Financial Market Trends

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OECD’s twice-yearly journal providing timely analyses and statistics on financial matters of topical interest and longer-term developments in specific financial sectors. Each issue provides a brief update of trends and prospects in the international and major domestic financial markets along with articles covering such topics as structural and regulatory developments in OECD financial systems, trends in foreign direct investment, trends in privatization, and financial sector statistics covering areas such as bank profitability, insurance, and institutional investors.

Periodically, a small number of articles within one field of financial sector developments – constituting the so-called special focus for the particular issue – may be included.


Volume 2006, Issue 2 You do not have access to this content

Publication Date :
13 Nov 2006

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  13 Nov 2006 Click to Access:  Highlights of Recent Trends in Financial Markets
After some significant corrections in the second half of May and in early June, major equity markets have resumed their growth, in some cases regaining levels reached before the May-June contraction. Against a backdrop of healthy corporate balance sheets, robust earnings growth and low default rates, investor sentiment has remained positive, as reflected in these equity market developments and compressed credit spreads. However, there are signs of increasing nevousness, which include the May/June market turbulence and somewhat increased levels of historical and implied volatility. The increased nervousness may reflect in part downward revisions to economic forecasts.
  13 Nov 2006 Click to Access:  Financial System Reform in China: Discussions with Chinese Authorities
Over the past few years China has emerged as a major player in the global economy with a pivotal position in global production, trade and, increasingly, finance. In the context of large imbalances in world growth rates, China has helped sustain world economic expansion, especially in the Asia Pacific region. China is also an important force in global financial flows. The country is one of the world’s largest recipients of FDI inflows. Moreover, China, along with other Asian economies, has been accumulating reserves, thereby supporting the present configuration of exchange rates in major OECD regions. The country is now a major investor in key asset markets, such as the international market in government securities.
  13 Nov 2006 Click to Access:  The SME Financing Gap: Theory and Evidence
Many commentators have postulated a "financing gap" for small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs), meaning that there are significant numbers of SMEs that could use funds productively if they were available, but cannot obtain finance from the formal financial system. This article summarises an OECD report (OECD, 2006) on this topic which seeks to determine how prevalent such a gap may be – both in OECD countries and non-member economies – and recommends measures to foster an improved flow of financing to SMEs.
  13 Nov 2006 Click to Access:  Factors behind Low Long-Term Interest Rates
Long-term bond yields have been low in recent years both in nominal and real terms, and – especially in the United States – they have reacted differently to shifts in monetary and fiscal stances relative to previous cycles. This article examines various possible explanations for this behaviour, such as the effects of changes in monetary policy frameworks on inflation and interest rate expectations; developments in ex ante saving-investment balances, and shifts in investors’ portfolio preferences (including official reserve accumulation, "petro-dollar" recycling and pension fund demand for longer maturities). The article concludes that it is unlikely that any individual explanation can account for the level and profile of bond yields in recent years, but that an important element has been a compression in term premia, together with shifts in expected short rates. Even though bond yields have started to rise in the early part of 2006, they are unlikely to go back to the levels that prevailed in the 1980s or the early 1990s, as several of the factors that drove them lower are set to persist.
  13 Nov 2006 Click to Access:  The Impact of Pension Funds on Financial Markets
This paper empirically explores the impact of pension funds on market volatility, equity prices, government and corporate bond yields for a panel of 24 countries. The results show a positive and statistically significant relationship between market volatility and pension assets. It complements micro evidence (Dennis and Strickland, 2002) as well as macro findings (Davis, 2004). In addition, equity prices are found to be positively correlated with pension funds, a finding observable for both OECD countries and emerging market economies (EMEs) and present in both the short and long terms. Furthermore, there is evidence indicating a negative link between pension fund assets and both corporate and government bond yields. This might be due to the sizeable buying effects of pension funds, particularly when governments have the tendency to use pension funds to finance implicit pension debts when the traditional pay-as-you-go systems shift to funded systems.
  13 Nov 2006 Click to Access:  OECD Guidelines on Pension Fund Asset Management
The OECD Guidelines on Pension Fund Asset Management set out a basic framework for the regulation of pension fund investment. The Guidelines start with the basic premise that the regulatory framework should take into account the retirement income objective of a pension fund. Two other essential aspects of the regulatory framework are the prudent person standard and the statement of investment policy. Regulations may also include quantitative limits, but only as long as they are consistent with and promote the prudential principles of security, profitability and liquidity pursuant to which assets should be invested. These Guidelines were developed by the Working Party on Private Pensions and the Insurance and Private Pensions Committee and were adopted by the OECD Council on 26 January 2006. They complement the "Recommendation of the Council on Core Principles of Occupational Pension Regulation", adopted by the OECD Council in July 2004.
  13 Nov 2006 Click to Access:  Overview of the Financial Wealth Accumulated under Funded
In addition to private pension fund and life insurance assets, several countries have accumulated large amounts of pension assets in their national pension reserve funds. Pension reserve fund refers to assets set aside by otherwise pay-as-you-go systems in preparation for the rising fiscal costs resulting from the predicted ageing of the population over the next few decades.
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