The COVID-19 crisis raises the risk of renewed financial sector pressures in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) region in the period ahead. Bank distress and its economic and fiscal fallout have been recurring features of many CCA countries, as seen after the global financial crisis and the 2014–15 oil price shock. Strong policy responses have delayed the full impact of the COVID crisis so far, but financial sector risks will increase once public support is phased out. If these risks are not preemptively addressed, banks’ ability to lend during the recovery phase could be impaired and there may be a need for costly public interventions, as in the past.
Ms. Filiz D Unsal, Mr. Chris Papageorgiou, and Hendre Garbers
We provide a multidimensional characterization of monetary policy frameworks across three pillars: Independence and Accountability, Policy and Operational Strategy, and Communications (IAPOC). We construct the IAPOC index by analyzing central banks’ laws and websites for 50 advanced economies, emerging markets, and low-income developing countries, from 2007 to 2018. Due to its scope and granularity, our index provides a holistic view of monetary policy frameworks which goes beyond existing measures of transparency or independence, as well as monetary policy or exchange rate regime classifications. Comparing the IAPOC index across countries and over time, we find that monetary policymaking is varied, fast-changing, and eclectic across the Policy and Operational Strategy and Communications pillars, especially in emerging markets and low-income developing countries.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Reported economic activity has been strong in 2018-19 and inflation has picked up. The monetary framework is being strengthened. The external position has deteriorated. The fiscal deficit has widened as revenues have declined. Reforms to place the loss-making energy sector on a sound financial footing are underway. The authorities’ development strategy relies on large infrastructure projects— Roghun dam and other large SOE-implemented projects — that need sizable external financing. The financial sector is recovering from the 2015-16 crisis, with a decline in nonperforming loans and improved profitability. The authorities are making efforts to strengthen bank supervision and regulation. However, two formerly-systemic banks remain insolvent and further reforms are needed to restore public confidence in banks.
This paper analyzes determinants and consequences of FX interventions in the Kyrgyz Republic. Most of the literature on the topic focuses on advanced and emerging economies and this paper provides new evidence from a low-income country. We find that FX interventions take place in response to movements in the exchange rate and its volatility. There is also evidence of “leaning against the wind”, which is more pronounced for relatively larger FX sales and purchases. The “leaning against the wind” is asymmetric toward FX sales and largely reflects leaning against depreciation of domestic currency. We document a varying degree of de-facto exchange rate stability despite the de-jure floating exchange rate regime. During most of the sample, the exchange rate management index was relatively low in line with the floating exchange rate regime, with the exception of the period from 2018 Q4 until the COVID-19 shock, during which the exchange rate management index was relatively high.
Rocio Gondo, Altynai Aidarova, and Mr. Manmohan Singh
This paper discusses migration and remittances trends, and calculates the natural (or benchmark) level of dollarization in Caucasus, Central Asia and others in the region. This natural level of dollarization is conceptually linked to the currency allocation in a portfolio of deposits to maximize welfare, in line with Ize and Levy Yeyati (2003). The fall in remittances due to the economic slowdown since the spread of COVID-19 affects the macroeconomic fundamentals that determine demand for foreign currency deposits. We calculate the natural dollarization level by integrating structural macroeconomic characteristics. We show that despite the reduction in deposit dollarization, there is still a gap with respect to the natural level of dollarization, especially in a scenario of (persistent) lower remittance inflows.
This paper estimates the extent and speed of exchange rate pass-through (ERPT) in seven Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) countries using monthly data over the January 1995–May 2020 period. The estimations are performed using the local projections method. We find that the average pass-through in the CCA is about 10 percent on impact and about 25 percent after 12 months. There is no evidence of asymmetric ERPT with respect to the size and the sign of exchange rate changes. The pass-through is broadly unchanged in fixed versus floating exchange rate regimes. There has been a downward shift in the speed of ERPT in the aftermath of the global financial crisis as CCA countries have entered a relatively low inflation environment. The pass-through estimates could be used by the CCA monetary authorities for inflation projections. The absence of non-linearities in the pass-through with respect to the exchange rate regime suggests that transition from fixed to floating exchange rate regimes in the region is not likely to impose additional inflationary costs.