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Alexandre Francart

28 September 2012
This Occasional Paper reviews financial stability challenges in countries preparing for EU membership with a candidate country status, i.e. Croatia (planned to accede to the EU on 1 July 2013), Iceland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Turkey. It follows a macro-prudential approach, emphasising systemic risks of financial systems as a whole. After recalling that some EU candidate countries went through a pronounced boom-and-bust credit cycle in recent years, the paper identifies current challenges for the bank-based financial sectors as mainly stemming from: (i) high or rising domestic credit risk; (ii) unhedged borrowing in foreign currencies; and (iii) strains related to the euro area debt crisis, which is impacting the EU candidate countries via a number of channels. The main channels of transmission of the euro area debt crisis to the EU candidate countries operate via: (i) trade and foreign direct investment; (ii) an increased market focus on sovereign risk; and (iii) "deleveraging", e.g. via a decline of external funding to local subsidiaries of EU parent banks. A macro-stress-test exercise performed by the national authorities of the EU candidate countries in February 2012 suggests that large capital buffers can absorb a shock to credit quality stemming from a drop in economic activity in the EU and renewed strains from the euro area debt crisis. With respect to supervisory practices, the paper finds that the EU candidate countries have made good progress, but some gaps with respect to international and EU standards remain.
JEL Code
F32 : International Economics→International Finance→Current Account Adjustment, Short-Term Capital Movements
F41 : International Economics→Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance→Open Economy Macroeconomics
G21 : Financial Economics→Financial Institutions and Services→Banks, Depository Institutions, Micro Finance Institutions, Mortgages
G28 : Financial Economics→Financial Institutions and Services→Government Policy and Regulation
26 July 2010
This paper reviews financial stability challenges in the EU candidate countries: Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey. It follows a macro-prudential approach, emphasising systemic risks and the stability of financial systems as a whole. The paper recalls that the economies of all three countries experienced a recession in 2008-09 and shows how this slowed the rapid process of financial deepening that had been taking place since the beginning of the last decade. The deteriorating economic and financial conditions manifested themselves, first and foremost, through a marked deterioration in asset quality. These direct credit risks were compounded by the transformation of exchange and interest rate risks through a widespread use of foreign exchange-denominated or indexed loans and variable or adjustable interest rate loans. Moreover, funding and liquidity risks also materialised to some extent, although fully fledged bank runs were avoided, and none of the countries experienced a sharp reversal in external financing. Overall, the deterioration in asset quality has so far been managed well by the banking systems of the candidate countries, facilitated by large capital buffers, pro-active macro-prudential policies pursued by the authorities both before and during the crisis and the relative stability of exchange rates. Looking ahead, although uncertainties remain high regarding credit quality, the shock-absorbing capacities of the banking systems are fairly robust, as also evidenced by their relative resilience so far. Nevertheless, as the economic recovery sets in, the central banks should return to and possibly reinforce the implementation of measures to avoid a pro-cyclical build-up of credit asset) boom-bust cycles. Furthermore, given the relevance of foreign-owned banks in two of the three countries, a continued strengthening of home-host cooperation in the supervisory area will be crucial to avoid any kind of regulatory arbitrage.
JEL Code
E3 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
E52 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Monetary Policy
E58 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Central Banks and Their Policies