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Jeroen Brinkhoff and Mr. Juan Sole
European life insurance companies are important bond investors and had traditionally played a stabilizing role in financial markets by pursuing “buy-and-hold” investment strategies. However, since the onset of the ultra-low interest rates era in 2008, observers noted a decline in the credit quality of insurers’ bond portfolios. The commonly-held explanation for this deterioration is that low returns pushed insurers to become more risk-taking. We argue that other factors—such as surging rating downgrades, bond revaluations, and regulatory changes—also played a key role. We estimate that rating changes, revaluations, and search for yield each account for about one-third each of the total deterioration in credit quality. This result has important policy implications as it reestablishes the view that insurers’ investment behavior tends to be passive through the cycle—rather than risk-seeking.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
Much of the work of the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the FSAP’s focus on medium-term challenges and vulnerabilities, however, many of its findings and recommendations for strengthening policy and institutional frameworks remain pertinent. This report reflects key developments and policy changes since the FSAP mission work was completed, and includes illustrative scenarios to quantify the possible implications of the COVID-19 shock on the solvency of systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs). Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Danish authorities had taken important steps to improve financial system resilience. The authorities had actively used macroprudential tools to bolster the robustness of the financial system. The supervision of the banking and insurance sectors had improved. Likewise, recent legislation has strengthened anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) supervision. Major reforms such as a new bank resolution framework had also considerably improved Denmark’s financial safety net and crisis management frameworks.
Ms. Li Liu, Mr. Ben Lockwood, Miguel Almunia, and Eddy H.F. Tam
Using administrative tax records for UK businesses, we document both bunching in annual turnover below the VAT registration threshold and persistent voluntary registration by almost half of the firms below the threshold. We develop a conceptual framework that can simultaneously explain these two apparently conflicting facts. The framework also predicts that higher intermediate input shares, lower product-market competition and a lower share of business to consumer (B2C) sales lead to voluntary registration. The predictions are exactly the opposite for bunching. We test the theory using linked VAT and corporation tax records from 2004-2014, finding empirical support for these predictions.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This Technical Note discusses the findings and recommendations made in the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) for Finland in the area of banking supervision. The regulatory and supervisory framework for liquidity and funding risk has improved since the last FSAP, but certain vulnerabilities persist and require greater attention. Finnish banks continue to rely extensively on wholesale funding, as noted in the 2010 FSAP. Although supervisory action has managed to mitigate the problem, many banks remain heavily exposed to the risk of a dry-up of unsecured wholesale funding. Also, banks hold covered bonds issued by other banks as part of their liquidity buffer.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper examines Finland’s sectoral balance sheets and how they have evolved since the global financial crisis; the analysis reveals that financial vulnerabilities have risen in most sectors. Indebtedness has increased for nonfinancial corporations (NFCs), households, and the government, increasing their financial fragility and vulnerability to shocks. Also, cross-border financial exposures have risen on both sides of Finland’s balance sheet. Specifically, banks’ balance sheets have grown considerably, largely owing to a rise in foreign liabilities. NFCs and the government have also relied in part on foreign investors to finance their debt increases.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

On behalf of the Finnish authorities would like to convey their gratitude for the comprehensive and candid discussions during the Article IV consultation and the FSAP mission. The authorities find the analysis in the reports of great value and useful for assessing progress of key reforms adopted in the government's ambitious program for reviving economic growth and stabilizing public finances, and for maintaining a well-functioning and stable financial system. The authorities' views have been accurately documented and they broadly concur with staffs analysis and policy recommendations.

International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This paper discusses key findings of the detailed assessment of implementation of the European Central Bank (ECB) Observance of the Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems/International Organization of Securities Commission (CPSS-IOSCO) responsibilities of authorities for financial market infrastructures. The oversight framework of the ECB is comprehensive. The ECB has developed a wide-ranging oversight policy, including quantitative and qualitative criteria to identify, monitor, and remedy any potential systemic risks related to financial market infrastructures. It has also developed oversight standards covering a broad range of infrastructures, service providers, and payment schemes within the euro area.
Mr. Francis Vitek
This paper analyzes the transmission of shocks and policies among and across the Nordic economies and the rest of the world. This spillover analysis is based on a pair of estimated structural macroeconometric models of the world economy, disaggregated into thirty five national economies. We find that the Nordic economies are heavily exposed to external macroeconomic and financial shocks, but have significant scope to mitigate their domestic macroeconomic impacts through coordinated policy responses, given their high degree of regional integration.