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International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.
Cyprus’s government has enhanced financial oversight and governance of public entities over the past decade. Several legal and administrative measures have been implemented to support the oversight functions of the Ministry of Finance and introduce elements of good governance and accountability of public entities. As a result, the liabilities of public entities have remained stable and government guarantees have decreased. Looking ahead, the government plans to further strengthen the governance of public entities in line with best international practices. This report provides practical recommendations for improving corporate governance, enhancing accountability practices in public entities, and strengthening their financial oversight.
Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, Philippe Martin, and Todd Messer
Despite a formal ‘no-bailout clause,’ we estimate significant net present value transfers from the European Union to Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain, ranging from roughly 0.5% (Ireland) to a whopping 43% (Greece) of 2010 output during the Eurozone crisis. We propose a model to analyze and understand bailouts in a monetary union, and the large observed differences across countries. We characterize bailout size and likelihood as a function of the economic fundamentals (economic activity, debt-to-gdp ratio, default costs). Our model embeds a ‘Southern view’ of the crisis (transfers did not help) and a ‘Northern view’ (transfers weaken fiscal discipline). While a stronger no-bailout commitment reduces risk-shifting, it may not be optimal from the perspective of the creditor country, even ex-ante, if it increases the risk of immediate insolvency for high debt countries. Hence, the model provides a potential justification for the often decried policy of ‘kicking the can down the road.’ Mapping the model to the estimated transfers, we find that the main purpose of the outsized Greek bailout was to prevent an exit from the eurozone and possible contagion. Bailouts to avoid sovereign default were comparatively modest.
Mr. Kamil Dybczak, Shiqing Hua, Mariusz Jarmuzek, Ruifeng Zhang, and Yipei Zhang
The paper looks into the puzzle of low household savings in three Southern European (SE3) countries – Cyprus, Greece, and Portugal. Building on the household saving drivers literature, we employ cross-country micro-level data and investigate the key saving patterns, examining their heterogeneity across households in SE3 countries relative to the EA average. The results confirm the prominent role of income, along with interest rate, inflation, fiscal balance, and debt in shaping household savings in SE3 countries. Quantile regressions employed to analyze saving behavior across the distribution of households suggest that households with lower savings tend to see their savings dip (or dissavings rise) more-than-proportionately with shocks to income, interest rate, inflation, and government balance. Our policy simulations across the distribution of households suggest that targeted rather than universal policy intervention could improve household savings, especially of the most vulnerable ones.