The Ties That Bond Us: What Demand For Government Debt Can Tell Us About the Risks Ahead

It has become apparent in recent years is that advanced economy government bond markets can also experience investor outflows, and associated runs. Our new research shows that advanced economies’ exposure to refinancing risk and changes in government borrowing costs depend mainly on who is holding the bonds— the demand side for government debt. Tracking who owns what, when and for how long can shed some light on potential risks in advanced economies’ government debt markets.

Tough Political Decisions Needed to Fix the Financial System

It was fitting that I should present our latest assessment of global financial stability in Sao Paulo, the financial center of one of the leading emerging economies. In common with many of its peers in Latin America, Brazil is recovering strongly from the crisis. But new financial stability challenges are emerging in this, and other fast-growing regions. I have three key messages: Financial risks have increased since April Policymakers in both advanced and emerging economies need to step up their efforts to preserve financial stability and safeguard the recovery. We have entered into a new phase of the crisis - a political phase- when tough political decisions will need to be made. Time is of the essence.

Government Bonds: No Longer a World Without Risk

The risk free nature of government bonds, one of the cornerstones of the global financial system, has come into question as the global crisis unfolds. One thing is now very clear: government bonds are no longer the risk-free assets they once were. This carries far reaching implications for policymakers, central bankers, debt managers, and how the demand and supply sides of government bond markets function.

The Long and the Short of It—Government Debt Plans in 2011 and Beyond

Fiscal policy this year in some leading advanced economies is shaping up to be quite different from what was expected just last November, according to the just-published Fiscal Monitor update. Some of this change is attributable to the somewhat better than projected fiscal results in 2010. Most of it, however, is due to additional stimulus measures introduced in recent months. Altogether, sovereign risks remain elevated and in some cases have increased since November 2010. No amount of deficit reduction this year, however, can be sufficient to restore countries’ fiscal accounts to robust good health. Putting the government accounts in order will require a multi-year effort. So, how are countries doing in setting out their longer-term plans? Here, we see somewhat of a mixed picture.

Time Waits for No Man: How to Secure Financial Stability in 2011

So, where does the global financial system stand at the moment? Yes, we have witnessed improvements recently, but we are also observing a dichotomy between the economy and the financial system. While the global economic recovery has been continuing, financial stability is still at risk, because of a persistent lack of investor confidence in some advanced country sovereigns and their banking systems. In this post José Viñals reflects on the IMF’s updated assessment of global financial stability, including the key challenges that keep global financial stability at risk and the policies needed to meet these challenges.

End the Credit Rating Addiction

One of the earliest take aways from the global financial crisis was the importance of access to information for effectively functioning financial markets. And, in that regard, credit ratings can serve an incredibly useful role in global and domestic financial markets. But, in practice, credit ratings have inadvertently contributed to financial instability. To be fair, the problem does not lie entirely with the ratings themselves, but with overreliance on ratings by both borrowers and creditors. In one of the background papers for the Fall 2010 Global Financial Stability Report that John Kiff prepared with IMF colleagues, they recommend that regulators should reduce their reliance on credit ratings. Markets need to end their addiction to credit ratings.

Watch This (Fiscal) Space: Assessing Room for Fiscal Maneuver in Advanced Countries

Today, fiscal problems are a key concern of policy makers in many industrial countries, and a reassessment of sovereign risk is a palpable threat to global recovery. At the heart of the issue is the extent to which governments have room for fiscal maneuver—“fiscal space”—before markets force them to tighten policies sharply and, relatedly, the size of adjustments needed to restore or maintain public debt sustainability. Yet, much of the talk about fiscal space—how to measure it and the policy implications—has so far been rather fuzzy. In this blog, Jonathan Ostry discusses a new staff position note that he co-authored with several IMF colleagues, which aims to remedy this by providing an operational definition of the fiscal space concept as well as estimates of fiscal space for 23 advanced economies.

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