Archive for May 3rd, 2019

Finance and monetary policy beyond neoliberalism: The way ahead for emerging markets

May 3, 2019

Rakesh Mohan in his new paper:

Broad consensus had been achieved around dominant neoliberal thinking in relation to financial sector regulation and monetary policy in the two decades leading up to the North Atlantic financial crisis (NAFC) that erupted in 2007-08. Whereas this thinking was essentially developed and applied in the advanced economies (AEs), similar policy prescriptions were advocated for emerging market economies (EMs). The general view was based on two theoretical propositions: the Efficient Markets Hypothesis (EMH) and the Rational Expectations Hypothesis (REH). “The EMH defines an efficient financial market as one in which securities prices fully and rationally reflect all available information…”[1] The REH “proposed that individual agents in the economy—be they individuals or businesses—operate on the basis of rational assessments of how the future economy will develop.”[2] Based on the belief that financial markets operate efficiently, it was assumed that free competition in financial markets would result in the efficient allocation of capital across the economy, and hence promote growth. And belief in the REH suggested that both individuals and financial institutions are capable of managing risks. The corollary was that regulation should be light touch only. [3]

Continued development of financial markets should therefore be encouraged; increasing financial depth and intensity is good for promoting economic growth, along with financial inclusion; and continued financial innovation helps price discovery, which promotes efficiency in the allocation of financial resources. “The pre-crisis orthodoxy was built on the idea that even if financial markets were in some ways imperfect, market liberalization and competition would at least bring us closer to perfection.”[4] Such a theoretical view saw the economy and financial markets as being inherently self-stabilizing and efficient in allocating resources. A process of financial deregulation and deepening was therefore the order of the day, starting in the 1980s and lasting till the NAFC. Policy advisers to EMs and policymakers in EMs were not immune to this dominant strand of thinking.

Although this period was characterized as the Great Moderation, since the advanced economies experienced relatively consistent growth and low inflation, significant financial instability was experienced in different jurisdictions. Approximately 100 crises occurred during the 30 years before the NAFC, during which financial liberalization policies were dominant.[5]Over this period, the financial sector grew much faster than the real economy in the advanced economies: private sector debt grew from around 50 percent of GDP in 1952 to 170 percent by 2006; trading in foreign exchange markets grew much faster than exports and imports; trading in commodities exceeded growth in commodity production; gross cross-border capital flows grew far in excess of investment; and financial innovation flourished with the introduction of widespread securitization and derivatives.[6] The financial sector began to serve itself much more than the needs of the real economy. This relative explosion in financial sector development across the world was clearly not reflected in the real economy.

The excessive growth in overall debt and leverage in financial institutions, explosive growth in cross-border capital flows, along with the development of global macro and financial imbalances, finally led to the outbreak of the NAFC. This shock, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, has been instrumental in raising fundamental questions with respect to basic tenets of the neoliberal financial order outlined above.

The key lesson from this crisis has to be that financial markets on their own are not necessarily efficient, stable, or self-correcting: “serious economic and financial crises can happen, even in low inflation advanced market economies.”[7]

Thus governments, central banks, and financial regulators have a crucial role to play in overall economic and financial sector regulation and management. Light financial regulation can no longer be sustained.


Next generation of Islamic financial institutions: Leadership, values, ethics

May 3, 2019

Mr Adnan Zaylani Mohamad Zahid, Assistant Governor of the Central Bank of Malaysia in this speech talks about the nextgen ISlamic Financial Institutions:

The next generation of Islamic financial institutions would thus be driven by values and not just profit. With a moral outlook for the ultimate good, strengthened by self-discipline, greater accountability and integrity, Islamic financial institutions will have stronger consideration of the impact of decisions made. There should be greater drive to continuously improve their offerings and treatments towards customers and employees, which include fair and transparent disclosure in order to increase the positive impact of their activities. Development of banking practices based on VBI concepts are also anticipated to encourage the creation of new business opportunities and provide the foundation for better returns for Islamic banks over the long term. An example is assessment of financing application by Islamic banks based on value-creation instead of mere credit scoring which would benefit business propositions from new sectors such as SMEs. Another example is refocusing, strengthening and repositioning of personal financing by Islamic banks to best meet the needs and circumstances of customers.  In time, there may emerge greater differentiation between VBI and non-VBI institutions which will be better understood by shareholders, fund providers and financial markets more generally. Furthermore, the more comprehensive and holistic approach of VBI in advancing the good for society could prove to be a key competitive advantage that will influence and shape the future of the financial industry.

The drive for positive changes in the Islamic financial services industry however requires a major paradigm shift in many institutions. It takes a long view to recognise returns beyond financial profits where social and environmental gains are also highly valued. It will also take increasing professionalism and high quality talent that will contribute to this transformation of mind and culture. In Malaysia, we can readily leverage on the available Islamic finance talent development ecosystem, which has a comprehensive and diversified range of offerings, spanning tertiary and professional education, research, training and consultancy services which are globally-recognised. The implementation of VBI has already galvanised many stakeholders including institutions of higher learning such as the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) and International Shariah Research Academy (ISRA) to undertake impactful applied research that advances the implementation progress of VBI by the financial industry. Indeed, Islamic finance has greatly benefited through these institutions that have contributed towards enlarging the pool of Islamic finance professionals and deepening expertise through various programmes and initiatives. At the same time, these institutions have also grown in recognition. INCEIF for example, has been awarded the prestigious accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACBS) International in recognition of its excellence in various areas, including its diverse programmes that have benefitted students from more than 80 countries.

Besides talent, strong and visionary leadership in particular at the Board and Senior Management will be crucial for success in this paradigm shift. This leadership and strong professionalism must continuously be complimented with the right ethics to transform the culture, systems and people. Nurturing talent also needs to be extended to the board level. In Malaysia, directors can gain greater appreciation on the dynamics of Shariah principles through programmes such as the Islamic Finance for Board of Directors Programme. This specialised Islamic finance training programme builds on the core foundations on corporate governance as set out in the Financial Institutions Directors’ Education programme. Directors would also be exposed to diverse perspectives from within and beyond the Islamic banking community on contemporary issues in the industry.

Let me conclude. The Islamic financial sector has made great strides over the recent decades. The next growth frontier in Islamic finance however lies in realising its potential to create greater socio-economic impact. Values and ethics, strongly instilled would strengthen trust between people and the system. For the Islamic finance industry, the move towards embracing VBI manifests the larger aspiration of Islamic finance. In shaping positive behaviour amongst industry players, Islamic finance can become a leading agent of change and bring about sustainable positive impacts to the economy and society. Translating this vision into reality then requires our collective efforts, steered by strong and capable leadership.

All financial sector is looking for similar values….

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