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José Abad
Following the COVID shock, supervisors encouraged banks to use capital buffers to support the recovery. However, banks have been reluctant to do so. Provided the market expects a bank to rebuild its buffers, any draw-down will open up a capital shortfall that will weigh on its share price. Therefore, a bank will only decide to use its buffers if the value creation from a larger loan book offsets the costs associated with a capital shortfall. Using market expectations, we calibrate a framework for assessing the usability of buffers. Our results suggest that the cases in which the use of buffers make economic sense are rare in practice.
Mr. Adolfo Barajas, Woon Gyu Choi, Ken Zhi Gan, Pierre Guérin, Samuel Mann, Manchun Wang, and Yizhi Xu
After a steady increase following the global financial crisis, private nonfinancial sector leverage rose further during the COVID-19 on the back of easy financial conditions induced by unprecedented policy support. We investigate the empirical relationships between increased leverage, financial conditions, and macro-financial stability in a sample of major advanced and emerging market economies. We find that loose financial conditions contribute to leverage buildups and generate an intertemporal tradeoff: financial stability risk is lessened in the near term but exacerbated in the medium term. The tradeoff is amplified during credit booms, when debt service burdens are particularly high, or when the share of foreign currency debt is high in emerging markets. Selected macroprudential tools can arrest leverage buildups and mitigate the tradeoff.
Mr. Thierry Tressel and Xiaodan Ding
Corporate sector vulnerabilities have been a central policy topic since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, we analyze some 17,000 publicly listed firms in a sample of 24 countries, and assess their ability to withstand shocks induced by the pandemic to their liquidity, viability and solvency. For this purpose, we develop novel multi-factor sensitivity analysis and dynamic scenario-based stress test techniques to assess the impact of shocks on firm’s ability to service their debt, and on their liquidity and solvency positions. Applying the October 2020 WEO baseline and adverse scenarios, we find that a large share of publicly-listed firms become vulnerable as a result of the pandemic shock and additional borrowing needs to overcome cash shortfalls are large, while firm behavioral responses and policies substantially help overcome the impact of the shock in the near term. Looking forward, while interest coverage ratios tend to improve over time after the initial shock as earnings recover in line with projected macroeconomic conditions, liquidity needs remain substantial in many firms across countries and across industries, while insolvencies rise over time in specific industries. To inform policy debates, we offer an approach to a triage between viable and unviable firms, and find that the needs for liquidity support of viable firms remain important beyond 2020, and that medium-term debt restructuring needs and liquidations of firms may be substantial in the medium-term.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department

Abstract

Near-term global financial stability risks have been contained as an unprecedented policy response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has helped avert a financial meltdown and maintain the flow of credit to the economy. For the first time, many emerging market central banks have launched asset purchase programs to support the smooth functioning of financial markets and the overall economy. But the outlook remains highly uncertain, and vulnerabilities are rising, representing potential headwinds to recovery. The report presents an assessment of the real-financial disconnect, as well as forward-looking analysis of nonfinancial firms, banks, and emerging market capital flows. After the outbreak, firms’ cash flows were adversely affected as economic activity declined sharply. More vulnerable firms—those with weaker solvency and liquidity positions and smaller size—experienced greater financial stress than their peers in the early stages of the crisis. As the crisis unfolds, corporate liquidity pressures may morph into insolvencies, especially if the recovery is delayed. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are more vulnerable than large firms with access to capital markets. Although the global banking system is well capitalized, some banking systems may experience capital shortfalls in an adverse scenario, even with the currently deployed policy measures. The report also assesses the pandemic’s impact on firms’ environmental performance to gauge the extent to which the crisis may result in a reversal of the gains posted in recent years.

International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
Cybersecurity risk is embedded in the CBB’s supervisory framework, but additional enhancements are needed to formalize guidance and develop more intensive supervisory practices. Supervisory expectations on cybersecurity are presented in an informal guidance note, which should be formalized into regulation to ensure enforceability; and an IT/cybersecurity supervisory manual should be developed to promote effective and consistent practices. With its principle-based guidance note, the CBB highlights its priorities in strengthening the cybersecurity posture of Belizean financial institutions. The principles are an appropriate interpretation of international best practices on incident prevention, detection, response, and recovery measures, adapted to the cyber maturity of the Belizean financial institutions, and can be used as a foundation for the formalized guidelines. The manual could emphasize the review of cybersecurity strategies, policies, and responsibility specifications and should address obtaining assurance on the effectiveness of the financial institutions’ processes for cyber risk identification, assessment, and mitigation.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The U.S. financial system is very large, well-diversified, and home to numerous financial institutions which are significant at a global scale. Eight Global Systemically Important Banks (G-SIBs) are incorporated in the U.S., as well as several other large financial institutions, such as asset managers, insurers, and money market funds. Assets of the financial system amounted to about US$100 trillion at end-2019 and accounted for 500 percent of GDP. While the eight G-SIBs dominate the U.S. banking landscape, banking system assets represent only about 22 percent of total financial system assets. The systemic risk assessment (including stress testing) of this FSAP reflect the highly diversified nature of the U.S. financial system and focuses on banks, mutual and money market funds, insurance companies as well as cross-institutional and cross-sectoral linkages and exposures.