Business and Economics > Industries: Financial Services

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Valentina Flamini, Pierluigi Bologna, Fabio Di Vittorio, and Rasool Zandvakil
Credit is key to support healthy and sustainable economic growth but excess aggregate credit growth can signal the build-up of imbalances and lead to systemic financial crisis. Hence, monitoring the credit cycle is key to identifying vulnerabilities, particularly in emerging markets, which tend to be more exposed to sudden external shocks and reversal in capital flows. We estimate the credit cycle in Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic and find that the creadit gap is a powerful predictor of systemic vulnerability in the region. We simulate the activation of the Basel III countercyclical capital buffers and discuss the macroprudential policy implications of the results, arguing that countercyclical macroprudential policies based on the credit gap could prove useful to enhance the resilience of the region’s financial sector but the activation of macroprudential instruments should also be informed by the development of other macrofinancial variables and by expert judgment.
International Monetary Fund
Nicaragua's economic performance in 2010 was satisfactory. Real GDP grew, supported by strong consumption and investment. Bank credit started recovering while the financial system remained liquid and profitable. Exchange-rate and monetary policy have contributed to macroeconomic stability. The authorities plan to improve public financial management and also to adopt a legal framework and remain committed to contain the macroeconomic risks from external aid flows. They also welcomed the sixth review and Financing Assurances under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement.
Mr. Shaun K. Roache
The economies of Central America share a close relationship with the United States, with considerable comovement of GDP growth over a long period of time. Trade, the financial sector, and remittance flows are all potential channels through which the U.S. cycle could affect the region. But just how dependent is growth in the region on the U.S.? Using the common cycles method of Vahid and Engle (1993), this paper suggests that the business cycle is dominated by the U.S.; region-specific growth drivers tend to be long-lasting shocks, rather than temporary fluctuations. The most cyclically sensitive countries include Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Honduras.
International Monetary Fund
This report provides an update on the status of implementation, impact and costs of the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) since mid-2006. It also discusses the status of creditor participation in both initiatives and the issue of litigation of commercial creditors against HIPCs.
International Monetary Fund

Abstract

Intraregional financial activity in Central America has grown substantially in the past decade, contributing to efficiency and economic development. At the same time, the expansion of activities by regional conglomerates has increased the challenges to supervisory authorities of containing the risks of contagion. Prepared as part of the Central America Financial Sector Regional Project by an IMF and World Bank staff team, this book outlines trends in the region's financial sector integration, supervisory responses, development of the insurance sector, payment and securities settlement arrangements, and worker remittances. It addresses the many common policy challenges facing Central American countries--Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama--in financial sector reform. The book offers key policy recommendations.

International Monetary Fund
This paper puts forward a package of proposed decisions to implement the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (“MDRI”) and establish the Exogenous Shocks Facility within the PRGF Trust; it also provides a Commentary on key aspects of the decisions. The proposed decisions generally reflect the overall structure and modalities that have been identified by the staff and endorsed by Executive Directors in the several meetings held to date concerning the G-8 debt relief proposal/MDRI and ESF.
Mr. Jorge I Canales Kriljenko, Padamja Khandelwal, and Mr. Alexander Lehmann
We assess the current barriers to trade in financial services in the six Central American countries seeking a free trade agreement with the United States (the CAFTA) and examine the relative merits of regional and multilateral liberalization. Even though there are few formal barriers, deficiencies in regulatory and competition standards and in the judicial systems still restrict the participation of foreign institutions in the financial systems in the region. A greater presence of such institutions could support other objectives of trade and investment liberalization, though it would require several adjustments in prudential supervision at national levels and greater cooperation between members of the CAFTA.
Mr. Michael Keen, Mr. Paul K. Freeman, and Mr. Muthukumara Mani
Natural disaster risk is emerging as an increasingly important constraint on economic development and poverty reduction. This paper first sets out the key stylized facts in the area-that the costs of disaster have been increasing, seem set to continue to increase, and bear especially heavily on the poorest. It then reviews the key economic issues at stake, focusing in particular on the actual and prospective roles of, and interaction between, market instruments and public interventions in dealing with disaster risk. Key sources of market failure include the difficulty of risk spreading and, perhaps even more fundamental, the Samaritan's dilemma: the underinvestment in protective measures associated with the rational expectation that others will provide support if disaster occurs. Innovations addressing each of these are discussed.