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Finance

Finance as an Economic Cholesterol

Otaviano Canuto's picture

A country’s income depends on its accumulated wealth and how efficiently and innovatively this wealth is employed to produce goods and services. Does what a country produce matters? Are there constraints or drivers of wealth accumulation that can be associated with specific economic activities within a country?

The question is as old as development economics. Is specialization in producing (mineral or agricultural) commodities inherently more limiting than producing manufactures? More recently, the question has been extended to a contraposition between manufactures and services.

Some Pitfalls in Global Investing

Sergio Schmukler's picture

Since the 1990s, a large part of world savings have gone to institutional investors that manage those funds by investing around the world. Given this accumulation of resources in professional and sophisticated asset managers, one might expect to see significant international diversification accompanying this process. Yet, to date, little evidence exists on how institutional investors allocate their portfolios globally, and what effect their investment practices have on investors, firms, and policymakers.

In a new paper and VoxEU column, we argue that global funds (those that invest anywhere in the world) are not very well diversified, hold a very limited number of stocks (around 100), and seem to leave behind significant unexploited gains from international diversification. Thus, global funds might not constitute the optimal portfolio for individual investors. Moreover, there are significant challenges to the prospects for broad international diversification. To the extent that global funds continue expanding relative to the more specialized funds (those that invest in specific asset classes and regions), the forgone diversification gains could be significant, and the cost to investors, firms, and countries might be large as well, posing significant challenges to policymakers.

Rethinking the Role of the State in Finance

Merrell Tuck-Primdahl's picture

Is the world ready for the advice that governments can better balance the need for credit and emergency support for banks with measures to promote transparency and competition when crises erupt? Governments want every viable tool possible in their arsenal to fight crises, but a bit of 'less is more' and a cautionary re-examination of the role of the state in finance may be in order. This is the thrust of the new Global Financial Development Report (GFDR) 2013: Rethinking the Role of the State in Finance, released Thursday September 13, just ahead of the fourth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which marked the full onset of the financial crisis. The GFDR analyzes four characteristics of banks in over 200 economies since the 1960s and comes with a useful treasure trove of online data.

Check out the GFDR website here.

Global Economy and Development Roundup

Swati Mishra's picture

In the recently released Global Economic Prospects June 2012, World Bank experts warned of long period of volatility. Resurgence of the Euro Area tensions had eroded economic gains of first 4 months of 2012, said the report.  And as the leaders of the 27 European Nations convened in Brussels yesterday to tackle the crisis, it was labeled as the “last chance” summit. The outcome: Up All Night, But Consensus Finally Reached, says a Time.com story. According to the story, published today, “Yet, despite what were described as tense and grinding negotiations, decisions announced early Friday morning appear to represent important steps towards the survival of the embattled euro zone—and in both the short- and long-term context of the crisis.” This much needed move comes at a crucial point and will hopefully have a positive impact on developing countries. However, a lot remains to be done. Following is a sampling of some interesting research and analysis by World Bank as well as others highlighting issues of current import to global economy and development.

Resolution of Systemic Financial Problems – How Should Spain do it?

Asli Demirgüç-Kunt's picture

Systemic financial crises require swift and comprehensive solutions by the government.  In 2008 it quickly became clear that characterizing the U.S. securitization crisis as one of liquidity was inaccurate, and hoping that it would be cured by auctioning off increasingly poorly collateralized central bank loans to distressed firms was futile.  That led to -TARP- a plan to repurchase troubled assets from banks, which quickly evolved into a bank recapitalization plan when it became clear pricing toxic assets was nearly impossible. 

More recently, Spanish banking system has seen its situation worsen, partly because of Madrid’s failure to force an earlier cleanup of bad debts stemming from a real estate bust.  Austerity measures to remedy the region’s debt crisis have since led to greater deterioration of Spanish bank balance sheets, as more and more Spanish businesses folded and homeowners went into foreclosure.  Over the weekend Spain became the largest euro-zone nation to seek an international bailout, and the 17-nation currency area agreed to lend Madrid up to $125 billion for its bank rescue fund.  At this point there is little disagreement that there needs to be a broad-based approach to resolve the Spanish bank insolvency problem, but not as much discussion over the form it should take.

The Influence of Greece's Debt Crisis on the Banking Sector

Sergio Schmukler's picture

The crisis in Greece and the Eurozone has escalated as depositors flee banks in fear not only of the consequences of sovereign default but also of Greece abandoning the Euro. Unfortunately, this development makes the crisis much deeper and more difficult to manage. As we (along with Eduardo Levy Yeyati) highlighted in a VoxEU piece in June 2011, the main risk of the Greek debt crisis was its potential spillover to the banking sector.

Counting Financial Inclusion and Debating its Merits

Leora Klapper's picture

Shedding light on and engaging in debate regarding financial inclusion is important and we can now be more informed on the topic thanks to the release last month of the Global Financial Inclusion Database, or Global Findex. With this in mind, I want to react from my point of view as supervisor of the Global Findex project to a recent post by Milford Bateman on The Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog.

Global Findex makes a valuable contribution to our development work, because it means that now researchers and policymakers no longer have to rely on a patchwork of incompatible household surveys and aggregated central bank data for a comprehensive view of the financial inclusion landscape.

It also means debates about financial inclusion can be rooted in more solid facts.

The Global Findex: The first database tracking how adults use financial services around the world

Asli Demirgüç-Kunt's picture

The post orginally appeared on All About Finance.

The facts are in. 50 percent of adults worldwide have an account at a formal financial institution. 21 percent of women save using a formal account. 16 percent of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa use mobile money. These are just a few of the thousands of data points now available in the Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex) database, the first of its kind to measure people’s use of financial products across economies and over time.

Women, loud and clear

Swati Mishra's picture

These few words from the ‘The Face of Female Farming’ aptly capture some of the roles and responsibilities of women in our society. Yesterday, the world celebrated the 101th year of International Women’s Day. Today, we continue to celebrate and honor women and girls worldwide by highlighting some interesting work and articles produced by the World Bank in the field of gender over the past year.

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