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International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This note provides an update and assessment of developments in insurance supervision since 2014. It is part of the 2020 Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) for the Hong Kong SAR (HKSAR) and draws on discussions there from September 10 to 24, 2019. It has not been updated for the impact of recent global events associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The insurance sector is large, especially long-term (life) insurance, highly international and has been growing steadily. The long-term market is amongst the world’s largest, particularly by penetration (premiums to GDP). Growth has been supported by the popularity of savings products, including sales of policies to Mainland Chinese visitors (MCVs), although these have declined from their peak. The general insurance sector, though comprising many more companies, is relatively small and spread over many lines. The authorities have identified scope for growth in protection policies as well as opportunities for captive and specialty lines related to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Tax incentives have supported the recent successful introduction of new annuity and health insurance products. Although foreign-owned companies account for a large share of business, the HKSAR is the home of three major domestic groups operating internationally.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
he Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is among the world’s major fintech hubs, well positioned to develop fintech initiatives from its traditional strengths in financial services. Key factors enabling the HKSAR to emerge as a fintech hub include its presence as an international financial center, its free-flowing talent and capital, a highly developed information and technology communication (ITC) infrastructure, and its most unique trait, a geographical and strategic advantage by proximity to the market in Mainland China.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The main macro-financial risks relate to extensive linkages to Mainland China, stretched real estate valuations, and exposure to shifts in global market and domestic risk sentiment, compounded by escalating U.S.-China tensions. Stress tests show that the financial system is resilient to severe macro-financial shocks, but there are pockets of vulnerabilities in foreign bank branches, investment funds, households, and nonfinancial corporates. Hong Kong SAR’s financial sector is also exposed to physical and transition risks from climate change.
Mr. Charles R Taylor, Christopher Wilson, Eija Holttinen, and Anastasiia Morozova
Fintech developments are shaking up mandates within the existing regulatory architecture. It is not uncommon for financial sector agencies to have multiple policy objectives. Most often the policy objectives for these agencies reflect prudential, conduct and financial stability policy objectives. In some cases, financial sector agencies are also allocated responsibility for enhancing competition and innovation. When it comes to fintech, countries differ to some extent in the manner they balance the objectives of promoting the development of fintech and regulating it. Countries see fintech as a means of achieving multiple policy objectives sometimes with lesser or greater degrees of emphasis, such as accelerating development and spurring financial inclusion, while others may support innovation with the objective of promoting competition and efficiency in the provision of financial services. This difference in emphasis may impact institutional structures, including the allocation of staff resources. Conflicts of interest arising from dual roles are sometimes managed through legally established prioritization of objectives or establishment of separate internal reporting lines for supervision and development.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Hong Kong SAR’s economy benefitted from a strong cyclical upswing through the first half of 2018, supported by the continued global recovery, buoyant domestic sentiment, and the booming property market. However, near-term risks have significantly increased – including those from trade tensions, tighter global financial conditions, and capital outflows from emerging markets. Also, long-term challenges, including from aging, elevated inequality, and the persistent housing shortage, need to be tackled. Prudent macroeconomic policies and ample buffers are in place to help smoothen the transition and ensure continued stability.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2014 Article IV Consultation highlights that Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s (HKSAR) growth recovered to 2.9 percent in 2013 as resilient domestic demand helped offset the continued drag from net exports. As the global recovery takes hold, external demand is forecast to improve and lift growth to about 3¾ percent in 2014, although domestic demand remains solid. Inflation is expected to remain at about 4 percent, given the slow pass-through of housing costs. In line with the improved economic outlook, the 2014/15 budget includes a reduction in one-off measures of about 1.9 percent of GDP.
Mr. Fabian Lipinsky and Ms. Li L Ong
Stock markets play a key role in corporate financing in Asia. However, despite their increasing importance in terms of size and cross-border investment activity, the region’s markets are reputed to be more “idiosyncratic” and less reliant on economic and corporate fundamentals in their pricing. Using a model that draws on international asset pricing and economic theory, as well as accounting literature, we find evidence of greater idiosyncratic influences in the pricing of Asia’s stock markets, compared to their G-7 counterparts, beyond the identified systematic factors and local fundamentals. We also show proof of a significant relationship between the strength of implementation of securities regulations and the “noise” in stock pricing, which suggests that improvements in the regulation of securities markets in Asia could enhance the role of stock markets as stable and reliable sources of financing into the future.
Rakesh Mohan, Michael Debabrata Patra, and Muneesh Kapur
The North Atlantic financial crisis of 2008-2009 has spurred renewed interest in reforming the international monetary system, which has been malfunctioning in many aspects. Large and volatile capital flows have promoted greater volatility in financial markets, leading to recurrent financial crises. The renewed focus on the broader role of the central banks, away from narrow price stability monetary policy frameworks, is necessary to ensure domestic macroeconomic and financial stability. Since international monetary cooperation might be difficult, though desirable, central banks in major advanced economies, going forward, need to internalize the implications of their monetary policies for the rest of the global economy to reduce the incidence of financial crises.
Cheng Hoon Lim, Mr. Rishi S Ramchand, Mrs. Helen W Wagner, and Mr. Xiaoyong Wu
This paper surveys institutional arrangements for macroprudential policy in Asia. Central banks in Asia typically have a financial stability mandate, and play a key role in the macroprudential framework. Smaller and more open economies with prudential regulation inside the central bank tend to have institutional arrangements that give the central bank a leading role. In larger and more complex economies where prudential regulation is outside the central bank, the financial stability mandate is usually shared with other agencies and the government tends to play a leading role. Domestic policy coordination is typically performed by a financial stability committee/other coordination body while cross-border cooperation is largely governed by Memoranda of Understanding.