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International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The South African insurance sector is large, complex, internationally active, and competitive. Supported by high penetration and density of insurance products, the insurance sector has grown to account for 18 percent of the financial sector in South Africa. The industry hosts an unusually diverse range of business models, including traditional participation focused models, bank-led conglomerates, asset management focused groups, and technology driven new entrants. Even among large insurers, risk profiles vary significantly, which is unique relative to other major insurance markets. Most large insurance groups are actively expanding their business both regionally and globally.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The economy recovered strongly in 2021, following an unprecedented real output contraction in 2020. However, the outlook remains precarious amidst projected future low growth, high unemployment and adverse debt dynamics, and the recovery pace is unlikely to be sustained. Ample buffers allowed the financial system to handle the COVID-19 shock relatively well, but domestic and external downside risks remain substantial—with potential implications for asset quality, profitability, and solvency.
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.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The paper assesses the stability of Namibia’s financial system. Macrofinancial vulnerabilities have built up over a period of rapid economic growth in Namibia, and the financial cycle has now turned down. The sovereign debt/GDP ratio has nearly doubled since 2014 which has reinforced the already strong bank-sovereign link. The rapid rise in housing prices and household debt, banks’ large exposure to mortgages, and banks reliance on wholesale funding are sources of concern. A major decline in real estate prices would adversely affect bank capital and profitability. Financial sector oversight has been strengthened significantly since the 2006 Financial System Assessment Program, but further upgrades are needed.
Mr. Jorge A Chan-Lau
Diebold and Yilmaz (2015) recently introduced variance decomposition networks as tools for quantifying and ranking the systemic risk of individual firms. The nature of these networks and their implied rankings depend on the choice decomposition method. The standard choice is the order invariant generalized forecast error variance decomposition of Pesaran and Shin (1998). The shares of the forecast error variation, however, do not add to unity, making difficult to compare risk ratings and risks contributions at two different points in time. As a solution, this paper suggests using the Lanne-Nyberg (2016) decomposition, which shares the order invariance property. To illustrate the differences between both decomposition methods, I analyzed the global financial system during 2001 – 2016. The analysis shows that different decomposition methods yield substantially different systemic risk and vulnerability rankings. This suggests caution is warranted when using rankings and risk contributions for guiding financial regulation and economic policy.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department


The current Global Financial Stability Report (April 2016) finds that global financial stability risks have risen since the last report in October 2015. The new report finds that the outlook has deteriorated in advanced economies because of heightened uncertainty and setbacks to growth and confidence, while declines in oil and commodity prices and slower growth have kept risks elevated in emerging markets. These developments have tightened financial conditions, reduced risk appetite, raised credit risks, and stymied balance sheet repair. A broad-based policy response is needed to secure financial stability. Advanced economies must deal with crisis legacy issues, emerging markets need to bolster their resilience to global headwinds, and the resilience of market liquidity should be enhanced. The report also examines financial spillovers from emerging market economies and finds that they have risen substantially. This implies that when assessing macro-financial conditions, policymakers may need to increasingly take into account economic developments in emerging market economies. Finally, the report assesses changes in the systemic importance of insurers, finding that across advanced economies the contribution of life insurers to systemic risk has increased in recent years. The results suggest that supervisors and regulators should take a more macroprudential approach to the sector.

International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This Technical Note discusses stress testing (ST) results for the financial system of South Africa. The bank STs suggest that banks have adequate capital to withstand severe shocks, but need larger liquidity capacity to meet regulatory requirements. Even in the severe scenario in which GDP falls for three consecutive years, banks’ capital buffers seem sufficient, although the impact of a large default could be significant. Banks also appear resilient to market risks in both the trading and banking books. Some banks, however, would have difficulty meeting the Liquidity Coverage Ratio without the Committed Liquidity Facility of the South African Reserve Bank.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This paper discusses key findings of the Detailed Assessment of Observance on the Insurance Core Principles on South Africa. Insurance regulatory and supervisory regime in South Africa is in transition. Currently, the Financial Services Board (FSB-SA) regulates the nonbanking financial services industry, including the insurance sector, in South Africa. With the goal of achieving a safer financial sector to serve South Africa better, the government has proposed major changes in the financial sector. The four policy objectives are: financial stability, consumer protection and market conduct, financial inclusion, and combating financial crime. Market realities in the insurance sector pose significant regulatory challenges, which are well recognized by the authorities.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
Nigeria undertook a Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP), which included a review of the structure of Nigeria’s insurance market and the supervisory framework. The assessment was benchmarked against the Insurance Core Principles (ICPs) issued by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAISs). It is advised that the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) of Nigeria can expand the objective to include the creation of a fair, safe, and stable insurance sector for the benefit and protection of policyholders.
Robert M. Townsend, Ms. Shawn Cole, Mr. Jeremy Tobacman, Mr. Xavier Gine, Mr. James Ian Vickery, and Petia Topalova
Why do many households remain exposed to large exogenous sources of non-systematic income risk? We use a series of randomized field experiments in rural India to test the importance of price and non-price factors in the adoption of an innovative rainfall insurance product. Demand is significantly price sensitive, but widespread take-up would not be achieved even if the product offered a payout ratio comparable to U.S. insurance contracts. We present evidence suggesting that lack of trust, liquidity constraints and limited salience are significant non-price frictions that constrain demand. We suggest contract design improvements to mitigate these frictions.