International Monetary Fund

IMF: A Minimum Level of Security Must Be Adopted in Syria in Order to Assess the Economic Needs

The Deputy Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department (MCD) at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Adnan Mazarei said that it is necessary to establish a minimum level of security in Syria before the IMF and international institutions can evaluate its economic needs. In an interview, Mazarei said that the Fund estimates the urgent humanitarian needs and costs, the costs of reconstruction and contributes to the reconstruction of the institutions that were destroyed. He also said that the removal of sanctions on Iran will have a positive effect by allowing the country to produce and export more oil, it has also regained access to its international reserves which will also allow greater investment, and all of these things will encourage growth.

IMF update on Afghan financial sector, Islamic banking regulations coming

As part of its review of the economic outlook for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the International Monetary Fund said financial intermediation in the country needs to become more efficient and broad-based. The IMF noted that the authorities expect that credit availability should increase from its low base, though they recognize that the low private credit reflects the scarcity of profitable and appropriately collateralized lending opportunities and structural challenges. The authorities wish to promote lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and agriculture while developing microfinance to support growth and job creation.

The Islamic Development Bank and the National Bank of Kyrgyzstan are planning to launch a joint Islamic bank in the republic

The head of National Bank of Kyrgyzstan Tolkunbek Abdygulov and the president of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani had discussed the prospects of jointly opening an Islamic bank in Kyrgyzstan.
Additionally, they had talked about the other relevant things such as the perspectives of Kyrgyz Republic economy development, the establishment of a joint Shariyah compliant commercial bank and the possibility of opening an IDB representative office in Kyrgyzstan. The discussion took place during the International Financial conference “Islamic Finance: Meeting Global Aspirations” in Kuwait, on November 11, 2015.

Tolkunbek Abdygulov also had a meeting with Christine Lagarde, the Managing director of the International Monetary Fund, in which they discussed further course of cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and the IMF and drew a plan on joint actions during the financial crisis. Ms Lagarde also noted the concerted actions of Kyrgyztan’s National Bank and the government on monetary and fiscal policies.

Lack of instruments a challenge for GCC Islamic banking industry: IMF

The inadequate availability of Sharia'a-compliant financial instruments is a challenge for the GCC Islamic banking industry, leading to excess liquidity and an uneven playing field for Islamic banks that might affect their growth, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
An IMF working paper released on Monday said liquidity management has been a long-standing concern in the Islamic finance industry as there is a general lack of Sharia'a-compliant instruments that can serve as high-quality short-term liquid assets.
'The inadequate availability of Sharia'a-compliant financial instruments seems to have forced Islamic banks to hold a significant amount of cash reserves, limiting the flexibility of the central bank's monetary operations with Islamic financial institutions. Therefore, a key challenge is to broaden the range of Sharia'a-compliant instruments and build liquid markets', the report said.

IMF chief calls for reforms in Gulf amid low oil prices

On a trip through a Gulf squeezed by low oil prices, the head of the International Monetary Fund repeatedly called on countries to cut back on subsidies, lower government spending and consider levying taxes. But implementing Christine Lagarde's suggestions is easier said than done in the oil-rich countries, even as crude prices have dropped by over 50 percent since last year. Generations have grown used to cradle-to-grave social programs, comfortable government jobs and tax-free living. While Gulf leaders, including those in Kuwait, have begun warning harder times may be ahead, some citizens remain opposed to any cuts.
"Almost every week we hear about Kuwait giving grants left, right and center to other nations that are in need of money. It's as if the government doesn't realize that we, in Kuwait, are also in need," said Abdulaziz Al-Adwani, a Kuwaiti school teacher. "It's not logical to start imposing a tax on citizens when the government can afford to give grants to this country and that country."

Kuwait hosts Islamic Financing Conference – In cooperation with International Monetary Fund

Kuwait will host the World Islamic Financing Conference, organized by Kuwait Central Bank (CBK) and the International Monetary Fund, with the participation of the IMF Center for Financing and Economy in the Middle East and Thomson Reuters as strategic partner for knowledge.
The conference will be held on November 11, 2015 under the patronage of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. This announcement was made by CBK Governor Mohammad Al-Hashel and said the conference will see high ranking international attendance of decision makers headed by Christine Lagarde, Director General of IMF and senior IMF employers and experts around the world.
Several finance ministers, Central Bank Governors, their deputies and representatives in many countries are expected to attend the event. There will also be presence of International Economic Establishments that belong to the United Nations and Regional Organizations in addition to experts and academics.

IMF praises SBP for financial sector’s stability

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has welcomed the progress made by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) with respect to the capitalisation of the banking sector. In the eighth review of Pakistan’s economic performance under a 36-month loan programme of about $6.6 billion, the IMF said the SBP should continue its efforts to bring a number of small banks into compliance with statutory requirements. After the recapitalisation through a rights issue in the only capital adequacy ratio (CAR)-non-compliant bank in July, it noted with satisfaction that all Pakistani banks have now become CAR-compliant. However, five small banks are still operating below the Rs10 billion minimum paid-up capital requirement (MCR).

IMF Paper Finds That Too Much Finance is Bad for Growth

The recent IMF paper, Rethinking Financial Deepening: Stability and Growth in Emerging Markets, is focused on the impact of financial development on growth in emerging markets, but its authors clearly viewed the findings as germane to advanced economies. Their conclusion was that the growth benefits of financial deepening were positive only up to a certain point, and after that point, increased depth became a drag. But what is most surprising about the IMF paper is that the growth benefit of more complex and extensive banking systems topped out at a comparatively low level of size and sophistication.

Holy bonds: are Islamic banks better at times of panic?

The International Monetary Fund, the world’s lender of last resort, has recently released a report on the effect of financial panics on Islamic banks. The working paper, published in February 2015 by Moazzam Farooq and Sajjad Zaheer, is based in Pakistan. In terms of methodology, the IMF paper examines the impact of a financial panic on the deposit and lending behavior of both Islamic and conventional banks in the country. Preliminary results by the report indicate that Islamic banking branches are less likely to experience a run on deposits compared to their conventional counterparts. The explanatory variables that illustrate why this is the case, however, are not so clearly defined.

IMF Endorses Islamic Finance, Warns It Must Be Implemented Better

The International Monetary Fund has endorsed the principles of Islamic finance, saying it could prove safer than conventional finance, but the multilateral lender warned Islamic bankers that they must tighten rules and follow them more consistently. A report released by the IMF this week noted that because Islamic banking forbids pure monetary speculation and stresses that deals should be based on real economic activity, it could pose less risk than conventional banking to the stability of financial systems. However, the industry could fail to achieve its promise – and even have a destabilising effect – if it does not design its rules more carefully and implement them more consistently, the report added.

Could Islamic banking help solve Africa’s finance problems?

A recent study conducted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has explored the possibility of using Islamic finance for increased financial inclusion. Their recently published paper entitled ‘Can Islamic banking increase financial inclusion?’ concluded that there was weak and tentative evidence of Islamic banking’s positive impact on some types of inclusion. The IMF paper sais improving financial infrastructure, introducing more competition in the banking system, improving the quality of credit information, and enhancing the efficiency of the legal system would be instrumental in improving financial inclusion across the continent.

20% of Egyptian SMEs prefer Sharia-compliant products: IMF

In Egypt, 20% of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have indicated a preference for Sharia-compliant products, according to an IMF working paper issued this month. The paper said there is a substantial demand for Islamic banking among the MENA region’s SMEs, with approximately 35% expressing their interest in financing by Islamic banks. Islamic banks need to make adjustments in the structure of their work to improve their ability to reach consumers. They also need to sell their products to the global Muslim population segment that does not currently have a bank account, according to the paper. Moreover, banks need to focus on SMEs and pursue private equity and venture capital initiatives.

IMF study sees banking holes threatening growth of Islamic finance

Islamic banks have yet to devise strategies for attracting large swathes of the global Muslim population, limiting the industry's prospects, according to researchers at the International Monetary Fund. Growth of Shariah-compliant finance has done little to boost inclusion for individuals and businesses without bank accounts, a working paper from staff at the Washington-based fund said this month. Banks need to focus on small- and medium-sized enterprises and pursue private equity and venture capital initiatives, according to the paper. While the IMF's researchers found that Islamic banking within OIC countries was associated with greater use of bank credit by households and by firms for investment, it said there was no significant effect on other indicators of credit use.

AAOIFI widens its global role to better serve and develop Islamic finance

AAOIFI was invited to and took part as a member of the External Advisory Group of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Over the course of 8- 14 October 2014 in Washington and New York AAOIFI held a number of successful top-level meetings with relevant departments from the IMF and World Bank, the International Federation of Accountants and with senior representatives of central banks, monetary authorities, and financial institutions. AAOIFI represents shari’a scholars industry-wide on its boards, hailing from more than 14 nationalities and across various schools of thought. In addition, AAOIFI has more than 24 years of experience, during which the institution has issued 88 standards so far.

IMF urges Dubai to curb property speculation to avoid bubble

The United Arab Emirates should enact stronger measures to curb real-estate speculation in Dubai to prevent an “unsustainable” surge in prices, the International Monetary Fund said. According to Masood Ahmed, head of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, there is evidence that prices of real estate have been rising at a very rapid pace over the past 18 months. However, not everybody shares the same view. The Institute of International Finance, a Washington-based financial industry association, said that the rise in U.A.E. property values probably won’t lead to an asset-price bubble because credit growth remains relatively modest.

IMF says Bahrain's growing debt may be unsustainable by 2018

According to the International Monetary Fund, Bahrain must urgently cut spending or risk unsustainable public debt as its fiscal deficit widens and oil prices decline. The smallest Gulf crude producer needs gradual fiscal consolidation equal to 7.7% of economic output over the next six budget years to contain its government debt at 40% of gross domestic product. IMF also recommended that Bahrain pare its fiscal stimulus to 0.9 percentage points of non-oil GDP from 2.1 percentage points. Bahrain’s outstanding debt including interest is about US$11.8 billion, with more than US$3 billion due this year. Moreover, investment in Bahrain’s private sector remains low, which may translate to non-oil growth of less than 4% in 2013. Bahrain is also vulnerable to oil price fluctuations.

Egypt Salafis Lured as IMF Aid Beats AA Debt: Islamic Finance

An Egyptian professor of Islamic studies claims, it is allowed for Muslims to borrow non Shariah-compliant options, if there is an extreme need. However there are ultra-orthodox voices saying that such loans are violating Islam's beliefs. In their opinion Islamic countries should decry loans from International Monetary Fund and search other ways of covering debt.

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Pak, Afghanistan pushing Islamic banking for growth

Islamabad —Pakistan, Afghanistan and Senegal, among the world’s 50 poorest nations, are turning to Islamic banking to spur economic growth by encouraging people to take out loans and open savings accounts. Outstanding domestic bank lending accounted for 3.5 percent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product in 2008, 25 percent in Senegal, 27 percent in Nigeria and 46 percent in Pakistan, according to data compiled by the World Bank. The rates compare with 224 percent in the U.S. and 115 percent in Malaysia, a global hub for finance that conforms with Shariah principles.
Developing Islamic nations have shunned banking in part because of the religion’s ban on interest, limiting access to funds for project financing and stunting business growth, according to the International Monetary Fund. Governments should improve regulations, products and institutions that comply with Shariah law to accelerate the industry’s development, Patrick Imam and Kangni Kpodar, economists at the IMF, said in a telephone interview from Washington on Sept. 14.

Islamic banks fared better during financial crisis

Since the global financial crisis started to unfold in 2008, there have been several reports suggesting that Islamic banks have been less affected by the crisis because they are not allowed for ethical reasons to invest in the pernicious derivatives such as CDOs (credit default obligations) that precipitated the worst crisis the world has seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Such reports have largely been based on oversimplified assumptions about Islamic finance and in a few instances on an emotional attachment based more on religiosity than on dispassionate non-descriptive empirical analysis. Now the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this month published a working paper titled "The Effects of the Global Crisis on Islamic and Conventional Banks: A Comparative Study" in which the authors Maher Hasan and Jemma Dridi conclude and confirm that in general Islamic banks fared better than conventional banks during the global financial crisis, although they warn that such comparisons are subject to a motley of caveats and should not be over-simplified.

Islamic and Conventional Banks in the GCC: How Did They Fare?

Excerpt from the IMF report
"Which group of banks is better-positioned to withstand adverse shocks?
With larger capital and liquidity buffers, Islamic banks are better-positioned to withstand adverse market or
credit shocks. On average, Islamic banks’ capital adequacy ratio (CAR) in the GCC is higher than that for
conventional banks (except in the United Arab Emirates). The risk-sharing aspect of Shariah-compliant
contracts adds to this buffer as banks are able to pass on losses to investors."

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