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International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
Banks’ asset quality has substantially improved in recent years but remains well below European peers. Non-performing loans (NPLs) fell from 16½ percent in 2015 to about 8.1 percent at end-June 2019, achieved mainly through €145 billion of private NPL sales. This is a substantial reduction by any standard, though NPLs remain well above the 3.0 percent average of the main European Union (EU) banks as of June 2019. New NPL formation has fallen to pre-crisis levels. Provisioning coverage was 52.5 percent as of June 2019, placing Italy 7.6 percentage points above the average of the main EU banks.
Mai Dao and Chiara Maggi
Using cross-country national accounts and firm-level data, we document a broad-based trend in rising gross saving and net lending of non-financial corporates across major industrialized countries over the last two decades, though most pronounced in countries with persistent current account surpluses. We find that this trend holds consistently across major industries, and is concentrated among large firms, driven by rising profitability, lower financing costs, and reduced tax rates. At the same time, higher gross corporate saving have not supported a commensurate increase in fixed capital investment, but instead led to a build-up of liquid financial assets (cash). The determinants of corporate cash holding and saving are also broad-based across countries, with the growth in assets of large firms, R&D intensity, and lower effective tax rates accounting for most of the increase over the last 15 years.
Nazim Belhocine, Mr. Daniel Garcia-Macia, and Jose M Garrido
The modernization of Italy’s insolvency framework has been the subject of much interest in recent years, related not least to its role in potentially facilitating an efficient allocation of resources. A unique feature of Italy’s insolvency framework is a special regime for large enterprises known as “extraordinary administration”. This paper evaluates the merits of this special regime by assessing its efficacy and success in achieving its stated goals and comparing its features to international standards and best practices. It finds that the special regime tends to impose large costs on creditors and the state. The regime results, in most cases, in the sale of parts of the group, followed by a liquidation phase of the remaining assets which can take longer than the general regime, hindering legal certainty for creditors and more generally economic efficiency, investment and job creation. Based on international best practices and experience, consideration should be given to folding the special regime into the general insolvency regime, possibly with provisions to allow for state intervention in specific well-defined circumstances.
Jose M Garrido
Italian banks are burdened with high levels of nonperforming loans, the cleanup of which depends in important part on the efficiency of insolvency and enforcement processes. Traditionally, these processes in Italy have taken very long, hampering the timely cleanup of balance sheets. In response, the authorities have legislated a number of measures. This paper explores the recent insolvency and enforcement reforms and the remaining challenges. These reforms introduce important positive changes that are expected to yield full benefits over the medium to long term. The efficacy of the reforms, including to deal with the current stock of high nonperforming loans, can be enhanced by introducing effective out-of-court enforcement mechanisms, supplemented by a more intensive use of informal and hybrid debt-restructuring solutions. Moreover, there is an urgent need to rationalize the system, which over the years has become very complex and intricate.
Mr. Wolfgang Bergthaler, Mr. Kenneth H Kang, Ms. Yan Liu, and Mr. Dermot Monaghan
The global financial crisis has left a large private sector debt overhang and high levels of non- performing loans (NPLs) in several European countries. Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) represent a significant and weak segment of the nonfinancial corporate sector. SMEs face a number of legal, financial, and regulatory challenges to restructuring that differ from those of larger corporates, such as a rigid and costly insolvency regime, a higher fixed cost to loan restructuring, and the lack of alternative sources of financing. Given SMEs’ large presence and close links to the banking system, addressing the SME loan problem in Europe will be critical for strengthening bank and corporate balance sheets and supporting a more robust and sustained recovery.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper assesses the youth unemployment problem in advanced European economies, especially the euro area. Youth unemployment rates increased sharply in the euro area after the crisis. Much of these increases can be explained by output dynamics and the greater sensitivity of youth unemployment to economic activity compared with adult unemployment. Labor market institutions also play an important role, especially the tax wedge, minimum wages, and spending on active labor market policies. The paper highlights that policies to address youth unemployment should be comprehensive and country specific, focusing on reviving growth and implementing structural reforms.
Mr. Dale F Gray
The purpose of this paper is to develop a model framework for the analysis of interactions between banking sector risk, sovereign risk, corporate sector risk, real economic activity, and credit growth for 15 European countries and the United States. It is an integrated macroeconomic systemic risk model framework that draws on the advantages of forward-looking contingent claims analysis (CCA) risk indicators for the banking systems in each country, forward-looking CCA risk indicators for sovereigns, and a GVAR model to combine the banking, the sovereign, and the macro sphere. The CCA indicators capture the nonlinearity of changes in bank assets, equity capital, credit spreads, and default probabilities. They capture the expected losses, spreads and default probability for sovereigns. Key to the framework is that sovereign credit spreads, banking system credit risk, corporate sector credit risk, economic growth, and credit variables are combined in a fully endogenous setting. Upon estimation and calibration of the global model, we simulate various negative and positive shock scenarios, particularly to bank and sovereign risk. The goal is to use this framework to analyze the impact and spillover of shocks and to help identify policies that would mitigate banking system, sovereign credit risk and recession risk—policies including bank capital increases, purchase of sovereign debt, and guarantees.
International Monetary Fund
This technical note assesses the vulnerabilities of household and corporate sector balance sheets and quantifies the potential impacts from macroeconomic shocks using sensitivity and contingent claims analyses. The note analyzes the risks to the Spanish financial stability arising from household indebtedness. The analysis expands the use of microlevel data to assess household vulnerabilities, distinguishing between indebted and nonindebted households as well as accounting for the allocation of debt, debt service burden, and households’ income and assets.
Mr. Milan M Cuc, Mr. Erik J. Lundback, and Mr. Edgardo Ruggiero

Abstract

Labor migration and remittances, which have increasingly become a part of the global landscape, have profound economic and social consequences. Moldova, a small low-income country where an estimated one-third of the economically active population has been working abroad, is an interesting illustration of this trend. Drawing on household survey data, this Special Issues paper explains why Moldovan workers go abroad and how their remittances are used. With this background, it provides insights into policy challenges of coping with, and maximizing benefits from, international labor mobility and the large inflows of remittances.

International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper for Italy presents updated estimates of potential growth for Italy, using new techniques that draw on co-movements of output, employment, and inflation over the business cycle to distinguish trends from cycles. The paper provides an assessment of an area—corporate governance—that has important implications not only for trend growth but also for macrofinancial developments. The paper reviews developments in fiscal federalism in Italy and draws on cross-country experience to offer suggestions on how the decentralization process now under way can be most effectively managed.