea is financial intermediation that takes place outside of banks—and this can be good, bad, or otherwise.
Our goal here is to shine a light on shadow banking in China. We at the IMF have used many terms. Last year, we had a descriptive one, albeit a mouthful—off-balance sheet and nonbank financial intermediation. The April 2014 Global Financial Sector Report (GFSR) called it nonbank intermediation. This year our China Article IV report used the term shadow banking.
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…)
The quest for lasting financial stability is still fraught with risks. The latest Global Financial Stability Report has two key messages: policy actions have brought gains to global financial stability since our September report; but current policy efforts are not enough to achieve lasting stability, both in Europe and some other advanced economies, in particular the United States and Japan.