International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The South African financial markets are the most developed and liquid in Africa and well developed by global standards, as well, reflecting credible and independent policy making, a diverse economy and strong financial institutions. Foreign exchange market turnover is consistently among the top 20 in the world according to the Bank for International Settlement (BIS) triennial survey. The government bond and interest rate swap yield curves go out to 20 years. The size of the domestic bond market is around 85 percent of GDP, and stock market capitalization is about 300 percent of the GDP. Supporting financial market infrastructure is broadly adequate for the size and turnover of the markets. The central bank (SARB) operates independently and at a high capacity, providing a sound footing for market functioning.
Corporate sector vulnerabilities have been a central policy topic since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, we analyze some 17,000 publicly listed firms in a sample of 24 countries, and assess their ability to withstand shocks induced by the pandemic to their liquidity, viability and solvency. For this purpose, we develop novel multi-factor sensitivity analysis and dynamic scenario-based stress test techniques to assess the impact of shocks on firm’s ability to service their debt, and on their liquidity and solvency positions. Applying the October 2020 WEO baseline and adverse scenarios, we find that a large share of publicly-listed firms become vulnerable as a result of the pandemic shock and additional borrowing needs to overcome cash shortfalls are large, while firm behavioral responses and policies substantially help overcome the impact of the shock in the near term. Looking forward, while interest coverage ratios tend to improve over time after the initial shock as earnings recover in line with projected macroeconomic conditions, liquidity needs remain substantial in many firms across countries and across industries, while insolvencies rise over time in specific industries. To inform policy debates, we offer an approach to a triage between viable and unviable firms, and find that the needs for liquidity support of viable firms remain important beyond 2020, and that medium-term debt restructuring needs and liquidations of firms may be substantial in the medium-term.
Central banks often buy or sell reserves-–-so called FX interventions (FXIs)---to dampen sharp exchange rate movements caused by volatile capital flows. At the same time, these interventions may entail unintended side effects. In this paper, we investigate whether FXIs incentivize firms to take on more unhedged FX debt, thereby increasing medium-term corporate vulnerabilities. Using a novel dataset with close to 5,000 nonfinancial firms across 19 emerging markets covering 2002--2017, we find that the firm-level share of FX debt rises following intensive use of FXIs, particularly for non-exporting firms in shallow financial markets with no FX debt to begin with. The magnitude of this effect is economically significant, with one standard deviation increase in FXI leading to an average 2 percentage points increase in the FX debt share. For reference, the median share of FX debt in the sample is zero.
This paper examines Comoros’ weak domestic revenue and volatile windfall revenues. Weak revenue mobilization and the reliance on volatile one-off windfall gains remains a significant development challenge for Comoros. Weak revenue mobilization not only makes it more difficult for Comoros to finance its significant development needs, but also increases the budget’s reliance on uncertain and volatile one-off revenue streams. Sustainably improving revenue mobilization based on realistic and attainable budgetary targets, is key for financing Comoros’ medium to long-term development goals without endangering debt sustainability. Broadening the tax base and thereby increasing the tax ratio to develop more predictable budgetary financing sources will aid execution of Comoros’ ambitious investment program that underpins the country’s development strategy.
protracted global uncertainty combined with frequent episodes of capital flow volatility have intensified demand for liquidity support. In response to calls from the IMFC and the G20, the Fund has identified gaps in the global financial safety net (GFSN) and the Fund’s lending toolkit for crisis prevention, including insufficient coverage against liquidity pressures resulting from volatile capital flows. The proposals in this paper draw on the previous Fund work on the adequacy of the GFSN, the review of the Fund’s current toolkit for crisis prevention, and extensive consultations with the membership. The review of the FCL concludes that the FCL has been effective in providing precautionary support against external tail risks. Successor FCL arrangements and associated access levels have been in line with the assessment of external risks and potential balance of payments needs. However, there is scope to strengthen the transparency and predictability of the qualification framework by adding indicator-based thresholds to complement and inform judgment. To enhance crisis resilience while improving the Fund’s toolkit coherence and resource use, the paper proposes three complementary reforms: The establishment of a Short-term Liquidity Swap to provide renewable and reliable liquidity support against potential short-term moderate volatility of capital flows. The proposed instrument is for members with very strong fundamentals and economic policies, and tailored to improve reliability and appeal to users. The use of a core set of indicators with thresholds to guide judgment in FCL qualification. This will improve predictability and transparency while keeping the standards unchanged. The elimination of the PLL to maintain a streamlined and coherent toolkit, given the low use of the PLL, likely reflecting issues of tiering with the FCL. The paper also discusses possible reforms of the current commitment fee policy to promote a more balanced use of Fund resources. Possible options include increasing the commitment fee at high access levels or introducing a new time-based commitment fee.
Andreas Jobst, Ms. Li L Ong, and Mr. Christian Schmieder
Bank liquidity stress testing, which has become de rigueur following the costly lessons of the global financial crisis, remains underdeveloped compared to solvency stress testing. The ability to adequately identify, model and assess the impact of liquidity shocks, which are infrequent but can have a severe impact on affected banks and financial systems, is complicated not only by data limitations but also by interactions among multiple factors. This paper provides a conceptual overview of liquidity stress testing approaches for banks and discusses their implementation by IMF staff in the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) for countries with systemically important financial sectors over the last six years.
Portfolio flows to emerging markets (EMs) tend to be correlated. A possible explanation is the role global benchmarks play in allocating capital internationally, the so-called “benchmark effect.” This paper finds that benchmark-driven investors indeed play a large role in a key segment of the market—the EM local currency government bond market—, accounting for more than one third of total foreign holdings as of end-2014. We find that the prominence of these investors declined somewhat after the May 2013 taper tantrum, but remain high. This distinction is important in understanding the drivers of EM capital flows and their sensitivity to different types of shocks. In particular, a high share of benchmark-driven investors may result in capital flows that are more sensitive to global shocks and less sensitive to country factors.