International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
The fallout from the COVID-19 crisis is hitting ECCU economies hard. Tourism receipts (accounting for nearly 40 percent of GDP) have dried up, as tourist arrivals have come to a grinding halt. The authorities successfully contained the spread of the virus at the onset of the pandemic by largely closing the borders, but a reopening of the economies since the summer has led to a surge in COVID cases. The ECCU economy is projected to contract by 16 percent in 2020 and by a further near ½ percent in 2021. Fiscal positions have deteriorated sharply, and public debt is projected to reach near 90 percent of GDP in 2021 and remain at an elevated level for years to come. Headline indicators suggest the financial system is relatively sound with ample liquidity buffers, but nonperforming loans are expected to rise significantly. The outlook is clouded by exceptionally high risks, including from the uncertainty concerning the evolution of the pandemic.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2018 discussion on common policies of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) highlights that the member countries are gradually recovering following the catastrophic impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. Conditions remain favorable to growth, however, risks are increasing. The fiscal balance for the region as a whole worsened in 2017, reflecting lower inflows from citizenship-by-investment programs and higher reconstruction and current spending. The IMF team made several policy recommendations including shifting focus from the current emphasis on recovery from natural disasters to building ex-ante resilience. The report also recommends intensifying decisive and timely actions to resolve weaknesses in the financial sector, including longstanding problems in the banking sector and emerging risks in the non-banking sector. The authorities expressed commitment to the acceleration of key reforms to upgrade and strengthen the financial sector regional oversight framework. In addition to fiscal consolidation, injecting new vigor into the structural policy agenda will help enhance competitiveness and make growth more inclusive.
Ms. Kimberly Beaton, Ms. Alla Myrvoda, and Shernnel Thompson
This paper assesses the determinants of NPLs in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) and whether a deterioration in asset quality may result in negative feedback effects from the banking system to economic activity. The results suggest that the deterioration in asset quality can be attributed to both macroeconomic and bank-specific factors. Banks with stronger profitability and lower exposure to the construction sector and household loans tend to have lower NPLs. Further, some evidence indicates that foreign owned banks systematically have lower NPLs than domestic banks, pointing to the presence of important differences across bank practices with an impact on asset quality. Finally, the results emphasize the strength of macrofinancial feedback loops in the ECCU.
This Financial System Stability Assessment on the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) reviews overall stability assessment. The fiscal position of the governments in the region has deteriorated sharply in recent years. A source of strength of the ECCU has been the large historical presence of strong foreign banks. However, the structure of the banking industry is changing with the entry of more aggressive regional banks, and the share of privately owned banks has increased. The limited activity of the organized ECCU securities markets reflects the small number of securities available for trading.
Mrs. Ruby Randall, Mr. Jorge Shepherd, Mr. Frits Van Beek, Mr. J. R. Rosales, and Ms. Mayra Rebecca Zermeno
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank is one of just a few regional central banks in the world and the only one where the member countries have pooled all their foreign reserves, the convertability of the common currency is fully self-supported, and the parity of the exchange rate has not changed. This occasional paper reviews recent developments, policy issues, and institutional arrangements in the member countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, and looks at the regional financial system, its supervision, and the central bank's initiatives to establish a single financial space. The paper includes a large amount of statistical information that is not readily available elsewhere from a single source.
This paper examines interest rate spreads in the Eastern Caribbean and seeks to explain why they are persistently high by comparison with other low-inflation countries. The paper concludes that operating costs appear to be a key determinant of observed interest rate spreads, giving rise to the policy recommendation that efforts to expand the market size of efficient banks might help pave the way for greater efficiency.
In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.
This paper describes economic developments in St. Vincent and the Grenadines during the 1990s. Between 1990 and 1995, real GDP growth (at factor costs) averaged 4 percent per year, but varied widely from year to year, largely reflecting developments in the banana industry, St. Vincent’s principal crop. After three years of solid growth in 1990–92, the economy stagnated in 1993–94, as severe weather conditions sharply reduced banana harvests. Real GDP growth climbed to more than 7 percent in 1995 with a substantial recovery in banana production.
This report analyzes economic developments in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the first half of the 1990s. Real GDP increased at an average annual rate of 5 percent in 1988–93, reflecting sustained growth in most sectors except for agriculture and manufacturing, which showed some volatility. In 1993, economic growth slowed to 1.4 percent as a sharp decline in agricultural production and in manufacturing activity only partly offset growth in the construction and tourism sectors.