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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation and Proposal for Post-Program Monitoring highlights that Iraq’s social conditions remain harsh following the war with ISIS, with slow progress at reconstruction, weak public services and a lack of job opportunities. In the absence of policy changes, a widening budget deficit is expected to divert resources away from essential investment to rebuild the country and improve public services, while eroding reserves and posing risks to medium-term sustainability. Expenditure rigidities and limited fiscal buffers imply a significant vulnerability to oil price shocks in a context of volatile prices. The fiscal and external positions are expected to continue to deteriorate over the medium term absent policy changes—with reserves falling below adequate levels and fiscal buffers eroded. In a context of highly volatile oil prices, the major risk to the outlook is a fall in oil prices which would lower exports and budgetary revenues, leading to an even sharper decline in reserves or higher public debt. Geopolitical tensions, the potential for social unrest in a context of weak public services and lack of progress in combatting corruption pose further risks.
Mr. Eugenio M Cerutti and Haonan Zhou
This paper analyses the nature of the increasing regionalization process in global banking. Despite the large decline in aggregate cross-border banking lending volumes, some parts of the global banking network are currently more interlinked regionally than before the Global Financial Crisis. After developing a simple theoretical model capturing banks' internationalization decisions, our estimation shows that this regionalization trend is present even after controlling for traditional gravitational variables (e.g. distance, language, legal system, etc.), especially among lenders in EMs and non-core banking systems, such as Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Moreover, this regionalization trend was present before the GFC, but it has increased since then, and it seems to be associated with regulatory variables and the opportunities created by the retrenchment of several European lenders.