Peter Windsor, Jeffery Yong, and Michelle Chong-Tai Bell
The paper explores the use of accounting standards for insurer solvency assessment in the context of the implementation of IFRS 17. The paper is based on the results of a survey of 20 insurance supervisors. Overall, IFRS 17 is a welcome development but there will be challenges of implementation. Not many insurance supervisors currently intend to use IFRS 17 as a basis for solvency assessment of insurers. Perceived shortcomings can be overcome by supervisors providing clear specifications where the principles-based standard allows a range of approaches. Accounting standards can provide a ready-made valuation framework for supervisors developing new solvency frameworks.
Accounting devices that artificially reduce the measured fiscal deficit can be analyzed as transactions involving unrecognized assets and liabilities. Different accounting systems recognize different sets of assets and liabilities and are thus vulnerable to different sets of devices. Some devices can be revealed by moving progressively from cash accounting to modified accrual accounting to full accrual accounting. Revealing all would require the publication of extended fiscal accounts in which all future cash flows give rise to assets or liabilities.
This proposed SDN surveys the various accounting stratagems which governments have used to meet fiscal targets—thereby sidestepping the need for true adjustment—and suggests remedial actions to limit this type of fiscal non-transparency. Types of creative accounting covered includes, for instance, currency swaps to hide a debt build-up (as in Greece in 2001–07), sale and leaseback of government property (for example, in the United States), assumption of long-term pension obligations in exchange for short-term revenue (Argentina, Hungary, and other Eastern European countries), use of public-private partnerships to defer the recognition of investment spending (for instance, Portugal), and reliance on non-cash compensation (such as pension rights) to reduce measured wage bills (in the United States, United Kingdom, etc.) As is evident from the examples given, these fiscal tricks have recently come under increased international scrutiny, highlighting the importance of good fiscal reporting, accounting, and transparency in general, for avoiding unpleasant surprises, ensuring government accountability, and containing fiscal vulnerabilities.
The paper presents evidence that the contribution of differences in total factor productivity (TFP) to income differences across countries steadily increased between 1970 and 2000. We verify that our finding is neither imputable to measurement errors in input factors nor dependent on the assumption of factor neutral differences in technology. We conclude that theories explaining cross-country income differences based on institutions or on forces that are constant over time, such as geography or legal origin, should be reconsidered in the light of their consistency with the rise of the explanatory power of TFP.
Ms. Jodi G Scarlata, Mr. Juan Sole, and Alicia Novoa
In light of the uncertainties about valuation highlighted by the 2007-2008 market turbulence, this paper provides an empirical examination of the potential procyclicality that fair value accounting (FVA) could introduce in bank balance sheets. The paper finds that, while weaknesses in the FVA methodology may introduce unintended procyclicality, it is still the preferred framework for financial institutions. It concludes that capital buffers, forward-looking provisioning, and more refined disclosures can mitigate the procyclicality of FVA. Going forward, the valuation approaches for accounting, prudential measures, and risk management need to be reconciled and will require adjustments on the part of all parties.
Balance-sheet analysis (BSA) complements traditional flow-oriented macroeconomic analysis by gauging mismatches in aggregate and sectoral balance sheets of an economy. Enabled by recent progress in data availability, this paper applies BSA to Georgia, focusing on currency mismatches. In reviewing developments over the last five years, the paper finds that the still-high level of dollarization continues to create financial vulnerabilities, but that the overall level of currency mismatch has fallen and that liquidity problems are unlikely, in part owing to a strengthening of sectoral buffers, hedges, and insurance against shocks. Policy recommendations include accumulating reserves, strengthening securities markets, enhancing banking supervision, and maintaining a flexible exchange rate.
The IMF Research Bulletin, a quarterly publication, selectively summarizes research and analytical work done by various departments at the IMF, and also provides a listing of research documents and other research-related activities, including conferences and seminars. The Bulletin is intended to serve as a summary guide to research done at the IMF on various topics, and to provide a better perspective on the analytical underpinnings of the IMF’s operational work.
A growth accounting exercise is conducted for 88 countries for 1960-94 to examine the source of cross-country differences in total factor productivity (TFP) levels. Two differences distinguish this analysis from that of the related literature. First, the critical technology parameter—the share of physical capital in real output—is econometrically estimated and the usual assumption of identical technology across regions is relaxed. Second, while the few studies on the determinants of cross-country differences in TFP have focused on growth rates of real output this analysis is on levels. Recent theoretical as well as empirical arguments point to the level of TFP as the more relevant variable to explain.
This study examines the nature of the growth process in the ASEAN countries, and particularly whether it has been generated primarily by more inputs or by productivity gains. It uses internationally comparable data and explores an alternative method for estimating the capital and labor factor shares. The results, contradicting some previous studies, indicate a very impressive growth rate of TFP in Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia, a relatively strong rate for Indonesia, and a negative rate for the Philippines. This study argues that the results of previous studies were driven mainly by the fact that they relied on national accounts data for measures of various variables and, in particular, the factor income shares of capital and labor.