Mr. Trevor Serge Coleridge Alleyne, Mr. Jacques Bouhga-Hagbe, Mr. Thomas Dowling, Dmitriy Kovtun, Ms. Alla Myrvoda, Mr. Joel Chiedu Okwuokei, and Mr. Jarkko Turunen
Banks across the Caribbean have lost important Correspondent Banking Relationships (CBRs). The macroeconomic impact has so far been limited, in part because banks either have multiple relationships or have been successful in replacing lost CBRs. However, the cost of services has increased substantially, some services have been cut back, and some sectors have experienced reduced access. Policy options to address multiple drivers, including lower profitability and risk aversion by global banks, require tailored actions by several stakeholders.
Correspondent banking relationships (CBRs), which facilitate global trade and economic activity, have been under pressure in several countries. So far, cross-border payments have remained stable and economic activity has been largely unaffected, despite a recent slight decrease in the number of CBRs. However, in a limited number of countries, financial fragilities have been accentuated as their cross-border flows are concentrated through fewer CBRs or maintained through alternative arrangements. These fragilities could undermine affected countries’ long-run growth and financial inclusion prospects by increasing costs of financial services and negatively affecting bank ratings.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
The article highlights the economic condition, fiscal policies, external stability, and financial growth strategy of The Bahamas. The economy of The Bahamas showed gradual growth of about 2.5 percent by 2012, but there were challenges for the country. The nation has to rebuild macroeconomic buffers against external imbalances, regulate nonperforming loans, reduce unemployment, and increase the business sector. This assessment is an analysis of The Bahamas’ recent development and forthcoming plans to encounter global threats.
The Bahamian economy began a tepid recovery in 2010, following a sharp recession in 2008 and 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis. Real GDP grew by about 1 percent. The rebound was driven by the trade, hospitality, transport, and government services sectors. Executive Directors welcomed the gradual recovery of the Bahamian economy. They also called for steadfast implementation of reforms to place public debt on a sustainable path, build fiscal buffers, and enhance medium-term growth prospects.
This paper proposes a fiscal policy framework we call Public Debt Targeting. The framework seeks to smooth primary spending over the business cycle while remaining consistent with public debt sustainability. Under the proposed framework, a government announces a commitment to a public debt band trajectory over the medium term, while sequentially announcing primary expenditures for the next budget cycle, which are determined recursively based on the history of shocks. Public debt targeting differs from a structural balance rule in that it internalizes the effect of the deterioration in creditworthiness from fiscal deficits and public debt accumulation, which tend to affect sovereign spreads, interest rates, exchange rates, and economic activity. The proposed framework is applied to Caribbean economies, which in general show high levels of public debt and procyclical primary expenditure.
The Bahamas depends heavily on tourism and financial services. Executive Directors have commended the strong track record of prudent macroeconomic management, but have encouraged the government to broaden the domestic tax base, reduce distortions, increase the resilience of revenues to shocks, and specify contingency measures to reign in the growth in public debt. Greater transparency will underpin the medium-term fiscal strategy, and a higher international reserve coverage will help reduce vulnerabilities. Measures under way to strengthen the financial system have been commended.
The staff report for The Bahamas’s 2009 Article IV Consultation examines economic developments and policies. The financial sector, including the offshore sector, accounts for about 20 percent of economic activity. Exchange controls are maintained on capital transactions, narrowing the field of investment opportunities for local wealth, largely to real estate and government debt. Macroeconomic policy has historically been geared to maintaining fiscal sustainability, attracting investment, and supporting the exchange rate peg.
Prudent macroeconomic management, strong growth, low inflation, small fiscal deficit, and public debt have helped The Bahamas attain the highest standard of living in the Caribbean. Executive Directors supported the government’s goals of balancing the budget and reducing debt. They encouraged the use of market-based monetary policy and tax administration. They emphasized the need of a macroeconomic policy framework, international reserves, and a strong financial framework. Directors appreciated the performance of the financial system and also for modernizing the regime to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.
The Bahamas showed strong performance owing to its prudent macroeconomic management. Executive Directors welcomed this step, and emphasized the need to strengthen fiscal and international reserve positions, and diversify the economic base to maintain confidence and reduce economic vulnerabilities. They stressed the need to accelerate structural reforms, improve financial supervision and regulation, and to bring the regimes for combating money laundering and terrorism financing. They appreciated The Bahamas's participation in the General Data Dissemination System, and encouraged action to remove inconsistencies that exist in the economic data.
Ms. Esther C Suss, Mr. Oral Williams, and Mr. Chandima Mendis
The paper reviews the development of offshore financial activities in the English-speaking Caribbean islands and takes stock of the size and status of these sectors today. In view of the heightened concerns of the international community about money laundering, the costs and risks to countries of having or establishing offshore sectors have risen considerably.